Commentary

No. 1 safety Loston among Texas' best defensive prospects

Originally Published: October 7, 2008
By Craig Haubert | Scouts Inc.

The Lone Star State has arguably the biggest, deepest and best recruiting pool in the nation. Texas loves its football, and many prospects in this state take the game seriously with a lot of effort, preparation and hours going into trying to be the best football players they can be.

Of Texas' 19 ESPNU 150 prospects, eight play defense, including talented prospects like No. 1 rated safety Craig Loston (Aldine, Texas/Eisenhower), No. 3 rated defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland (Lufkin, Texas), outside linebacker Tom Wort (New Braunfels, Texas) and defensive end Alex Okafor (Pflugerville, Texas), among others.

Naturally with this being Texas, the talent does not end with the prospects in the ESPNU 150, as plenty of other talented defenders are out there like safety Dele Junaid (Fort Bend, Texas/Hightower) and defensive tackle Calvin Howell (San Antonio/Earl Warren).

Top recruit

Craig Loston, safety
Craig Loston
OUInsider.comCraig Loston has verbally committed to Clemson.
Eisenhower (Aldine, Texas)
Verbal Commitment: Clemson

The top defensive player in the Lone Star State is also one of the best athletes in the entire country. The gifted Loston has the size and skill to play as a safety, wide receiver or kick returner.

We feel his best fit in college will be on defense, and he has all the tools to be a heck of a safety. He can line up and play man, cover ground in zone and is not afraid to hit you.

Few would argue about Loston's skills on the football field, but many are debating for which school he'll play. The Texas native is currently committed to Clemson, a surprising commitment since the Houston area is not exactly Clemson recruiting territory. Friends with fellow Clemson commit and No. 3 rated safety Devonte Holloman (Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe), the pair could form an explosive safety duo for ACC offenses to deal with. With four months to go until national signing day though, Clemson knows it will be in a fight to hold on to this top-10 prospect.

Since he's in normal Big 12 and to some extent SEC country, Loston will likely receive a lot of pressure from schools like Texas, LSU, Oklahoma, where teammate Jazmon Reynolds (Aldine, Texas/Eisenhower) is committed, and Texas A&M, where Loston was committed to at one time.

Recruit under the radar

Earnest Norman, inside linebacker
Trinity HS (Euless, Texas)
Verbal Commitment: Kansas

Without many great inside linebacker prospects in the Class of 2009, Norman might be one to keep an eye on down the road. He makes up for his lack of ideal measurables in areas like height and speed with his on-field play. He plays fast and physical and seems to have a knack for making big plays.

He shows some versatility at the linebacker position in high school, but with his build we like him a little better as an inside linebacker. He diagnoses plays quickly and gets to the ball. He also brings the wood as tackler but can also be a little sloppy at times and lunge. Though his frame limits his physical upside, the kid is a football player.

The one-time Tulsa commit is now on board with Kansas, and the Jayhawks have built themselves up into Big 12 contenders partly because they have slipped into Texas and landed sleeper prospects like Norman.

On the Trail (non-BCS conference schools)

SMU, 16 commits (Oct. 7)
Former Hawaii head coach June Jones is now trying to build the Mustangs into a BCS-buster program. It is no shock this class favors the offense, but it may shock some that the focus is on the offensive line and not the skill players.

SMU currently has commitments from seven offensive linemen, led by top-15 tackle prospect Joey Fontana (New Orleans/Brother Martin).

Rice, 15 commits (Oct. 7)
The Owls may be putting up some big points thus far in 2008, but the top guy in their class is a defender. Top-20 cornerback Andre Brackens (Dallas/Parish Episcopal) is a speedy prospect who could also provide big plays in the return game. The only prospect in the class not from Texas is wide receiver Paul Porras (Scottsdale, Arizona / Saguaro).

TCU, 15 commits (Oct. 7)
The Horned Frogs are the best potential BCS bowl buster of the non-BCS schools in the state of Texas. They are currently 5-1 and have a solid class assembled thus far. Five of their commits rate among the top 50 at their position, including top-30 wide receiver Josh Boyce (Copperas Cove, Texas). Boyce has big-play ability on offense and in the return game.

The class also boasts top-35 quarterback prospect Casey Pachall (Brownwood, Texas), a competitive risk taker with some good upside.

Houston, 14 commits (Oct. 7)
Working on his first full class as head coach at Houston, former Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Kevin Sumlin is assembling a solid class. Tyler Chambers (Houston/MacArthur) leads the 13 prep commitments. He is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades for his high school team, but we feel he has good upside as a tight end/H-Back and is a good hometown keep for the Cougars.

Everyone thus far in the class hails from Texas. The class also features one junior college player in offensive lineman Roy Watts (Navarro College), who originally signed with Texas in the 2006 class.

North Texas, 4 commits (Oct. 7)
Todd Dodge is finding wins much harder to come by at the college level as he tries to build the Mean Green. Off to a 0-5 start, he does not have much going in the way of verbal commitments either. At least there are still four months until national signing day as Dodge works on his second full class.

UTEP, 3 commits (Oct. 7)
It's slow going on the recruiting trail so far for the Miners with only three verbal commitments at this point. But after a 0-3 start they have won two games in a row, so possibly an upswing on the recruiting trail will follow.

Craig Haubert is recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. Drop Craig a line in his mailbag.