HOUSTON, Texas (KTRE) - The annual Texas Association of High School Coaches convention gives college coaches a unique opportunity to converse with high school coaches away from the grind of on campus activity.
The coaches point out the event gives them the chance to build an important relationship.
“I told my guys that we want to be part of the association,” Baylor Head Coach Matt Rhule said. “We do not want to come in for a day and leave. We want to be part of something special.”
Out of all the FBS schools in Texas, Rice University is the only program to not have a player from East Texas. Texas A&M leads the pack with 10 players on the current team that come from behind the pine curtain. Last year Lufkin’s Erik McCoy graduated and was picked in the second round of the NFL draft. Next year the Aggies will add 4-star recruit Haynes King from Longview.
“Texas and all the regions are special places,” Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “I was like an immigrant coming in here. This place is tough getting in here from the out of state. It is very tough because these schools want their kids to stay here.”
Behing A&M in the recruiting battle for East Texas is Matt Rhule and Baylor. Times have been tough in Waco after sexual abuse accusations involving the team under the Art Briles. Rhule pointed out the best recruiting tool he has at his disposal is the word of his current players.
“When they come to Baylor I want them to see Denzel Mims, Jamycal Hasty and Blake Lynch from East Texas thriving on and off the field. I think when the guys have a good experience they go back and tell their coach, 'You know what, I can go and trust this team and trust those coaches. A lot of decissions in recruiting are made because of facilities, branding, twitter and those things. It better be what you thought it was.”
It is no surprise the Power 5 schools get East Texas talent. Any good coach will tell you the challenge is discovering raw untapped talent that may not be high up on the charts. North Texas did that with Corrigan’s LaDarius Hamilton in 2016. Hamilton has become a leader on the defense.
“We all want that five star recruit,” Seth Littrell said. “Everyone wants them. Every year after signing day I go through the stats online and look at the top players. It is amazing to me how you look through and see at least one or two guys that don’t have any offers. You watch them on tape and there is no doubt they can play on your team.”
Texas Tech only has Defensive Lineman and former Longview Lobo Broderick Washington jr.as their East Texas representative. In the past however the team has developed pro talent from East Texas. The two most recent would be Houston Texans Keke Coutee and Kansas City Chiefs Patrick Mahomes. New head coach Matt Wells is looking to continue that tradition. Next year the team will add Ja’Lynn Polk, wide receiver, from Lufkin.
“I had East Texas one year as an assistant,” Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells said. “The thing I like is it is all about relationships out there. You have to build a relationship. Where ever you stop at on or two o’clock you are done for the day. There aint no other school really close. it will be the last place of the day. You get to sit down and grow some roots. I have done my research.Yesterday I was texting with a guy that is playing in Kansas City. He is really good. I think we have a good name in East Texas.”