TEXARKANA — Texarkana has and will always be a hotbed for athletes.
For context, we're going to stretch the geographical region from Magnolia, Arkansas, to Atlanta, Texas. We're only counting juniors and other underclassmen, because due to the current COVID-19 suspensions, school has been canceled, and technically, high school seniors are now considered to be college freshman.
Within the city limits and depending which online recruiting service you use, three of the Top-100 juniors in the country live here.
Texas High's Clayton Smith is the No. 1 inside linebacker in Texas and a top prospect nationally. Smith has received 20 offers and is committed to playing in the All-American Bowl game in January. The Tigers' Caleb Arnold also recently notched a Division 1 offer from Texas Southern. If we're keeping count, that's two Tigers on the football field with D-1 offers.
Per an analysis of Smith by Gabe Brooks of 247Sports.com, "The toolbox is full with a high physical ceiling and encouraging athletic traits that suggest possibility for long-term NFL Draft potential."
Liberty-Eylau's Semaj Rose hauled in a offer from Conference USA runner-up, University of Alabama-Birmingham, and Leopard tailback Damian Henderson also notched a Division-1 offer from Tennessee State University. L-E safety Keyvuntae Featherson also was recently offered a scholarship from the University of Kansas.
As it stands, the Leopards have three Division 1 defenders entering the season.
Perennial state championship contender Pleasant Grove has a bevy of Division-1 prospects. Some national recruiting analysts have said that PG possibly has the best defensive line in the country.
Landon Jackson leads the Hawks with 25-plus offers and has also committed to play in the Under Armour All-American game once he's done terrorizing offenses for PG.
Per Brian Perroni of 247Sports.com, "Among the top defensive prospects in Texas for the 2021 class. Possesses long-term early-round NFL Draft potential."
Marcus Burris, much like Jackson is a elite prospect with close to 20 offers and also a national recruit.
"Legitimate high-major prospect with long-term potential to reach the NFL Draft," Brooks said in his evaluation of Burris.
Hawks' Nick Martin has double-digit offers and Torey Phillips rounds out the PG defensive line with high Division 1 offers.
At the moment, the state champs could possibly have four D-1 defenders on the field at one time.
If you're keeping count, that's nine Division 1 prospects within the city limits. This while it's a unique spring, with no spring evaluation period and also through a Dead Period.
In basketball, Atlanta's Daimon Collins is considered one of the top hoops prospects in the country, depending on which service you use. Collins has double-digit offers and has been regarded as a one-and-done candidate in college.
National scout Jerry Meyer said on his 247Sports.com evaluation of Collins, "Defensively, is a high level shot blocker who can also move his feet on perimeter. Can also rebound outside his area."
Magnolia's Derrian Ford and Colby Garland have literally made the Panthers state champions and have also put their squad on the forefront nationally with their play.
Ford is a Top-40 player in the country per Rivals.com, and he also has over 10 offers to his name at this point.
In baseball, Arkansas High is the leader of the pack.
Braylon Bishop is a highly regarded draft prospect after high school, but the Razorback is currently committed to the University of Arkansas. Hog infielder Graydon Martin is committed to the University of Arkansas — Little Rock and teammate Jackson Harris is committed to Arkansas State University. At any given time, the Hogs have three Division 1 prospects on the field at once.
I'm unfamiliar with the girls basketball and softball numbers, but within the past five years, this area has produced countless athletes that have went on to play at the next level.
I also left out track, tennis and swimming numbers. Those sports have different recruiting calendars and sometimes it's hard to gauge a student-athlete's trajectory if they're a late bloomer.
Golf numbers are also complex, but this area isn't short of talent on the links either.
All in all, while you're rooting on your favorite high school team, I want you to now think about the student-athlete in-depth.