Contributors Tommy King, Lance Lahnert, and Lee Passmore | Press Pass Sports
The regular season kickoffs on Aug. 26, as teams across the Amarillo-area gear up for an exciting 2021 campaign. Here's 40 players to watch that will stand out in the Texas Panhandle.
Brenen Thompson, Spearman, WR-DB, 5-10,170-pound, Sr.
Recruiters are in love not only with Thompson’s elite speed, and his ability to make tacklers miss in the open field. Plus, his grit as he is a two-way starter for Spearman at wide receiver and defensive back. He’s taken the recruiting world by storm racking up 37 Division I offers, narrowing his choices to Alabama, Clemson, Oregon, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M. For his career, Thompson has accounted for 4,300 yards of offense and 62 touchdowns.
Brayden Klafka, Spearman, WR-DB, 6-1, 180-pound, Sr.
Brenen Thompson isn’t the only two-way standout Spearman opponents will have to worry about this season. Klafka had 35 catches for 748 yards and nine touchdowns last season and also ran for four scores, while making 86 tackles, including five for losses with four interceptions, two forced fumbles and fumble recoveries on defense.
Major Everhart, Tascosa, RB, 5-11, 170-pound, Sr.
Avion Carter, Tascosa, DL, 6-6, 260-pound, Sr.
Erik Gray, Amarillo High, OL-DL, 6-4, 285-pound, Sr.
Cornelius Landers, Pampa, RB, 5-8, 180-pound, Sr.
Marc Ramirez, Wellington, RB-LB, 5-10, 180-pound, Sr.
Juan Romero, Dumas, WR-DB, 5-11, 155-pound, Sr.
Kam Reagan, Canyon, LB, 5-10, 170-pound, Sr.
Collin Bishop, Childress, QB, 6-0, 185-pound, Sr.
Kash Bradley, Bushland, WR-DB, 5-10, 165-pound, Sr.
Isayah Hernandez, Randall, WR, 5-10, 170-pound, Sr.
Jmaury Davis, Clarendon, RB-LB, 6-2, 190-pound, Jr.
Ryan Grawunder, Vega, QB-DB, 5-10, 165-pound, Sr.
Kameron Brown, Palo Duro, WR-LB, 6-2, 200-pound, Jr.
Kobi Hill, Caprock, WR, 6-4, 220-pound, Sr.
Landyn Hack, Panhandle, QB-LB, 6-3, 205-pound, Jr.
L’Travion Brown, Tascosa, RB-DB, 5-8 165-pound, Sr.
Emmanuel Ibanez, Dumas, DB, 5-9, 145-pound, Jr.
Luke Laminack, Amarillo High, K-DB, 6-0, 190-pound, Sr.
Angel Garcia, Canadian, WR-LB, 5-9, 150-pound, Sr.
Jake Krehbiel, Canadian, RB-LB, 5-10, 180-pound, Sr.
Elliot Brown, River Road, RB-DB, 5-10 161-pound, Sr.
Cameron Chambers, Borger, RB, 5-10, 200-pound, Sr.
Noah Brown, Hereford, 5-8, 170-pound, Sr.
Roise Marquez, Dalhart, DL, 6-1, 200-pound, Sr.
Jacob Bautista, Friona, RB-DB, 5-10, 5-9, 155-pound, Sr.
Creighton Killian, Wellington, QB-DB, 5-10, 175-pound Sr.
Dru Jones, Stratford, WR-DB, 6-1, 175-pound, Sr.
Brock Wade, Amarillo High, QB, 6-2, 180-pound, Sr.
Adryan Rodriguez, Highland Park, RB, 5-10, 200-pound, Sr.
Cutter Lust, Sunray, OL-DL, 6-0, 205-pound, Sr.
Shayne Franks, Follett, RB-LB, 5-11, 165-pound, Jr.
Dario Bressler, Canyon, RB, 6-1, 170-pound, Sr.
Clay Gilter, Vega, RB-LB, 5-9, 170-pound, Sr.
Zion Fuller, Childress, LB, 5-10, 200-pound, Sr.
Corey Stancell, Farwell, RB-LB, 6-0, 195-pound, So.
Pace Bressler, Happy, RB-DB, 5-9, 165-pound, Sr.
Damon Kuelher, Groom, RB-DB, 5-6, 140-pound, Sr.
Abraham Hernandez, Perryton, QB, 5-10, 175-pound, Sr.
Notable Players to Watch
Sam Anguiano, Pampa, QB, 5-10, 200-pound, Sr.
Max Baca, Dalhart, DB, 6-2, 160-pound, Sr.
Nathan Baker, Randall, WR, 5-10, 155-pound, Jr.
Tayden Barnes, Tascosa, RB-DB, 5-10 175-pound, Jr.
T.S. Bow, Happy, RB-LB, 5-11, 175-pound, Sr.
Zane Burr, Stratford, RB-LB, 6-0, 185-pound, Jr.
Luis Calderon, Sunray, OL-DL 6-4, 340-pound, So.
Javion Casas, Dimmitt, WR-DB, 6-0, 170-pound, Sr.
Carlos Castillo, Farwell, RB-LB, 5-10, 220-pound, Sr.
Camren Cavalier, Canadian, QB-DB, 5-10, 165-pound, So.
Bryan Chavira, Friona, QB-DB, 5-7, 155-pound, Sr.
Derrek Clements, Canyon, QB, 6-3, 200-pound, Jr.
Andreus Cruz, WT High, QB-DB, 5-9, 180-pound, Jr.
Parker Cunningham, Canyon, WR-DB, 5-11, 150 pound, Sr.
BT Daniel, Tascosa, QB, 6-0, 190-pound, Sr.
Brennen Davis, Muleshoe, TE-LB, 6-2, 200 pound, Sr.
Darian DeLaRosa, Bovina, RB-LB, 5-11, 190-pound, Jr.
Jimmy Dominguez, Sunray, DB, 5-8, 150-pound, Sr.
Jaxon Edwards, Valley, RB/LB, 6-1, 170, Sr.
Brayden Franco, Tulia, WR-DB, 5-8, 140-pound, Sr.
Jovany Gallardo, Wheeler, WR-DB, 6-3, 170-pound, Sr.
Gus Galliard, Gruver, RB-LB, 6-1, 170-pound, Sr.
Jameson Garcia, Amarillo High, WR, 6-1, 185-pound, Jr.
Mason Gilbert, Randall, LB, 6-0, 185-pound, Jr.
Anthony Gonzalez, Stratford, OL-DL, 6-0, 260-pound, Sr.
Gerardo Gonzalez, Dimmitt, OL-DL, 6-2, 250-pound, Sr.
Chris Hammons, Caprock, OL, 6-5, 310-pound, Sr.
Aiden Harris, Panhandle, DL, 6-4, 220-pound, Sr.
Diego Hernandez, Booker, QB-DB, 6-0, 145-pound, Sr.
Jordan Herndon, Claredon, RB-DB, 5-11, 185-pound, Sr.
Karson Ketchum, White Deer, RB/DB, 5-9, 165, Sr.
Brooks Leinen, Tascosa, OL, 6-4 280-pound, Sr.
Jamel Acosta-Lewis , Caprock DB, 5-11, 180-pound, Jr.
Bryson Lopez, Hereford, RB, 5-8, 175-pound, Sr. Sr.
Kamonte Martin, Wheeler, WR-DB, 5-10, 160-pound, Sr.
Dareon Mathis, Childress, RB-DB, 5-8, 185-pound, So.
Carson McCall, Vega, TE-DB, 6-0, 190 pound, Sr.
Travon McCaslin, Tulia, QB, 6-1, 170-pound, Sr.
Colton Millsap, Gruver, WR-DB, 6-2, 175-pound, Sr.
Lamont Nickleberry, Childress, WR-DB, 5-10, 165-pound, Jr.
Willy Olvera, Wellington, OL-DL, 5-10, 220-pound, Sr.
Cutter O’Neal, Memphis, RB-DB, 5-9, 140-pound, Sr.
Trace Patterson, S. Fritch, RB-LB, 5-10,, 175-pound, Sr.
Lamarcus Penigar, Clarendon, WR-DB, 5-9, 160-pound, Sr.
Erick Ramirez, Booker, OL-LB, 6-0, 190-pound, Jr.
Avery Randle, Palo Duro, QB, 6-1, 180-pound, Jr.
Brayden Boggs-Rushing, Dumas, LB, 5-10, 175-pound, Sr.
Ethan Salgado, Spearman, OL-DL, 5-10, 260-pound, Sr.
Luke Schulte, Nazareth, QB, 6-2 165-pound, Jr.
Jayden Slater, Boys Ranch, WR-LB, 6-5, 200-pound, Sr.
Garrett Stribling, Vega, OL-DL, 6-4, 225 pound, Sr.
Breckyn Thomas, Borger, DB, 5-5, 155-pound, Sr.
Phillip Thompson, S. Fritch, OL-LB, 5-10, 180-pound, Sr.
Junior Torres, Perryton, OL, 5-10, 180-pound, Sr.
Tate Upchurch, River Road, 6-6, 291-pound, Sr.
Edgar Villa, Memphis, QB-DB, 5-9, 145-pound, Sr.
Micah Wesly, Palo Duro, DB, 6-0, 185-pound, Sr.
Brenen Thompson’s world of recruiting out of Class 3A Spearman is best said in two words: Oh my!
Which means few high school football players in the history of the Texas Panhandle have been sought after by elite D-I programs like Thompson.
The shifty, speedster chalked up nearly 40 offers with his football skills and setting social media ablaze days before the 2020 Pandemic shook our worlds in March of that year.
Thompson, then a sophomore, ripped off a 10.18 in the 100-meter dash at a Canadian meet that March, put together a stellar junior football season, and now owns a list of six finalists that’s mind blowing in Alabama, Clemson, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Oregon.
Thompson said he has no exact time frame of when he will make a final decision after upcoming visits, but narrowing the list to six has freed his mind.
“It feels good to be down to the final six and get the list narrowed,” Thompson said. “I took my time and I’m still taking my time. I kind of knew where I wanted to play ball at so it helped narrow things down.”
Recruiters are in love not only with Thompson’s elite speed, but his ability to make tacklers miss in the open field. Plus, his grit as he is a two-way starter for Spearman at wide receiver and defensive back.
Spearman head coach Aaron Witten said Thompson is a salt of the earth type kid and handles the attention coming his way in a humble way.
“I really think what the recruiters love is Brenen’s explosive play-making ability,” Witten said. “Every coach I’ve talked to says how they love his versatility and how he makes plays from everywhere on the field.
“The attention and exposure here in Spearman over his recruiting has been crazy but great for our program and kids.”
Thompson said the constant phone calls before selecting his final six could get overwhelming, but he will always remember when the recruiting world all started for him.
“The first time I was recruited was different,” Thompson said. “I had kind of had a mentor tell me this coach and school are looking forward to getting to know you and they want to offer you. I’m like, ‘Ok, cool.’ But I was shocked and the same time confused. Then all the sudden Nebraska and Baylor are calling and offering. I was like here we go. The first school was Illinois State.”
Thompson said his deciding factor won’t be determined by say arriving on a campus and seeing his face plastered on the big screen. A welcome like nobody else receives.
No, Thompson’s wants face-to-face discussions with those coaches he will eventually play the game he loves wearing their school colors.
“I’m not a big wow guy,” Thompson said. “Like when you see something you go, ‘Oh wow.’ I’m more of a relationship kind of guy. You get to know me and I get to know you and where am I going to fit in.”
For now these final six schools on Thompson list want to know two main things from him when they call.
“Where your head is at?” Thompson said. “Where you going to visit next?”
Next up for Thompson is playing his senior season in Spearman. He said he’s all in for the Lynx.
“I started playing football when I was 4 or 5 years old and started tackle football in first grade,” Thompson said. “My love of football has been ever since I was a little kid.
“A fall Friday night in Spearman is small town vibes. It’s awesome. In the locker room before the games I’ll try and help make sure the team is handling what they should handle. That’s being calm, cool and collective. But at the same time it’s time to get turnt up.”
Thompson will also take lessons learned from the 2020 season when the D-I offers were already sitting on his shoulders.
“I learned a lot how to handle this situation from last year,” Thompson said. “This season coming in Spearman is before any college, so this Lynx team is going to be put before as far as college goes. This is where I’m at now and I’ll wait for college when it gets here.”
By Lance Lahnert
Fair or not, the perception over the past few decades of Texas Panhandle Division I college football recruiting looked like a player standing on the 50-yard line of an empty stadium waving his hands and shouting.
Here I am!
Here I am!
That’s not the case when the 2021 Texas High School football season kicks off in late August.
The D-1 recruiting spotlight currently shines bright on four Amarillo-area athletes who have secured more than 80 offers between them in seniors Brenen Thompson of Spearman, Major Everhart of Tascosa, Erik Gray of Amarillo High, and junior Avion Carter of Tascosa.
The D-I offers range from the biggest stage college football plays on, like Alabama, to the Football Championship Subdivision Southland Conference, heavy on Texas schools.
“It feels great to see all these dudes getting looks,” said Everhart, Tascosa’s speedy running back and defensive back with 19 current D-I offers including Notre Dame in late July. “And then it’s a chance for kids in the future as well. They are finally finding us.”
Everhart’s teammate Carter, already a defensive man-child as a 6-5, 255 junior, owns double digit D-I offers and is ranked No. 94 in the ESPN 300 for the class of 2023.
Carter said he’s not sure why recruiters are now finding their way to the 806, but he knows they aren’t wasting their time.
“I love the talent is being seen in the Texas Panhandle,” Carter said. “We have some amazing talent up here. I’m learning recruiting goes quickly. So I don’t have a reason why it’s changing. But I like to see it.”
Spearman senior wide receiver/defensive back Thompson, lightning fast having run a 10.18 in the 100 meters, has been on the recruiting fast track for almost two years.
Thompson’s speed and playmaking ability earned him nearly 40 offers, which he narrowed to an impressive six on June 26 to Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Texas and Texas A&M.
“It feels good to rep the 806 this way,” Thompson said. “Look, not all the kids up here get to do what we are doing so it’s definitely been a blessing. For me, I’ve been dreaming about this since middle school. Now the D-I schools are seeing us. It’s a good feeling and you want see what the next level is going to be like.”
The attention these four have received nationally also has meant a day rarely goes by when the questions of ‘Where you going?’ or ‘When you committing?’ haven’t reached their ears.
“It’s pretty much every day,” Amarillo High’s Gray said. “But that’s good. I tell them I have a year to think about it.”
“I can’t remember the last day somebody didn’t ask,” Spearman’s Thompson said. “I really don’t mind.”
Tascosa’s Carter breaks into a smile when asked about the last day he didn’t hear about recruiting.
“Everywhere I go I get asked about it,” Carter said. “I’m just this all cool, it’s cool. I don’t mind it.”
“For me it’s probable been a couple of years since I haven’t been asked about it,” Tascosa’s Everhart said. “I’m OK with that. My passion for football right now is as big as it has ever been. To be able to play and get these offers means a lot to me.”
Of course, the recruiting road is as different for each player as the Texas burnt orange jerseys are to Texas Tech’s red and black jerseys.
No doubt, if you attend a game this fall played by Thompson, Gray, Everhart and Carter, their D-I level of talent will shine bright.
And you will get those fans and players who will question, ‘Is that a D-I player?’ after one of the four is tackled for a loss, or blocked to the ground, or drops a pass.
But just know. These four young men have brought D-I attention to the Texas Panhandle the past 20 months like we’ve rarely seen in these parts the last 30 years.
And, they hope it’s just a start of what’s to come on the Texas Panhandle recruiting trail.
“The love the Texas Panhandle is getting from Division I is great,” Gray said. “Growing up in the Panhandle you really didn’t have a lot of big stars. I mean there is Ziggy Hood and others. But having people like Major, Avion and Brenen, it has changed things. We are able to get exposure for the younger kids now. You can tell just talking with college coaches there is more focus on the Panhandle from in the past. And that’s going to be less stress in the future for other kids in the community to help them see it can be done.”
by Kale Steed
The four-star standout named Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Texas, and Texas A&M, as the finalist of his eye-opening 36 Division I offers.
Thompson had an extremely busy month of June with official visits to Oklahoma State, Oregon, and Texas A&M, along with an unofficial visit to Texas. Thompson will have two visits remaining in the fall when he travels to Alabama and Clemson.
The senior-to-be is currently ranked as the No. 87 player nationally and the No. 11 wide receiver, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Thompson took time out of his busy schedule to speak with Press Pass Sports on the releasing of his top six, his latest official visits, and the upcoming football season.
You had a busy month of June traveling around the country visiting colleges, how was that?
“It was great. Finally being able to start this process and get to visit the places I wanted to see was amazing.”
How’d it feel to get those six schools out to the public and let people know these are the schools I’m really looking at?
“I’ve had those six schools in my head for a while. It was more or the matter of going on the visits and making sure these are the right places. It’s been great so far.”
What was unique about each school you visited?
“I think a place like Oregon was very unique. It was very diverse up there. Close to 85 percent of their students aren’t even from Eugene. Then you go somewhere like Texas or Texas A&M where it’s a lot of Texas kids, and Oklahoma State was the same way. It definitely stuck out to me how different each school was.”
I saw you took some fun photos in the uniforms of all the schools you visited. Was there a favorite one of those photos you took?
“I’d say the one with my little cousin Greyson at Texas A&M. Just seeing him smile and have a great time meant a lot to me.”
Was there a certain place that stuck out to you?
“There was a couple that really stuck out. I still have two more to go in the fall, that’s Clemson and Alabama, then we’ll go from there.”
What has been like trying to be a normal high school student-athlete, and being as busy as you seem to be?
“I just do my best to control it all. I keep my head down and never forget what’s important. I do my best to block out a lot of the noise and distractions. That’s how I handle it best.”
How many times do you get asked about where you’re going to go a day?
“I do get it quite a bit, but I’ve found how to handle it. I’ve come to expect it now so it has been just fine.”
We’re sitting in the weight room with you right now. Is this a place you fine solace?
“For sure. When I come in the gym with my buddies that is our time. You don’t answer the phone and we can focus and be ourselves.”
You still have a senior season left at Spearman. How much focus goes into that?
“It’s my entire focus. I’m here 100 percent before I’m in college. This season my teammates and I are focused on coming out and giving it everything we have. I want to support my teammates, I want then to support me, and I want to work hard for my coaches. All the college stuff can come after.”
I know you and your mother, Bonnie are very close. She’s been in your corner through this entire process. What does she mean to you?
“She’s amazing. She’s always been the hardest on me. I know I always have eyes on me, and I have to be careful what I do, and she’s always the one to help me make the right decisions. She is the reason I am who I am today. I love her so much.”
What kind of leadership are you bringing to the Lynx this year?
“I’ve done my best to be a leader since my sophomore year. I was the quarterback as a sophomore so I feel I needed to be a leader regardless of my age. I’ve always considered myself a leader, and I’ve done my best to push others. Being a senior now It’s going to be a big deal to step up, continue to be that leader and get it done on and off the field.”
Right now we have not just you but four other Texas Panhandle players getting multiple Division I offers. What does that say for the Amarillo-area getting this much attention?
“It’s amazing. We never get a lot of attention this way. When I started getting these offers I was stunned. Before me there was King Doerue, Jalin Conyers guys like that. It’s been awesome to see these 806 guys get what they deserve.”