The Sophomore All-State Defensive Line

Yesterday, in presenting the Freshman AFI-KPG All-State Defensive Line,  I told you an anecdote about a player who played for the Chiefs for six years and then was traded to the St. Louis Rams in 2007, out of Texas A&M, named Dante Hall. You might remember he was nicknamed, The Human Joystick. Hall is considered one of the top kick-returners in NFL history. In fact, NFL Network listed him as one of the 10 greatest return specialists in the game’s history. Hall eloquently stated that Defensive and Offensive linemen control the game and true sports fans know that… I called that belief a prevailing and widely accepted truism in the game of football…being cited by players who have never played in any proximity to the line of scrimmage. We scoured the Commonwealth of Kentucky to find the very best sophomore defensive linemen in the Class of 2020. As this is a position group we can’t feature together with the Class of 2021, we had to separate them into two separate articles just like we did with the offensive linemen, because of the size of the position group. Yesterday, we featured the Freshman, today we feature the Class of 2020. The selection committee, the Aspirations Fitness Institution and Kentucky Prep Gridiron proudly submit the following six players as our AFI/KPG Sophomore All-State Defensive Linemen

Logan Parker, 6’2″ 250, Taylor County High School

Photo credited on the image

In Team Kentucky football circles, whether you are referencing FBU or Future Stars, when a player exhibits extraordinary strength, power, and explosion, he is generally referred to, among coaches, as the Logan Parker of this year’s team. Anyone out there who has ever coached at either the FBU, Future Stars, or even the East-West Kentucky All-State game level is shaking his head in agreement because you all know you have either heard it said about a player or made the comparison yourself. Well, the Logan Parker of our Sophomore AFI-KPG All State Defensive Line is…Logan Parker. I first wrote about Logan in an article published June 13, 2017 and entitled Meet 2020 Top 100 Nationally Ranked Kentuckian, Logan Parker. Logan Parker has the length and frame coveted in Ends and can also play inside technique with his strength, power, and explosion. Logan’s size, 6’2″ 250, together with his speed, makes him an ideal target to play DE at the next level. Logan registered a 40 yard dash in 4.9 seconds entering his sophomore year and ran a 4.88 pro agility shuttle (5-10-5).  Logan’s strength numbers are being reported the same as when he entered this year so he may be even stronger now but, according to his recruiting profile on NCSA, he bench presses 350 pounds and squats 455. I do know that Logan is a gym rat and gains in strength regularly so those numbers are probably shy of his actual, present strength numbers.  Logan has violent hands and an incredibly quick get off which explains why he is able to move back and forth between End and Tackle when on defense. Any time Logan doesn’t get a free run around the backfield he is accused of taking a play off, which may not be the case at all as the guy blocking him just might win a rep occasionally. That is the price (and burden) of being Logan Parker, you’re supposed to win every rep, every game. This year, Logan rushed the ball 65 times, from his fullback position on offense, gaining 343 yards with 9 rushing TDs for almost 5.3 yards per rushing attempt. On defense, in the Cardinals’ 11 games, Parker logged 80 tackles from his DE position, 34 of those being solo tackles and many of them behind the line of scrimmage. As a freshman at Taylor County, Parker started from day one and is rated among the top 100 National recruits in his class. No All-State team for Kentucky’s Class of 2020 would be complete without him, so the selection committee decided we would just put him on here.

Octavius Oxendine, 6’2″ 265, North Hardin High School

Oxendine is on the left side of the photo

On June 19, 2017, I featured a player who I characterized as playing…like a Roman Emperor. Oxendine plays in an even front, from the 1-3 technique, and is an immovable, run-stuffing brick wall who is also surprisingly nimble and swift enough to chase down plays to the sideline. He has active, violent hands which he effectively fires to get himself free from linemen bent on stemming his tsunami-like penetration into the offensive backfield.  Octavius has developed sideline-to-sideline mobility out of necessity. You would be an idiot to spend the evening running at him. I really cannot write about Oxendine without telling you of how we first got acquainted. Two years ago, my son William was a 7th grade standout on the Hopkinsville Middle School Varsity (8th grade) team. HMS had qualified for the KYMSFA (Kentucky Middle School Football Association) State Playoffs as its Regionally, number 1 seeded, team.  We had a bye in the first round but would face John T. Austin in the 2nd round of the playoffs. We were a lot better team than John T. Austin, and I mean by a considerable margin. However, JTA had a nose guard in its uneven front named Octavius Oxendine. He pounded and whipped my young Center in a fashion which can only be described as humiliating. At half time, the Center, himself a 7th grader at the time, but who has developed into quite a player in his own right, was a puddle of tears and mucous streaming down his face. He wasn’t crying, he was sobbing; and I mean chest heaving, sobs! I put my arms around his shoulders and I said, Son (not my consanguine son, but all my players are sons to me), you are really getting your tail kicked. I understand. I am a full grown man and I can’t whip that kid. But, it’s not okay that you have started to just let him through because you would prefer he kill the QB and RBs rather than kill you. I am not okay with that! That young man learned a big lesson that day about sacrificing himself for the good of the team and to protect his teammates.  He grew from that whipping and became a better man and player for it. When I shook Oxendine’s hand at mid-field after the game, and his helmet was off, it still didn’t appear to me I was shaking hands with an 8th grade kid.  Incidentally, Oxendine isn’t old for the class in which he is enrolled and is an excellent academic student.  KPG proudly reports Oxendine has a 3.8 GPA to go along with massive size and Herculean strength. North Hardin doesn’t report tackle numbers to the KHSAA which made finding out how he played this year unreasonably difficult; which, in the end, only hurts the players when being considered for All-Star teams. I can tell you this, Oxendine has played well enough to be offered by U of L and Purdue and he is only a sophomore. There will be many more Power 5, FBS, offers to follow as this kid is the real deal. We are proud to include him on our All-State team.

Blake Moody, 6’3″ 230, Madisonville North-Hopkins

We have a member of our selection committee who is a well-respected and well-traveled defensive coordinator coaching in the same Classification and District as the one in which Moody played this year. Our committee member is someone whose opinion about the prowess of defensive players was coveted and heeded by the committee. We didn’t just take this guy’s word for it about this or any other player he advocated but, when we looked at Moody’s body of work, we all saw exactly what he had been describing. Blake Moody, you definitely had a fan on this year’s selection committee for the AFI-KPG Sophomore All-State Football Team. After watching some of your film, you had a lot of fans on the selection committee. Any of you readers can watch a little Hudl film of Moody’s play this year and tell me what’s not to like? Moody registered 67 tackles, this year, for the Maroons defense with 45 of those being solo tackles in twelve games North-Hopkins played. Moody made lots of plays behind the line of scrimmage and registered 8 sacks and many more QB pressures as he was a constant, uninvited entrant into the opponent’s offensive backfield. Moody has excellent length and height and the frame to either add weight and slide inside or play End. I will tell you this, Moody might have made this team as an Offensive Lineman as he played Iron Man football at Madisonville, even if he didn’t make it on defense. Moody was that good on both sides of the football along the lines of scrimmage. We have before stated in these series of articles, several of which have been featuring sophomore players on the North-Hopkins’ roster, that the Maroons have a special 2020 class of players who will do tremendous things, we believe, provided they keep grinding and stay together. Moody is just another example of that level of talent. The most knowledgeable defensive mind on the committee was of the opinion Moody had to be on this team and may be the best Defensive linemen on the squad. That was good enough for the rest of us. Moody is a player.

Denarius Red Barnes, 5’11” 225, Hopkinsville High School

Red Barnes, No. 44

This kid came completely out of nowhere to make this team. He didn’t play Future Stars, he didn’t play FBU, he didn’t play East-West. Last year, this kid was playing QB and RB at Wonder Junior High School in West Memphis, Arkansas. Barnes is a player who looks bigger in street clothes than in pads. He is thick and chiseled and it is mostly natural. This is really his first year in a strength and conditioning program and the gains he is making in the weight room will be felt by opponents next year on the field, I can assure you. We may look back in two years and say Barnes was the best football player on this team. That is the best way to describe Red Barnes. He’s just a football player. Hoptown gave him the ball 6 times this year on offense from his fullback position and he gained 56 yards. That’s a little over 9 yards, per carry, from fullback. Let me tell you this, he wasn’t running sweeps. They gave Barnes a look at Linebacker in a JV game this year, considering playing him there for the Varsity, and he filled up the ER at Jennie Stuart Medical Center, literally, not figuratively. They played him inside along the even front and at NG when in an odd front this year because the Tigers were so young Head Coach, Craig Clayton, referred to them in an interview as the best JV team playing Varsity football in Kentucky. At a position, and in a scheme, where the assignment is more important than the inside technique’s compiling individual stats, Red still had nearly 40 tackles with 20 solo, and he was being double teamed all year. Red is agile, fast, explosive, and, most importantly, mean on the field. He hit opponents so hard this year he became, unfortunately, a target for officials. There were times this year Red was flagged for running in the direction of the ball carrier. Everyone knew, before he got there, what was going to happen when he arrived…and it wasn’t going to be pretty. I don’t know where Red will be positioned this coming season, I have heard LB, TE, DE. This much I do know, he won’t leave the field, he will play on both sides of the ball, and he will be hitting kids so hard it will make you wince. Maybe the hardest hitting player on the AFL-KPG Sophomore All-State Defense or Offense. With the gains he is making in the weight room, I wouldn’t want him hitting me in the coming seasons, that’s for sure. Football is still a contact game, and that is why Red is an All-State player. He makes contact baby!

Wilson Kelly, 6’1″ 300, Boyle County High School

Boyle will play Corbin this weekend at Kroger Stadium (UK) for the State Championship in the 3A Classification. Boyle is coached by a guy, in Chuck Smith, who can arguably lay claim to being the best High School football coach in Kentucky right now. Players like Wilson Kelly are just one reason. Now, at Boyle County, it is all about the name on the front of the jersey and not the other side. At Boyle, you play your assignment, whether you make the play individually or not doesn’t matter, so long as you accomplish your assignment and do your duty to help Boyle win. Inside technique along an even front is a hard place to register tackles because a lot of the time your responsibility is to force a double team to allow the LB to run to the play unblocked. I know, it sounds as if I am trying to warm you up to why a player with limited numbers made the team. Well, that isn’t, at all, the case with Wilson Kelly. You see, Wilson Kelly, from his inside technique, along the Boyle defensive front, registered 73 tackles, 43 of which were solos. That is an astounding number of plays for a player in the scheme Boyle runs and playing were Kelly is positioned. Kelley, though a 300 pounder, still runs a 5.35 40 yard dash and pro-shuttles at 4.8.  Kelley has a vertical of 26 and 1/2 inches which shows he has quite a bit of hip explosion and is a fantastic athlete for his size. Wilson reports a bench press of 305 pounds and reps the high school bench press rep weight (185) 28 repetitions, which exhibits strength and motor. Kelly started out as a strong-side DE but has grown into a two-way player along the interior front. I could see Wilson at either inside technique, along a defensive front, at the next level or even an offensive guard. Either way, we, as a selection committee, couldn’t see a Sophomore All-State team without him on it.

Demetri Scott, 6’3″ 240, St. Francis DeSales High School

Photo Bryan Woolston, Louisville Courier-Journal

The selection committee reached out to resources to access information about players with whom we may not have been as familiar as others. One of those resources was Coach Tim Richardson. Coach Richardson shared with the committee that he believed Demetri Scott from St. Francis DeSales High School, is the best player he has either coached or seen. Now, that is quite a mouthful for a guy who won two Rocky Top National Championships, went 5 years without losing a game, won Metro Championships, coaching in Louisville, won the prestigious King of the City Championship, and placed 10 players in the Tennessee/Kentucky Future Stars Classic. Coach Richardson amassed an overall record of 135-15 over 8 seasons, including National Tournaments. After receiving this endorsement from Coach Richardson, we immediately accessed my sources here at Kentucky Prep Gridiron and investigated who we eventually determined to be a fantastic 6’3″ 245 pound DE/TE combo of a 2020 superstar. Scott is nicknamed Meaty and it would appear appropriate. He is a thick, quick burst, explosive, powerful bolt off the end for a team considered by the MaxPreps computer as an elite team in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, overall, and not just in it’s Classification. The Colts coach Harold Davis, in an interview with Jason Frakes with the Louisville Courier-Journal, related that Scott has great size and is a very intelligent football player. From one-handed grabs to tackles behind the line, Scott has been a wrecking ball of an impact player on his team this season. As I wrote in a feature on this site entitled DeSales High School’s “Meaty” Demetri Scott can play the game, published October 23, 2017, Defensively, Scott runs to the ball well and uses his extraordinarily large hands and fantastic length to either shed blockers or blow by them completely. Demetri’s high football IQ fully is exhibited by his ability to play technique, up front, soundly, which is why he makes so many plays defensively in the offensive backfield. Offensively, Demetri has the speed and length to cause real match-up problems with LBs attempting to cover him over the middle or even down the seam. Demetri is quick and a tough cover in the flat with his change of direction and he has both the length and bulk to shield defenders, attempting to cover him, away from the ball. What we are saying is Demetri catches the ball with his hands extended away from his body like one would want from a TE. He’s just a tough cover and a dynamic playmaker for the Colt offense. After all of the accumulated data and film research, we decided to put him at DE on our All-State team but concede, going forward in his playing career, he could end up as easily on offense, in college, as on defense. Either way, he will end up somewhere as one of the most coveted prospects in Kentucky before it is said and done. When it happens, remember where you heard it!

Well, these are the Class of 2020 Defensive Linemen for the AFI/KPG Sophomore All-State Football Team and why they were selected. Next up, we will break down the Freshmen LB selections, so keep checking the site. Until then, this is Fletcher Long, for Kentucky Prep Gridiron, reminding all those playing football at Kroger Field this next week-end to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE!

 

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