Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Positioned for success: Several Dallas-area schools have a history of producing dominant players in a particular role
Producing a run of great players at a particular position has earned schools a place in college football lore. USC was dubbed Tailback U. Penn State was known as Linebacker U.
That got the SportsDayHS staff thinking. Which Dallas-area high schools have generated the best players at each position?
Who is QB High? What about DB HS?
Here are our choices:
The best: Highland Park
Woodrow Wilson’s Davey O’Brien won a Heisman Trophy, and Sunset’s Jerry Rhome was a Heisman runner-up. Graham Harrell set state passing records at Ennis and finished his career at Texas Tech with an NCAA record for career touchdown passes. Colleyville Heritage’s Christian Ponder was a first-round NFL draft pick.
But Bobby Layne and Matthew Stafford are arguably the top two quarterbacks to ever play for a Dallas-area high school, and both attended Highland Park. Layne starred at Texas, was a six-time Pro Bowl selection, won three NFL titles with the Detroit Lions in the 1950s and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Stafford led Highland Park to a state championship in 2005, and coming out of Georgia he was selected by the Lions with the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NFL draft. Stafford is one of four quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for more than 5,000 yards in a season, joining Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Dan Marino.
In between, Highland Park had several quarterbacks go on to play in college, including Scott Smith (Baylor), Lance McIlhenny (SMU), Rob Moerschell (Texas), John Stollenwerck (SMU, Missouri), Alexander Webb (Northwestern) and Bill Foran (Princeton). McIlhenny was the winningest quarterback in Southwest Conference history.
“We talk about it all the time,” Highland Park coach Randy Allen said of Highland Park’s quarterback tradition. “We have a quarterback manual. We spend about two weeks in a classroom in the spring, and we go over the stats of all the quarterbacks that have played for me, in particular those that have played at Highland Park.”
Allen said players start being taught the Scots’ system in seventh grade, and some may have run it in a youth league before then. While Stafford started for Highland Park as a sophomore, there is so much talent at quarterback that most have to wait until they are a junior or senior to start.
“Having a history of really good quarterbacks creates some expectations in the community,” Allen said. “Little boys grow up wanting to be the quarterback. If you go to one of our seventh-grade practices, there will be 30 boys that are lined up to play quarterback. You eliminate it down each year, and by the time they’re seniors, you’re going to have a really good athlete at quarterback.”
Runner-up: Southlake Carroll. From 2002 to 2011, five quarterbacks — Chase Wasson, Chase Daniel, Greg McElroy, Riley Dodge and Kenny Hill — each led Carroll to a state title. McElroy (Jets) and Daniel (now with the Chiefs) have played in the NFL. McElroy won a national title at Alabama. Daniel was fourth in the 2007 Heisman Trophy voting while at Missouri.
The best: DeSoto
Byron Hanspard, Tatum Bell, Cyrus Gray and Dontre Wilson rushed for a combined 7,181 yards in their senior seasons at DeSoto.
Hanspard went on to become a Doak Walker Award winner at Texas Tech, Bell played five seasons with the Denver Broncos, and Gray starred at Texas A&M before being drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012. Wilson, an Ohio State signee, was one of the top recruits in the nation last year and led DeSoto to the state semifinals.
DeSoto produces college-bound running backs on a near-annual basis. Marcus Murphy has made a name for himself on special teams at Missouri, and Antoinne Jimmerson rushed for 544 yards as a freshman at North Texas.
Runners-up: Arlington Lamar produced 10 Division I running backs in the 1990s, including Shawn Walters (Southern Cal) and Ryan Lyons (Missouri). Fred Jackson was a career backup but a star at Coe (Iowa) College and now plays for the Buffalo Bills. Also in the conversation is Carter, which produced A&M stars Darren Lewis, the Southwest Conference’s all-time leading rusher, and Greg Hill.
The best: Cedar Hill
The Longhorns didn’t rise to prominence until 2006, but Cedar Hill has been fertile ground for receivers since then.
The state championship team of 2006 featured receivers Romie Blaylock, who played for Baylor, and Dezmon Briscoe, who starred at Kansas and has played three seasons in the NFL. The Longhorns’ star quarterback that season, William Cole, was also a receiver until taking over at QB because of an injury. Cole played wide receiver briefly at Oklahoma State
The Longhorns have produced more than a half dozen college receivers since then, and their Class of 2013 WR signing class was huge. Quincy Adeboyejo signed with Mississippi, Brandon Harris signed with Iowa State and Travis Wilson signed with Nevada. Laquvionte Gonzalez, an RB/WR hybrid, signed with Texas A&M.
“I think one factor is that we’ve had the same coach, Kevin Benjamin, working with the receivers since ’07,” Cedar Hill coach Joey McGuire said. “He gets to work with the freshman receivers through the varsity.”
Runners-up: DeSoto had a remarkable WR class in 2011 led by David Porter (TCU), Cameron White (TCU) and Austin Vincent (Colorado). Darius Terrell starred for the 2009 Eagles, signed with Texas and is now at UNT. Patrick Crayton played eight seasons in the NFL, including six with the Cowboys, and Mike Thomas has played four seasons in the NFL. … Going back many years, Woodrow Wilson has had tremendous wide receivers, including former NFL stars Tim Brown (Heisman Trophy winner) and Malcolm Kutner (1947 NFL Player of the Year).
The best: Euless Trinity
Largely drawing from a population of rugby-playing Tongans and Samoans, Trinity’s “Hawgs” are the engine behind the program’s grind-’em-up offense.
“They’re just so dad-gum physical,” DeSoto coach Claude Mathis said.
In seven of the last eight seasons, Trinity has produced at least one FBS or FCS signee. There are at least two FBS pledges on this season’s team: senior Lem Galea’i (Oklahoma State) and junior Patrick Vahe (Texas).
Mike Baab, a 1978 graduate, was an All-America center at Texas, an 11-year NFL veteran and a member of the UIL’s all-century team.
Runners-up: Three programs currently have more than one lineman on NFL rosters: Corsicana (Chicago’s Cory Brandon and Denver’s Louis Vasquez), Lake Highlands (Green Bay’s Marshall Newhouse and Houston’s Wade Smith) and Carter (Minnesota’s DeMarcus Love and Chicago’s Jonathan Scott). Corsicana’s storied history includes NFL veterans Billy Yates (2003-2010), Ray Jacobs (1963-69) and Felto Prewitt (1946-49).
The best: Denton Ryan
When Joey Florence took over the Ryan program in 2000, he told his father — longtime Rockwall coach and athletic director Mickey Florence — that he believed he had five Division I defensive linemen. Ryan had been 1-9 the year before. “He said I was crazy,” Florence said. “So he came out to see us practice, and told me, ‘Yep, I think you’re right.’”
All five made college rosters, with Jarvis Moss and Brian Smith eventually drafted by NFL teams.
Derek Lokey made the NFL with Kansas City in 2008. Josh Williams recently signed a three-year contract with Chicago. The most recent prospect, five-star Florida State signee Mario Edwards Jr., is expected to have a breakout sophomore season in the ACC.
Runners-up: From 2006-10, Garland produced nine FBS-level signees, including Oklahoma’s Casey Walker and Florida’s Brandon Antwine. Richardson Pearce’s Ray Childress might be the most talented defensive lineman the area has ever produced — although Thomas Jefferson’s Michael Carter, Bryan Adams’ Doug English, Plano’s Billy Ray Smith and DeSoto’s Von Miller are in the discussion.
The best: Skyline
Reginald Samples, who has coached Skyline since 2005, is a defense-first guy. The cornerstones of his defenses are the linebackers, he said, so he scours each crop of Skyline freshmen for potential.
He finds a lot of it. In just the last six years, Skyline has had nine linebackers who were ranked among SportsDay’s top 100 area recruits. The linebacker riches were most notable when the 2010 signing class of Domonique Patterson (Texas A&M) and Corey Nelson (Oklahoma) was followed by the 2011 class of Anthony Wallace (Oregon) and Mike Moore (Kansas State). Peter Jinkens signed with Texas in 2012, and Isaiah Williams signed with Kansas State earlier this year.
Skyline has also had some NFL linebackers. Dante Jones, a 1983 Skyline graduate, played eight seasons in the pros, and Antonio Wilson, a 1995 grad, spent three seasons in the league.
Runners-up: DeSoto has had several top-notch linebackers, including R.J. Young (signed with Arizona in 2008), Alex Lyons (Rice, 2012) and Taylor Young (signed with Baylor this year). They were preceded by Von Miller, who played at Texas A&M and was the No. 2 pick in the 2011 NFL draft. … Former Longhorn Sergio Kindle was a four-year standout at Woodrow Wilson from 2002-05, but the school’s biggest linebacker stars are from longer ago. Bill Forester (Class of ’49) played 11 seasons in the NFL and is in the Packers’ Hall of Fame. … Carter’s Jessie Armstead played in the NFL for 11 seasons.
The best: South Oak Cliff
Michael Lynn Downs went undrafted in 1981 because scouts didn’t think he was a good enough tackler. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Cowboys and proceeded to start the next eight seasons as a free safety.
Downs is one of many successful defensive backs whose careers flourished at South Oak Cliff and beyond. Rod Jones, an NFL first-round pick as a cornerback in 1986, spent 11 years in the pros.
Joe King was a fleet-footed quarterback at South Oak Cliff in the mid-1980s, and he later spent four seasons as a DB in the NFL.
Two of the four defensive backs named to SportsDay’s all-time all-area team in 1984 came from South Oak Cliff: Alcy Jackson (1972) and Egypt Allen (1964). Danny Colbert was an honorable mention.
South Oak Cliff has continued to produce scholarship DBs in the last decade, including Kevin Brent (Oklahoma), Anthony Webb (Kansas), Melvinson Hartfield (Arkansas) and Frankie Solomon (New Mexico). Jyaz Jones, a 2014 Iowa pledge, is the 53rd-ranked recruit in the area.
Runners-up: Secondaries in the Big 12 have been loaded with Lancaster talent. Among the notable recruits are Demontre Hurst (Oklahoma), Tyler Stephenson (Baylor), Matt Thomas (Iowa State), La’Darius Newbold (Texas Tech), Quentin Hayes (Oklahoma) and Dakota Austin (Oklahoma). Skyline has also been rich with talent, producing standouts Ronald Jones (Texas A&M), Josh Bell (Baylor), Christian Scott (Texas) and Steve Williams (California).
The best: Lake Highlands
Lake Highlands has produced Pro Bowl kickers Matt Stover and Phil Dawson.
Stover, who played in the NFL from 1991-2009, ranks fifth in league history in field goals made and points scored in a career. He kicked for a Super Bowl winner with the Ravens.
Dawson, who now kicks for the 49ers, is 21st on the all-time field goals list. He was a third-team selection on the UIL’s all-century team.
Lake Highlands also had kickers Bobby Renkes, Jason Dann and Mitchell Henton go on to college football programs. Renkes was a kickoff specialist at Notre Dame, and Dann had the same job at Texas State last year. Henton made last-second, game-winning field goals against Rowlett and Jesuit last year and is a freshman at Midwestern State.
“It’s a history and a tradition,” Lake Highlands coach Scott Smith said. “Those kids that come in and say, ‘I’m a kicker,’ they want to live up to that standard of those guys that have been there ahead of them.”
Runner-up: Southlake Carroll. Kris Brown kicked in the NFL from 1999-2010, and Garrett Hartley plays for the New Orleans Saints and kicked for their Super Bowl championship team. Kevin Ortega won a state title with a field goal on the final play of the 2004 championship game. Cade Foster was a kicker on Alabama’s national title teams the last two seasons. Carroll’s current kicker, Drew Brown, has committed to Nebraska.
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