Solomon Thomas- Stanford- 2014
The Coppell (Texas) five-star defensive lineman was not always man of many recruiting words, but you always had to respect the honesty with how he approached the process and you could take what he said to the bank. It was that approach to the process that made him one of my favorite recruits to cover. He and his teammates at Coppell had to deal with a tragedy when it lost friend and teammate Jacob Logan in the midst of an undefeated season to a cliff diving accident. But how Thomas led the team in the honor of Logan and Logan’s family from that point forward tells you all that you need to know about the type of person that the current Stanford star is.
J.B. Shugarts– Ohio State- 2008
This guy was a beast on the field and a lot of fun to watch coming out of Klein (Texas), but even more importantly he was whole lot of fun to interview and deal with. His answers were always direct and to the point, but most importantly entertaining. He and fellow Houston-area recruit Sam McGuffie really helped change the way that recruiting was covered and presented online with viral videos, photos, highlights and visit updates. Shugarts actually wrote his own commitment quotes and sent them in when he committed to the Buckeyes, and this was well before the days of Twitter DM or text message interviews, and now he is a published writer. Bonus Point: There are two Shugarts on the way up at Evans (Ga.) Greenbrier (Stone and Beau) who both told me back in the day that I should be on the look out for them.
Austin Box- Oklahoma- 2007
Chances are that I would not still be in this business if it was not for the magic of the abilities that Box showed on the field. My first year covering prep games in the Midlands region was spent during Box’s playoff run back in the Fall of 2006. He was a warrior on the field, but most importantly he brought the joy of the game and what he did onto the field and was able to uniquely have the ability to share it with his family and the fans in Enid (Okla.). If you were a part of that or have experienced something like it then you can possibly understand the magic I am talking about. He was Enid and he was football. RIP Austin.
Ricky was an absolute pleasure to watch play. He played both ways at Sealy (Texas) and he is one of the best pure football players that I have covered. He was the heart and soul of his team and the town shut down to come watch him play. One of the best in-game experiences I had was sitting at the top of the stands at Sealy High and having Tigers fans come up and tell me the ‘RS-J’ was the man. He ended up at Texas A&M, but being a fly on the wall when he made an initial commitment to Texas and Mack Brown was an eye-opening experience to how the recruiting process can work.
Daymond Patterson- Kansas- 2008
Patterson from North Mesquite (Texas) was one of my favorites to cover, because he was a guy who did not have all of the intangibles at 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, of some of the other major recruits, but he had all of the skill and more. He was one of those guys who put in all of the work off the field in his training and competed in everything possible to overcome a size disadvantage in recruiting. He was so quick and athletic that he was almost unguardable in one-on-ones. Staying in line with what he did coming out of prep, he is now a trainer and trains many potential D1 prospects in the DFW area.
Marcus Trice- North Texas- 2009
Mesquite, Texas has produced a lot of talent over the years and they seem to have a success on the next level. But I love Trice's story because of what he had to overcome before he made it as a major recruit and a D1 athlete. He came out of one of the roughest ghettos in St. Louis before making it to the Dallas area and finding a way to make his college dreams come true. He originally signed with OU before transferring and earning All-Conference honors at UNT. He is now starting his career as a teacher/coach.