Despite advancing to the state semifinals in the Texas 5A Division I playoffs and showing steady improvement in each of the last three seasons , Dallas (Texas) Skyline defensive tackle Kerrick Huggins feels there are still people that think he and his teammates are not as good as advertised.
"People always say that Skyline is a fluke," he said. "No matter what we do it isn't good enough."
Huggins, a 6-foot-3 defensive tackle, is a load to move at 283 pounds and wants to be the rock on which the defense can be built.
His participation in the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, he hopes, will start shifting the perception of not only himself but his school.
"I am excited to be coming and happy I got the invite but now I have to go hold it down," he said. "I have to show everyone how real we are and that we aren't a fluke.
"I am hoping to learn a few things that I can take back with me but also I want to get going and get football started."
Skyline has been ranked as high as No. 2 in the RivalsHigh 100 during the last five seasons and its highest final ranking was No. 10 at the end of 2011 when it fell to eventual state champion Southlake (Texas) Carroll in the semifinals.
The expectations on the team are higher this season, maybe more than any in the last decade, with what talent is returning. According to Huggins, teams will not want to be on the field with this group of Raiders.
"People think they are going to be able to line up with us this year," he said. "It will be quick when they realize they don't want any part of us.
"That is our mentality this year, we are going to show up and beat people down."
For Huggins that begins June 22-24 in Atlanta at Lakewood Stadium at the inaugural Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge.
He knows that many eyes from outside of Texas will be on him and using his play as a measuring stick for what is to be expected in Texas. Those snap judgments will not change how the No. 12 defensive tackle in the nation prepares.
"I know I am going to have to show up and ball out," he said. "People are always looking for a reason to be negative against Skyline and Texas so I have to show them what the deal is."
Part of the deal for Huggins is to just stay focused on himself and what he can control. He does not plan on looking at who else will be participating at the invitation-only event.
"I don't care who is there," he said. "They are all good so it doesn't mean a thing to me what their names are. They are looking to get better and I am looking to get better, so they need to be more ready for me. I am a load in the trenches and I like to get nasty with it."
Mike Farrell's take
Huggins is an athletic big man who does a good job of keeping his balance and his feet, and changing direction so that bodes well for him when it comes to the Big Man Challenge in Atlanta. The one thing that will be in question is his quickness off the snap which will be key in beating some of these top offensive linemen at the event. He comes from a winning program that is well coached so his technique should be solid and his confidence will be high. But he's rated as the 4th-best defensive tackle in his own state so he knows he needs a standout performance to move up that list.