Why is South Oak Cliff producing an absurd amount of FBS recruits?
South Oak Cliff has earned a reputation of being a recruiting powerhouse. SOC, as its known by most folks in the Dallas-area, simply produces athletes.
But this might be its best crop of prospects yet.
Louisville, for example, offered a mind-boggling 10 scholarships during a visit this offseason.
“They came out on a normal day before spring practice,” said head coach Emmett Jones, who has recorded a record of 20-4 during his three seasons as head coach. “It was amazing, something I never been a part of.”
The extraordinary came in May when Jones met Louisville recruiters and later watched film at the school. The recruiters stayed for approximately 20-30 minutes before leaving, and surprisingly didn’t offer anybody.
While it might have been discouraging at the moment, good news eventually came. The next day the Cardinals staff offered 10 scholarships to South Oak Cliff athletes.
That’s right… 10!
Louisville extended scholarships to wide receiver and TCU commit J.F. Thomas, running back and Texas commit Jordan Stevenson who rushed for 2,020 yards and reached the end zone 18 times last season, safety and Notre Dame commit Prentice McKinney, safety Jamile Johnson, defensive tackle Jalen Goss, cornerback Takadrae Williams, and cornerback X’zavien Ausborne, all 2015 recruits.
But the Cards didn’t stop there — 2016 defensive ends Marvin Terry and Hal Vincent, along with cornerback Juice Parker also picked up early offers.
Recruiters offering 10 scholarships in one day doesn’t happen often. In fact, hardly ever. Although SOC has talent ranging from all-state to first team all-district athletes on the roster, one must assume it takes more than the play on the field to attract such attention.
So why are all these schools flocking to South Oak Cliff?
“I was the recruiting coordinator back in 2008 at Skyline my first year,” recruiting and defensive coordinator R.J. Bond said. “I had built a lot of relationships with schools and colleges back then, so it kind of carried over from Skyline, and we wanted to bring the same thing to South Oak Cliff.
“We just try to show colleges a lot of things they’re looking for when they come to high school’s looking for student athletes. From coaching at Skyline for seven years, we kind of have an idea on what those guys are looking for when they come to these schools.”
South Oak Cliff has become a staple in recruiting, and it’s more than just the recruiting coordinator and the athletes’ play on the field that is landing them all offers.
“It’s our entire coaching staff, starting with our head coach,” Bond said. “A couple of days during team meeting sessions, all we talk about is life, living right, honor your parents, be positive in your community and be role models.”
All-state safety and Notre Dame commit Prentice McKinney echoed what Bond had to say and praised Jones for what he has done with program.
“If it wasn’t for him, it wouldn’t even be us,” McKinney said. “Then again, it’s all on the kids too, we have to meet him at point where it’s 50/50, everybody doing the same thing. He gives us opportunities, and we have to take advantage of them.”
Lost in translation
Obviously, the Golden Bears produce a multitude of athletes, but this season’s SOC football team is arguably the most talented group that will take the field. That talent consists of a whopping 17 players with college football scholarships.
That’s not an error: 17 players with scholarships.
“South Oak Cliff has always had a tremendous amount of talent walking around the building,” Jones said. “We just try to show them a lot of things that colleges are looking for. My first year, 10 guys had an opportunity to play football after high school.”
But how is all this talent going to translate to the field?
Although SOC has not won a state championship, the expectations are high this season for them to bring the school its first title. And Jones has numerous options to utilize his talent.
An example would be his six defensive backs, all of whom hold FBS offers.
“Sometimes, we’ll run five defensive back sets,” coach Jones said. “Some of those defensive backs are athletic enough where they can play wide receiver, and sometimes we’ll put all six of them on the field.
“We won’t have a committed player on the sideline. We’re already working plan a to plan b to plan c.”
One of the defensive backs is captain Jamile Johnson, who recently committed to North Carolina. Johnson said SOC is ready to take the step from recruiting factory to feared football program
“We have to play as a unit,” Johnson said. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve lost in the first round twice. Last season was the first time we’ve went to the third round, so we have to put our maturity with our work ethic and play together as a brotherhood.”
Making a statement
Starting safety Prentice McKinney committed to Notre Dame in late-March and might be the most athletically gifted of all.
Last season, the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder recorded 80 tackles, seven interceptions and one blocked field goal. McKinney also holds offers from Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and numerous others.
But don’t think all the recruiting attention will be a distraction.
“We just have to be focused,” McKinney said. “Just because we have offers, we don’t fill our heads up with that. That means we have to shut every receiver down and put in hard work.”
Johnson chose North Carolina over schools such as Houston, TCU and Texas Tech. Also 6-foot-2, 180-pounds, Johnson recorded 72 total tackles (39 solo), along with two interceptions, 17 pass breakups and one fumble recovery.
“We have high expectations,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to hold every team under 100 yards passing or fewer.”
Jones knows his guys have been hungry since last season’s 64-46 third round loss to Wylie. And they’re hungry to not only avenge that but reach the ultimate destination — AT&T Stadium.
“Ever since we lost that third round playoff game to Wylie back at the end of November, guys have been grinding very hard in the weight room,” Jones said. “I have a couple other coaches take control over our conditioning program, and they’ve pushed the kids more than I’ve ever seen kids pushed at the high school, but they have stepped up to the plate. I haven’t seen a kid throw in the towel yet.”
South Oak Cliff’s highly touted secondary will have their hands full in its season opener, as they face the No.1 receiver in the state in DaMarkus Lodge and Cedar Hill, the defending 5A state champions.
It’s a chance for the Golden Bears to show they’re much more than just a place that breeds highly touted recruits and make a statement that South Oak Cliff can compete for a state title.
“I’m usually at safety, but I plan to play corner to take away everything (Lodge) tries to throw at us,” Johnson said. “We want to prove something.”
Eric Siner is a special contributor to TexasFootball.com.
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