DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s time again to start looking at potential nominees for The Landry Award, an honor bestowed upon the best high school football player in North Texas. Named in memory of former Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry, the winner is chosen by a voting panel of former coaches and players, members of the media and local leaders. The award will be handed out in December.
Here are some of the names coming up in the conversation before the 2014 season even officially begins.
Demarcus Lodge | WR | Cedar Hill
When the ball is in the air, there is nobody better than Lodge. His quickness, size, hands, flexibility and speed make him the best receiver recruit in Texas, if not the country. Coach McGuire uses Lodge every way you possibly can. During the playoffs’ frigid ice games of December, Lodge was featured as a QB to get the ball in his hands and let him make plays. I haven’t seen anybody who works harder than he does at his craft. He is exceptionally mature for his age and understands there is no limit to how good he can be. He is humble and quiet, and he lets his play on the field do the talking. When the ball is in his hands, Cedar Hill excels. Lodge has a chance to be the next Julio Jones when he fills out.
Kyler Murray | QB | Allen
Murray’s best attribute is his competitiveness, and that’s saying a lot, because his physical skills are pretty impressive. Since he was named starter in his sophomore season, Allen hasn’t lost a single game. They are 27-0, including two state championships in the state’s largest division. He truly can use his legs and his arm to dominate games, and gives teams fits when he is outside the pocket. He seems to find an especially high level of focus toward the end of close games. His footwork, presence, vision and fundamentals are as close to perfect as you’ll see at this level. His character is one of humility, and as the leader of the Eagles, that funnels down to the team. He is quiet, unassuming and poised, with stellar technique and focus. The mental part of the game is a strength for Murray. In my opinion, he is more fundamentally sound at this age then Johnny Manziel was. Manziel was a better runner, but Murray is better at staying within the system. Like Manziel, size will be the question at the next level, but not having the prototypical size hasn’t hurt either of them. I feel Russell Wilson is also a fair comparison. In addition to Murray’s skills on the gridiron, he is also a star second baseman on the Allen baseball team.
Malik Jefferson | LB | Mesquite Poteet
Jefferson is an athletic freak (in a good way). The best compliments I’ve heard paid to him were from his opponents. Size, speed, power and motor skills propel him to be the best defensive player in this year’s class. In talking with Jefferson, he is extremely humble and works constantly. Every offense needs to know where Jefferson is lined up on every play. He is so versatile that his impact is felt rushing the passer, in pass coverage or stopping the run. He seems to get faster when he is closing or persuing. I would compare him to DeMarcus Ware or Jevon Kearse at the next level. By many experts, he is the top defensive prospect in Texas, and very possibly the country.
Soso Jamabo | RB | Plano West
Jamabo has the size and speed to run over you or past you. He is a tall, physical runner with moves to keep you guessing. He is the best pure runner in this group and is just as good catching screens or running routes. His physicality has been questioned at times, and injury slowed him in his junior campaign. This year, he isn’t sharing carries for the Plano West Wolves, so the Jamabo show should be on full display. Jamabo hasn’t made a college commitment, but all the big boys want him. He is also a star on the Plano West basketball team. I would compare him to Eddie George as a runner because of his upright running style.
Jarrett Stidham | QB | Stephenville
Stidham’s arm is powerful and accurate with a very quick release. He was invited to the Nike Elite 11 QB camp in Oregon this summer, so you know he is one of the best dual-threat QBs in the country. He can let it fly down the field or dominate in the intermediate routes. His size and mobility have Texas Tech fans excited about the future. In my opinion, his command of the offense is a huge upside for him. He knows where every receiver is on every play and goes through his progressions like a seasoned college QB. He reads the defensive extremely well in his high-flying, high-powered offense at Stephenville. He might be the underdog with a lot of people who follow high school football in DFW, but I know he is for real. I would compare his game to that of another Texas QB, Nick Foles.