RECRUITING: Here's Your Big Back Right Here

The Gators have been looking for a monster running back that can step in the hole at the line and get those punishing yards. If they can find one that can go the distance, even better. Ryan Houston, of Matthews (NC) Butler, is a 6'2", 240 pound monster of a back that can beat on a defense or run by a defense and is being recruited heavily by the Gators.

(Ryan Houston profile)

Houston ran for 1,814 yards and 34 touchdowns last season as a junior in the toughest conference in North Carolina football. His Butler team went 10-3 on the year and finished just third in the conference, eventually losing to Chris Leak's old high school, Charlotte Independence in the playoffs.

That season, it was the East Mecklenberg game that showed just what Houston is capable of. In the first half he and his Butler teammates were stymied and losing 19-0. Houston was pounding away, but couldn't break through. In the second half, it was totally different.

"In the first possession of the second half I took the ball 44 yards for a touchdown, Houston said. "The next possession I had a 77 yard touchdown."

They eventually won the game.

It has been a crazy journey for Houston to get to the running back position, but he is now on the verge of becoming the Charlotte area's all-time leading rusher. He almost never became a high school running back because of his size.

"I guess it's like my size, people can't believe I am so big and I can run like I can," he said. "When I was in 7th grade, I was a quarterback. I switched to running back in my eighth grade year and I thought they were going to move me in high school to defense. Then they gave me the ball a couple of times and they liked it and I started as a freshman on varsity. I have been a big back since the ninth grade. I just wasn't as fast back then, but I run a 4.57 right now.

He is looking for he and his teammates to take the next step this year. They were young last year and finding their way. Now with a year of maturity under their belt, he looks to strike it big.

"I expect us to be real good," he said. "We had a whole bunch of new people last year and no one thought we would be as good as we were. We had a whole bunch of sophomores, but now they are juniors, I think we are going to be real good. We only lose two linemen and have two linemen stepping up, so I think I will be safe next year."

Some of the national powers have already come calling for Houston and he has nine scholarship offers to play football. Clemson, Tennessee, Michigan, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Virginia, and Virginia Tech all like what they see and want Houston to carry the ball for them.

Florida and North Carolina are the ones really beating his door down to get him to commit to be on their squads. Of course, the Florida coach in charge of the North Carolina area is easily recognizable to Gator fans and fans from the Tar Heel State. Safety Coach John "Doc" Holliday is hot on the trail of Houston.

"Doc Holliday is great," Houston said. "He texts me all the time and I call him every once in a while. He is just a good person. He talks about my grades and he helps me out.

"I also talk to (Running Backs) Coach Drayton and he talks how they are going to run the ball a lot," he said. "He said Tim Tebow will be the quarterback if I go there and we would run a lot of option. He said they will counter a lot, which is what we do at my school, we don't have a fullback either. He told me I have great foot work for a big man."

North Carolina is also very hot after the in-state kid.

"I just got done with a text from Chapel Hill," Houston said. "Them and Florida are recruiting me the hardest. They both text message me every day."

"The North Carolina coach told me I needed to work on getting to the hole quicker and make my cut quick. I kind of agree with him, I noticed it when I watched my highlight tape again. I think I might be just a little hesitant, instead of estimating where the hole is, I kind of wait for it to develop."

"Coach Brock is recruiting me at North Carolina. He is great. He does the same thing as Holliday, he texts me every day. He tries to get me to come up there every weekend, but it's two hours and kind of a long drive for every weekend. I get up there a lot though."

If a school is going to be recruiting him, they better watch what they say an how they say it. Houston sees himself as a running back and he isn't going to let anyone tell him other wise. He has been on the lookout for schools trying to make him into a defensive player.

"I wouldn't necessarily mind playing another position, but I want to play running back," he said being nice about it. "If I had to move, I would, but I think I am better at running back. I saw a message board at South Carolina, and one of the coaches there evidently said I was a good player and thought I would be good on defense. Clemson sent me a letter and it said that I would look good on defense. I showed them no defensive film, so I don't know why they did that."

He plans on getting around and seeing a lot of his favorite schools. Some he will make visits to in the spring, and some he will get to in the summer. He also wants to visit the campuses on official visits so he can see the game day atmospheres.

"On April 1st I am going to Florida for a junior day," he said. "On April 8th I will be at Chapel Hill for their spring game. I also plan on doing a whole bunch of one day camps. I will probably take my officials during the season so I can see the game atmosphere."

School is going well and Houston will be taking his first attempt at the ACT on May 6th. Ryan Houston seems to have his priorities straight and a plan to make the best decision when it comes to a future school. Keep an eye out on this big time back and watch him shine this year.

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