The Port Arthur News
Some things to talk about while I witness my first practice fight in three years here…
1) Nederland comes out clean
At the beginning of the third week of practices, the biggest takeaway for the Nederland football team is they’re healthy. Not to jinx them, but that wasn’t the case last season, especially after an extremely physical scrimmage against West Orange-Stark knocked out a couple starting offensive linemen.
This year, it’s been a much different outlook out of that scrimmage, one that has encouraged head coach Larry Neumann.
“I’m not elated and I’m not depressed in any way,” Neumann said. “We’re on target or maybe a little ahead of where we want to be. The biggest positive, knock on wood, is that we came out healthy again. We’ll spend most of our time on negatives, and there were plenty of those, but there were plenty of positives.”
On the negative side, Neumann is concerned about how his team tackled against the Mustangs. There are plenty of new faces on defense, so the Bulldogs need to make sure those new guys measure up to the high standards of that excellent unit from the past few years.
“The inside linebackers, we might have some movement there too,” Neumann said. “Christian Contreras exceeded my expectations, but Leon (Mayfield) didn’t quite get there. There were plenty of reasons why he might have been tentative, but we’re dabbling in those combinations this week.”
2) PN-G’s Walker impresses
In looking back at the film of the Indians’ scrimmage against Hamshire-Fannett, head coach Brandon Faircloth said there were plenty of players on offense who stood out. However, what starting quarterback Ky Walker did was very encouraging.
“I was impressed with Ky,” Faircloth said. “He was almost 13 of 15. That was throwing the ball down the field, not just dinks. Any time you can come close to 13 of 15 (Walker was 11 of 15 on Friday), that’s a pretty good night. I was very glad for him. He would tell you he made plenty of mistakes and there’s room for improvement.”
On defense, linebacker Bradley Broussard, who played quite a bit last season for the Indians, made plenty of plays. As a unit, the most impressive thing the defense might have done was pitch a shutout, stopping the Longhorns on their lone penetration into Indian territory.
“Defensively, we have to tackle,” Faircloth said. “Every head coach is going to say that. No team is tackling like they want to right now. We did open field tackling today, we’re going to do it again tomorrow and Wednesday. Friday night, we’re going to line up and do it some more. I like that our defense had some toughness. They got inside our 40 and our defense held them four downs in a row. It was good for them to be stubborn and have some fight to them.”
3) Recruiting on hold for now
Though teams are spooling up for the regular season, this is a usually quiet time of the season in the recruiting world. That could change in a few weeks when college coaches get out of fall camp and start preparing for the season.
“We had a lot of kids draw interest during spring ball,” Memorial head coach Kenny Harrison said. “Colleges are in two-a-days right now. It’ll be weeks if not months before they start recruiting again. The good thing is they get to see kids perform in game situations. I can see that picking up once the season starts.”
Look for one Titan in particular to start drawing plenty of interest soon. Senior receiver Roderic Rucker, coming off a year when he caught 44 passes for 757 yards and 11 TDs, has been watched by a few colleges since the spring. Those include Texas Tech, who recruited Memorial safety Jalen Barnes last year, and Oklahoma State, where former Titan Jhajuan Seales plays right now.
No one has offered him yet, but that could change soon.
Don’t forget sophomore back Kameron Martin in any recruiting talk. Though Martin won’t be graduating for a while, he’s already drawing tons of interest from colleges, including what seems like the entire Big 12. Martin recently told 24/7 Sports that he wouldn’t make a decision until his junior or senior season, so look for interest in the talented, speedy back to build.
David Coleman is a sportswriter for the Port Arthur News. He can be emailed at email@example.com and found on Twitter at @MDavidColeman.