Our first stop was Aledo to see Michael Wilcoxon and Kyle Hix. Aledo is not a large town and it's surprising to see two such physically imposing players come through at the same time. You see them standing with teammates and it's not even close. Hix actually didn't even start lifting weights until his junior year of high school and is just naturally a large person. "Country strong", I believe, is the best way to describe him. One of those guys who's just going to be naturally gigantic.
I love the facilities they've put together at Aledo for their football team. When head coach Tim Buchanan arrived at Aledo in 1993, they had to practice football on the little league baseball fields. Now they have the 8,155-seat Aledo Bearcat Stadium, which is top-notch and a frequent location for playoff games.
After that it was over to South Grande Prairie and Tray Allen. Right after we arrived at SGP, so did Texas offensive line coach Mac McWhorter (one of 38 Texas coaches named Mack, including Co-DC Duane Makina). As we waited for Tray Allen to get over to the coaches' offices we chatted with McWhoter about a variety of subjects, including his plans for the now-retired-from-playing-football Matt Nader (check out last week's Scoop for details). When Tray did show up, McWhorter and SGP head coach David Fisher were kind enough to say "go ahead" and we spoke with Allen first for as long as we wished. Allen was more than happy to talk.
Allen has received the nickname the "Governor" by his fellow UT-commits for the way he's taken over the leadership role for the group and is one of the finest of crew to speak with. Clearly a thinker. Reminds me of Justin Blalock in that way.
Next it was to St. Mark's School of Dallas and DE Sam Acho. I was blown away immediately by Acho. He's super intelligent, energetic and a thrill to talk to (I think he may have actually passed Allen as my favorite to converse with…don't tell Allen I said that). He also had some amazing stories about he and his family's work in Nigeria.
Acho was born in the U.S., but has been back to his parent's home country many times on aid missions and plans to continue to while he's at Texas. Fascinating kid.
The next day started with Plano East. We went from the small, private school atmosphere of St. Mark's to the almost monolithic cement walls of the massive Plano East Senior High (PESH's senior class of 2005, with 1220 graduates, was the largest high school graduating class in the U.S. that year). There we met Keenan Robinson, the only linebacker in the Longhorns' 2007 recruiting class. He walked in with his aviator sunglasses on (something his head coach, Johnny Ringo, likes to make fun of him for because they were once stylish back in Ringo's high school days). Robinson isn't worried about the responsibility of being the only linebacker in the class and looks forward to the opportunity to compete for playing time in Texas' deep linebacking corps.
Coach Ringo is a Texas alum, but says he stepped back and let Keenan make the decision that was best for him and his family, as excited as Ringo was to have another one of his players in Burnt Orange (Blalock also attended PESH).
Our next stop was straight south to Garland for wide receiver Malcolm Williams. The 6'3" Williams is a speedster on Garland's track team and one of the things that stood out to me was how big his hands are. With his height and long arms, it just screams "receiver" when you look at him. We walked around the high school with him as we talked and took pictures. He was very personable, interacting with each of the students he past by (usually telling them to get to class with a smile and a laugh).
Our final stop in northern Texas was all the way over by the Arkansas and Oklahoma borders: Gilmer. It was by far the prettiest stop on our tour. The town of Gilmer, Tex. (population: 4,799) is located deep in the woods of East Texas. There's inconvenience associated with being located a good ways from a major metropolitan area, but the countryside is something to behold. Quarterbacking to 2006 Gilmer Buckeyes was G.J. Kinne. Formerly a Baylor commit, Kinne switched to Texas when John Brantley decided to stay home in Florida and commit to the Gators.
The thing I was struck by immediately was Kinne's size, and I don't mean his height. He's listed at 6'3", but that's an exaggeration. I look the Gilmer QB in the eyes at his height of 6'1 and a half, but his listed weight of 220 is most definitely not an exaggeration. He's got a solid build and with his foot-speed (4.6) could play another position, such as safety. But with the strength of his arm, he'll definitely start out at and compete at quarterback.
Kinne had some interesting stories to tell as well. He moved to Gilmer for his junior and senior years from Canton, TX after his father, Gary, the head coach at Canton at the time, was shot by a parent of one of his players because of a lack of playing time for the assailant's son. It was a trying time for Kinne, obviously, but he's happy his father is well and he's looking forward to beginning his college football career.
I also had an interesting talk with Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor about the future of his team. Gilmer is stacked with talent, especially for such a small school. Curtis Brown is already in Austin and Kinne will graduate high school in May, but coming in behind them are RB/LB Justin Johnson and OG David Snow. Gilmer, a small town buried deep in the forests of East Texas, has become a Mecca of high school football. Their small stadium now has a waiting list of over 20 years for tickets. When they moved in, Kinne's parents couldn't get tickets and had to use coach's tickets to watch the games.
This week Inside Texas will be on the road again, heading southeast towards Houston, stopping at Brenham, Waller, Westbury, Pearland, La Marque and ending up all the way over at West Orange-Stark. I'll be remaining in Austin and running things from here as Clendon Ross joins Bill and Will on the road.