It isn't Fridays in the fall, but for Texas high schoolers, the chance to lace up their cleats and take part in football practices or drills in the spring is a welcome time of year. And star Stephenville safety Mookie Carlile
"We haven't been able to use pads," Carlile said. "But during school, we go out during the hour and pretty much do 7-on-7. So it's been good to put the cleats on and simulate game action."
Taking the pads off might take away one of Carlile's biggest advantages, his intimidating presence in the middle of the field. The big-hitting safety has made a living on mashing opposing wideouts over the middle, something that he might be able to do even more often as he continues to improve.
"I've definitely lost some of my body fat," said the 6-2 safety. "I've been probably 195-198, but I lost some of that and I've been gaining it back with muscle weight. I feel like I've gotten stronger and quicker."
That's a dangerous combination for a guy who plays the game in a throwback manner.
"I would describe myself as having great instincts," Carlile said. "I'm a physical guy. I come down on the run, and I'll pop you if you go out for a pass. I think of myself as a playmaker. I might not run a 4.35, but I'm going to play like it."
Carlile doesn't have any offers so far, but he expects that to change over the spring and once teams get him in their summer camps. Houston, Rice, North Texas, UTEP and Colorado State have already been by to look at the power program's stock, while Texas Tech is set to come later this week, and Oklahoma State and Texas have trips lined up later this spring.
The Longhorns have been in consistent contact with Carlile — after he sent his film and transcripts over, Texas defensive backs coach Duane Akina started forming that relationship, including Akina inviting Carlile to the school for the Longhorns' Junior Day. They've kept in touch ever since.
"He's awesome," Carlile said. "Ever since he started recruiting me, I've been looking up videos of him coaching online, and he's really intense. I can see why DBs want to go there. Getting to watch him coach, it makes me feel like it's time to go. I'm ready to get after it."
And Carlile was quick to point out that — if he were offered — the Longhorns would be a favorite to land his services.
"I really like Rice, and they've shown interest," Carlile said. "For one, they have great academics. That's a top-notch school there.
"But like I've said before, my favorite school has always been Texas, whether that's for baseball, football or basketball," Carlile said. "Texas is always on top of my favorites."