Bellevue took down Serra 31-14 last weekend in Oceanside (Calif.) in what was the marquee matchup of the Honor Bowl. Even in defeat, John Houston had a very strong game. In fact, it seemed like the game announcer was calling Houston's name after every play and he must have had 20+ tackles in the game.
Houston has a lot of physical tools and had a very impressive all around game. Physically, he always looks good, about 6-3, 210 pounds on a very athletic frame. He played inside 'backer this game and was making plays sideline to sideline and is excellent in pursuit.
In fact, Houston is probably better chasing down plays than he is when teams run right at him. He did do a very nice job getting off blocks and playing physical but a lot of tackles were 6-7 yards down the field as opposed to right at the line of scrimmage. Part of that is due to Bellevue's offense, a wing-T, that was very confusing and tough to read. With so much misdirection, it was tough to just play instinctively and react. By the time you diagnosed the play and figured out who had the ball, the ball carrier was already up the field.
Houston does need to increase his physicality at the point of attack. He's not a banger that is going to step in the gap and blow a running back up. He's a sure tackler that wraps up, a big reason why you rarely, if ever see him miss a tackle. His teammate, Blake Walls, is the one you see knocking opposing ball carriers backward in comparison.
What Houston brings is the ability to play at all three levels of the field, he can rush the passer when called on, he's strong in run support and he's very good in coverage. He's picked up his leadership skills in a huge way and is the guy talking to the rest of the team before and after every game.
Another thing stood out about Houston was how hard he played. While the Bellevue game was incredibly frustrating for the team, he never took a play off and went 100% on every down, all the way through four quarters. He was one of the few players on the team that could say that. When your best player and leader never stops playing, that's huge and something that translates very well to the next level.
Overall, there's a lot to like about Houston as a next level prospect. When you talk upside, you're talking about physical projection as well as production and I would throw in toughness and work ethic in to that mix as well. Houston has an ideal frame for an outside linebacker. He's long and athletic with plenty of room to add weight.
If the Bellevue game was any indication, the production will definitely be there. He always plays hard, has a solid motor and a great work ethic off the field. He was hurt for much of the summer with a back injury but looked great physically and never seemed to tire. He has a chance to play early in his college career and it's easy to see a scenario where he's a three-year starter for whatever program he signs with.