For most weeks from the back end of August through the holidays, Rivals is the source of recruiting intel and evaluations from the top games in high school football. In case you missed it, here’s the season-opening batch of takeaways, including Mater Dei’s visit to Duncanville (Texas) and more on five-star wide receiver Evan Stewart, among others.
In the midst of my Week 1 slate of games, Hurricane Ida struck the Gulf Coast and impacted homes all over Louisiana, including where I reside in New Orleans. My wife and our arc of animals met me in Dallas, where I was already situated. I am happy to report that during a 10-day hurricane evacu-staycation, we caught two more games in the Metroplex and saw a clash of Louisiana state champions last week in Baton Rouge.
We’re both back home and safe, and as I head back on the road to catch more action there are still plenty of people in the state that need help.
Additionally, it’s time for a necessary notebook dump. Here are a few more thoughts on some of the talented recruits, including five-star offensive lineman Devon Campbell as well as commitments to South Carolina, Oregon, Minnesota, LSU and Alabama.
Even on the smaller side at 6-foot-ish and 180 pounds, Samson is a dynamic playmaker that’s bound to make a dent on the South Carolina offense. Samson displayed toughness as a willing and able receiver in the middle of the field in traffic. He absorbed big hits and held on through contact time and time again, and that’s on top of his natural ability to take the top off the defense and also attack in space.
Samson has a strong tie to South Carolina and receivers coach Justin Stepp. Expect some other households names continue to monitor Samson as the fall goes on.
Anderson quickly put to rest the title of just Quinn Ewers’ successor as he opened the season with a primetime win over Highland Park and was impressive during a comeback victory a week later on the road at Wilkinson-Memorial Stadium against high-powered Rockwall-Heath.
Anderson has prototypical size at 6-foot-4 and just over 200 pounds. He has a big, powerful arm to sling it downfield and throws with good touch over the top. Anderson earned a profile as a surefire Power 5 passer with his ability to throw on the move and keep his eyes downfield. He can extend plays, move within the pocket with the ability to get throws off effectively. Look for offers to begin pouring in due time.
Evans has a reputation for being a spectacular pass-catching back and he certainly showcased his soft hands and ability to contribute as a safety valve in the Heath offense for Indiana quarterback pledge Josh Hoover. The Big Ten-bound back is also a thick, wide-framed physical runner between the tackles that consistently fell forward. He’ll be a versatile option for P.J. Fleck.
Williams was among the top performers at RCS Dallas and shined as a Swiss Army knife in the Heath secondary. Lined up in man coverage at cornerback and also action back deep at safety, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Gamecocks commitment wasted no time racing to ball-carriers and covering a ton of ground as a tackler as well as flashing the closing speed in coverage. He also came up with impressive break-ups against slot receivers like Samson and taller pass-catchers like RJ Maryland. He’s a stock-up candidate.
Oregon commitment “Boogie” Johnson gives DeSoto (Texas) a verified playmaker opposing Rivals100 junior wide receiver Johntay Cook. Johnson is a big target at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds that can stretch the field and separate in the process. He’s a reliable pass-catcher that can hold on through contact and is a gifted route-runner that’s crafty to make plays along the sideline. He could make an impact for the Ducks sooner rather than late.
One of the most gifted playmakers from the slot not only in Texas but nationally in the Class of 2023, there are a few usual contenders waiting in line for Cook. Alabama, Texas and Texas A&M are surefire programs making their feelings well-documents, and Ohio State is also entering that conversation. Receivers coach Brian Hartline has enjoyed a lot of success in the Metroplex recently and he’s taken a liking to Cook — and it’s mutual.
Battling an illness for the DeSoto game, the five-star Arlington Bowie offensive lineman only saw a handful of snaps before exiting the game and showing up in regular clothes after halftime. When he was on the field, Campbell was brilliant. He easily defenders off the ball and is gifted blocking in space and, at his best, impacting multiple levels.
Sources around Campbell have continued to point to the Longhorns as a team to watch, and he’s certainly a top priority for Texas. Oklahoma is squarely in the mix and not to be discounted, though.
The younger brother of former three-star wide receiver, now current Oregon State receiver Jimmy Valsin, Kelby already has a size advantage and is beginning to carve out his own legacy for Arlington Bowie. He’s a well-built pass-catcher that can stretch the field and make plays in-between the hashes. He also showed up well in the red zone. Naturally, the Beavers have made a legacy offer, but more Power 5 teams will follow suit.
Like Campbell, Rivals250 offensive lineman Emery Jones is a massive, athletic piece up front that can contribute up front in a variety of different ways. Ultimately, he might be a guard, but he’s stout in pass-pro with overwhelming power and in-game situation awareness. The LSU commitment came up with timely blocks to spree some of Baton Rouge (La.) Catholic’s biggest runs and pass attempts. He’s one the Tigers’ staff is anxious to get on-campus as early as January.
The nation’s No. 2-ranked junior receiver is battling a pinky injury and will be a game-time call Week 3 on the road at West Monroe, but is definitely expected to be on the field before the end of September. Sampson visited LSU for the home opener last week and is eyeing the November tilt vs. Texas A&M as another game to take in. Sampson plans to head to Auburn for the Georgia contest next month, and both SEC teams are actively pursuing him. He’s also considering a return trip to Tuscaloosa in November.
Bob is one of the most intriguing prospects in The Boot and continually delivers splash plays during in-person evals. The Alabama pledge gives Lafayette (La.) Acadiana coaches position versatility as an edge defender and someone capable of battling inside as well. Bob possesses spectacular speed to patrol sideline to sideline and close quickly on quarterbacks. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Bob able to shed blocks and make even more plays by the time he gets into mid-season form.