The Greater Houston area is regularly one of the top talent-producing regions in the entire country. While colleges flock to the city to sign players every year, the sophomore class looks especially promising. Two schools in Fort Bend County on the southwest side of town have plenty of standouts in the class of 2015 and 247Sports hit the road on Wednesday to check in on those two programs.
JW Ketchum is one of the most dynamic playmakers in Texas.
Fort Bend Marshall made a deep playoff run this past year. While the Buffs lose two FBS signees on each side of the line, there is still plenty of talent remaining at the school to make another run at a title.
The two biggest names are quarterback JW Ketchum and cornerback Kendall Sheffield. Each has the potential to be a Top 100 national recruit before all is said and done. For the moment, Baylor is the only school to offer each of them but that should change very soon.
The 6-foot, 180-pound Ketchum is a dynamic playmaker that is incredibly dangerous with the ball in space. After transferring from Houston Lamar before the season, he was at times a one-man show for Marshall, finding holes in the defense while running for big gains. While not a polished passer at this point, Ketchum is adamant that he wants to play quarterback at the next level.
His best spot, should he not progress as a quarterback, would likely be as a big slot receiver because of how good he is with the ball in space. However, he also has the mentality and physical makeup to play safety or linebacker.
Sheffield is a big corner at 6-foot, 170-pounds. He is a track standout and could play both sports in college. Unlike some taller defensive backs, he turns his hips very well and has natural instincts in coverage.
Neither player is willing to name favorites at this point but, in addition to Baylor, Ketchum says he has been hearing from both Texas and Texas A&M. He says he is more focused on getting better this offseason than he is on recruiting at the moment. Sheffield is hearing from the same programs as well.
Baylor has also offered Fort Bend Marshall running back Davon Crookshank. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound sophomore averaged over 10 yards per carry this year but is also good between the tackles. He will see plenty of new offers over the next year as well. Like his teammates, he also does not have any early favorites.
Down the road a little ways is George Ranch High School. The program played its first year of varsity ball this season and came within one win of making the playoffs. The Longhorns only lose four senior starters from this year’s team – although two were FBS signees – so they should be one of the top teams in the district next year.
Defensive end Kingsley KeKe should have his pick of schools to attend.
The school is home to a sophomore defensive end that will likely have his pick of national offers at this time next year. Kingsley KeKe just finished playing center for the basketball team and the 6-foot-4.5, 270-pound defender ran a 4.8 40-yard dash last week. Though he has not picked up his first offer just yet, once it comes in expect other schools to quickly follow.
George Ranch head coach Ricky Tullos came over from Cleveland (Texas) High where he had a similar prospect in current University of Texas defensive end Cedric Reed.
“Kingsley is a lot like Cedric except I’d probably say he’s further along at this stage though,” Tullos said. “He’s not as tall as Cedric but he’s more filled out and he’s stronger. He could possibly move inside and be a really quick tackle too. He’ll have his pick of schools for sure.”
KeKe has not thought too much about recruiting but admits to having grown up a huge Florida State fan. He says he wants to hear from the Seminoles. In addition, he likes in-state schools Baylor, Texas and Texas A&M.
Another sophomore to keep an eye on at the school is all-purpose back Xavian Marks. The 5-foot-9, 155-pound speedster is small but incredibly quick. The team lines him up in the backfield and the slot and does everything it can to get him the ball in space. His size may scare a few programs away but Tullos expects him to have offers as well. The District 23-4A Sophomore of the Year is high on Alabama, Oregon and Texas A&M.
Marks’ brother, safety Torin Marks, is 11 months younger but in the same grade. The 6-foot-, 160-pound defensive back has a chance to be an FBS recruit as well. So does cornerback Reggie Solomon. He is very slight of frame at 5-foot-9, 150 pounds but changes directions very well. University of Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite watched film on him and compared him to former Texas star and current Seattle Seahawk Earl Thomas as a sophomore.
Though not as loaded as their younger counterparts, both teams have some juniors as well.
George Ranch offensive guard Neal Bess has a perfect core GPA and could be close to a Rice offer. Fellow lineman Brandon Anozie plays right tackle and has a solid frame with plenty of room to grow at 6-foot-4, 270 pounds. Linebacker Tsola Efejuku is undersized but is a big hitter while running back Collins Kwabena should see some interest.
Marshall has a pair of junior defensive backs in corner Dominique Roberson and safety Johntell Horton that are receiving interest. Defensive tackle Arthur Johnson is on the short side but is very quick off the ball.