The in-state class of 2014 is perhaps most notable for being chock-full
of studs at defensive back. DBs make up one-fifth or more of the top 50 Texas
players for 2014 on pretty much every recruiting service's list. Keller Timber
Creek athlete Cedric Dale isn't among the names normally brought up in the
"best 2014 DBs" conversation, but he's aiming to change that.
Dale plays both ways for Timber Creek, which is the newest
of Keller ISD's four high schools and is in its first year competing at the
class 5A level. As a sophomore in 2011, Dale racked up 116 tackles and was a
first team all-district safety, and also ran for 616 yards and nine touchdowns
(both second-most on the team) while playing running back.
In 2012, he did a bit of everything. He again played both ways, but he added
punting duties and even attempted six passes. In a week one loss to Midlothian,
Dale completed three passes for 101 yards (one of them a 68-yard touchdown),
ran 19 times for 293 yards and had touchdown runs covering 71, 68 and 25 yards.
He was on a good roll until he broke his arm early in a week four win over
Haltom, and he was forced to miss the next four games. He returned in week nine
and helped lead Timber Creek to wins over cross-town rivals Keller High and
Fossil Ridge to clinch the school's first-ever playoff berth in football.
Despite playing in less than seven full games, he finished the season with 804
rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 119 carries, 11 catches for 140 yards and
one touchdown, 15 tackles made, and 10 punts that flew an average of 38 yards.
Despite only playing parts of three district games, he was one of three running
backs voted to 4-5A's all-district first team.
His arm has healed from the break he suffered in September, and though his
football season ended two months ago, he can still be seen practicing in a
helmet and pads...for lacrosse season. He plays for a lacrosse club team and
believes they have a chance to win their league's championship. He also says
lacrosse helps his football skills in some areas. I haven't had a chance to
watch him play that sport, but I don't doubt he's good at it.
At 5-10 and 182 pounds, Dale could conceivably play slot receiver, all-purpose
back, safety or cornerback in college. He has primarily been a running back and
safety in high school and he likes the idea of playing slot receiver, but some
(myself included) believe he is bound for cornerback. He has quick feet, very
good speed, and with the ball in his hands he'll sometimes zig-zag the field
like a Tecmo Bowl avatar avoiding defenders.
In my favorite play of his junior highlights (0:32 into the video linked at the
bottom of the story), his team is facing 4th-and-9 from their own 29, and Dale
is lined up to punt. The snap is good but he mishandles the ball and drops it,
but picks it up at the 22, runs left outside the hash marks with defenders in
hot pursuit, makes a decisive cut at around the 30 and just flat runs through
three opponents to pick up the first down yardage, then he spins away from
another would-be tackler at the 40, and runs the last 60 yards untouched all
the way to the end zone.
Dale attended a number of camps in the summer of 2012. He ran the fastest forty
time (4.40) at an Oklahoma camp, reportedly impressed TCU's coaches at one of
their camps, and was offered by Texas Tech in June after attending one of their
satellite camps in the Metroplex. Arizona, Minnesota, and Oklahoma State have
invited him to their respective junior days, and he has heard from a number of
other BCS programs. He has interest in Texas and hopes to hear from the
Longhorns, but says they haven't contacted him or shown any interest as of yet.
As of this writing, Texas Tech remains his only offer.
Most services have Dale ranked somewhere in the 45-60 range among the top players
in Texas' 2014 class, positions that are not to be sneezed at in the leanest of
years, but those spots place him just outside the periphery of the elite
defensive backs in the class. He feels very strongly that he belongs among the
class's top DBs, though, and one of his goals this summer will be to prove it
out on the camp circuit. If Eric was doing early percentages on this group I
doubt he'd give Texas greater than a 50% chance of signing any of the top 10
DBs not named Jamal Adams, at least as things stand now. So the Longhorns would
be wise to at least give Dale a look before his stock has a chance to shoot up,
lest they risk another scenario where they show up late to the recruiting party
for a hot prospect who had interest in them early on.
I had a chance to chat with Cedric Dale earlier this week and we discussed his
recruitment and his summer plans. Portions of that conversation have been
Inside Texas: Is Tech still your only offer, and are they recruiting you at one
position or as an athlete?
Cedric Dale: Yes sir, and as an athlete.
IT: Thought so. Is it the same for the other schools that have been recruiting
CD: Yes sir.
IT: What was your impression of Tech when you talked to them after the coaching
[NOTE: The previous week he had talked to the Texas Tech staff for the first
time since Tommy Tuberville's abrupt departure, and he was assured that his
offer was still good.]
CD: Well, I like Coach Kingsbury a lot, and I'm excited about him becoming the
head coach at Tech since that's the only place I have an offer from, and I love
the way he utilizes the spread offense!
IT: I think he'll be a good coach for them. It'll be like when Mike Leach was
there but less quirky. Is there a position you'd prefer to play?
CD: Yes I agree! And the slot position is what I want. I really don't mind
where I play at the next level, but wherever I can get on the field the
quickest and help my team out the most.
IT: I picture you being a future CB. I know you've played safety but have you
spent much time at the corner?
CD: Yes sir. But during the season I played safety because the other team
wouldn't throw it to my side if I got put at corner. But the corner position is
a spot I enjoy.
[At this point I asked about what he'd heard from Texas since I'd been told a
Texas coach stopped by Timber Creek, but he said that it was actually Randy
Rodgers who'd been there earlier in the week, which clarified things a bit. And
he reiterated that he still hadn't heard anything at all from UT.]
IT: Aside from Tech, what schools have you been hearing from the most?
CD: Northwestern, UCLA, OSU, OU, Arizona, Baylor, Texas A&M, and Georgia.
IT: Pretty good group there. Was there one school you were a fan of growing up?
IT: Have you always lived in Keller?
CD: No I actually moved to Keller from Los Angeles five years ago.
IT: That explains the USC love.
CD: Oh yes. But they haven't shown any interest, but UCLA has and I'd say
they're my number two [behind Tech].
IT: Did you become a Texas fan after moving?
CD: Yes I did, I really didn't like them when they beat USC for the BCS
championship, but after I moved I started to see how the state of Texas takes
football so serious and then I started taking interest in a lot of programs and
Texas was one of them.
IT: That's a story you hear a lot from high school kids who've only been in
Texas a few years. Do you plan on going to some camps in the summer?
CD: Yes. UCLA, OSU, TCU, Georgia and Baylor, but I'm sure the list will go on
as the invites start rolling in.
IT: Yep. And sometimes a guy will get a school's attention by just showing up
at their camp and showing what he can do. UT has had some linemen do that in
recent years and get offered after dominating at a camp.
CD: Well Texas will be a camp I'll be interested in going to.
IT: So how did you get into lacrosse?
CD: A lot of my friends play it and I went to a few games and liked what I saw
and I started playing and it's really fun! It helps out my speed, quickness and
mobility a lot.
IT: Does Timber Creek have its own club team or is it made up of guys from all
CD: Guys from all over Keller. We're good this year and our main goal is to
make it to state, which is very possible since we're stacked!
IT: Very cool. Good luck in that effort. Did you hear about those Coppell
football players who got lacrosse scholarships a year or two ago? One of them
was an all-state linebacker who turned down Notre Dame in football to play
lacrosse for Syracuse.
[Here I was referring to Brandon Mullins, who had interest from several
colleges - Notre Dame among them, though I'm not certain he had an offer from
them - to play football, but chose to play only lacrosse in college.]
CD: Oh yes! I think the other one went to Brown for lacrosse also. It's a very
fun sport but football is my first love though.
IT: So we won't see you turn down Big 12 football offers for Big East lacrosse
CD: Haha oh nooo! I've come too far in football. I can never forget what got me
[I brought up the clip in his highlight reel described above and asked if it
was his favorite highlight as it was mine.]
CD: Haha, yes it is! It really shows people that football is one of my natural
instincts. I've been playing since I was five and I have a passion for it.
For the rest of the conversation we discussed some of the other college
football prospects in Keller that he knows, and he talked a little about some
of the studs in the class he's gone up against in camps. Jamal Adams was brought
up, and when I asked how he'd feel about playing in the same secondary as
Adams, he confidently said, "I think me and him could shut an offense
I like the kid. He's got a lot of football ability, and though he's a strong
runner with the ball in his hands and can make defenders miss, his speed and
skills should allow him to be plugged in at whatever spot he is most needed. He
should have several offers by the time he begins his senior season, and some
will come from UT's conference rivals. The Horns better decide soon if they're
fine with possibly being on the outside looking in at Dale's recruitment.
Missing on the Nick Harveys and Cedric Collinses of the class would hurt, but
if they're not wearing burnt orange they'll have little chance of hurting Texas
while playing in the SEC. But the Cedric Dales, if ignored for too long, can
come back to bite them for four years while wearing a purple, crimson, or green
and gold jersey.
See Cedric Dale's junior season highlights: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/508309/highlights/15245383