Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Area linemen a big factor as signing day nears
Let's start with Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Last week, Cedar Hill offensive linemen Adam Shead and Josh Allen stayed there at the chic Sheraton hotel, living the high school version of the Pro Bowl dream.
As members of USA Football's junior national team, they dined on authentic German bratwurst and an international species of squash, its quality verified because they couldn't pronounce or remember its name. They beat a group of world all-stars in an NFL Network-televised game in which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell conducted the coin toss.
Welcome to the new world order for area offensive linemen. The setting isn't always beachfront and the feasts aren't always foreign, but the praise is generally lavish.
Wednesday's national signing day will spotlight this renaissance for area linemen. Of the top 100 recruits in Texas selected by Rivals.com, nine are area offensive linemen.
There are Shead and Allen. They plan to attend Oklahoma and Louisiana-Monroe. There is Arlington's Luke Joeckel, already enrolled at Texas A&M, and Denton Guyer's Cole Underwood, who says he will sign with Stanford, and others going to places like LSU and Texas.
"On this level," Underwood said, "we do not get overlooked."
Recruiting lists at the top football schools have always included Texas linemen. But not this many. In the last five years, the Texas top 100 included an average of four area offensive linemen, less than half of this year's class.
Coaches like Allen's Tom Westerberg and Cedar Hill's Joey McGuire call the increase a cyclical phenomenon. In an area flush with football talent, certain years bring upswings at certain positions.
Jeremy Crabtree, a recruiting analyst for Rivals.com, reads a little deeper into the surge. Offenses have long been transitioning to the spread, and linemen have evolved, developing advanced skills from blocking for their complex offenses.
"We're going to see that trend continue because of the quality of the passing offenses," Crabtree said.
Allen, a spread team and the 2008 Class 5A Division I state champion, has four offensive linemen set to sign with colleges Wednesday, including state No. 11 Cedric Ogbuehi, an A&M commitment.
And just to show rushing offenses can still shine, Cedar Hill has produced at least one top-100 lineman each of the last four years.
"We work the hardest, harder than anyone else on the field," said Shead, ranked 76th.
At Denton Guyer, three top linemen, including Underwood, are graduating. But coach John Walsh said a group of underclassmen is already fighting to fill the roles.
When Walsh and his staff started the Guyer program in 2005, they took their team motto from a line from the movie Backdraft: "As they go, we go."
"They" refers to the offensive linemen. And this year, with the area plentiful in offensive line talent, they are going far. Big talent
Area offensive linemen among Rivals.com's Texas top 100 players:
Name HS Commit. Luke Joeckel Arlington Texas A&M Cedric Ogbuehi Allen Texas A&M Evan Washington DeSoto LSU Cam Feldt Pilot Point Arkansas Daryl Williams Corinth Oklahoma Austin Woods Rock.-Heath Oklahoma Adam Shead Cedar Hill Oklahoma Cole Underwood Den. Guyer Stanford Josh Allen Cedar Hill La.-Monroe
COUNT ON US as your source for updates throughout Wednesday's signing-day announcements. dallasnews.com/highschoolsports
We welcome readers' contributions on National Signing Day, too. Here's how you can take part. Coaches: Send your lists of confirmed signings to firstname.lastname@example.org. Pictures, blog: Upload your photos, videos or news stories from your Signing Day ceremonies on your school page at HS GameTime.