NCF On The Trail: Toby Weathersby

#SceneAndHeard Lunch Break: Sept. 8 

September, 8, 2014
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In today’s lunch break, it’s time to take a look at the top offensive line classes in 2015. If you are a fan of Clemson, the future is very bright in the trenches. On the West Coast, Erik McKinney breaks it down on a pair of ESPN 300 prospects.

Where's the beef in 2015?

With the dead period hitting last week and coaches taking much-needed vacations, the recruiting trail is as quiet as it gets during the year during the next week or so. Here’s the latest in recruiting around the Big 12:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Bears have had a couple of decommits in recent weeks but are still in terrific shape at the skill positions. Adding some beef up front, particularly along the offensive line, will be key for Baylor as this recruiting cycle progresses.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones' recruiting class looks much better today than it did early last month with Paul Rhoads' program landing five commitments in June including Austin (Texas) Westlake quarterback Dominic DeLira. It will be important for the Cyclones to hold off other suitors for DeLira and build this class around him now that he is on their commit list.

KANSAS
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Jayhawks added another junior college commitment when Trinity Valley Community College (Texas) defensive back L.B. Bates picked KU on June 29. Bates is a 6-foot, 175-pounder who is originally from Allen, Texas, and can play cornerback or safety.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: K-State has two commitments from Georgia -- running back Kalin Heath and Isaiah Zuber -- among their six total commitments. Bill Snyder’s program is one of many Big 12 schools that have recognized the opportunity to land overlooked hidden gems in SEC country.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: OU added alternate uniforms last week, with an eye on giving its recruiting a boost while maintaining its tradition. Several recruits liked the move, which had been in the works since last year with the help of former players Trey Millard, Aaron Colvin and Gabe Ikard contributing to the design.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Cowboys are off to a solid start on the recruiting trail, particularly at the skill positions. Nacogdoches (Texas) cornerback Jaylon Lane, a current Cowboys commit, is at The Opening this week and is considered one of the top cornerbacks in the nation.

TCU
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Horned Frogs might be in the best shape of any Big 12 school with more than half of its recruiting class already secured. TCU, which doesn’t have a ESPN300 member on its commit list, can now focus on rounding out its class with elite signees.

TEXAS
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: The Longhorns are in solid shape along the offensive front with three offensive linemen on their commit list including ESPN300 members Toby Weathersby of Houston, Texas/Westfield and Patrick Vahe of Euless, Texas/Trinity.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: Kliff Kingsbury’s program got terrific news last week when ESPN300 defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko of Honolulu, Hawaii/Farrington decided he would not take any more recruiting trips and is 100 percent committed to the Red Raiders. He will also take part in The Opening this week.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers are late to the party but WVU threw its hat into the mix in the race to sign elite Class of 2017 prospect Anthony Hines III of Plano, Texas/East. Hines has 43 total offers but has been committed to Mississippi State since Oct. 13.

Tale of the tape: Texas-Texas A&M 

May, 23, 2014
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There are those who believe the rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M is dead because the two programs are no longer in the same conference.

[+] EnlargeKendall Sheffield
Sam Khan Jr./ESPNTexas and Texas A&M are both after Kendall Sheffield, the No. 2 CB in the nation.
Those people are misguided. And emphatically incorrect.

Two words in February by new Texas head coach Charlie Strong helped light a new spark in the rivalry between two of the most respected programs in the Lone Star State. When asked about A&M’s recruiting methods -- which includes coach Kevin Sumlin making player visits in a helicopter dubbed the “Swagcopter” -- Strong said the Longhorns didn’t need to be a “gadget program,” as the university and its prestige still was enough to attract recruits.

The rest of the spring and the upcoming summer will be perfect opportunities to gauge where both programs stand among some of the elite athletes who are still uncommitted. Which school will dominate in recruiting the 2015 class?


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Editor's note: This week we're taking a closer look at five key takeaways from Texas' spring practices and what they mean for the summer and beyond.

AUSTIN, Texas -- High school kids like new. In hindsight, we really shouldn’t have underestimated that.

New uniforms, new helmets, new stadiums. All critical assets in recruiting. Just ask Kevin Sumlin, who, seemingly overnight, changed the perception of Texas A&M.

[+] EnlargeToby Weathersby
Max Olson/ESPNToby Weathersby is one of six four-star commits in Texas' 2015 class.
Texas isn’t changing its uniform or its helmets this year. Its stadium isn’t expanding just yet. But the Longhorns have a brand new coach, and that has made a world of difference on the trail this spring.

For all the disadvantages Charlie Strong and his staff faced when they first arrived, it’s hard to call the early results anything other than impressive. Texas’ staff has assembled the No. 11 recruiting class in the nation and is well on its way to transforming the way recruits look at the Longhorns.

Defensive end Charles Omenihu, one of nine verbal commits in the class, was hooked from the very beginning of his junior day visit. New Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford’s pitch was simple and compelling: “Why not Texas?”

“He was right. Why would you not want to go to Texas if you live in the state of Texas?” Omenihu said. “Why wouldn’t you want to play big ball at a place with a tradition for winning? That really stayed in my mind.”

The three-star defensive end from Rowlett, Texas, committed two days later and has become one of the leaders of the class, constantly staying in touch with his fellow commits and countless blue-chip targets.

He didn’t think much of Texas in recent years. The new staff got his attention, however, and convinced him that the Longhorns’ glory days are coming again, and soon.

“I remember visibly when they won it all in 2006 and them guys were flying around and looked good doing it, too,” Omenihu said. “They looked good, played hard and beat people up. You could see that in practice this spring. You could just tell.”

For the new staff, that rebranding of Texas football in the spring helped make up for a lot of lost time. Keep in mind, Strong, Bedford and several other assistants hardly recruited the Lone Star State at Louisville and they risked falling behind with the 2015 class with all the time they expended to secure the glass that inked in Februarby.

While Texas scrambled to close out that group, Texas A&M and other in-state foes were already hosting early junior days. Everyone else had a head start.

But the Longhorn staff had their house and their recruiting board in order by the time they hosted that first junior day on Feb. 23. The event led to commitments from Omenihu, Ronnie Major and DeShon Elliott, and also ensured Patrick Vahe would stay on board. That’s when the #letsride momentum starting rolling.

Since that first event, Texas has secured eight new verbal commitments and completed a major overhaul of the class Strong inherited. Only two of the nine verbal commitments Mack Brown landed for 2015 are still on the commit list.

Five of those early pledges elected to decommit. The other two, defensive backs Jalen Campbell and Johnny Shaw, will continue to be evaluated by the new staff this spring and summer.

As it stands today, the revamped class has pledges from five ESPN 300 prospects. Offensive tackle Toby Weathersby, the nation’s No. 138 recruit, bought in one month after his junior day trip.

“It’s just the way they go about doing things,” Weathersby said. “They get to the point. Real demanding. Coach Strong wants them to get back to a winning tradition and he’s doing everything the way he wants it to go. Let’s get it done.”

The intensity was just what he was looking for, he said, because he plays on a tight ship at Houston Westfield. And how did Strong take it when Weathersby declared he was ready to commit?

“Well, I had to catch him,” Weathersby said. “He jumped in my arms.”

Like Omenihu, Weathersby had his own beliefs about what was wrong with the Longhorns. He felt that in terms of intensity, Texas was “like a golf club” in Brown’s final years. Strong drastically flipped his perspective on the program’s future.

“I can’t really go into detail, because it would take me months and months,” Weathersby said with a laugh. “But the way he changed everything, I think it’s a more strict football program and, with his way of doing things, it’s for the better.”

Omenihu’s wish list for this Texas class is ambitious, and includes ESPN 300 recruits Malik Jefferson, Chris Warren III, Holton Hill, Kris Boyd, Ryan Newsome and Cameron Townsend. And he doesn’t intend to give up on five-star Texas A&M commit Daylon Mack.

“I wonder why great defensive players would choose to go to A&M,” Omenihu said. “It boggles my mind. They don’t really play defense. If I’m wrong, someone please tell me.”

Worse things were being said about the Longhorns before Strong showed up, that's for sure. This is a game of perception, and so far, Texas' head coach is already changing the game.

Texas spring game draws loaded list 

April, 18, 2014
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Charlie Strong’s #letsride movement is picking up momentum, and it’s going to the next level on Saturday at Texas’ Orange-White spring game.

Strong and his coaching staff already have picked up seven verbal commitments since taking over and could have a chance to lock up a few more at the annual spring game. As many as 100 prospects from the 2014, 2015, 2016 and even 2017 classes are expected to be on the sidelines and in the stands for the unofficial first game of the Strong era.

The highlight of that lengthy list? Texas is expected to receive unofficial visits from the following members of the newly released ESPN 300:

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Charlie Strong asked for a couple of months to let the dust settle and establish himself. That’s all the time he needed to get his point across as the new coach at Texas.

Since taking over in early January, Strong has visited multiple high school campuses throughout the state, hosted junior day events and used countless cellphone minutes to connect with players, coaches and parents. Gone, for now, is the perception that the job of replacing Mack Brown -- an iconic figure in college football -- would be too difficult for Strong.

The reality -- Strong’s directness, his X’s and O’s knowledge and win-now attitude -- is setting in with the Class of 2015 recruits. Strong is now the face of what many believe is the new Texas. The transformation took roughly 90 days.


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Texas got stronger on Saturday with a commitment from an Under Armour All-American offensive lineman.

Houston Westfield offensive tackle Toby Weathersby became commit No. 9 for the Longhorns in the 2015 class when he gave his pledge after attending a spring practice.


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Strong, Texas hosting first junior day 

February, 22, 2014
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Texas takes its first big step toward building up its 2015 recruiting class under new coach Charlie Strong on Saturday, with the Longhorns’ first junior day of the year.

The Longhorns are reportedly bringing in as many as 70 prospects for unofficial campus visits this weekend, including six committed prospects and more than a dozen ranked in the ESPN 300.


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Houston SPARQ All-Combine team

February, 26, 2013
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SHENANDOAH, Texas -- Over 1,430 athletes gathered on Feb. 23 at Woodforest Bank Stadium for the Houston stop of the Nike Football SPARQ Combine tour. Here is a look at the 25 standout performers who make up the Houston All-Combine team.

Note: Selections are based upon combine performance as well as past and projected on-field performance. Athletes must have completed two of the four combine tests to be eligible for selection. Athletes are in the Class of 2014 unless otherwise noted.

OFFENSE

QB: Michael Haywood, 5-foot-11, 178 pounds, Houston Westside
Results: 4.73 40-yard dash, 4.47 shuttle, 33-foot power ball, 30.9-inch vertical jump, 76.23 SPARQ
Breakdown: Accounted for 31 TDs to earn District 20-5A Co-MVP honors as a junior.

RB: Rodney Anderson (2015), 6-0 , 196, Katy (Texas) High
Results: 4.63 40, 4.13 shuttle, 35.5’ PB, 36.9” VJ, 109.29 SPARQ
Breakdown: Star junior-to-be scored 26 times for the state champion Tigers last season.

[+] EnlargeVic Enwere
Sam Khan Jr./ESPNSugar Land (Texas) Ft. Bend Austin RB Vic Enwere had a big day at the Houston SPARQ Combine, posting a 120.51 SPARQ Rating.
RB: Vic Enwere, 6-0 , 210, Sugar Land (Texas) Ft. Bend Austin
Results: 4.61 40, 4.31 shuttle, 38’ PB, 41.0” VJ, 120.51 SPARQ
Breakdown: Enwere rushed for 1,208 yards and 16 TDs in the fall. SMU, Rice, Colorado and Utah have offered.

RB: Forrest Town, 5-11, 187, Zachary (La.) High
Results: 4.55 40, 4.28 shuttle, 37’ PB, 40.0” VJ, 113.28 SPARQ
Breakdown: Ran for 945 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior.

WR: Morie Evans (2015), 5-11, 180, Huntsville (Texas) High
Results: 4.58 40, 4.34 shuttle, 34’ PB, 32.7” VJ, 90.96 SPARQ
Breakdown: TCU already has offered this speedy rising junior.

WR: Gabe Fuselier, 5-10, 175, New Iberia (La.) Catholic
Results: 4.45 40, 4.03 shuttle, 35’ PB, 34.9” VJ, 113.28 SPARQ
Breakdown: Repeat selection from New Orleans event upped his SPARQ Rating 12 points.

WR: Bobby Hartzog, 5-10 , 178, Houston Westside
Results: 4.49 40, 4.22 shuttle, 37’ PB, 37.4” VJ, 110.91 SPARQ
Breakdown: Caught 35 passes for 654 yards and nine scores to earn all-district in the fall.

TE: Dimitri Flowers, 6-2, 214, San Antonio Churchill
Results: 4.83 40, 4.59 shuttle, 40’ PB, 32.4” VJ, 92.49 SPARQ
Breakdown: Son of former NFL DL Erik Flowers scored 16 times as a junior.

OL: Ashmeed Ahamad, 6-1, 262, Deer Park (Texas) High
Results: 4.80 40, 4.75 shuttle, 32.5' PB, 23.3" VJ, 71.61 SPARQ
Breakdown: Will spend this summer looking to build off a strong 2012 season in which he was an All-District 21-5A selection.

OL: Robert Castaneda, 6-4.5, 304, Round Rock (Texas) High
Results: 5.38 40, 4.78 Shuttle, 41.0' PB, 25.2" VJ, 91.14 SPARQ
Breakdown: Came out of nowhere to post the highest SPARQ Rating for an OL thus far in 2013.

OL: Connor Lanfear (2015), 6-5, 261, Buda (Texas) Hays
Results: 5.54 40, 4.84 Shuttle, 35.0' PB, 31.4" VJ, 74.88 SPARQ
Breakdown: Sophomore starter for the 10-2 Rebels should be a major prospect in the Class of 2015.

OL: Toby Weathersby (2015), 6-4, 280, Houston Westfield
Results: 5.54 40, 5.15 Shuttle, 42.0' PB, 20.2" VJ, 71.52 SPARQ
Breakdown: Posted the top power ball toss of the day. Expected to be a big contributor next year for the Mustangs.

ATH: DeUnte Chatman (2015), 5-11 , 210, Houston Summer Creek
Results: 4.55 40, 4.47 shuttle, 37.5’ PB, 35.2” VJ, 104.61 SPARQ
Breakdown: Versatile H-back/tight end should be big weapon for Summer Creek next fall.

ATH: Reggie Turner, 5-7 , 151, Pasadena (Texas) Memorial
Results: 4.71 40, 4.09 shuttle, 36’ PB, 32.4” VJ, 92.22 SPARQ
Breakdown: Versatile threat was District 22-5A Co-MVP last fall, scoring 19 touchdowns.

DEFENSE

DL: Zach Vaughan, 6-4, 218, Austin (Texas) McNeil
Results: 4.79 40, 4.19 shuttle, 41’ PB, 32.6” VJ, 112.56 SPARQ
Breakdown: Colorado, Texas Tech, Houston and Rice are among Vaughan’s early offers.

DL: Justin Hollins, 6-5, 205, Arlington (Texas) Grace Prep Academy
Results: 4.67 40, 4.38 Shuttle, 36.0' PB, 33.9" VJ, 96.42 SPARQ
Breakdown: One of the more impressive physical prospects to come through the Houston event.

LB: Arthur McGinnis (2015), 6-2, 204, New Orleans Warren Easton
Results: 4.66 40, 4.44 shuttle, 36’ PB, 32.3” VJ, 92.04 SPARQ
Breakdown: Louisiana rising junior turned in his second strong Nike combine this offseason.

LB: Tobenna Okeke, 6-2, 186, Missouri City (Texas) Elkins
Results: 4.68 40, 4.37 shuttle, 38’ PB, 35.1” VJ, 98.82 SPARQ
Breakdown: Athletic linebacker was an All-District 23-5A pick in the fall.

LB: Micah Thomas, 6-0, 244, Cedar Park (Texas) Vista Ridge
Results: 4.96 40, 4.57 shuttle, 35’ PB, 34.3” VJ, 90.66 SPARQ
Breakdown: Big ‘backer had six sacks and four forced fumbles to earn all-area honors in 2012.

DB: Andrew Aneke, 5-11 , 177, Missouri City (Texas) Elkins
Results: 4.66 40, 4.26 shuttle, 38’ PB, 37.4” VJ, 104.73 SPARQ
Breakdown: Track standout showed up big time Saturday.

DB: Craig McWilliams, 5-11, 172, Pflugerville (Texas) High
Results: 4.58 40, 4.12 shuttle, 39.5’ PB, 37.2” VJ, 114.42 SPARQ
Breakdown: McWilliams put himself on the map with day’s second-best SPARQ Rating.

DB: Trai Mosley, 5-8, 163, Pflugerville (Texas) Hendrickson
Results: 4.63 40, 4.30 shuttle, 38’ PB, 36.6” VJ, 100.62
Breakdown: Physical corner totaled 34 tackles and three interceptions as a junior.

DB: Arrion Springs, 5-11, 185, San Antonio (Texas) Roosevelt
Results: 4.46 40, 4.12 shuttle, 33.5’ PB, 34.0” VJ, 107.07 SPARQ
Breakdown: Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Baylor and Vanderbilt are among Springs’ early offers.

DB: Marlon Walls, 5-9 , 182, Pearland (Texas) High
Results: 4.64 40, 4.09 shuttle, 34’ PB, 34.4” VJ, 100.95 SPARQ
Breakdown: Safety/outside linebacker earned second-team all-district in the fall.

DB: Jordan Washington, 5-11, 186, Pflugerville (Texas) Hendrickson
Results: 4.73 40, 4.22 shuttle, 39’ PB, 38.3” VJ, 108.72 SPARQ
Breakdown: Washington raised his SPARQ Rating 26 points from a year ago.

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