This class gets dinged so often for lacking “star power” but I look at it from top to bottom and I keep seeing players that I really like on tape. I had a really hard time narrowing it down to one player in each category not because there was a dearth of worthy candidates, but because there were so many.
Offensive MVP – Stedman Mayberry
Mayberry was one of Texas State’s first offers for the 2014 class and I’ve been a big fan of his ever since then. I’ve said before the he reminds me a lot of Rob Lowe and Fran echoed that opinion during his signing day press conference yesterday. He’s one of the better running backs in the state at operating in a small area. It’s fun to watch him make players miss in traffic and then bounce outside for a big gain.
Critics have taken issue with his speed but in a tough district there’s a lot of video of him in the open field where nobody can catch him.
With so many running backs in the mix right now it’s possible he redshirts and then will work into the mix in 2015. By his redshirt sophomore year Franks, Lowe, Nutall, Best and Gay will all be gone. I think he’ll take over then as the feature back and will be really successful.
Last year’s pick: C.J. Best
Runner up: Tryston Mizerak
Defensive MVP – Darnell Dailey
Dailey’s instincts and play-making ability jump out on tape and when Fran said yesterday that he has a high motor it solidified him as my top defensive player. Dailey has a lot of traits that remind me of David Mayo, another 2-star linebacker that was relatively overlooked in his class. He just always seems to be in the right position and has a nose for the ball.
He’s already on campus and I’ve been told he has been impressive during the off-season program. I’m anxious to see how he looks this spring. I expect him to be neck-and-neck with Stephen Smith for the third starting linebacker position and I expect him to probably win it.
Last year’s pick: Donta Clanton
Runner up: Mershad Dillon
Most Underrated Signee – Andrew Aneke
If the Seattle Seahawks are the model defense everyone is trying to pattern themselves after today then Aneke is a good start. Seattle fortified their secondary with tall, fast corners like Richard Sherman (6-3) and Brandon Browner (6-4) and at 6ft Aneke has the size to match up with the bigger receivers in the Sun Belt.
Like Sherman who has led the NFL in interceptions the last two years, Aneke has a talent for getting his hands on the ball a lot. He finished last year with three interceptions and an astounding 16 pass breakups.
What finally sold the Texas State coaches was when he ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at their June camp in Katy. Size, speed, playmaking ability and the intelligence of a future engineering major should make Aneke very successful in the maroon and gold.
Last year’s pick: Jackson Hoskins
Runner up: Frankie Griffin
Best Athlete – Clarence Guidry
I think there’s no other option other than the guy that did everything for the Pflugerville team last year on both sides of the ball and is also one of the top baseball players the Bobcats will sign this year.
Rest is a foreign concept to Guidry who recorded 22 tackles and an interception at cornerback, 726 yards and 12 touchdowns at running back and 345 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns out of the backfield. He’s also a star on the diamond where he hit .325 with three home runs and 12 stolen bases as a junior.
Last year’s pick: Brandon McDowell
Runner up: Cedric Gambrell
Early Contributor (freshman) – Gabe Schrade
It’s a pretty easy pick to go with one of the freshman that are already on campus this spring. Of the group that also includes Lucas Askew and Connor White, Shrade has the clearest path the playing time. Even after adding 15lbs over the last year Askew still has room to grow before he’s ready and White is stuck in the pecking order behind Tyler Jones and Randy Price.
Schrade is a flexible athlete who is a good athlete and a deft blocker. Brad Miller, David Lewis and Lawrence White will all be gone next season so playing Schrade this year will allow him to gain experience to be better able to contribute in 2015.
Last year’s pick: Dila Rosemond
Runner up: P.J. Anderson
Most Likely to Play in the NFL – Cedric Gambrell
I think this was probably the easiest choice of the bunch. Gambrell has NFL size for a defensive linemen at 6-6 and is still growing into his frame. It’s also not hard to look at his brother Cedric Reed who is projected as a first round pick in the 2015 draft and think Gambrell has some of that similar potential to one day hear his name announced on draft day.
This class has two players who are sons of NFL players and one who’s dad played in the NBA, but Gambrell’s mix of size, elite athleticism and genes are unmatched in this class.
Last year’s pick: Brice Gunter
Runner up: Will Copa
Most Exciting Signee – Devondrick Dixon
I’ve been the biggest Dixon cheerleaders all year because of his speed and playmaking ability. He reminds me of Brandon McDowell last year as a player that will play corner but I could see wide receivers coach Jason Johnson standing on the table campaigning for him to play on offense.
Watch this to see him make a 60-yard punt return in the playoffs look effortless.
Last year’s pick: C.J. Best
Runner up: Stephan Johnson