“You can’t coach speed,” Counter said. “I’ve
been coaching 28 years here in Texas, and
he’s one of the fastest kids I’ve ever coached.
It didn’t take college coaches but three or four
plays to see that he was a Division I kid.”
Small schools have produced a lot of
excellent receivers over the years, including
some that had some staying power in the NFL,
such as Phil Epps (Atlanta, then TCU, then
Green Bay Packers), Alfred Jackson (Caldwell,
Texas, Atlanta Falcons), Ron Morris (Cooper,
SMU, Chicago Bears) and Johnnie Lee Higgins
(Sweeny, UT-El Paso, Oakland Raiders). There’s
also the guy who holds multiple state receiving
records, Jordan Shipley. The former Rotan and
Burnet star was a 2009 All-American at Texas
before spending three seasons in the NFL.
Perhaps the most notable former small-school
Texas receiver is Don Maynard, a member
of the Colorado City Class of 1953. Maynard
played 15 seasons as a professional and was
inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1987.
“Hez” Jones is a long way from the Hall of
Fame, but playing at a smaller school doesn’t
make him feel like he’s far from the big time.
“Home games are always big here,” he said.
“The fans in the city of Stafford, they all come
out to support us, and we try to give them a
COMMUNITIES, REGARDLESS OF SIZE,
take pride in their high school football teams.
But for the smaller schools, the football teams
are an even bigger part of a town’s identity.
Stars such as quarterbacks Jack Dallas of
West Orange-Stark and Jaylen Gipson of Mexia
become celebrities around town.
And because the Lone Star State is so big,
there will always be stars that shine bright
away from the big city.
Down south, you’ll find Huffman Hargrave’s
Dennis Bardwell, a 6-5, 275-pound offensive
lineman who’ll battle anyone in the trenches.
At Bremond, a school with less than 200
students, you’ll find Roshauud Paul, a dual-threat quarterback who has scholarship offers
from the state’s powerhouses. And head
to the Panhandle and you’ll find one of the
state’s most talented athletes at Canadian
(enrollment of 270). Cameron Copley is only
5-9, but he’s a big-time player as a receiver
and defensive back for the 2A Division I state
champs, who are now moving up to 3A.
Copley’s size doesn’t matter, and neither
does the size of the school. That’s true for all
the kids from the smaller schools. The only
thing that matters is that they can play.
“Not playing against the big schools, that
really doesn’t concern me at all,” Jones said.
“As long as I’m playing football in Texas.”
Matt Wixon is high school sports columnist for
The Dallas Morning News. Follow him on Twitter
Browning is proud
to represent his
high school and his
community when he
steps on the field.
The “Sugar Land Express”
is considered by some as the
greatest Texas high school
running back ever. From 1950
to 1953, Hall broke nearly
every rushing record. He
finished with 11,232 rushing
yards at Sugar Land, which
is still the state record. He
rushed for 4,045 yards in only
12 games as a senior, and he
once carried for 520 yards in a
game on just 11 carries. Hall
played for Paul “Bear” Bryant
at Texas A&M, but they were
not a successful pairing. Hall
later played in the Canadian
Football League and had brief
stints in the AFL and NFL.
Randle thought about
quitting football while he was
at Hearne because he had to
hitch a 10-mile ride back to
Mumford after practice each
day. After graduating from
Hearne, he played two years
at Trinity Valley Community
College and then at Texas
A&I in Kingsville (now known
as Texas A&M-Kingsville).
No team selected Randle in
the NFL draft, but he tried
out with the Vikings and
was an instant contributor.
He finished his 14-year NFL
career with 137 ½ sacks and
was inducted into the NFL
Hall of Fame in 2010.
Everett was only 5-9 and
170 pounds when he starred
at Daingerfield, but he played
all over the field. He was
lightly recruited because of
his size and expected to go
to Stephen F. Austin before
Baylor offered a scholarship.
He played safety for Baylor
and was twice an All-American. In 1986, he won the Jim
Thorpe Award as the nation’s
top defensive back. He played
nine seasons in the NFL with
the Steelers, Cowboys and
Buccaneers. He won back-to-back Super Bowls with the
Cowboys and was named to
the 1993 Pro Bowl.
When Davis attended
Wortham, the school had less
than 150 students, but he didn’t
have trouble getting noticed
by recruiters: Davis was
6-6, 350 pounds and ran the
40-yard dash in 4. 95 seconds.
After helping Wortham to
an 11-1 season as a senior in
1996, the Parade All-American
signed with Texas. He blocked
for Heisman Trophy winner
Ricky Williams and was a
consensus All-American in
2000. He was the No. 2 overall
pick in the 2001 NFL draft,
and played 12 seasons in the
NFL before retiring after the
“Slingin’” Sammy Baugh
was a football, baseball and
basketball star at Sweetwater
before becoming an
All-American at TCU. Baugh
is considered the first great
passer in the NFL, but he was
more than a quarterback
during a 16-year career
with the Redskins. In 1943,
he led the NFL in passing,
punting and interceptions.
Interceptions made, not
thrown, because Baugh was
also a defensive back. He was
part of the NFL’s first Hall of
Fame class in 1963 and died
in 2008 at the age of 94.
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