DCTF's Recruiting Tales from the Road - Area Round, 2023

Caden Durham (Photo by Greg Powers)

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After two rounds of the TXHSFB playoffs, the contenders have officially separated from the pretenders. Only the best of the best are playing past Turkey Day, Here are the recruits who've stood out on the state's top teams.

The Gutsy Gunslingers

Name: Ahkhari Johnson | School: Pleasant Grove | Class: 2024 | Pos.: QB/DB | HT: 6'0 | WT: 180

Johnson’s going to Arkansas as a defensive back, but he plays QB for Pleasant Grove because he’s the best athlete on the field. He’s a smooth runner that deftly moves throughout the pocket before showcasing elite acceleration once he decides to take off. At cornerback he’s got sticky hands when he goes up for a jump ball and brings the boom when he lowers the shoulder. - Carter Yates

Name: Marcos Davila | School: Midland Legacy | Class: 2024 | Pos.: QB | HT: 6'3 | WT: 230

The Purdue commit was efficient in leading an explosive offense in Legacy's 57-55 win over Trinity on Saturday. Davila didnt take many deep shots, but had great touch on a long touchdown pass early in the game. He was lethal on third down, especially when Trinity brought pressure, he was able to identify where the blitz was coming from and make the right read. Davila threw for 209 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score. - Matt Stepp

Backfield Workhorses

Name: JD Black | School: Garrison | Class: 2024 | Pos.: RB/LB | HT: 6'2 | WT: 215

At 6'2 215 pounds, Black is a load to bring down in 2A football, he runs tough in between the tackles, but displayed good hands on a 73-yard touchdown catch and run in the first quarter of Garrison's 42-28 win over Beckville Thursday. Black's size and frame looks to translate nicely to the defensive side of the ball, but he's definitely a guy who should get some FCS/D2 looks. - Matt Stepp

Name: J'Koby Williams | School: Beckville | Class: ATH | Pos.: RB/LB | HT: 5'9 | WT: 180

In his final high school game, Williams went out on his shield with a heroic 293-yard, four touchdown effort for Beckville in their loss to Garrison. Williams as always showed great speed and ability to change direction in a heartbeat, but several times displayed uncanny toughness putting his head down and fighting for extra yardage. - Matt Stepp

Name: Keshawn Walls | School: Hooks | Class: 2024 | Pos.: RB | HT: 5'11 | WT: 215

With Daingerfield's  defense geared up to slow the ground game, Walls had tough sledding Friday night. He has great size and the ability to finish runs, while also displaying enough speed to get to the edge with relative ease. - Matt Stepp

Name: Damien Johnson | School: Midland Legacy | Class: 2024 | Pos.: RB | HT: 5'10 | WT: 165

Johnson, who moved to RB from the secondary in Week 4 has been on an absolute tear rushing for at least 185 yards in seven straight games and he had his best performance of the year Saturday with 349 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. Johnson is a patient runner who lets blocks develop and he is very strong as he runs through arm tackles consistently. He showed elite speed on two long runs in the game as well. - Matt Stepp

Name: Caden Durham | School: Duncanville | Class: 2024 | Pos.: RB | HT: 5'9 | WT: 195

The four-star LSU commit has turned up the excitement level in the playoffs. Durham’s 10.25 100-meter speed was apparent as he galloped past Rockwall-Heath defenders, racking up 220 yards and five touchdowns on 15 touches. I like to compare his game to Baltimore Ravens running back JK Dobbins. - Greg Powers

The Stalwarts up Front

Name: Zach Turner | School: Duncanville | Class: 2026 | Pos.: TE | HT: 6'3 | WT: 210

Turner is one of the most physically impressive prospects on a team loaded with them. He exited the game with an injury, but prior to that he was exhibiting his ability as a physical blocker and hauled in a long touchdown pass. He has a nose for the end zone and QB Keelon Russell looks for him often in redzone situations, but he also has field-stretching ability. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and is just fun to watch, even on plays when he’s not getting the ball. Arizona State, Baylor, Houston, SMU, Texas, USC and more have offered. - Greg Powers

Name: Caleb Hackleman | School: Pleasant Grove | Class: 2024 | Pos.: OT | HT: 6’6 | WT: 275

Hackleman is a mauler. He’s going to play tackle once he gets to Oklahoma State, but I saw him play a lot of guard on Thursday night because he’s got the athleticism to pull and block out in space. He can easily get up to 300 pounds once he gets to college. And then, watch out. - Carter Yates

Nightmare-Inducing Defensive Linemen

Name: Alex January | School: Duncanville | Class: 2024 | Pos.: DL | HT: 6'4 | WT: 325

January had a dominant performance in the middle of the Duncanville defense, chewing up blocks and wreaking havoc behind the line of scrimmage. The four-star Texas Longhorns commit is sometimes overlooked because he plays on a team that is so loaded with top-notch D1 prospects, but he should not be because his play is instrumental to the overall success of the defense. His presence makes it virtually impossible to run up the middle. - Greg Powers

Name: Lance Jackson | School: Pleasant Grove | Class: 2025 | Pos.: DL | HT: 6’5 | WT: 245

Jackson’s the guy you take one glance at and say, ‘Yeah, that’s a DI football player.’ He’s got the pedigree -  his brother Landon stars at Arkansas. He’s also got the frame. I think his future’s on the defensive line, but at the highschool level he’s borderline unfair as a split-out tight end. Dudes that look like him shouldn’t be able to run or catch like that. Texas and Texas A&M are pursuing him hard. - Carter Yates

Name: Jaymon Wheeler | School: Pleasant Grove | Class: 2024 | Pos.: Edge | HT: 6’2 | WT: 220

Pleasant Grove’s opponents are stuck between a rock and a hard place; they can try to run at the four-star Jackson, or take their chances with the hyper-explosive Wheeler. Either way, they’re usually screwed. While not the profile of a recruit that Jackson is, Wheeler is just as productive. He’ll be a steal for wherever he ends up out of his top three of Lamar, Missouri State and Ouachita. - Carter Yates

Future DBU Members

Name: Aeryn Hampton | School: Daingerfield | Class: 2024 | Pos.: DB | HT: 5'10 | WT: 175

Hampton was a menace on both sides of the ball in the Tigers 33-6 rout of Hooks Friday night, in addition to breaking up several passes on defense, the Texas commit made a pair of acrobatic catches early on deep balls to set up a pair of Daingerfield touchdowns. - Matt Stepp

Name: Kaden McFadden | School: Pleasant Grove | Class: 2024 | Pos.: ATH | HT: 5’11 | WT: 185 

Duke is getting a star in McFadden, who’ll most likely play safety once there. He had an interception Thursday night where he turned around while the ball was in midair to snag it instead of running through the receiver like most DBs would do. Then, as a running back on offense, he took a mid-line handoff and bounced it outside to the house. - Carter Yates

Name: Torion Phillips | School: Pleasant Grove | Class: 2024 | Pos.: WR/DB | HT: 6’2 | WT: 190

Get Phillips the ball in space and good things are bound to happen. The senior caught a screen pass early and proceeded to stiff arm a man into the crust of the earth on his way to a touchdown. He’s an intriguing defensive back prospect because of his range at 6’2”, and he triggers to the ball with violent intentions. He can play offense or defense at the next level. Hardin-Simmons and Ouachita Baptist are sticking out in his recruitment. - Carter Yates


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