What is the best college team?

Our district produces some of the best high school football players in the state on a yearly basis, which attracts scouts from major college programs.

With National Signing Day around the corner on Wednesday, I thought it might be fun to ask a question I think about a lot this time of year. When it comes to recruiting in Southeast Texas, which college football team runs the show?

I’m going to get this out of the way for now: There is no easy answer to the question. There are a lot of nuances that can change the conclusion, depending on how you view the question.

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For the sake of this column, let’s just look at the first section programs. There are so many to choose from in Texas, so let’s get down to business to find out which school prevails in recruitment in Southeast Texas.

Looking back over the past few recruiting seasons, one thing immediately jumped out to me — key recruits from Southeast Texas still go to traditional Texas powerhouses.

I may piss people off by saying this, but I consider the “traditional powers” to be the University of Texas and Texas A&M.

Take last year’s hiring class, for example. West Brook defensive back Bryce Anderson was the 2022 Home Class No. 1 award, and it went to Texas A&M. Another four-star prospect, Jaylon Guilbeau of Port Arthur Memorial, selected Texas.

If you go by quality, Texas and Texas A&M are still in the lead.

Related: The West Brook star headed to Aggieland

This year’s class doesn’t necessarily have that classy talent. There are plenty of skilled players with Division One skills this season, but not the four or five stars we saw last year.

Next year’s tournament will tell us more about the mentality of elite local recruits. Silsbee’s Dre’lon Miller and Jasper’s TyAnthony Smith both have shows from all over the country. Will Texas or Texas A&M get any of these players? Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher recently attended a basketball game in Silsbee to visit Miller.

When it comes to quantity, few other programs make their mark in Southeast Texas. The first thing that comes to mind is Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders signed three homegrown players in their early signing class last month – all of them defensive linemen. He picked Woodville’s Braylon Rigsby, Little Cypress-Mauriceville’s Amier Washington, and Orange Texas Tech native Quincy Ledet.

Red Raiders coach Joey McGuire clearly prioritized the region, and the recruits began to respond.

Behind (or perhaps in front of) Texas Tech is the University of Houston. The Cougars have a large recruiting presence in southeast Texas, as evidenced by two local early period signers.

Port Arthur Memorial offensive lineman Cayden Boye and West Orange-Stark defensive back Jamal Shaw both signed with the Cougars last month as prime Division I prospects. Both had scholarship offers from all over the country, but chose to stay close to their home in Houston.

The Cougars have been a steady in local recruiting lately. Last year, West Orange Stars offensive lineman Demetrius Hunter signed with Houston.

Related: Houston Cougars have signed players from Port Arthur, West Orange Stars

I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the other programs that have recruited our region well. West Orange-Stark’s Tyrone Brown signed with Baylor a few years ago, as did current NFL defensive back Callon Barnes who came out of Silsbee High School.

Texas Christian found success at Newton High School, getting players like Josh Foster and Darwin Barlow.

At the FCS level, Lamar University has a home field advantage when it comes to area recruiting, but it doesn’t always use it well. We’ll see if new coach Pete Rossomando can change this trend.

Related: Lamar adds 3 players in the first row

For those looking for an answer to the question I asked at the beginning of this column, here’s the best I can give you.

If we’re talking about quality, Texas, Texas, and A&M still get precious prospects from Southeast Texas.

If quantity is what you want, Texas Tech and Houston are at the top of the list.

Personally, I think there is enough talent in Southeast Texas for all of the state’s college football programs to get their piece of the action.



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