Texas Tech's showdown against Texas on Saturday morning will be jam-packed with visiting recruits. Scout300 junior defensive end Jarell Cherry--ranked as the No. 2 defensive end in the state--will be making his way to Lubbock for that game, his second unofficial visit to Texas Tech of the season.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound defender out of Dallas Carter previously visited the Red Raiders for the Kansas game back in September.
"Yes sir, I did visit that game. I went with my parents. We had to head back because it was a school night, and we had to get back home since we knew it would be a long drive back to Dallas, but I thought it was a very live atmosphere. Me being treated the way I was as just an unofficial visitor, everything went great and was how I wanted it. I got to converse with some of the coaches, and got to know what Texas Tech is all about. I got their full, undivided attention."
Defensive line coach Kevin Patrick is leading the way for Cherry's recruitment, and the two have built a strong relationship.
"I believe that every time I talk to coach KP, as I call him, there's nothing to be worried about. Anything I need to talk to him about, he has open arms, ready to listen to me. Any time I have a question, he gives me the perfect answer."
What does the Dallas defender think of coach Patrick's group so far this season?
"They're tough as nails, I'd say. Very explosive. One thing he trains his guys to do, he trains his guys to be very tough. He takes a lot of pride in using your hands. He believes that if you don't use your hands, you won't get anywhere. Also, with the ends, he likes his guys to be standing up and being able to pass rush. He likes them to be long. He says that I have a lot of potential up at Texas Tech if I stay focused."
Cherry is coming off of an unofficial to Austin to watch the Longhorns' upset victory over No. 8 Baylor--his second to UT this season.
"Yes sir. It was a great game. As far as me being there and being able to see what Texas is all about again, as I did previously during the Notre Dame game, their performance was great. As far as showing the recruits what Texas is all about, they went above and beyond."
One thing that was different between the Tech and UT visits is the level of 1-on-1 time spent on recruits by the coaching staff. Does the increased attention paid to recruits by the Red Raider coaching staff stand out to Cherry?
"Yes sir, it does stand out with me. It stands out because the coaching staff being able to bond with their players more often before they're even in the program, I take a lot of pride in that because I want to come into the program knowing who I've met."
Aside from Tech and Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama have thrown their hats into the ring for the defensive end, with interest pouring in from around the country. Are there any schools standing out to Cherry at the moment?
"No sir, because I'm still working on pursuing my high school career and with a lot of stuff going on, I'm not trying to focus on seeing what schools are strongest on my list. I'm trying to become more familiar with the recruiting process day-by-day. I'm trying to get myself more corrected than focus on everything else going on, so I can come into that college program and be ready."
What are some factors that will weigh into his decision?
"Well for one, my major is going to be business management. If not that, I'm going to try to be an engineer. I'm going to be looking at the school's graduation rate, student-to-class ratio, and how it relates to their athletic program."
With Texas high school football playoffs looming, Carter is currently sitting at 1-3 in district, and even though they have a shot at second-place Alvarado, both Ranchview and Wilmer-Hutchins hold the tiebreaker. Carter has been eliminated. Cherry spoke about the season and what he was able to do to help the team.
"This year, we're not perfect, we're being observant of things that we need to correct. There were some things we did succeed in, and there were some things that we did not succeed in. It's all about taking what we have and bringing it back next season. As far as what I can do, I feel like me being at practice every day and trying to give it my all, on a scale of 1 through 10, I'd grade myself an 8."
Is there a timeline in place for making a decision?
"It will depend upon what the future has in store for me, if I hopefully get more offers later down the road, and what type of opportunities open up for me. I want to learn everything that I can about schools before I make my decision. If not later on in my junior year, I'd probably say it would be early in my senior year. There are two things I want to get done - I do want to take some official visits, and I know in order to do that you have to wait until your senior year, and I want to get a better understanding of what all these colleges have in store for me."
Cherry holds offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, SMU, Texas, and Texas Tech. He is receiving interest from Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State, Texas A&M, and UCLA, among others.