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PLAYING HARD WHEN NOBODY’S LOOKING: PART 1; THE 806 ATHLETES TAKE

Since 2013, I have covered over 4,000 athletes in the 806 area; some with great talent, some with great work ethic. But I haven’t seen a lot of those players going to play college sports after school. Last school year we finally had a breakout of sorts with a multitude of players getting scholarships including Jai Manahan of New Deal (UTSA) and Sebastian Hartless (Texas Tech Track). So coming into 2016, there is a lot of buzz surrounding the 806 with players like Lubbock Cooper’s Jarret Doege, Ty Thomas, and Josh Moore already having Division one scholarships or offers. Jaelyn Nolan from Brownfield is a Junior and has multiple offers established including one from Texas Tech, and Nick Gerber from the Lobos will also get an offer soon as well as many others like Canyon’s Gunnar Palacios.

Chance Cook showed what he was about under the lights in Dallas!
Chance Cook walked on to Oklahoma State

Which brings me to my question of the year; what about all these other athletes that have the goods and don’t get offers, much less a look? If you follow my social media account on a daily basis, you will see a lot of Dallas athletes that are getting offers daily. It’s like a ritual that they share that accomplishment with the twitter world. I would too, if I was that good. Just the other day it was announced that Frisco ISD’s teams will wear their own version of the National Football League’s Color Rush uniforms on August 27th to open the season, on ESPN2. That got my thought process to churning and I wanted to ask some 806 players how did it feel to see that on their social media feeds; all the attention, offers, perks, and extra incentives that players in the Metroplex get, compared to the 806’s coverage of their athletes and programs. Here is what these athletes had to say below.

806 HSSC:

How does it make you feel when you see all these Dallas players getting all these offers and  extra exposure, compared to Lubbock’s athletes and the coverage and perceived talent gap?

*Devante Greathouse, Lubbock High WR/SR*

Makes me feel like I should have lived in the Dallas area if I really wanted to continue my football career.

*Juwan Hamilton, Tahoka Bulldogs ATH/WR*

It makes me feel like I should move sometimes because all the kids in the Dallas area like Allen,Desoto, and Cedar Hill they are getting big time offers and the 806 isn’t getting any attention or offers like that

*Ronald Awatt, Frenship Tigers TB*

I mean I’m happy for em and all but I just wished coaches looked out here in the 806 because we sure do have some sleeper athletes and it’s just kinda sad that we put in the work and show out but don’t get the exposure we deserve.

*Jai Manahan, New Deal Lions, TB*

It completely sucked. Thinking you were good enough to get one and not a single DI coach contacting you hurt. My advice to the guys would be to start early! Go to camps and contact coaches through any social media. If that doesn’t work, don’t give up there. Keep working your ass off and PROVE to everyone that doubts you that you are good enough to for DI! At the end of the day the only thing you can do is pray about it to God and stay humble.

*Seth Barbarino, River Road WR/CB*

It has a lot to do with location, but at the same time we kinda feel like we’re working towards nothing. D-1 scholarships get handed out like candy down there and then we have athletes like Cooper Ogle and Danny(Campos) who get nothing. Then again, I use it as fuel. If they’re not gonna recognize us, I’m gonna make myself a force to be reckoned with.

*Dalton Rigdon, Perrtyon WR/CB*

It makes me want to work that much harder, and try and show recruiters something that makes me different from them. It truly just fuels my fire and I think it’s what keeps me pushing my limit.

*Jason Florez, Muleshoe WR/CB*

I just feel that if you have talent then it’s going to show and you will get out there, but it is easier for kids in that area to get looked at and they should have a more wide variety of a recruiting area for those not in such a big place.

I also reached out to Bert Morris, Jr., the upcoming Senior Wide Receiver from Tascosa who currently has three offers from Division One programs and asked him what advice would he have for athletes trying to get noticed on a larger scale in the 806. He stated, ” What I think that helped me out the most was going to Big time 7-on-7 (competitions) like Pylons and going to as many camps as you can so the coaches can see you cause coaches really don’t come recruit out of the West Texas area. Also joining recruiting programs such as The Process and another program I’m in is YAC, Young Athletes for Christ . So pretty much camps , big time 7-on-7’s and having a good dependable recruiting profile.”

Tascosa's Bert Morris Jr. on a visit at Tulsa
Tascosa’s Bert Morris Jr. on a visit at Tulsa

Lastly, I reached out to Carrollton Ranchview CO-Offensive Coordinator and Recruiting Coordinator, DJ Mann, and got his thoughts on the 806 athlete and why they don’t have as much exposure and offers as do other kids down his way. Here is his statement below.”I think a lot of coaches don’t see the competition as being real high so you have to be dominant to get an offer in West Texas. In a bigger city such as Houston or Dallas you can be an average player and get offers.” He continued, “One thing that hurts a city like Lubbock is there isn’t a ton of college athletes in a 100 mile radius. College coaches only have a certain amount of time and people they can have on the road so they want to get the most bang for their buck. In Houston they may be able to find 15 D1 kids in a 10 minute radius. So coaches will be hesitant to come to Lubbock when he may only be able to hit 10 schools with maybe 3 D1s in all of them.

 D.J. Mann Jr. OC RC/ CROSBY HS
D.J. Mann Jr. OC RC/ Carrollton Ranchview HS

I also asked Coach Mann about the recruiting process in general, and what do these young athletes need to do in order to get their name out there to the big time schools. He stated, “If you want to be recruited 1st you must have dominant film. You need to be absolutely taking over games. I am a West Texas kid and I love it. I don’t mean any disrespect but you have to look at it like D1 to NFL or D2 to NFL. If you play on a smaller level you have to destroy people you play against. The next thing is you must have good grades. Nobody is going to come to West Texas to see a kid that may not qualify. You have to have a well put together highlight tape that shows only your strengths. You need to get on twitter and send it to every coach in the nation that you can. You need to make sure your twitter is clean. You need to add coaches on twitter and let them know you want to play for them. Then you have to find a way to get to the camps in the summer. You may have to take a week and come to Dallas or Houston so you can go to 4 or 5 satellite camps. You can’t be satisfied with being the best player on your team, in Lubbock, or even all of West Texas.”There is the life on an 806 athlete, from the athlete’s perspective. Tomorrow, we put out part two of our three-part series; from the Coaches perspective.

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