Dominique Hamilton. MJ McFarland. Rufus Brown. Jamar Ransom. Jack Fields?
It's not everyday that El Paso produces an elite high school football prospect. But, Americas High School running back Jack Fields has all the tools to become an elite college running back and a coveted prospect. The electrifying running back is primed to become the top recruit from the El Paso area this year. According to Rivals.com's Brian Perroni, the UTEP Miners are the first team to offer Fields a scholarship but the Baylor Bears and UTEP's C-USA West rival SMU Mustangs are already showing heavy interest.
Fields is a 5'11, 200 lb. running back prospect with blazing 4.5 speed and the great vision to get the most out of each carry. Here is some video of Fields embarrassing El Paso's finest as a sophomore.
Elite high school recruiting prospects from the El Paso area are rare, but, they're out there. Guys like MJ McFarland, Jamar Ransom, Rufus Brown, Mike Jefferson, Dominique Hamilton, Andre Jones, and Edward Britton fit the bill. .
McFarland was the best tight end prospect in Texas last year and will be a Texas Longhorn next season. Andre Jones, a US Army All American game selection, was one of the 2-3 best defensive tackle prospects in America before running into some trouble in Austin before he played a game for Mack Brown. Jamar Ransom, formerly a quarterback at Andress High, starred at Oklahoma State as a defensive back and linebacker. Rufus Brown was possibly the most exciting dual threat quarterback El Paso has ever seen. The Austin High School alum won a National Championship at Florida State after choosing the Seminoles over offers from Texas and just about everywhere else in the country. Britton was a good receiver in Mike Leach's Air Raid offense at Texas Tech. He was instrumental in the biggest win in Tech's history; when they knocked off then #1 Texas in Lubbock in 2009. Hamilton, a Chapin Husky, will be a three year starter at DT for the Missouri Tigers next year. Mike Jefferson was an incredible basketball player and wide receiver for Parkland High before playing fooball for the Arizona Wildcats.
What do all of these guys have in common? None of them stayed home to play in El Paso for UTEP.
Student athletes have to do whats best for them and their families. The athletes have to consider what educational program they want to pursue, the schools traditions, past success, and a series of other factors. It's hard for UTEP to compete with schools that sell out 100,000+ seat stadiums, play every game on ABC or ESPN, and have better resources and fan support than they do. That's obvious. But, UTEP can also do more to recruit the rare local gem more aggressively than others because of the built-in local advantage. As word leaks out on how good Fields is, we'll see what other schools get interested and offer him a scholarship.
For now, here's hoping UTEP continues a full court press to keep Fields home. Where else can he play in front of his friends and family every week? Where else can he become a local legend like former Montwood star Robert Rodriguez still is. Fields can go be another athlete at Baylor. Or he can be the face of UTEP's 2012 class. He would be a fan favorite with 35,000 fans who will know his name on game day because they've seen him embarrass their kids and alma maters on the Borderland Blitz for three years.
UTEP can't sell a kid like Fields with the beauty of the Sun Bowl or the Durham Center. They can sell him with something nobody else can: the promise of legend.
The question is, can Mike Price finally reel in a big local fish? Or will Fields go the way of Brown, McFarland, and the others who chose big time programs over the local school that would make them the face of the program?