Charlotte Catholic Duo on UNC Radar

When the Charlotte Catholic Cougars emerged from the locker room facing a 13-7 deficit to Burlington (N.C.) Williams in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Class 3-AA championship game in December, head football coach Jim Oddo was already set on his play-calling for the start of third period.

He was determined to pound the football on the ground with junior running back Ben Herlocker, behind a dominant offensive line led by junior tackle Henry Lawson.

Eighteen consecutive running plays and two touchdowns later, the Cougars had taken control of the ball game and would complete a 21-13 victory, capping a 16-0 (6-0 Queen City) season. Herlocker earned MVP honors with 123-yard rushing performance and one touchdown. He finished the season with 1700 yards and 32 touchdowns.

Oddo believes his star running back has the ability to play either tailback or fullback at the collegiate level. He said Herlocker [pictured right] has hit the weight room hard, adding 15 pounds to his six-foot frame, as he is now up to 205 pounds. Add in his 4.6 speed in the forty-yard dash, and Herlocker could see time as the feature back for a number of schools. Oddo also thinks his running back could add up to 20 more pounds to his frame and play fullback in most offensive schemes, with the exception of the I-formation system.

"He's got enough speed and strength and running skills to be a tailback in an I-formation offense," Oddo said. "Teams that run other systems could play him at fullback."

Oddo is quick to point out that Lawson played a vital role in his team's offensive success. The 6-foot-3, 280-pounder has solidified the left tackle position for the Cougars, and the head coach believes he will only get bigger before his playing days are over.

"He's a good base blocker," Oddo said. "He's a big kid that comes off the ball and gets a push, and that's what you need at that position."

Both Lawson and Herlocker are receiving interest from numerous collegiate programs, including local schools such as North Carolina, N.C. State, South Carolina and Wake Forest. While no official offers have been made to either player, Oddo said he believes two schools are close to offering Lawson [pictured right], pending camp evaluations.

"All of the colleges are showing a lot of interest right now," Oddo said. "I think there are five or six that are serious about Henry being high up on their list."

Both players attended UNC's junior day on March 4th. A former Cougar teammate currently playing for the Tar Heels is fullback Nick Starcevic, who guided Charlotte Catholic to a 16-0 season in 2004 with a win against Western Alamance (NC) High School in the Class 2-AA state championship game.

"I liked it," Lawson said of Junior Day. "It's such a nice place and the atmosphere is great. The tradition in football, it's improving rapidly."

Oddo said final decisions have not been made about which camps his athletes will attend this summer. Both players have indicated that they will participate in the Scout combine at Duke University on March 26th.

Lawson says he'll camp at North Carolina, Boston College, Furman, N.C. State, Wake Forest, and South Carolina.

Inside Carolina Top Stories