November 16, 2007

Houston Klein Forest producing prospects

While the buzz around the Houston Klein Forest campus was about the Golden Eagle's first-round game against Lufkin High School, it was a former player who was a major topic of discussion.

Former Golden Eagle Donald Booker was named the Southwest Junior College Football Conference's defensive player of the year and is shooting up the recruiting charts.

"He is a tremendous player with an incredible motor," Klein Forest coach Ken Hammock said. "Great kid, and he is so athletic."

Booker has offers from the likes of Oklahoma State, Tulsa, Alabama-Birmingham and Arizona, while Oklahoma, Miami and Florida State are showing significant interest.

"He led our team in sacks as a freshman at defensive end," Navarro Junior College coach Nick Bobeck said. "We moved him to middle linebacker and he led the country in tackles. He is really heating up right now recruiting wise."

Navarro won the SWJCFC and defeated Blinn Junior College twice to get to the championship game.

"I thought we had the best linebacker in the country, but Booker is the best," Blinn Junior College assistant coach Keith Browning said. "He is so physical and can run with that size."

The former Houston TD Club nominee has a protégé at Klein Forest in Kendrick Payne, who has also collected a handful of offers this season.

The 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive tackle has visits set up to Iowa State and Fresno State in December and also holds offers from Tulane, Air Force and Rice. He is picking up interest from TCU and Arkansas as well.

"I'm graduating in December so this is all going to happen pretty quickly for me," Payne said. "I've seen pictures of all these schools but I'm excited to go see them in person."

Klein Forest's other Division I prospects include defensive back Josh Hill, linebacker Chris Mazin, quarterback Ford Lakin and receivers Jared Jerkins and Deonte Patrick.

Patrick has an offer from UTEP and is nearing offers from UNLV and Missouri, while
Hill has offers from Kansas, Rice and Tulane and is hearing from Arkansas. Hill has four interceptions this season as a shut-down corner.

"I really like UNLV and Missouri," Patrick said. "If Missouri were to offer, I'd take it right now. If not, it will either be UNLV or UTEP."

Patrick's brother Dominic starts for the University of Arizona and has advised his brother on the recruiting process.

"He just tells me to stay humble through the process," Patrick said. "He tells me to explore every option and not jump at just anything."

Mazin is tearing up the district at outside linebacker and has an offer from Illinois State, while Kansas and Illinois are pursuing him. Lakin, a four-year starter, has been offered by Harvard and is nearing an offer from Fordham University.

The 6-foot Jerkins was out with a broken foot for six games, but has returned for the playoffs. He had an early offer from Oregon and is also being recruited by SMU to date.

"When Jared went out, we really had to change our offense around a little," Hammock said. "His track speed translates on the football field and he is our best kick returner also. It's great to have him back."

With Jerkins out, Hammock was forced to rely more on his running game and uncovered a gem in junior running back Dominic Wilkinson, who rushed for 1,512 yards and 19 touchdowns in limited action.

"He's so raw and is just learning the position," Hammock said. "He just bounces off the line of scrimmage and is gone. He's an incredible weapon."

Hammock will need all of his weapons to slay the Lufkin Panthers this weekend in the Class 5A playoff opener.


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