As far as Fayetteville High head coach Darryl Patton sees it, he's got one of the best – if not the best – tight ends in state.
The bonus is he will have him for two more seasons.
Josh Hale (6-4, 200) is primed for a breakout junior season after showing off his talent as a sophomore.
"I expect big things from him," Patton said. "As far as a receiving tight end, I will put him up against anybody in the state. He runs great routes. We need to get any stronger, but he started six games as sophomore for us last year, played in every game and made a statement on how good he was going to be in the future."
Hale will be in action beginning Friday in the two-day, 32-team McDonald's Select 7-on-7 Tournament on the campus of the University of Arkansas.
He's shown his ability already this summer in several other 7-on-7 events – not only as a tight end, but moving out wide and making plays as guys like Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez have made en vogue in the NFL.
"They are kind of like me in that they block, catch the ball and tight end and also can move out and make plays," Hale said. "I really admire the way they play the game and really try to do things like that have been doing on their level."
Fayetteville won the 7A state title last season and have many of their offensive stars coming back.
The Purple Bulldogs will need to replace quarterback Blake McDonald and wideout Gionni Harris, but have sophomore Brandon Allen and senior move-in Bobby Petrino poised to do so.
"Our goals are to try and repeat this year," Hale said. "We have an awesome sophomore quarterback (Allen) who is already stepping up and showing his talent. We've also got some really good receivers coming back and I think we are going to be really good."
Fayetteville also has other wideouts such as Kellen Summers, Franco Broyles, Coy Holmes and sophomore sensation Demetrius Dean – almost a carbon copy of Hale.
There's also incoming sophomore running back Dylan Hale, Josh's younger brother.
"We have a lot of weapons on offense," Hale said. "I feel like we can do it again this year."
Hale certainly felt there was a jump from junior high to high school.
"The competition was better, the size of the opponent was bigger and they were a lot faster," Hale said. "It was a big step up, a whole new world out there, but you eventually get used to it and just go make plays."
To that point, Hale hit the weights once the off-season rolled around.
"I didn't feel like I was as strong as I could have been and I went to work on making sure that is not the case this year," Hale said. "I really worked on my upper body and my legs so I could have power up top and the drive down low."
Hale has started to get interest from Arkansas, SMU and Arkansas-Pine Bluff to name a few schools.
He has a favorable impression of the new Razorback head coach Bobby Petrino and his staff.
"I've talked to a few of their coaches and they really seem to know what they are doing," Hale said. "I really like (UA assistant coach) Tim Horton. They just all really seem to know what is going on."
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