- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
Each week this spring, GigEmNation reporter Sam Khan Jr. will bring you notes and nuggets from watching and visiting with high school football prospects in the Greater Houston area that week, including observations of Texas A&M commitments and targets and other players that catch his attention. Here's this week's installment:
MANVEL, Texas -- Plenty of colleges have their eyes affixed on Manvel (Texas) High School because of 2014 prospect Koda Martin, who we profiled in-depth last week, but there are plenty more reasons for coaches to keep stopping by the school just south of Houston.
The 2013 class was loaded with the likes of receivers Austin Bennett (Oklahoma), Kyrion Parker (Texas A&M) and Carlos Thompson (Texas Tech), cornerback Tavares Garner (Texas A&M), defensive tackle Dewan Edmonson (UTEP), quarterback Shane McCarley (Old Dominon) and center Travis Romero (Southeastern Louisiana). Martin headlines a 2014 class that also includes a large defensive tackle, 6-foot-6, 280-pound Justin Gardner.
Last season was Gardner's first on varsity and he's getting interest from Houston, Maryland and Texas Tech. His size and athleticism will get him looks and Manvel coach Kirk Martin is looking for a big senior season from Gardner.
There are prospects in the 2015 class as well but the class to watch at Manvel is the 2016 group, where two potential stars are: safety Deontay Anderson and receiver Reggie Hemphill.
Hemphill received playing time on varsity last season alongside Bennett, Parker and Thompson. The 6-2, 170-pounder was a big-play threat, averaging 40 yards per reception (10 catches, 400 yards) and hauling in six touchdowns, including an 80-yarder. Anderson is 6-1, 180 and racked up 55 tackles last season but he also has the ability to line up at receiver and be a weapon there for the Mavericks. Both are going to hit the camp circuit this summer in an effort to impress college coaches. Both are fast, athletic talents with good size who should be stars at Manvel and likely big-time prospects down the road.
As for Koda Martin, he looks the part of a tight end at 6-6, 247. He has enough strength for the defensive side of the ball, which some schools are recruiting him to play. Should he end up at offensive tackle, the position Texas A&M sees him playing, he'll have to grow into the position, weight-wise. But considering his instincts and intelligence, plus his experience as a blocker when he plays tight end, that adjustment should be smooth should he have to make it.
Several to watch at Houston Cypress Ridge
In an effort to simulate the fall and get some quality work in, Houston Cypress Ridge is scrimmaging under the Friday Night Lights during spring practice. The Rams got after it this past Friday and several players showed why they are on the college football radar.
Class of 2014 offensive guard Willie Wright is a quality player on the Rams' offensive line, lining up at tackle. Wright looked solid on Friday and already has an offer from Houston, with UTSA also showing interest.
Class of 2015 receiver Kemah Siverand is already on schools' radars. He has a good mix of size (6-foot, 178) and speed (4.56-second 40-yard dash) and he's still learning the receiver position. Texas and Texas A&M are expected to stop by Cy Ridge in the next two weeks to see Siverand and he has visited both.
Going back to the 2014 class, three more to keep an eye on are receiver Darious Crawley, defensive tackle Omar Cleveland and running back Christopher Robinson. Crawley, who spent some time at quarterback last year, will go to receiver full-time this fall and already holds offers from Iowa State, Kansas and Rice. Robinson, who is well built for his height (5-9, 185) shows good instincts, vision and has plenty of strength -- he can bench press and power clean more than 300 pounds and can squat nearly 600. He only had limited carries last year behind 2013 Oklahoma State signee Rennie Childs, but Robinson will get plenty of work this fall. Cleveland is a former offensive lineman who has moved to defense and showed on Friday that he can move well and has good size (6-2, 275).
2015 DT Lampkin shows well
Several coaches have been passing through Kirk Eaton's office at Houston Cypress Falls this spring and though the biggest name is in the 2014 class (Texas linebacker commit Otaro Alaka), one worth watching is 2015 defensive tackle Du'Vonta Lampkin.
He already has great size for the defensive interior (6-3, 291) and during contact drills he showed he's a load to handle. He has good strength and showed the ability to split double teams during practice on Wednesday. He hasn't received a ton of varsity playing time yet (he played part-time last year) but he will this fall.
Texas A&M will stop in before long to see Lampkin and Texas is also interested. He has visited both schools this spring. Oklahoma State, Duke, Texas State and Northwestern State were all present on Wednesday.
Aside from Alaka, another 2014 sleeper to watch is tight end prospect Ben Billings. The 6-2, 225-pounder plays H-back and tight end for Cy Falls and though their up-tempo spread attack doesn't utilize those positions often, Eaton said this fall they will find ways to use them because of Billings' talent and athleticism. He's the fourth in a line of Billings boys who have played for Cy Falls, starting with Fred Billings, an offensive lineman on the Golden Eagles' 2006 state finalist squad; Blake, a left tackle on the 2007 team; and Brooks, an offensive lineman on the 2012 team.
519dSam Khan Jr. and Max Olson