Junior RB Jolly opening eyes for Ridge Point
Not long into Ridge Point's postgame huddle following its scrimmage against Katy Taylor on Thursday evening, recruiting coordinator Kevin Scholz announced to the team that the University of Colorado was offering a scholarship to junior running back Ezell Jolly.
The 6-foot, 185-pounder's face lit up as his teammates and coaches roared cheers upon him. The news was indicative of the work Jolly had put into this point on and off the field; Colorado was impressed by both his transcript and film. But it also served as a sign of what's to come as Jolly embarks on a signature lead role for the offense.
"I'm excited. So excited," Jolly said. "I had no idea they were interested at all. It keeps me motivated, for sure."
Jolly assumes No. 1 on the depth chart for Ridge Point this year following the graduation of Keith Jackson, who's now playing at North Texas after compiling 1,179 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. Now it's Jolly as the next man up, and his role could be even bigger after the graduation of do-it-all receiver John Paul Richardson, now at Oklahoma State.
Without two of its top offensive playmakers from last year, Ridge Point has a lot riding on Jolly's shoulders. Jolly has great vision, is smooth and is stronger and faster than people think. He also adds a different dimension as a capable pass-catcher out of the backfield.
"Ezell's a little different in build and running style, but as a backup last year he still got second team all-district and has multiple Power 5 offers," head coach Rick LaFavers said. "He's got big shoes to fill, but we expect him to fill those and put his stamp on it as well."
Jolly made the most of his 39 carries last season, putting up 304 yards, two touchdowns and averaging 7.8 yards per carry. Even with the limited time, he still has offers from Baylor and, now, Colorado.
He worked tirelessly during the offseason for what should be a breakout season.
"I worked on everything," Jolly said. "Speed, power. I broke my wrist in the offseason, so I couldn't lift like I wanted to, but I did a lot of running with chains and running hills. I feel faster."
>> Dominant defense: Of Ridge Point's 11 returning starters, seven are on defense. The defensive front, in particular, is the strength of the unit behind junior lineman DK Kalu, senior lineman Clayton Cherry, junior lineman Cortez Nichols, junior lineman James Eaglin and senior lineman Kameron Richardson. Their success up front opens the door for senior linebackers Dalton Plitt, Mason Hall, and Jayden Jones, among others, to run amok and cause havoc. "We're really aggressive and we get after the ball," senior linebacker Dylan Vaughn said of the defense. "We all have such a close bond. We're all tight friends and we just love to play football."
>> Impressive depth: LaFavers feels he has a deeper team this year. Backups Karson Gordon (quarterback), Mason Dossett (running back) and Ashton Bethel-Roman (receiver) are dynamic sophomore playmakers who have earned their spots on varsity. "Our theme this year is 'reload'," LaFavers said. "We lost 45 seniors, and most people would say it's a rebuilding year. We feel we have a lot of guys that can step up and fill those roles. It's just that nobody knows about them."
>> Look out for No. 10: Senior 6-foot-3, 185-pound receiver Wilson Batiste has made a strong first impression in fall camp. In his first year playing football since middle school, Batiste has emerged as a solid No. 2 to No. 1 receiver Marvin Session on the perimeter. "He's the starting (center) on the basketball team and is now starting for us," LaFavers said. "Awesome speed, terrific catch range. He will make a difference."