I knew I would be seeing some serious talent this weekend while covering Manvel (Texas) versus Houston (Texas) Westfield on Thursday and Houston (Texas) Madison versus Missouri City (Texas) Marshall on Friday. Here are twenty thoughts and things I learned from these season openers:
Let's start with Manvel...
2. 2016 safety Deontay Anderson didn't have as many big plays as I was expecting going into the match up, but one game does not make a player. The four-star prospect has the ideal size and speed for a defensive back and displayed an ability to fill holes quickly in the run game.
3. In fact, Manvel's overall 2016 talent is just as impressive as the senior class. The Mavericks are pros at reloading prospects.
4. One of the most impressive performances on Thursday night came from defensive back William Lockett. A back to back sack for loss and fumble recovery made the UCLA stand out in the secondary. Don't be surprised when more schools come knocking on his door this fall.
5. In general, the Manvel secondary is brimming with talent. Along with the well-known names, 2017 safety Derrick Tucker, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound early four-star, is on track to follow in the footsteps of Lockett and Anderson.
4. 2016 athlete Deriq King was also a pleasant surprise, with the highlight being a 64-yard rushing touchdown.
6. 2016 linebacker Jordan Carmouche is another player on whom to keep an eye. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder caught my attention with a big interception in the third quarter and was an impact player on defense. His offers include Houston and Arkansas, and he's also hearing from other programs including Texas, Baylor, and Georgia.7. The other linebacker to watch is Shane Jackson, who also had an interception halfway through the first quarter. He has Memphis and New Mexico State offers.
8. Ditto for 2016 defensive end Hasaun Glasgow, a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder who currently holds a Louisville offer. He's the type of player that will get better each weekend and have programs take notice.
9. Scout named him a top sleeper in the off-season and I believe it's still true; athlete Gary Haynes was one of the biggest game changers on Thursday, and though only Houston and Louisiana Lafayette has offered, the three-star prospect will turn some heads this fall. He had two touchdowns in the first quarter.
Moving on to Westfield...
10. Offensive lineman Toby Weathersby is one of the biggest high schoolers I've seen at his position. He was a man among boys on the Westfield line, and at 6-foot-5, 280-pounds, the Texas commit has a frame that college strength and conditioning will easily benefit.
11. Weathersby's team may have only scored 10 points, but he was easily the bright spot for the Mustangs, writes Scout's Ahmard Vital.
13. 2016 defensive tackle Ed Oliver didn't have quite the performance I was expecting, but there were some flashes of greatness throughout the night, including a blocked punt early in the second quarter.
A few notes from Friday, beginning with Marshall...
14. The biggest name of the night was defensive back Kendall Sheffield, but Scout's number one corner's appearance was on the sidelines in sweats. Sheffield is nursing an injured ankle, but says he's rehabbing well and will hopefully be back on the field soon.
15. Having a playmaker like Sheffield out for the night made it a whole different ball game. It came down to the literal last minute of the game, with Marshall outscoring Madison 19-16. Seriously, had just one minute been left on the clock, the game could have been Madison's. It was a crazy fourth quarter.
16. Running back Davon Crookshank, a Wisconsin commit, helped his team secure the win with a one-yard rushing touchdown. However, it was actually during the first half that Crookshank excelled, with 67-all purpose yards and a touchdown. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound athlete is a tough competitor.
17. 2016 quarterback Jeremy Smith is another prospect who will likely see his stock rise this fall. His current offers include SMU, Houston, and Michigan State, and though he'll likely end up at receiver at the next level, he has the chops to play quarterback if need be. He played both on Friday night.
...and finally, wrapping things up with Madison...
18. It's been a while since a big-time prospect came out of the program, but Madison was my surprise team of the weekend. After trailing 6-0 in the first half, the Marlins returned on the field a different team, taking the lead late in the third quarter and extending it to 14-6 with less than six minutes in the game. They weren't deterred by Marshall's 76-yard rushing touchdown. As the Buffaloes prepared to go for two, Madison's Joshua Jenkins picked the ball and ran it back for 92-yards and the extra two points, making it 16-12. Though they ultimately lost, the Marlins drove the ball back to Marshall's 30-yard line as the clock ran out.
19. Running back Darrah Forman was, in my opinion, one of the best players on the field on Friday. The 5-10, 210-pound back is an absolute bruiser.
20. Two other Marlins to keep an eye on: 2017 quarterback Erin Thomas, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound prospect, and tight end Jontre Epps, who is listed at 6-foot-4, 230.
A bonus number 21: The Madison band and dance team put on the best halftime show I've seen in four seasons of covering football.