While offenses steal the headlines, the defense will ultimately control the outcome.
Why? If you have a dominant defense that can disrupt at the point of attack up front, the QB is knocked off their mark. A lock-down secondary can dominate in the high school game as some offensive schemes can be solved. A smart LB is the QB on defense and their football acumen and physicality can terrorize offensive coordinators.
This is the year of defense in H-Town, so here are some of the best in the city.
THE SUPER 60
No. 30 AJ Holmes, Westfield, DT
Westfield has been a hot bed for DTs for years. AJ Holmes is the next big thing. He was the co-Defensive Player of the Year in the district and continues to improve. Everyone wants to compare him to Ed Oliver. That's unfair, but he does have great leverage and a super motor. He's getting some nice mid-Majors right now like Virginia, Colorado, Memphis and Nevada.
No. 29 Dorian Friend, Spring, DB, Houston-commit
Speed is Friend's best friend. He makes up for a lack of size with his track speed. He can run with virtually any receiver and has good ball skills. UH is a great fit for this Lion, who has helped turn Spring into a city power.
No. 28 Kivon Wright, Manvel, DE
Hand in the ground or standing up, Kivon Wright can play. He's explosive off the ball and can lock down ball carriers and QBs with his long arms. Academics are a plus, which gives him ever more options. At 6-foot-4, Wright continues to grown into his body and will be a beast after the offseason.
No. 27 Jhalyn Bailey, North Shore, WR
At 6-foot-1, Bailey has good size and he can outrun angles of opposing DBs. He's a straight-line guy who can also break tackles. He will be the 'Stangs No. 1 WR this season after learning from one of the best in Shadrack Banks. But who will get him the ball?
No. 26 Carter Brown, Dawson, Kicker, Arizona State-commit
Kickers can be a weapon as we know. Carter Brown is the best weapon in H-Town as a kicker. He's committed to Arizona State and is a Top 5 special teams guy in the country. He can crush the ball.
No. 25 Collin Wright, Manvel, DB
What do Virginia, Vandy, Stanford, Duke and Cal have in common? Yes, tremendous academic institutions. Wright is a student in the classroom and on the field. The 6-foot safety anchors a talented secondary and can cover and tackle well. He never gives up on a play and makes the game look effortless. Oh, by the way, he's been offered by all of those schools.
No. 24 Dillon Bell, Kinkaid, WR
Bell is the best private school player in Houston. At 6-foot-2, 210-pounds, he can play several spots on the field from QB to WR. Michigan is hot on him but he seems to want to stay closer to home. He has a younger brother who will be another prospect in 2023. Bell is a can't-miss student-athlete.
No. 23 Tai Leonard, North Shore, DE
Tai Leonard's best football is in front of him. The Cy Falls' transfer found a home at North Shore but will be even better as a senior. A year of offseason with coach Jon Kay and company and this guy will just look different. Teams offering on potential right now and that will pay off.
No. 22 Bra'lon Jones, Spring, LB
Jones was the co-Defensive MVP as a junior and is a heat-seeking missile. He's a smidge undersized and could move to safety in college, but he's a bone-crusher who likes the big hit. He can cover RBs out of the backfield well.
No. 21 Marcus Scott II, College Park, DB, LSU-commit
Marcus Scott II is a bit of an anomaly. A guy who marketed himself well on Twitter and has the measurables that college coaches like. He needs to show out as a senior and be that guy who takes half of the field away for offenses. Heck, he's committed to DBU.
Before the 2020 season, College Park's Marcus Scott II was off the grid.
Like off the grid.
"When I got on varsity, I wasn't 'the guy'," Scott said. "I was blessed with good height (6-foot-2), but I had to turn myself into 'the guy'. I was fast but needed to become more fluid and athletic, and I worked really hard on it."
Heck, College Park was off the grid, having never won their district and only beating their rival The Woodlands once in its 15-year school history.
Since the arrival of coach Lonnie Madison, who coincidently played at The Woodlands and Texas A&M, he has turned the Cavalier program around in four short years.
In that time, he's also produced lineman Joshua Bankhead, who is on the two-deep at Texas A&M, and 2021 grad Dylan Hazen, who is headed to Wake Forest.
Scott is now 'the guy' after having a breakout junior season, but he didn't have any recruiting stars. He recently committed to LSU. So, what gives?
"My mom is my Social Media advisor," Scott laughed. "We basically kept it simple. I put a highlight video from my season and tagged every school I wanted to go to and their assistant coaches."
LSU DB coach Corey Raymond responded.
"Coach Raymond said he was just chilling and looking through his notifications and found my highlight and the info in my bio," he said. "He reached out and we started a relationship. They offered me and I committed. He said he looked for players he wanted – he doesn't look at what stars they have.
"I did my research and LSU is the real 'Defensive Back University'. No other college is really close. Just watching all the players come through there and how they play with tenacity and aggression – it was something I wanted to be a part of."
Seems simple, right?
So, what's the rest of the story?
Scott's father, Marcus Scott, played DB at Oklahoma and his sister Reagan plays soccer at Prairie View A&M. His grandmother was a track star and his aunt is Brittney Scott – who was a first-team Conference USA basketball star at the University of Houston.
Did we mention that his cousin is NFL vet Earl Thomas?
Scott is also a track star, running the 200 and 400-meters.
"Marcus deserves everything he receives," coach Lonnie Madison said. "He's smart, he works hard and he's a leader. He put the work in to get where he wanted to. He's only going to get better and that's scary as a 6-foot-2, 170-pound DB with track speed."
He's on the grid now.