Central Texas Has Plenty to Offer '09 Class

The cupboard is far from bare in Central Texas for the Class of 2009. Led by three highly touted quarterbacks, a slew of big time offensive linemen, and some heavy-hitters and playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, Central Texas is top heavy with big time Division I talent.

It is never too early to start looking ahead in the never ending cycle that has become college football recruiting. Even though several member of the Class of 2008 are getting the recruiting process in full swing, several members in the Class of 2009 have already started to make waves. Central Texas looks to once again be loaded with top-tier talent for the '09 cycle are here is a look at a few underclassmen to keep an eye on as these hot prospects enter their junior season.

Emory Blake (6-2, 185, WR, Austin High) An all-District selection as a sophomore for his efforts at wide receiver (28 receptions, over 500 yards, and four touchdowns), Blake could repalce Cameron Jones under center for the Maroons this fall. The dynamic playmaker certainly has the bloodlines, Blake's father is former NFL signal caller Jeff Blake. Blessed with outstanding speed and off-the-charts athleticism, Blake also saw time at running back last season.

Tanner Brock (6-3, 215, LB, Copperas Cove) A true smash-mouth player, Brock comes from a very athletic family. His father Reb, a Bulldawgs assistant coach, played football at Indiana while his older brother Logan signed with TCU in February. Tanner burst onto the scene as a sophomore taking home numerous newcomer of the year honors and all-State recognition with an astonishing 229 tackles and 23 tackles for loss for the Class 4A, Division II state finalists.

Aaron Doyle (6-2, 212, QB/DB, Evant) It is not that often that you can talk about a Class A player in such high regard (Granger alum Brandon Everage and 2007 Baylor signee Rex McDougald of Iola are exceptions). Doyle however fits the bill with his size, 4.56 speed, and a monster sophomore season that saw him throw for over 1,900 yards and 20 touchdowns while adding another 700 plus on the groudn en route to all-State honors. Doyle also was a first team all-State defensive back as he notched 62 tackles and 10 interceptions last season.

Garrett Gilbert (6-4, 190, QB, Lake Travis) There might not be a more polished junior passer in the state than Gilbert, the son of former Cal and NFL quarterback Gale Gilbert. Gilbert threw for over 2,800 yards and 29 touchdowns in his varsity debut last season, leading the Cavaliers to the District 25-4A championship and an 8-3 record on the season.

Paden Kelley (6-6, 270, OL, Lake Travis) Scouts have already fallen in love with Kelley's athletic ability, which as good as that of any junior offensive line prospect in the nation. Cavaliers head coach Jeff Dicus raves about Kelley's footwork and he still has room to grow into his improsing 6-foot-6-inch frame.

Alex Okafor (6-5, 220, DL, Pflugerville) The Panthers were young last season but George Herrmann's team should be back in the playoff hunt this time around with a seasoned group of players and Okafor as one of the headliners. With his size and 4.67 speed off of the edge, Okafor will be looking for a breakout season in 2007 as he looks to build on his 34 tackles and four tackles for loss he recorded as a sophomore.

Casey Pachall (6-4, 190, QB, Brownwood) In his first season under center, Pachall guided the Lions to their 38th playoff apperance in the storied history of the program and after a run to the state quarterfinals in 2006, the Lions will look to better themselves this season behind their strong-armed junior. Pachall took home all-District honors last season with over 2,000 yards passing and 12 touchdowns.

Rhonte Scales (6-5, 285, OL, Killeen High) Scales is the next in what is a growing line of prospects to come out of coach Sam Jones' program. First it was 2007 Oklahoma State signee Jonathan Rush, then 2008 prospect David Grant. Scales might actually be the more gifted of the trio as he combines great feet with tremendous raw strength at the point of attack.

Kenny Vaccaro (6-0, 180, DB, Brownwood) The District 16-4A defensive newcomer of the year, Vaccaro was huge in the Lions' late season playoff run in 2006. The playmaking defender will likely play cornerback in college and has already drawn attention from Houston, Miami (FL), Oklahoma, and Texas.

Chris Whaley (6-2, 205, RB, Madisonville) A 1,000 yard rusher as a freshman got his name on the map, and a superb sophomore season and his Adrian Peterson-type blend of power and speed make Whaley arguably the top running back prospect in the state for the Class of 2009. Whaley was the District 19-3A offensive player of the year last season with over 2,100 yards on the ground and an eye popping 28 touchdowns.

Other 2009 prospects to watch for... Michael Brown (OL, Lexington), Daniel Cobb (DB, Killeen Ellison), Mike Hicks (WR/DB, China Spring), Kerry Hyder (WR/LB, Austin LBJ), Cody Lattimore (LB, Liberty Hill), Stavion Lowe (OL, Brownwood), Chris McAllister (DL/LB, Converse Judson), Dexter Pratt (RB, Navastoa), Ryan Swope (RB/DB, Austin Westlake).

This story originally published on TexasPrepInsider.com.

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