Last Wednesday, there was no school for just about all the districts in Harris County. But it was still a busy day for a lot of local senior football players headed to the next level. That’s because for the first time ever last spring, the NCAA decided to have an early signing day for incoming college athletes and a few players at both St. Pius X and Heights High School took full advantage.
The NCAA did this so players could finish the recruiting process in December instead of waiting until the usual first Wednesday in February and enjoy the last few months of high school without any questions about where they were going and/or who they would be playing for hanging over their head. The Heights had two players — Jalen Green and Jacoby Hopkins — sign their national letters-of-intent while St. Pius X seniors Jacob Jefferson and Tyler Vrabel did the same along with St. Thomas senior offensive lineman Max Banes.
Despite an injury that wiped out the last half of his senior season, Heights’ wide receiver/return man/defensive back/best athlete Jalen Green has signed with the University of Texas. Green and the Bulldogs were undefeated after five games this year when Green went down. From that point on, the team lost three of their last six games and were eliminated in the first round of the Region III-6A, Division II playoffs. He has played all over the field during his time with the Bulldogs, but is slated to play defensive back for head coach Tom Herman and the Longhorns.
Hopkins, who was an electrifying playmaker and lead the Heights in receptions last year, is going to Texas State after signing with the Bobcats.
At St. Pius X, wide receiver Jacob Jefferson and offensive tackle Tyler Vrabel both kept their verbal commitments by signing with the school they said they were headed too last summer.
Jefferson, who also missed a few games down the stretch with an injury, signed with Northwestern to join the Wildcats and play in the Big 10. Vrabel, who is the son of current Houston Texans’ defensive coordinator, has signed with Boston College and will play in the ACC. Vrabel, who is extremely quick for a 6-foot-6, 310-pounder, spent time in Massachusetts when his father played and coached for the Patriots before Mike Vrabel joined the Texans’ coaching staff.
Banes will follow his father’s footsteps by joining the University of Houston after his father Joey Banes, was a letter winner for the Cougars before he was a draft choice by the former Houston Oilers.
In other recruiting news from St. Pius X, quarterback Grant Gunnell, who despite not being a senior has been nominated for the Mr. Texas Football Award, appears to be weighing his options after originally committing to Texas A & M. Gunnell, who will be one of the top high school quarterbacks next year when he signs, has spoken with new Arkansas head coach Chad Morris and Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm and has received an offer from each of them.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pounder who threw nearly 60 touchdown passes this year for the Panthers was recruited by former Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin and has since been replaced by Jimbo Fisher. Fisher wasn’t the coach at A & M for a full week before he came to Houston to make sure Gunnell was still on board as there was a picture on head coach Stephen Hill’s Twitter account of Hill and Fisher together just outside Hill’s office.
Senior defensive back Ricky Lester has received another scholarship offer, this one from Liberty University in Virginia and junior wide receiver Jalen Curry, who had verbally committed to play at Florida State for Coach Fisher but now may be considering all his choices, has received another offer, this one from TCU.
Senior linebacker Colby Joe Bonds and defensive back Brice Vooletich have each received an offer to play at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.