College recruiting is big business, big business fed by high school football, and at the epicenter of the recruiting game is Houston, Texas, the mecca of high school football.
The best of the best were on display receiving their just due on Wednesday night, in a banquet hall near the Galleria full of college coaches, families, boosters and media, as the Touchdown Club of Houston held its annual Houston area awards night for the top senior high school football players in the Houston area.
The event always provides a great reminder of just how much talent is in the area, and which schools are hot on the recruiting trail.
Before the overall honors were handed down, the Ron Stone Award was handed out, in honor of the late Channel 2 anchor. The recipient was none other than longtime Houston Chronicle scribe John McClain, who is of course best known for being the eyes and ears of NFL football for this city, shattering the record for use of the word "pathetic" in a calendar year in 2013 (besting his own record from 2010), and having his very own BATTLE-DRINK game board totally devoted to him.
Congratulations to the General!
As for the actual football awards, Gary Joseph of Katy was named the area's top coach. The defending 5A Division II champion Tigers advanced to the state semifinals again last week with a 56-14 rout of Manvel. They'll take on San Antonio Johnson this weekend for the right to defend their title the following week. Joseph, a fixture in the Katy community for nearly three decades now, took over the Tiger program in 2004 and took the Coach of the Year hardware for the second time in his career.
As for the top players of the year on both sides of the ball, ironically, the two of them are committed to schools intertwined in mutual Nick Saban coaching drama at the moment. The top defensive player in the area is Zach Whitley, a four star (according to rivals.com) linebacker from North Shore. Whitley is committed to go play football at Alabama for Nick Saban next season, and if you want a gauge for the Crimson Tide's place on the landscape, just know that the other nine nominees named before Whitley were all either uncommitted or going to other schools, but when Whitley was announced as committed to Alabama, you could just tell that everyone kind of sat up straighter in the room hearing that.
Yes, a recruit going to Alabama matters. For the record, all of the actual playing highlights of Whitley are in the premium sections of the recruiting websites, but if you want to see him run drills in no pads for four minutes (and really, who doesn't), here you go...
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Finally, the top offensive player in the area was named, and it was Armanti Foreman, a four star wide receiver out of Texas City. Foreman (along with his twin brother, D'Onta) is committed to go play football at the University of Texas next season, quite possibly for Nick Saban. Here are Foreman's highlights from his junior season:
After the awards were handed out, Whitley and Foreman agreed to arm wrestle for the rights to have Saban coach at each of their respective schools this fall. (Not true, but if they did, it would easily be the highest-rated telecast in the history of the Longhorn Network.)
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.