Hidden gems of the 2021 Texas high school signing class

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The 2021 National Signing Day has come and passed with many of the state’s best players signing their names on the dotted line. But below all the blue-chips lies a mountain of elite Texas high school products. We want to find them all. 

Look below the FBS level and you’ll realize that Texas small college football is an all star collection of some of the most fun players in Texas high school football. The 2021 signing class is no exception. 

Two of the best players in Rio Grande Valley history will team up at an urban FBS school. A player with four state championship MVP awards is hoping to turn around a young program in Beaumont. Two Mr. Texas Football finalists will have chances to change their programs’ fortunes forever. 

Here are some of our favorite under-the-radar signees from the 2021 signing class. 

QB/DB Dane Jentsch, Grandview

Signed with: Lamar

Jentsch won both Offensive and Defensive MVP honors in the state title game in 2018. Then, he became the first ever to accomplish that feat in back-to-back seasons after leading the Zebras to another state title in 2019. 

Heading into the 2020 season, only Texas Wesleyan and Hardin-Simmons were smart enough to offer one of the all-time best Texas high school football players. Finally, new Lamar coach Blane Morgan answered the call. 

Jentsch was listed as both a quarterback and safety in Lamar’s recruiting class, so we know he’ll find a way onto the field. But for a program that’s just about to play its first football games under new head coach Blane Morgan, getting Jentsch in the door could be a program-changer. 

WR AJ Gonzaque, Mission Vets/QB Eddie Lee Marburger, Mission Pioneer

Signed with: UTSA

The Rio Grande Valley has historically been vastly underrated by football fans in this state (except here at Texas Football, of course). Thankfully, UTSA coach Jeff Traylor proved that paying attention pays off. The Roadrunners earned a pair of commitments from perhaps the two best RGV players in the state. 

Quarterback Eddie Lee Marburger was a finalist for Mr. Texas Football in 2020 after finishing his career as the RGV’s all-time passing touchdown leader. He threw for 7,870 yards, ran for 2,186 and totaled 136 touchdowns in just 23 games as a junior and senior.

Joining him is one of the best RGV receivers over the past several seasons. AJ Gonzaque only played six games in 2020, but averaged 126.3 yards per game and posted 10 touchdowns. We can’t wait to see the RGV’s finest teaming up. 

Oh, and by the way, the “TikTok coach” Marco Regalado just took a job as a recruiting assistant at Washington State. Hopefully that means that the great athletes in the RGV will be getting Power Five offers before long! 

QB Andrew Body, Corpus Christi Miller

Signed with: Texas Southern

Clarence McKinney’s Texas Southern squad finished 0-11 in his first full season and finished last in the SWAC in scoring offense. What this program needs more than anything is a spark. Well, Andrew Body is as good a spark as you’ll ever find. 

Body’s numbers at Corpus Christi Miller are absolutely absurd. Body ranks No. 3 all-time in Texas high school football history with 13,000 passing yards and led Corpus Christi Miller to the state quarterfinals, its best run since 1974. Body was a finalist for Mr. Texas Football. 

Now, Body can compete for the starting quarterback job right away and have a chance to make a difference both through the air and on the ground. 

DT Ed Bobino, Huntsville

Signed with: Stephen F. Austin

In a just world, a 5A interior lineman who dominated Texas to the tune of 154 tackles, 27 tackles for loss and 20 sacks would be turning down offers from the best schools in America. No matter, though. Huntsville defensive lineman Ed Bobino just decided to take his talents to East Texas. 

Normally, a player of Bobino’s stature would have discovered during a camp circuit, or maybe during practices. His former teammate, T’Vondre Sweat, ended up at Texas despite never posting Bobino’s level of production. Well, the FBS’ loss is Colby Carthel’s gain. Bobino is heading up the road from Huntsville to Stephen F. Austin. 

Bobino is far from the only defensive lineman at SFA who is good enough to play at the next level. BJ Thompson, Marje Smith, Branard Wright, James Sylvester and Carl Williams either had Power Five offers or transferred from the higher level. Here’s a pro tip: you might want to play max coverage against this SFA front in 2021. 

RB Noah Garcia, Abilene Cooper

Signed with: West Texas A&M

No one in the history of Abilene ISD has rushed for as many yards as the Cooper product, who scooted his way to 5,364 yards and 75 touchdowns on the ground. Now, the record-setter is heading up the Panhandle to continue his productive football career with the Buffaloes. 

QB Tyler Townley, Caddo Mills

Signed with: UTPB

UTPB quietly has a whole class filled with hidden gems, including Cedar Park WR Gunnar Abseck, Midland Lee QB Mikey Serrano and Cy Woods DL Chris Agnew. However, the Falcons’ biggest addition comes in the form of the two-time District Offensive MVP and honorable mention all-state QB from Caddo Mills. 

Tyler Townley improbably led Caddo Mills to the regional semifinals while accumulating 4,679 total yards and 61 touchdowns. He also added seven interceptions while playing both ways. 

UTPB combined to complete just 51.5 percent of its passes as a team in 2019, the last full season of play. Four different quarterbacks attempted at least 50 passes. Townley completed nearly 65 percent of his passes over his final two seasons and will make his presence felt on campus very quickly. 

WR Reggie Branch, Crosby

Signed with: UIW

When Crosby needed a play en route to the state championship game, they turned to District MVP Reggie Branch to keep things moving. The former quarterback played receiver, running back and backup quarterback to help Crosby have one of its best seasons ever. 

Now, Branch is taking his talents 200 miles west to San Antonio to play for Eric Morris at UIW. The Cardinals will assuredly find the best way for Branch to get the ball in space, where he should have a shot to dominate the new Southland Conference. 

RB Zach Hrbacek, Troy

Signed with: Sam Houston

The Troy product rushed for 7,534 yards and over 100 touchdowns during his four-year career on an absurd 10.4 yards per carry. Now, the two-time District MVP and Mr. Texas Football semifinalist is heading to one of the most successful FCS programs in the state to stabilize an offense hoping to find its rhythm. 

“A true home run threat any time he touches the ball,” Sam Houston coach KC Keeler said of Hrbacek. “Was a workhorse in high school with insane production. We are very excited about his future and the variety of ways we can use him.”

TE Kedrick James, Waco La Vega

Signed with: Texas A&M-Commerce

Once upon a time, Kedrick James was one of the most sought-after recruits in America. The highly successful La Vega product turned down elite offers to enroll at Alabama as a 4-star recruit. 

But after two years, James ended up at SMU, where he never played. Luckily, James is now teaming up with David Bailiff – one of the most respected college football coaches in the state – at Division II Texas A&M-Commerce. 

The Lions have consistently been one of the most competitive Division II teams in America. James will immediately provide an elite physical presence as Texas A&M-Commerce pushes for a national championship.

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