Spiegelman’s Takeaways: Season underway in the Lone Star State

Spiegelman’s Takeaways: Season underway in the Lone Star State

DALLAS — High school football returned to Texas for the 2021 season with a number of primetime games with national powers and several others including elite recruits. Rivals had boots on the ground in the Dallas metroplex for games with five-star Evan Stewart, Domani Jackson and Raleek Brown, as well as nationally ranked players like Omari Abor, Anthony Hill and Jalen Hale.

Here are six thoughts from the weekend slate.

NEW MINTED FIVE STAR GLOSS

Evan Stewart has always been a polarizing prospect to evaluate, but after a dominant show this off-season with a series of highlights along the way, the Frisco (Texas) Liberty wideout got the nod as a five-star and rose to No. 2 in the country. In his season opener, Stewart made a compelling case to justify the rise in the rankings.

It’s not easy for a wide receiver to ever take over a game, but Stewart came out with big game after big game for his attack throughout the game. His 58-yard catch-and-run touchdown was an exclamation point to a dominant first half for Liberty. After a rigorous comeback attempt, Liberty turned to Stewart for two crucial receptions during a two-minute drill – both demonstrating his hands and ability to operate from the sidelines. On the winning goal, Stewart threw in a block to help his quarterback convert.

Going into the fall, Florida may have a small lead over Alabama, LSU and Texas, the team he was once committed to. He will see Florida, Alabama and LSU for games in the fall and is also expected to see Texas play. Stewart puts an emphasis on offensive opportunities and campus life as he takes a closer look at these finalists.

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OKLAHOMA LEGACY IS WORTH MONITORING

On the other side of the ball, Frisco (Texas) Reedy 2024 offensive tackle Max Anderson was a force up front. Starting at left tackle, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound sophomore was a skilled pass protector and run blocker, helping to propel his team’s comeback into the second half.

Anderson is one game into his sophomore season, but the Sooners are already aware of the legacy lineman. Anderson’s older brother, Nate Anderson, was a Rivals Camp Dallas OL MVP as a senior and signed with the Sooners from Reedy in 2020. A source told Rivals that the Oklahoma offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh is expected to hit base after the youngster Anderson concludes his first varsity season.

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MATER DEI DOMINATES DUNCANVILLE

There was no shortage of Division I talent on the field Friday night at Panther Stadium as Mater Dei and Duncanville in California and Texas collided to open their seasons. Mater Dei had pledges from USC, Texas and Cal, starting with the defense and Oklahoma and Notre Dame pledged the attack. Meanwhile, the home team only had starters from the state of Florida and Oregon on their offensive lines, along with commitments from Arkansas, Minnesota and SMU for the defense.

Five star cornerer Domani Jackson was great at the game, racking up a pick six in the opening quarter and also showing some pop in the run game and helping to obliterate Duncanville’s passing attack. Covering a lot of ground and playing fearlessly, Jackson certainly belongs in the conversation for the best corner in the country, along with Jaheim Singletary and Denver Harris, who sat out the Galena Park (Texas) North Shore opener.

Oklahoma five-star running back Raleek Brown was also electric for Mater Dei and his big rush early on certainly set the tone in this one-sided affair. Some analysts have compared Brown to former first-round voter Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but Brown is more comparable to Hollywood Brown, who was certainly explosive in Lincoln Riley‘s violation. Like Hollywood Brown, Raleek is thinner and just as dynamic in the open field. He also offers plenty of creativity outside the backfield.

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HILL TO A STATEMENT BEGIN

Denton (Texas) Ryan has a track record of using his best athletes on both sides of the ball. Alabama’s Drew Sanders, Texas’ Ja’Tavion Sanders and Oklahoma’s Billy Bowman Jr. are just a few recent examples of elite recruits making breakthrough moves on offense and defense for Ryan over the years.

It’s time to throw Anthony Hill into the same conversation.

Hill made his debut as a Rivals100 first-ranking linebacker in 2023 and he shines there and as a running back in his junior year. Defensively, he takes direct paths to the ball and has a knack for knocking balls loose. He is a skilled tackler in space and is a skilled pass-rusher from across the formation.

In his opener on Saturday against East Texas power Longview, Hill received out of the backfield and at 6-foot-3 and 220-plus-pounds, powers downhill in the same thunderous fashion as expected. Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma are all regional contenders, with the in-state schools possibly having a slight edge. Alabama remains a legitimate national contender and he should be in Tuscaloosa this fall. The state of Ohio is also on Hill’s radar.

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CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

One of the more intriguing recruits in this 2022 pick is Duncanville’s Omari Abor, who entered his senior season as a top-50 prospect nationally and the No. 6 strong defensive side in what is a charged position group for this particular cycle. All eyes were, of course, on Abor against the talented Mater Dei squad Friday night and his individual battle with 2024 attacking tackle DeAndre Carter.

Praise the talented sophomore with early Pac-12 overtures from USC, Arizona State and Cal for slowing down one of the country’s more feared pass-rushers. Abor, who earlier in the day named Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Texas and Texas A&M as his finalists, was unable to get hold of the ball despite the quarterback’s heavy pressure throughout the game. He managed a couple of late licks on the Mater Dei signal-caller and came to a stop behind the line of scrimmage when play was out of reach.

Abor will remain one of the most talked about recruits in this class of 2022 because of his athleticism, his standing and how he projects to the next level. Week 1 is often a time to shake off some rust and Duncanville is ready for another deep playoff run. It will be interesting to see where this conversation goes in January’s All-American games.

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TWO TO WATCH ON THE DENTON RYAN D-LINE

Two other players who stood out in the Denton (Texas) Ryan defense were the 2022 defensive tackle Ravonte Blowe and the 2023 defensive end MarQuice Hill, who replaced prominent recruits in the five-star Bear Alexander and Ja’Tavion Sanders from last season’s championship roster. .

Blowe was hugely prolific on the front – from the rim and inside – forcing pressure and closing quickly. He checked in at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds and gives some positional versatility up front.

Hill — the other Hill in Ryan’s 2023 class — was also very effective. He has a strong start and was able to generate pressure quickly and play downhill from the edge. Arizona State is one of the teams already eyeing the junior, who, like Blowe, is entering the season without a scholarship offer.

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