NCF On The Trail: Ian Sadler

Little Argyle making a big mark

January, 10, 2014
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ARGYLE, Texas -- A scrolling billboard highlights the website for Argyle, Texas, one of the growing destinations of north-central Texas. The collaboration perfectly defines the community of roughly 3,500.

The message from the first billboard reads, “Welcome to Argyle. Your home. Well deserved.” The second billboard says, “Local community. Good for business.” A third billboard reads, “Life well spent. First class. Rural style.”

And then, there’s a fourth billboard. To the left reads, “Quality of life.” The right, a picture of the Argyle High School football team coming out of its inflatable tunnel.

Argyle is a community that, like many other Texas communities, backs its football team. It’s also a community that’s very proud of how far its team has come in such a short time. In only 12 full-schedule varsity seasons, Argyle has become a major recruiting hotbed. Four players will sign with FBS programs in February. A fifth player will run track in the Big 12 and a sixth will sign in 2015.

“That’s the definition of a blessing,” Argyle coach Todd Rodgers said. “We’re very fortunate, and for those kids to wear the Argyle uniform, it’s a blessing. We’re just cycling the right direction right now.”

‘People are starting to notice’

On Feb. 5, four-star wide receiver Ian Sadler and three-star safety Connor Wilson are expected to sign with Texas Tech. Three-star linebacker Sam Sizelove and three-star kicker Cole Hedlund are expected to sign with Kansas State and Arkansas, respectively.

Sadler Argyle's not big. There's nowhere to eat. You have a school, a football field and roads. Then there's a bunch of land. That's about it. But the community and football team are together; they're one. For the last however many years, the community's been behind us. With all them, we felt unstoppable.

-- Argyle's Ian Sadler, a Texas Tech commit
Add in cornerback Reese Thompson, who has committed to Texas for track and field, and 2015 running back Nick Ralston, who has an Arizona State offer, and that’s six Division I athletes for a program with rural numbers. Argyle has fewer than 700 students in grades 9-12. The varsity football team had 57 players on its playoff roster, and Rodgers said the regular-season roster featured fewer than 50.

What makes this even more impressive is that Argyle currently has more committed players than some of Texas’ largest high schools. The Plano school district -- with three schools collectively fielding more than 16,000 students -- currently has four 2014 commits total.

“It’s crazy to think we can say we had six D-Is playing in the state championship,” Sadler said. “Things have definitely changed a lot since we started high school.”

Sadler may be the most decorated of the four Argyle commits. The Red Raiders pledge played quarterback, receiver, running back and punter in high school and will go to Texas Tech as an inside receiver. He will join Wilson, a good-sized safety who can cover a lot of ground in a hurry, something the Red Raiders are looking for in their defensive backs.

Sizelove, who is recovering from an ACL and MCL injury on his right leg, will play either inside or outside linebacker and is expected to be a major asset for Kansas State. Hedlund, the national record holder for career field goals, looks as though he will be a weapon for Arkansas. He consistently frustrated opponents by making long field goals and turning kickoffs into touchbacks.

These players are helping to continue a budding recruiting tradition in the small Texas community. Offensive lineman Trey Keenan, a 2012 Argyle graduate, just finished his redshirt freshman season at Texas Tech. Austin Aune, another 2012 graduate and a multisport star at Argyle, was recruited as a quarterback to TCU but instead chose to pursue a pro baseball career in the Yankees' organization.

“We've had coaches from the Big 12, the Big Ten, the SEC and the Pac-12 come by,” Rodgers said. "It’s a good sampling across the nation, and people are starting to notice.”

‘They’re not going to make a mistake on a kid from Argyle’

Argyle capped this 2013 season with a 16-0 record and its first state championship in front of 22,071 fans. Sadler shined in victory, compiling 284 all-purpose yards, rushing for three touchdowns and returning a punt 65 yards for another score. He also punted three times and averaged 46 yards a punt.

Rodgers always has been the first one to say college coaches will find talent on a visit to Argyle. It’s a town placed between Denton and Keller, two Texas cities that have produced quality athletes, including ESPN 300 quarterback Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer), ESPN Junior 300 offensive lineman Maea Teuhema (Keller, Texas/Keller) and, of course, Florida State’s Mario Edwards Jr. (Denton, Texas/Ryan), the No. 1-ranked player in the Class of 2012.

“College coaches stop by and check out the kids,” Rodgers said. “We may or may not have very many in the upcoming years, but they can’t leave a stone unturned when they come to Argyle.

“One thing’s for sure: They’re not going to make a mistake on a kid from Argyle. They’re going to find good football players. They’re big, they’re physical, they run fast, and they can contribute at the Division I level.”

The reason for all the talent? All of the players will point the finger at Rodgers and the Argyle coaching staff. Rodgers has built a program that is not only fearless on the field, but also goal-oriented enough to understand that football can be used as a stepping stone for bigger and better things in life.

“They always have your back,” Sizelove said of the coaches. “They want to make sure you play at the best place possible. Recruiting has its ups and downs, but Coach Rodgers and everyone will always be there to talk about it.”

‘The community and football team are together; they’re one’

Sadler, Sizelove and Hedlund have known one another since elementary school. Wilson arrived at Argyle the summer of his junior year after transferring from Coppell, Texas. With only 29 seniors on the roster, Argyle is proof that it’s not where you come from, but where you are going.

“Argyle’s not big,” Sadler said, grinning. “There’s nowhere to eat. You have a school, a football field and roads. Then there’s a bunch of land. That’s about it.

“But the community and football team are together; they’re one. For the last however many years, the community’s been behind us. With all them, we felt unstoppable.”

And they were unstoppable as a high school team. Now, a handful of players will look to build a similar bond with college teammates.

“Playing with guys like Austin Aune and Trey Keenan showed us what it took to play at the highest level and be D-I player,” Sizelove said. “We watched what it took to be a big-time football player. We learned from that and applied it to our game.”

Now it’s their turn to be the leaders for the younger players. And with the help of Rodgers’ coaching, expect more of the same from a recruiting standpoint. More and more players will earn college scholarships and help put their rising community on the map.

“Winning. That’s what it was all about,” Sadler said. “Now it’s time for all of us to do the same in college.”

Big 12 signing day storylines 

December, 17, 2013
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Consider the countdown a go.

With 50 days from national signing day, a lot of questions about star players have been answered. Some questions, however, are still left to be answered.

Here are 10 signing day storylines that could affect recruiting classes throughout the Big 12:

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

December, 2, 2013
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As we inch closer to signing day, more and more schools are filling up their 2014 recruiting classes, and more and more elite athletes are preparing to make big announcements. While college football week saw one of its greatest weeks in a long time, many commits and targets were trying to balance their time watching college games with playing in their own high school playoff contests.

Here are some of this past week’s highlights:

Biggest commitment: Oklahoma State picked up its 23rd commitment when three-star defensive end Trey Carter (Dallas/Pinkston) gave his verbal pledge. Carter became the third defensive end and fifth defensive lineman to commit to the Cowboys. At 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, Carter said he chose Oklahoma State for the athletic and academic opportunities. “Coach [Mike] Gundy said it didn’t matter if I get hurt; he still was going to promise me an education. No matter what, I’d still get my education,” said Carter, who wants to major in law enforcement and become a district attorney. “I didn’t hear that from the other schools.”

Biggest offer: Junior college quarterback Skyler Howard (White Settlement, Texas/Riverside Community College) has been impressive in Southern California Football Association play, throwing for more than 3,100 yards, 33 touchdowns and six interceptions. Howard had offers from New Mexico State and Northern Colorado, but the 6-0, 205-pound quarterback recently earned his first BCS offer from West Virginia. Recruited to West Virginia by offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, Howard has Big 12 interest and could be a great addition to the Mountaineers. Wherever he plays, he will have three years of eligibility, as he was an academic qualifier out of high school.

Best performance by a commit/target: In arguably the biggest game of the year for his high school team, Texas Tech commit Ian Sadler (Argyle, Texas/Argyle) put on a show Friday night. Sadler accounted for 220 rushing and receiving yards and five touchdowns in a 45-38 win against Gilmer, Texas, a team Argyle has played four consecutive years and earned victories in three out of four games. Sadler, recruited to play inside receiver for the Red Raiders, rushed for 182 yards and four touchdowns and also caught two passes for 38 yards and a fifth score.

Afterward, Sadler took to Twitter to show some love to his teammates.

Most important visit: Texas isn’t a fan of its commits taking official visits to other schools. Four-star defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren) is still solid to the Longhorns, but he made the trip to Tempe, Ariz., to check out the Arizona State campus. Ranked as the nation’s No. 27 defensive tackle, Lealaimatafao has visited Arizona State and UCLA, and he’s expected to take his official visit to Texas the weekend of Dec. 13. The 6-1, 301-pound defender committed to Texas on March 30.

Biggest answer: While TCU didn’t get the win against Baylor on Saturday, the Horned Frogs silenced the critics who thought Gary Patterson’s group hung up their cleats early. Baylor needed all 60 minutes to beat TCU, 41-38, and it was enough to impress the Horned Frogs’ commits -- particularly, TCU’s top-ranked recruit, four-star quarterback Foster Sawyer (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal).



Even for schools like Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas, who all have recruiting classes ranked in the top 40, there is still a lot of work to be done for the Class of 2014. Here is a look at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for every school in the Big 12.

Baylor
Best-case scenario: The Bears continue to put up gaudy numbers on offense, which allows them to round out one of their best-ever classes with a few more gems. One recruit they would love to add is Randall Cunningham II (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman). On defense, one of Baylor’s top targets is ESPN 300 cornerback Nick Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne). Texas struggling this season sure does help BU's recruiting.


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The momentum train continues to roll right along in Lubbock, Texas, where first-year Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury has the Red Raiders off to a 4-0 start.

Their winning ways have benefited their recruiting efforts, too, as they have the No. 31 class overall in the latest ESPN RecruitingNation class rankings and have picked up three commitments in the last two weeks.

If they are to jump any of their conference foes in the rankings, it will have to be another week since there wasn’t any movement with the Big 12 schools.

Texas continues to lead the way with the No. 7 class, followed by Baylor at No. 17, Oklahoma at No. 22, Oklahoma State at No. 29 and West Virginia at No. 40.

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Big 12 recruiting mailbag

September, 27, 2013
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This week’s Big 12 mailbag focuses on Texas Tech’s class and underrated prospects committed and uncommitted to conference schools. It also discusses some of the tangibles seen from coaches in a Big 12 wide receiver. We encourage all to send questions each week, either via Twitter to @DamonSayles or @ESPNWilkerson or by email at dsaylesespn@gmail.com or wilkerson.espn@gmail.com.

From @taylormidkiff: Who is the most underrated prospect that a Big 12 team will end up getting?

I think that can be answered in two ways. There are a few underrated prospects already committed to a Big 12 program, but running back Traevohn Wrench (Gardner, Kan./Gardner-Edgerton) will be one to watch next year at Kansas. Wrench has been a 2,000-yard back since his sophomore year and is on pace to pass Bubba Starling this season for career rushing yards at the high school. As for the uncommitted underrated prospects of the world, if wide receiver Del’Michael High (Mesquite, Texas/Horn) can get things right academically, he will be every bit as good as any of the ESPN 300 receivers, top to bottom. High, at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, does so much on raw talent alone; coaching from the Big 12 level could make him an all-conference player as a sophomore.

[+] EnlargeNick Watkins
William Wilkerson/ESPN.comESPN 300 cornerback Nick Watkins is still wide open in his recruiting which could help some Big 12 teams.
From PJ Worthen: What are the chances Tech finishes with a top 25 class? After getting Connor Wilson to flip his commit, is Sam Sizelove to follow? What big name recruits have Tech on their radar? Thanks for the time, I enjoy your work!

Thanks for the comments, first of all. Texas Tech is ranked No. 31 in the latest ESPN class rankings. The Red Raiders will need a couple of ESPN 300 commits -- or see some of the teams ahead of it lose some big-name pledges -- to crack the top 25. Texas Tech has 20 commits, which means there’s still room to land some highly ranked players. If the Red Raiders can continue to stay undefeated, they might turn the heads of players still wide open in the process -- such as ESPN 300 cornerback Nick Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne), four-star running back Corey Avery (Dallas/Carter) and high three-star safety Payton Hendrix (Dallas/Bishop Dunne). As for Sizelove (Argyle, Texas/Argyle), he’s said on multiple occasions that he’s still solid with Kansas State -- but the idea of playing with high school teammates Wilson and four-star receiver Ian Sadler is very intriguing.

From @bryantwing: Does Texas have a legitimate chance of reviving their season and win the Big 12? Why or why not?

The losses to BYU and Ole Miss will be short-lived if the Longhorns can score a win against Oklahoma on Oct. 12. The Red River Rivalry is considered by some as the end-all, be-all for Texas’ season. Currently, the Longhorns are undefeated in Big 12 play, and if they can beat the Sooners, they will have the confidence to take out anyone in the conference. If they take a bad loss to Oklahoma, questions about beating TCU, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor will begin to spread.

From @dmiller37: Do you see RB/WR Justyn Oliphant (Mesquite, Texas/Horn) fitting into a Big 12 program and which one?

Through four games, Oliphant has 49 rushes for 286 yards. He’s still looking for his first offer, but his seven touchdowns show he can get the job done when his number’s called. He’s not the biggest player at 5-8 and 170 pounds, but he has similar physical qualities as Iowa State running back James White. Although the Cyclones have two big, three-star backs committed in 6-0, 196-pound Tommy Mister (Chicago/St. Rita) and 6-0, 200-pound Martinez Syria (Houston/Nimitz), Oliphant would make for a nice change-of-pace back for the program, someone who also can line up as a slot receiver.

From @AdidasKing5: What kind of receivers fit in well in the big 12

In short, coaches want playmakers. They want receivers who specialize in results. Size, speed and agility preferences differ with every coach, but all coaches will agree that they want a reliable option to the passing game and someone who scores touchdowns or puts them in great position to score, runs great routes and won’t drop passes. Coaches want receivers who will make the lives of opposing defensive backs miserable. There’s still time for uncommitted receivers to make a name for themselves, but the window closes each week.

From @cody_winning: Which Big 12 team is performing the best in terms of recruiting nationally?

If you’re talking about how teams are performing on the field with past recruits, you’ve got to look at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys look really good right now, but Baylor is looking equally dangerous. Both have solid 2014 classes that will only enhance what’s been done. As for the Big 12 team with the top 2014 recruiting class, you have to look at the Texas Longhorns. With seven ESPN 300 commits, the Longhorns have a top-10 class, and they could land one or two more big names. Defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) and safety Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie), two ESPN 300 players, are among the players still very high on Texas.
Three-star safety Connor Wilson (Argyle, Texas/Argyle) has switched his verbal pledge from Kansas State to Texas Tech, Wilson told RecruitingNation on Tuesday.

In doing so, Wilson, the No. 54 safety in 2014, became Texas Tech’s 19th commitment and third safety prospect along with fellow three-stars Derrick Dixon (Dallas/Skyline) and Jah'Shawn Johnson (Ennis, Texas/Ennis). Dixon and Johnson are the Nos. 113 and. 129 safeties respectively.

Wilson was Kansas State’s second-highest rated commitment in 2014 behind Dalton Risner (Wiggins, Colo./Wiggins), who is the No. 7 center overall. He was set to join his teammate, three-star outside linebacker Sam Sizelove, in Manhattan, Kan.

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As we inch closer to the start of the college football season, wins and losses are going to be important -- not only for bowl-game consideration but also to keep current commitments interested.

Several 2014 athletes have pledged to Big 12 programs, and it’s up to the conference's schools to keep those athletes committed. Here are must-keep recruits for each team, athletes who can impact their respective classes.


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TTU picks up much-needed defender 

August, 12, 2013
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Commit No. 17 is in for Texas Tech, and with a 2014 recruiting class loaded with offensive players, the Red Raiders picked up some much-needed help on the defensive side of the ball.


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The RN Top 10 will appear throughout the camp and combine season and rank prospects based strictly on their on-field performance at that particular event. It does not reflect their overall prospect rankings.

LEANDER, Texas -- The annual Texas state 7-on-7 championships featured nearly 50 Division-I commits and 10 members of the ESPN 300, so finding 10 standouts for the week was not a difficult task.

Lots of big-name recruits were left off this top 10, and some surprise names snuck into the list thanks to big-time performances during the three-day event.

10. Del’Michael High

Mesquite (Texas) Horn | WR | 6-foot-2, 180 pounds

Teammate Jarrison Stewart has received more interest from recruiters, but it was High who impressed us more at state. He’s a big-bodied target who caught nearly everything thrown his way and was the go-to guy on one of the better offenses in the tournament. High is not receiving much recruiting interest, but there’s no doubt he’s got talent.


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LEANDER, Texas -- The 2013 Texas State 7-on-7 Tournament saw a number of college football targets put on a show. It also saw some of the lesser-known players make a case for more publicity.

Graham (Texas) High School won the Division II (small-school) competition, while Southlake (Texas) Carroll claimed the Division I (large-school) prize. Carroll won the first 7-on-7 state tile 15 years ago in College Station, Texas.

Here are five things we learned from the state tournament:

2015 has one over former Carroll QBs

[+] EnlargeRyan Agnew
Damon Sayles/ESPN.comClass of 2015 QB Ryan Agnew showed poise in leading Southlake Carroll's aggressive passing attack to the Division I title.
Southlake Carroll has a tradition of producing quality quarterbacks. Chase Daniel, Greg McElroy and Kyle Padron all have NFL experience, and Daniel, McElroy, Chase Wasson, Riley Dodge and incoming Texas A&M freshman Kenny Hill have won state championships. Ryan Agnew hopes to follow those footsteps.

The 2015 quarterback did something that the others hadn’t, and that’s lead Carroll to the state 7-on-7 title. Agnew connected with receivers such as Luke Timian and Keaton Duhon en route to an undefeated run in the tournament.

Agnew, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound quarterback, has early looks from Northwestern, Iowa State, Texas Tech and Ole Miss.


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Weekly commitment roundup 

April, 26, 2013
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ACC
Boston College
Jon Baker, OC (Millis, Mass./Millis)
Height: 6-foot-3 Weight: 305 pounds
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation pending

Kevin Cohee, ILB (West Roxbury, Mass./Roxbury Latin)
HT: 6-3 WT: 240
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation pending

Duke

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Before the electricity the Texas Tech spring game provided, Ian Sadler (Argyle, Texas/Argyle) decided to make things even better for the Red Raiders late Saturday morning.


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