Inside the Class of '08: DeSean Hales

The sixth in a daily series of interviews and photo essays on members of the Longhorn Class of '08: Wide receiver DeSean Hales.

DeSean Hales
Wide receiver
Klein Oak
5-11/185/4.41
National Rank at WR: 10
Overall State Rank: 8
Star Rating: ****

An Inside Texas conversation with Klein Oak head coach David Smith on DeSean Hales:

Inside Texas: What is it that made DeSean such a highly sought-after prospect?

David Smith: He did some things they did not see anyone else do, period, and that's pretty special.

IT: Describe some of the thing he did so well.

Smith: Two runs we never forget around here – there's several – but two that you don't forget, as a junior against Garland, punt return. I joke around with everyone, I say that's what I coach, DeSean as a punt returner, and all I tell him is, ‘Go!' I help him with his alignment and then I say, ‘Go!' I let him catch the ball inside the 10 and the goalline if he wants to and say, ‘You do what feels the best.' So (against Garland) he went inside to the 5 and outside the numbers, where it's a great punt, he went and caught it over his shoulder, and Garland had at least five D-I guys on the punt team, and eight of ‘em had the chance and touched him, but 95 yards later he scored. It was a Barry Sanders/Joe Washington-type run. This year he had one on FoxSportsNet. They had nine defenders on the numbers or outside of it and they had him cornered and he was two yards from the sideline, spins back inside, goes back and sees there's nowhere to go, so ‘Let's go to the sideline.' So he goes back to the sideline with only about a yard-and-a-half of it left, tip-toes, runs right over and through people, and at 175 pounds you aren't supposed to be able to do that, but he just has great natural ability. The good Lord just blessed him big-time. On top of him being a great kid and great character, he's also blessed with talents you just can't coach.

IT: What did the Texas coaches tell you that they particularly liked about DeSean?

Smith: You can't describe what he does. He's got ‘it', whatever that is. You can't coach it and he gets out of situations with the ball in hands that he's not supposed to, he's just not supposed to. Certain special players through the years, great players that were big with awesome strength would run over people and break four or five tackles. Well, he may break tackles but it was tacklers that might only get a hand on him or an arm on him, and then sometimes it'll be a thud, a big one right there on the chest, he just knows how to give to a blow and get off of it.

IT: What all did he do for you guys?

Smith: We had him do some on both sides of the ball but he's special on offense. We went with a philosophy this year of, ‘Let's outscore everybody.' The thing that hurt us this year is we scored so fast. With his teammate (Michigan signee) Terrence Robinson, we would score so fast, and we had to play defense… Of course, he was at wide receiver, he was at a slot receiver, he was at a running back, he's played quarterback, he's played safety and played cornerback.

IT: Projecting forward, what type of role do you see him being best suited for at the next level?

Smith: Well, he may be best at that which he doesn't look like he'd be best at, having the ball in his hands and people pursuing him and thinking they have angles and pinned up and it doesn't happen. We put him at running back in game four – did it also as a sophomore – but game four of his junior year we said, ‘We gotta get him the ball at least 30 times. Somehow we've got to get it in his hands.' … At that time, we said, ‘DeSean's gotta get in the backfield.' And we started snapping it to him or giving it to the quarterback and they would run the read zone, and DeSean is great inside the tackles. He's great inside. He's not built like a guy that's going to be good inside, but he has a great stride. When he gets up and takes off, it's like he's flying. For a 5-11 guy, he's got a 6-4 stride. In the mix of the people, he instinctively changes that stride and now it's more of a base stride and he's ready to change directions at any given time. He likes to spin, he anticipates what's happening around him.

IT: Is it an instinct that he has?

Smith: It's all instinct. I'll try to (explain) it again but I'm not going to do it justice. There are times you catch him trying to do something and you an get him off-balance and pull him down with one hand, and you say, ‘That's not a great player.' Just keep watching.

IT: What's his current size?

Smith: He's 170-175. Long muscle guy.

IT: Does he have the frame to put on a little bit of weight?

Smith: Of course anyone can gain some weight, but I don't know how much he needs to gain. He's pretty focused now that the weight room is going to make the difference, make him that much better.

IT: What's he doing during the spring to prepare for arriving in Austin?

Smith: He'll get the weight program from Austin the day that he signs. They're able to release that information to him (then) and he'll be doing that after his hour and a half track workout. He's going to run track and lift weights.

IT: What does he compete in in track?

Smith: Last year he went to three relays, the 100 meters, the sprint relay and the 800 meter relay and the mile relay and went to the regional meet. He was in the regional finals in those relays.

IT: What about his leaping ability?

Smith: He has big hands for his size. He's caught balls parallel to the ground with one hand and with gravity, there's no way it should stick to his hands. In big-time situations, fourth down against Klein Forest, boom, stick to his hands. He's parallel to the ground and just stuck it out there. It wasn't like he cupped it, he just stuck it out there.

IT: What does DeSean need to improve on to be successful at the college level?

Smith: Be patient. His time will come when it's right. He's a cool enough character that he could be a punt return artist for ‘em when he gets there. He'll catch anything… They start doing more of a motion package, stack receivers a little bit more, bunch ‘em up a little bit more. That's where he needs to be. He's not a guy you sit up front where they can bump and grab him. He's a motion guy, he's a stack receiver guy.

IT: Did anything stick out for you with his performance in Orlando (at the Under Armour game)?

Smith: It was just regular him. They didn't see the flashes as fast as they want to probably because he is so smooth… he was smooth, he would catch the ball in stride, not chopping his feet, he's just smooth.

IT: What's DeSean's personality off the football field?

Smith: He's the same on and off the football field. Quiet. Doesn't want any attention, doesn't bring attention to himself. He'll probably down dress before he dresses up to get attention. That's just him. Loves his teammates, loves being a part of the program here. Kids in return care for him deeply. He's just a quiet, nice kid, kid that all fathers would be comfortable with him going out with their daughters.

IT: What about on the field?

Smith: He's the same on the football field, but that little ‘it' comes out in him when it's time to turn it on. Because he can go through the motions somewhat in a ballgame himself. That's human nature and he's a young kid, but when it's time, in big games, he plays. He'll make things happen, you go, ‘Wow', another first.

IT: Was he a leader for you guys?

Smith: Oh yeah. Captain. Players picked him as a captain.

IT: Any other defining moments, aside from the punt returns, that really stand out?

Smith: The first game his sophomore year, when we decided to give him a chance. He wasn't a real strong practice guy his sophomore year; wasn't bad but he didn't grab you in practice. Of course, he was a buck-forty-five and 13 or 14 years old, but he was about the best we had out there in practice also. So Klein game, great competition, we started throwing the ball his direction, I believe four touchdowns later, it was just, ‘Wo, wait a minute, keep throwing.' And he was covered most of the time and it didn't make any difference, he was going to come down with the ball.

IT: So you knew at that time that you had something special?

Smith: Oh yeah, we just looked at each other, ‘OK guys.' We knew he had some of that talent but we didn't know exactly. With that kind of competition and the huge game that is, and he shines as a sophomore at a buck-forty-five, we knew he was pretty special then.

IT: From a work ethic perspective, how did he grow in his time with you?

Smith: He wasn't real comfortable in the weight room when he was young but he was a real strong track young man, so much track – the weight room is great for track but then you spend a lot of time away from the weight room with track, but I think it'll help him develop and get stronger and stay away from injuries.

IT: Anything else you'd like to add about DeSean that we didn't cover?

Smith: When you say he can do ‘it', and only the special ones can do ‘it' – at the same time any father would be proud of him taking out his daughter, that about covers it. And he's gonna have a diploma, he's going to be a great dad and a great husband someday. And you see that already. DeSean's momma and daddy did a great job on him.

Also see: DeSean Hales: Impressed with Texas

DeSean Hales: Family Atmosphere Lands No. 20

DeSean Hales Photo Gallery

UT Signing Day Bio: Prep All-American, all-state and all-district performer ... participated in the 2008 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game ... a member of ESPN's top 150 national prospects ... listed as the nation's top-ranked all-purpose back by Rivals and is a member of the Rivals top 100 national prospects ... voted the state's No. 3 wide receiver by Dave Campbell's Texas Football ... tallied 5,553 all-purpose yards (2,298 rushing/2,100 receiving/692 PR/463 KR) and 50 touchdowns in his three seasons at Klein Oak ... tabbed second-team 5A all-state by The Associated Press and third-team all-state by the Texas Sports Writers Association as a senior ... named Offensive Player of the Year by the Houston Touchdown Club and district 16-5A Player of the Year ... also was voted captain by his teammates ... rushed for 896 yards and eight TDs on 85 carries (10.5 ypc) and notched 44 receptions for 763 yards (17.3 ypc) and seven TDs ... also returned 11 punts for 225 yards (20.5 ypr) and a TD and seven kickoffs for 117 yards (16.7 ypr) ... tallied 154 rushing yards on 11 carries (14.0 ypc) and had TD runs of 72 and 66 yards in a victory over Klein Forest ... notched 138 yards on three carries (46.0 ypc), all TDs (72, 63 and three), and 52 yards on two receptions (26.0 ypc) in a victory over College Park ... garnered all-district and all-Greater Houston honors as a junior ... rushed for 1,249 yards and 17 TDs and posted 38 receptions for 638 yards (16.8 ypc) and six TDs ... also returned 18 punts for 467 yards (25.9 ypr) and three TDs and 15 kickoffs for 346 yards (23.1 ypr) ... named district 16-5A Sophomore of the Year ... caught 34 passes for 699 yards (20.6 ypc) and 10 TDs ... ran nine times for 153 yards (17.0 ypc) and two TDs ... made six catches for 145 yards and four TDs in a victory over Klein ... four-year letterman in track and field ... finished second at the 2006 Region 12 Junior Olympics Track and Field Championships in the 400 meters (48.32) and helped his 4x100-meter relay finish first ... finished sixth in the 400 meters (49.41) at the 2006 state meet ... Born 7/22/90 in Atlanta, Ga. ... lived in Mobile, Ala. from 1994-98 ... full name is Ronald DeSean Hales ... named to the 16-5A academic all-district team ... cousin, Charles Hales, played quarterback and wide receiver at West Virginia (2003-04) ... member of St. Paul Baptist Church in Klein ... enjoys working out and watching television.

LAST WEEK:

Monday: Emmanuel Acho
Tuesday: Brock Fitzhenry
Wednesday: D.J. Grant
Thursday: Mark Buchanan
Friday: Antoine Hicks

Up next: Jarvis Humphrey

All photos: Will Gallagher/Inside Texas

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