Memphis East Boasts Titanic Tackle Tandem

One of the highlights of each recruiting season is calling on Memphis East High School head coach Wayne Randall to get his colorful assessment of local prospects and other football related matters of interest.

Every season East produces at least a couple of Division I prospects, including lineman Brandon Jenkins who signed with Ole Miss in 2003, wide receiver Brandon Wright who signed with Mississippi State in 2003, tailback Kyle Dickerson, a junior at Arkansas and Quentin Williams, a highly regarded Junior College linebacker who is currently at Northeast Mississippi and will graduate in December. He also has a wide receiver at Butler JC who led the nation in touchdown receptions last season.

This year Randall has a pair of aces with tackle tandem Dan Williams and Malcolm Rawls. In a game that is decided in that 11-inch strip of territory known as neutral zone these behemoths have both sides covered.

"Williams is the D-lineman," Randall said. "He's 6-21/2, 308 pounds, classic run-stopper size, typical Southeastern Conference defensive lineman.

"Rawls is 6-41/2, 305. He's needs this year and a redshirt year, but he'll be a damn animal when he finishes. He's benching mid-300's, 350, 355. The biggest thing he has to do is work to improve his footwork. This (2003 season) was really his first year because we've had some pretty good people in front of him. The guy that played in front of him signed with Ole Miss."

Williams' superior lateral mobility make him a prospect that could have an immediate impact on the next level, but Rawls' upside is virtually unlimited.

"Williams has got great feet, great hips and runs like a damn deer, a big-ass deer," Randall declared in his inimitable style. "He's going to be somewhere in that 4.9 range (40 speed), a little under five flat. He changes direction real, real well and we've had everybody and their brother in here to look at him — Miami, Oklahoma, Michigan — I'm talking about your big timers."

Most "big-timers" normally expect to develop offensive linemen because it's rare when a true freshman can come in and make an early contribution. O-linemen are also one of the most difficult positions to evaluate due to size discrepancy that often exist in high school. Instead they look for potential and Rawls has plenty of that.

"Honestly they know Williams is ahead of Rawls as far as playing right now, but they're looking at Rawls on where he will be," Randall said. "Like Coach Hermann (Wolverine defensive coordinator Jim) from Michigan said, he sat right here and looked at me and said: "Coach we're going to sign five, we're counting on them based on where they're going to be in two years."

Like I said everybody and his brother have been in here. Notre Dame has been in here, Michigan has been in here, Oklahoma, Florida has been in here. LSU has been in here. These are people we haven't seen before so they're good kids, already qualified and ready to go."

Williams played both tackle on offense and defense last season for East while Rawls specialized in offense alone. Randall expects them to continue in those roles this fall and they're sure to attract a lot of attention from colleges across the country.

"Like I said everybody and his brother has been in here," Randall repeated for emphasis. "Notre Dame has been in here. Michigan has been in here. Oklahoma, Florida have been in here. LSU has been in here. These are people we haven't seen before so they're good kids, already qualified and ready to go."

Randall's office at East High will become a revolving door for coaches from high profile college programs and Randall looks forward to the flood of publicity that is sure to follow that run of recruiters.

"Anytime we can have kids like that in here and reflect positively on East High School we're happy about it," Randall said. "I think they're both outstanding players. Williams is ahead of Rawls now because his feet are better, because he has better lateral movement. He'll play on the defensive side of the ball. He is outstanding as far as his quickness and pursuit. Rawls on the other hand is bigger, he's a big, strong kid. He's going to be the kind you put at offensive tackle and knock people's ass backwards."

This might finally be the year that Tennessee signs a prospect out of Memphis East. The Vols have had interest in several of Randall's players in the recent past but for various reasons failed to sign one. At one point Randall was a little miffed that UT signed what he considered to be lesser out-of-state prospects while passing players from Memphis. For instance: when the Vols inked Montgomery, Ala., Keldrick Williams in 2001 instead of Kyle Dickerson, Randall referred to Williams as "a damn midget," and questioned the judgment of UT's coaching staff. After the air was cleared the rift was soon mended and the parties maintain a very positive relationship.

"Tennessee offered Rawls (a scholarship) I know, but Williams I can't be 100 percent sure on," Randall said. "Phillip (Fulmer) sat in the office here on Monday, sat in here with me for about an hour and a half to two hours. He got on my good side a long time ago."

Signing Williams and Rawls would only strengthen that relationship, not to mention Tennessee's line of scrimmage.

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