HOT TAKES: Are Texas High School football players too polished?
The phenomenon known as "Friday Night Lights" does not translate to "Saturday Success" or even "Sunday Stardom."
The reasons might surprise you.
Texas is thought to be the epicenter of High School Football nationwide, and it is. Katy, Permian, North Shore, Duncanville, Argyle, Converse Judson, Lake Travis, Westlake, Highland Park… It goes on and on.
These are name brands. If you are in California or Florida, you still know these programs.
But here's the thing… For the number of GREAT HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYERS in the state, a shocking number of athletes don't translate to the highest level.
Take the NFL. Where do you think Texas ranks in the country as NFL players per capita? Top 5? Top 10?
Nope. Try 11 th behind the likes of Hawaii, Mississippi, Nebraska and even Nevada.
Hence the argument.
The "Texas High School Football Player" has a ceiling. You heard it here, first.
Having worked for the first national recruiting website for over a decade and covering HS sports as a co-founder of VYPE 12 years ago, I've had some time to develop my theory.
There are tons of Texas kids on the national recruiting lists. There are so many four and five stars, right? Well, the upside is not always there.
The Lone Star State and Youth and Prep Football fit hand-in-glove – it's simply part of the culture in Texas. Kids play early and often. Some of the Youth Organizations could put colleges to shame the way they run their practices, film study and dynamic offenses. It's intense and we are talking 8-years-olds.
When they get to junior high, these kids are advanced. Their football IQ is off the charts… Then puberty hits, which virtually wipes out one-third of the players to girls, video games, school and other extra-curricular activities.
High school football takes it to another level. It's a thing… A movie and television series called Friday Night Lights virtually documented the culture. "Texas Forever", right?
So, what does that have to do with college and professional football? Stay with me.
Because it's such a big deal, high school football players have personal trainers; are well-fed; play year-round with the popularity of 7-on-7 and go through offseason and speed-and-strength summer workouts. Those are factors, but not the biggest…
Texas High School Football is so well-organized from the top with the UIL, which provides unprecedented training for its coaches from Houston to Abilene. These coaches are the best in the country. It's not even close.
So, I've met with college coaches who've recruited the state over the years. They've told me that Texas High School Football players are so well-polished, but are they too polished?
Here's the new reality and what is trending throughout college recruiting circles.
If college recruiters need a player to play right away, they have to take a Texas kid because they are so polished. With the transfer portal and the early entry to the NFL, those Texas athletes are needed more than ever.
While the big, raw athletes from a Mobile, Alabama or Breaux Bridge, Louisiana have the bigger upside, it takes a little time to develop. They need more coaching, more strength and conditioning, more polish.
Programs like LSU, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and Ohio State don't need incoming freshman to play right away – those teams are stockpiled with freakish talent. They have the luxury of redshirting and developing the "giant gems" who eventually go on to the NFL.
SMU, Kansas State, Iowa State, Houston, Texas Tech, Texas State and to some extent Texas and Texas A&M – those are the programs who feast on the Texas athlete who can play now, but likely won't play on Sundays.
Why? What, that is heresy.
But that's the truth. The Texas High School Football players are great "High School Football Players." Some go on to DIII, DII and the Division I level. They can often become the heartbeat of a college football team – a four-year player and team captain.
Sometimes, we act like that's a bad thing.
Imagine the life-lessons learned over the years of grinding it out, being part of a team and overcoming adversity.
A lot of times that's worth more than an NFL contract.