Top college football recruits to watch during GEICO ESPN High School Kickoff

  • National recruiting analyst and analyst for ESPNU
  • More than a decade of college and pro coaching experience.
  • Graduated from Indiana and Nebraska-Omaha

High school football is getting underway around the nation, and ESPN is kicking off the 2021 season in a big way.

From Thursday to Sunday, ESPN’s family of networks will air seven games that feature more than 20 college football recruits ranked in the ESPN 300 and ESPN Jr. 300.

With prospects already committed to Power 5 programs playing throughout the weekend and even more making their case for scholarships, we want to highlight the future stars college football.

There will be an impressive collection of talent competing in each game. We broke down each matchup with a prospect on each team to keep an eye on.

Thursday, Aug. 26
Southlake Carroll (Texas) vs. Highland Park (Texas)
8 p.m. on ESPNU
AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas

Southlake Carroll: TE R.J. Maryland
Class of 2022 ranking: Three stars
Committed to: Boston College

Initial buzz centered around the Dragons five-star QB Quinn Ewers, but he will no longer be a part of this matchup with his reclassification to the 2021 class and arrival at Ohio State. Replacing the top-rated signal-caller over the past two recruiting cycles will not be easy, but Southlake Carroll is a program that played for the state title last season, and the talent runs deep.

A key player will be Maryland, a big-play target needed to increase production for the vacated Ewers. The son of former Dallas Cowboys DL great Russell Maryland, R.J. is making a name for himself at tight end. He possesses impressive length, body control and strong ball skills to catch in a crowd. Watch out for him as a red zone target Thursday night with the leaping ability to high point the ball over smaller defensive backs. Boston College has a rich tradition at tight end and Maryland looks to be the next great one.

Highland Park: DE Jack Curtis
Class of 2022 ranking: Unranked

Curtis is a bit underrated and could be a prospect that raises his profile coming out of this game. Curtis is a good all-around football player; he may not wow in any one aspect, but is a productive and disruptive presence from his end position. He demonstrates great functional strength with active hands and leverage to overpower blockers at the point of attack and has a terrific initial burst off the snap to penetrate the backfield.

He is a solid athlete that can change direction and elude blockers to chase down plays. He posted an impressive 7.15 second L-drill at the Dallas Under Armour camp this past spring. Look for him to move around the Highland Park defensive front to create favorable matchups; he can also cont/ribute on offense as a tight end.

Curtis reports multiple FBS offers, but the only Power 5 school as of now is Arizona. It wouldn’t be a surprise if more blue-chip schools offered him after this fall season.

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