East Texas' running backs shine in 2007

TexasPrepInsider East Texas Editor, Terry Bennett, takes a look at how last season East Texas was loaded with quarterbacks. This season East Texas returns back home to their strength, running backs, and they are big-time this year.

The 2007 recruiting class was an enigma for East Texas. The region has been known for two things the past 40 years in high school football, Speed and Running backs. But last year was the year of the quarterback in the piney woods of East Texas as Texarkana's Ryan Mallett(Michigan) and Gilmer/Canton's G.J. Kinne (Texas) led what might have the been the strongest QB class ever out of East Texas . Now don't get me wrong, there were still some great running backs last year such as Tatum's Lennon Creer (Tennessee), Jacksonville's Cameron Boyd-Anderson (Kansas), and John Tyler's Kendall Hunter (Missouri) , but last year was the QB got the headlines.

This year the region returns to it's roots as running backs once again are the headliners. Now I am not going to say that the RB class will be the strongest ever, but this year's class has that perfect mix of top ranked players and depth from top to bottom.

Getting most of the headlines are the trio of Gilmer's Justin Johnson, Van's Jereme Calhoun, and Liberty Eylau's La Michael James. Johnson and Calhoun are both early commits to Oklahoma, while James has the likes of Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Arkansas still on his radar.

But those are not even close to being the only RB prospects out of the region. From 5A down to the private school ranks this region is stacked with solid backs.

What makes this class even more unique is the diverse offensive systems they play in. Gone are the days of most teams just lining up and running either right at the defense or to the edge of the defense. That offense is still alive and well, but just as many teams in the region have went away from it. Now teams such as Gilmer like to spread the field and create mismatches. This allows the RB to not only run the ball, but how to pick up blitzes, and how to catch the ball out of the backfield. Most college coaches will tell you the biggest problem with younger backs is learning the nuances of the position when they first get on campus, but players now are learning them in high school.

So while the state of Texas is in a trend of throwing the ball all over the field and Qbs putting up monster numbers, East Texas is happy staying close to it's roots and letting the running backs carry the load.

East Texas Pre-Season Top 5 Running Backs (players will be added)

Jermie Calhoun, Van, 6-0, 195 4.4 (Oklahoma)
Calhoun has the unique mix of size and speed. This kid COULD be the next Adrian Peterson. An old style workhorse back who runs as hard on his 20th carry as his first.

Justin Johnson, Gilmer, 6-1, 210 (Oklahoma)(LB as well)
Only question about Johnson is will he be a better RB or LB. HE has the size and speed to be great at either

LaMichael James, Liberty-Eylau 5-9, 180 4.5
The High School version of Emmitt Smith. Not the fastest, or the biggest, but the kid just produces

Bryce Beal, Tatum, 6-0, 200, 4.5
Will emerge from the shadow of Lennon Creer this year. Just like Johnson, a lot of schools are looking at him on the defensive side of the ball


Kendall Wright, Pittsburg, 5-11, 165(also listed as ATH) (Texas A&M)
Wright might not get the national pub that others get, but this kid is special. He can line up anywhere in the backfield or at WR and be a TD threat. Only question is will he even line up at RB at all this year.


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