This Thursday through Saturday, Cowboys Stadium will host nine of the 10 Texas state championship games. With three games a day – all broadcast live on Fox Sports Southwest, giving viewers across the country an opportunity to watch – football fans will have a chance to see a number of top prospects throughout the weekend. Here is a breakdown of the players to keep an eye on in each game.
Dynamic athlete Dee Paul is one of the top playmakers in Texas.
Class 1A-Division II; Thursday Noon
Munday vs. Tenaha
2013 Munday ATH Dee Paul (5-11/160); #10 - The former SMU commit has done some of everything, playing quarterback, receiver, defensive back and kick returner, and he gained noticed in this same game vs. this same opponent a year ago. An explosive playmaker who is under-the-radar due to playing in a lower classification, he had a final two of Oklahoma State and Texas Tech until recent Baylor and Tennessee offers complicated things a bit. Paul is just plain fun to watch.
Class 1A-Division I; Thursday 4:00 p.m.
Stamford vs. Mart
2013 Stamford QB/ATH Hagen Hutchinson (6-2/185); #16- Hutchinson could end up playing a number of sports in college but he is a good athlete playing the quarterback position. He was named the AP Class 1A Offensive Player of the Year in Texas.
2015 Mart ATH De'Nerian Thomas (5-9/160); #12- Playing quarterback, the sophomore has already rushed for over 2,200 yards on the year. He comes from an athletic family and will be one to watch in a few years.
2016 Mart RB D'Marcus Cosby (5-8/190); #6- The freshman has run for 1,671 yards and 18 touchdowns heading into the game. He is the cousin of former Texas Longhorn standout Quan Cosby.
Class 2A-Division II; Thursday 8-00 p.m.
Corsicana Mildred vs. East Bernard
2013 Mildred QB Nic Shimonek (6-4/205); #9- Some were a bit surprised when Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis handpicked the small-school standout as the next Hawkeye quarterback but he has led the team to victories over some very good opponents and has a chance to show people he is a Big Ten-caliber prospect.
2013 East Bernard ATH Ty Slanina (6-0/180); #10- One of the fastest players in the state, the former Texas A&M commit is now headed to TCU. He plays both quarterback and defensive back for East Bernard and is a big play threat as a runner from his QB spot. A lot of people could be talking about him after this game.
Class 2A-Division I; Friday Noon
Daingerfield vs. Cameron Yoe
2013 Daingerfield WR Edwin Mims (5-9/180); #7- A dynamic playmaker as a wide receiver and return man, Mims could also play running back in college. He is starting to receive attention from schools around the region. Thought to be a grade risk, he will see more than his fair share of offers should be receive qualifying test scores.
2014 Cameron Yoe LB Somari Wright (6-2/205); #44- Wright is a player that has been talked about since this summer as a likely top linebacker prospect in the class of 2014. He compiled 174 tackles, five tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in 10 regular season games this year.
Class 3A-Division II; Friday 4-00 pm
Gilmer vs. Navasota
2013 CB Trey Washington (6-1/170); #8- Though he also plays wide receiver for the Buckeyes, the SMU commit’s future is in the secondary. Though not the fastest cornerback prospect, he has good size and challenges bigger wide receivers, especially in the red zone. He has tallied 59 tackles and three interceptions so far this season.
2014 Gilmer LB Josh Walker (6-1/220); #20- The four-star linebacker and early Texas A&M commit was injured in the spring, so it slowed his recruitment a bit. However, with a monster junior season showing he is fully healed, the offers started rolling in before he committed to the Aggies in late October. While also playing running back, he has tallied 106 tackles and six sacks on defense.
2014 QB/S Tanner Barr (6-1/170); #10- After leading the state in interceptions as a sophomore with 10, Barr has moved over the offensive side of the ball as a junior. He has thrown for 2,873 yards and run for 849 while accounting for 31 touchdowns.
2013 Navasota QB Kadarius Baker (5-9.5/189); #15- If Baker were a couple inches taller he would be considered one of the top quarterback prospects in the state. He has a knack for finding open receivers and an FCS-level school is likely to take a chance on him. He has thrown for 7,105 yards with 93 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions as a junior and senior while completing 65-percent of his passes.
Class 4A-Division II; Friday 8-00 p.m.
Lancaster vs. Cedar Park
2013 Lancaster DE Daeshon Hall (6-6/220); #16- The Washington commit, and former Texas pledge, is a recently converted basketball player that has incredible athleticism. The four-star prospect and No. 170 overall player in the country is a major threat as a pass rusher but can also play the run. He was recently named the AP Class 4A Defensive Player of the Year in the state.
2013 Lancaster QB/ATH DeMarcus Ayers (5-11/170); #1- The one-time Washington State commit is the team’s leading passer and rusher, having thrown for 1,697 yards and run for 1,304. He will likely transition to either wide receiver or cornerback at the next level and his recruitment is likely to go down until near signing day.
2013 Lancaster CB Dakota Austin (5-11/160); #10- Lancaster has become known for its ability to churn out Division I defensive backs and Austin is yet another in that line. He holds offers from New Mexico, Texas Tech, Utah State and UTEP.
2014 Lancaster CB/ATH Nick Harvey (5-9/175); #11- The nation’s No. 67 overall prospect in the class of 2014, and early Texas A&M commit, made a big splash at quarterback as a freshman but now has settled into a role as a running back/wide receiver on offense and cornerback on defense. Though he is incredibly dynamic with the ball in his hands, he will play in the secondary in College Station.
2014 Lancaster WR Nick Alexander (6-3/180); #6- Because of the nature of Lancaster’s offense, the big junior does not have a ton of balls thrown his way. However, he made the most of opportunities on the camp circuit this summer, putting on solid performances at LSU and Oklahoma. The OU one was enough to earn him a Sooner offer.
2014 Lancaster LB/S Derrick Leonard (5-10.5/185); #4- He plays more of a linebacker role for Lancaster but the junior will likely be a strong safety at the next level. He is known for making big hits and is a lot of fun to watch as he chases ball-carriers down from the backside.
2013 Cedar Park OT Riley Mayfield (6-7/285); #78- A big body along the line for the Timberwolves, Mayfield is learning to become a polished pass blocker. He has an offer from FBS newcomer Texas State and schools looking for a tackle based on potential are likely to look his way.
2014 Cedar Park FB Thomas Middleton (6-0/210); #35- The hard-nosed junior is mostly called upon as a blocker but is averaging five yards per carry when he does get to run the ball. He can also be a sneaky option out of the backfield in the passing game.
Class 4A-Division I; Saturday Noon
Denton Guyer vs. Georgetown
2013 Guyer WR Ellis Jefferson (6-4/202); #19- The Arizona State pledge has become the focal point of the passing game this year. Though he is not usually a big-play threat, Jefferson is a big target in the red zone and has sure hands. He has 47 receptions for 725 yards and eight touchdowns this year.
2013 Guyer OG Patrick Morris (6-2/287); #56- The TCU commit is definitely undersized and it is easy to write him off at first glance but there is a reason he racked up double-digit offers before committing to the Horned Frogs. He plays with a serious mean streak and is strong as an ox.
2013 Guyer S John Schilleci (6-0/190); #11- The North Texas commit has a good combination of size and speed, though he could eventually be moved to outside linebacker.
2014 Guyer DQB Jerrod Heard (6-2.5/190); #2- Heard was the junior quarterback that Texas targeted early and he committed to the Longhorns just before the start of the season. Heard has been more of a runner this season than as a sophomore and is only five yards shy of 2,000 on the ground. He ran for over 300 in last week’s semifinal win over Tyler John Tyler.
Class 5A-Division II; Saturday 4-00 p.m.
Cedar Hill vs. Katy
2013 Cedar Hill WR/RB Laquvionte Gonzalez (5-11/175); #2- The listing of 175 pounds is generous for the four-star Texas A&M commit but you will be hard-pressed to find a more slippery player with the ball in his hands. Lining up at both running back and receiver he is dangerous if he gets the ball in open space. He has run for 1,415 yards and 20 touchdowns while catching 32 passes for 324 yards and four scores this year.
2013 Cedar Hill WR Quincy Adeboyejo (6-3/180); #1- Despite the fact that he only caught five passes as a junior, Texas A&M offered him this spring and he quickly accepted. He has seemingly made the Aggies’ gamble pay off as he has 87 receptions for 1,230 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior.
2013 Cedar Hill DQB Damion Hobbs (6-2/200); #11- The Arkansas State commit was offered by many teams as an athlete but the Red Wolves recruitment of him as a passer paid off. Though he could play receiver or safety at the next level, he has proven to be an effect quarterback, completing 67-percent of his passes this year while throwing 27 touchdowns.
2013 Cedar Hill WR Brandon Harris (6-0/180); #9- Cedar Hill always sends recruits to the former “Big 12 North” schools and some of them always seem to become big-time players. Iowa State is hoping that is the case with Harris. He has caught 33 passes for 401 yards and two scores this year.
2013 Cedar Hill WR Travis Wilson (6-1/190); #16- Cedar Hill head coach Joey McGuire is very high on Wilson and several Big 12 programs are evaluating him. He performed well on the summer camp circuit and could be a player that sees a few postseason offers come in. He has caught 29 passes for 469 yards and three touchdowns on the year.
2014 Cedar Hill CB Marcus Green (6-1/180); #20- The 6-foot-1, 180-pound junior is a solid cover corner who could end up as a strong safety at the next level. Though he has not yet picked up his first offer he is receiving quite a bit of attention from across the Big 12.
2013 Katy RB Adam Taylor (6-1/210); #28- The Nebraska commit had quite a few major offers before tearing his ACL in the first game of his junior season. He has bounced back this year, though, having run for 2,392 yards and 38 touchdowns while playing only two or three quarters of most games. He loves to grind out yards and will occasionally break a long one.
2013 Katy DE Matt Dimon (6-4/255); #94- Oklahoma was one of the first schools in on the incredibly talented defender and the Sooners were rewarded with an early commitment. A finalist for the Houston Touchdown Club Defensive Player of the Year, he is a surprisingly good pass rusher for his size. He had an impressive batted pass which he then intercepted and returned for a touchdown in the semifinal win over Cibolo Steele.
2013 Katy WR/CB Kyle Fulks (5-9/170); #1- One of the top sprinters in the state of Texas, the Baylor commit does not come of the game very often. Katy does not throw much but, when they do, it is often a deep ball to Fulks. His speed makes him tough as a corner as well.
2013 Katy CB Isaiah Brown (5-10/165); #4- Brown committed to Tulsa relatively early in the process but is still receiving looks from other schools. He has already recorded a ridiculous 10 interceptions on the year.
2014 Katy LB Jake Blomstrom (6-2/215); #45- The inside linebacker prospect is a bit undersized but he makes plays from sideline to sideline. He is Katy’s leading tackle and seems to have a nose for the football. He will have plenty of offers to choose from next year.
2015 Katy RB Rodney Anderson (5-11.5/190); #26- Anderson did something almost unheard-of last when he came up a freshman to replace the injured Taylor. Though his carries have been reduced with the return of Taylor this year he has proven himself to be a dangerous weapon in both the passing and return games. He will be a national recruit in the class of 2015 and is a heavy Alabama lean.
Class 5A-Division I; Saturday 8-00 p.m.
Allen vs. Houston Lamar
2013 Allen OC Brad North (6-3/275); #69- The Northwestern commit played out of position at tackle a year ago but showed this summer on the camp circuit how solid of an interior blocker he is. He saw offers come in pretty rapidly this spring before committing to the Wildcats.
2013 Allen DT Byron Bonds (6-1/290); #96- As coaches came through Allen this spring they began to notice the big defensive tackle. The Baylor does a lot of rotating in and out of Allen’s front four but can be disruptive from the interior when he is in the game.
2013 Allen P Shane Tripucka (6-3/210); #17- Tripucka was somewhat of a surprise pick to play in the Under Armour All-American Game but he has a strong leg and gets good hang time on his punts.
2014 Allen LB Christian Sam (6-0/200); #2- An undersized junior, Sam simply makes plays from his linebacker spot. It was enough to earn him an early offer from SMU last month.
2014 Allen LB Tay Evans (6-3/200); #7- The junior linebacker was pretty much an unknown until last week’s win over then No. 1 DeSoto. He made play after play and then pretty much killed any hopes of an Eagle comeback with a 40-yard pick six in the third quarter.
2015 Allen DQB Kyler Murray (5-11/170); #1- The son of former Texas A&M quarterback Kevin Murray, Kyle took over the reins of the offense a couple games into the season and has made the Allen offense hard to stop due to his legs and his ability to throw from outside the pocket. The sophomore has thrown for 1,955 yards and run for 1,227. His father’s alma mater has taken notice and looks to be close to offering.
2013 Lamar DT Zelt Minor (6-3/260); #92- The former Houston commit is now an SMU pledge and is proving to be a serious find. In last week’s semifinal win he had a couple sacks and forced an intentional grounding for a safety that turned out to be the game winner. He also lined up as a tight end and caught a crucial fourth down pass to allow Lamar to run out the clock at the end of the game.
2013 Lamar CB Cedric Lancaster (5-8/170); #1- The SMU pledge was a ballhawk early in the season and put his name on the radars of several schools. Though he is on the small side he has good speed and is able to run with most receivers. He has recorded seven interceptions on the year.
2014 Lamar S John Bonney (6-0.5/175); #4- The class of 2014 crop of defensive backs in the state of Texas is loaded so sometimes Bonney tends to be a forgotten man among the group. However, the four-star prospect has been one of the anchors for a very solid Lamar defense that is giving up less than nine points a game on the year. He has early offers from Baylor, Houston, LSU and SMU.
2014 Houston Lamar WR Shelby Walker (5-11/170); #84- Lamar does not throw the ball incredibly often but the speedy Walker is the leading receiver with 26 catches for 502 yards and seven scores. He hit several camps this summer and at least one of them paid off when SMU offered back in July.
Note: The Class 3A-Division I championship game was played last weekend with Stephenville defeating El Campo 70-35.