Houston's Own

Local products look to shine at NFL Combine

Local products look to shine at NFL Combine
Duke Ejiofor of Alief Taylor made name for himself at Wake Forest. vype.com

Originally appeared on Vype.com

 

Football never sleeps in Houston.

It’s offseason at the high school and college levels, but for the professionals, it’s time to train and position themselves for the NFL Draft.

The city of Houston has several athletes trying to navigate their way through the stressful and exciting time of finally getting to make financial gains for the work their hard work over the past decade.

Looking closer at the NFL Draft, it’s fascinating where the top prospects come from. Three former Alief Taylor Lions make up a third of the HTown kids invited to the NFL combine.

How is that possible? Kudos to the Alief Taylor staff for getting their guys ready for college, and all play on the defensive side of the ball.

Just five miles down the road is FB Bush, the home of Toledo DE Aneniyi Olasunkanmi. Staying in Fort Bend is Elkins’ WR J’Mon Moore, who balled out at Missouri.

Defensive backs Holton Hill (Lamar) and Jordan Thomas (Klein Collins) are likely Day 3 or free agent prospects, but got the coveted invite to the combine.

North Shore’s Dorance Armstrong is another rangy DE who played at Kansas of all places.

Joining Moore on the offensive side of the ball is LSU OL Toby Weathersby, formerly of Westfield.

 

NFL COMBINE INVITES

 

ADENIYI OLASUNKANMI, FB BUSH

Toledo, DE

He was a second-team, All-MAC with 66 tackles and 20 tackles for loss. He projects anywhere from 3rd to 6th round status. He could help himself with a great combine, but his size at 6-foot-1 could hurt him.

 

DORANCE ARMSTRONG, NORTH SHORE

Kansas, DE

Explosive edge-rusher who balled out at Kansas. But Kansas? He will need to gain some weight entering the NFL and will need to show that at the combine. He can run and has a great motor and work ethic. Projected in the late second to fifth round.

 

DUKE EJIOFOR, ALIEF TAYLOR

Wake Forest, DL

Was a stud at an improved Wake Forest team. Had 6.5 sacks and is athletic enough to play on the edge and even help on the inside. Had a great junior season as well. At 6-foot-4, 270-pounds, he has the NFL body.

 

HOLTON HILL, LAMAR

Texas, DB

He was suspended the last three games of the year at UT. At 6-foot-3, he has great size for the NFL but the sample size of him on the field is small. Someone will take a flier on Hill but not likely until the 5th round or as a free agent.

 

JOSHUA KALU, ALIEF TAYLOR

Nebraska, DB

Kalu is a good-sized safety, but needs to work on his speed. He’s physical and is a tackling machine. He needs a good time at the combine. Kalu will likely be in the 5-7 rounds. He played four years at Nebraska and tallied 215 tackles with 7 picks.

 

J’MON MOORE, ELKINS

Missouri, WR

Moore had 1,000 yards receiving in 2018 and 10 scores as Mizzou’s top wide out. At 6-foot-2, he is a nice-sized target but must improve his 4.54 time. It’s not a great receiver class so he has a shot to get drafted, but it will be late.

 

OGBONNIA OKORONKWO, ALIEF TAYLOR

Oklahoma, OLB

Had 8 sacks and 76 tackles on one of the top teams in the country. He is needing more athleticism to play on the edge, but will make a team. It’s going to be a late selection like 3rd-5th rounds.

 

JORDAN THOMAS, KLEIN COLLINS

Oklahoma, DB

Being a four-year starter at OU is saying something. He had 8 career INTs but didn’t have a great senior season. He played in the pass-happy Big 12 and will need to tighten up his cover skills. He’s a projected free agent pick up.

 

TOBY WEATHERSBY, WESTFIELD

LSU, OL

Played a ton for a solid LSU offensive line. He will likely play guard at the next level and is a good run-blocker. Pretty good athleticism and strength. He will be a 5th rounder to free agent.

 

OTHERS OF NOTE

 

Jeremiah Briscoe, Stratford

Sam Houston, QB

The Two-Time Payton Award winner for FCS Player of the Year. Basically the Heisman Trophy winner in FCS.

 

Jarrett Johnson, Seven Lakes

Texas A&M, DE

Had a solid career at Texas A&M, which is not known for defense. He as upside as he continues to grow.

 

Du’Vonta Lampkin, Cy Falls

Oklahoma, DT

Lampkin had a solid season but most pundits say he should have returned to the Sooners. Due to his size and upside, someone will take a chance on him in free-agency.

 

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Coogs beat the Sooners, 87-85. Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images.

Jamal Shead hit a short follow shot with 0.4 seconds left and No. 1 Houston beat Oklahoma 87-85 on Saturday night, giving coach Kelvin Sampson a victory over one of his former schools.

Shead missed a driving layup attempt, but corralled the rebound and put the Cougars back ahead after they blew a 15-point lead. Emanuel Sharp tipped away a desperation pass by Oklahoma’s Milos Uzan as time expired.

“The main thing (on the last shot) was to get it to the rim,” Sampson said. “We weren’t going to shoot anything outside of 5 feet. There were three ways to win that game — a whistle, make the shot or (grab) an offensive rebound and put it in — and we got the third one.”

Sampson credited the result to Houston’s “winning DNA. We had a lot of things go against us tonight. … We were just plugging the holes in the boat up.”

L.J. Cryer led Houston (26-3, 13-3 Big 12) with 23 points, making 5 of 9 3-pointers. J’Wan Roberts added 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting, and Shead scored 14 points. Houston shot 56.7% from the field and Oklahoma was at 52.7%.

Rivaldo Soares had 16 points for Oklahoma (19-10, 7-9). Le’Tre Darthard had 15 points, finishing 5 of 7 from 3-point range.

Sampson coached Oklahoma from 1994 to 2006 and ranks second in program history with 279 wins and first in winning percentage (.719). Before Saturday, he’d never coached against the Sooners, but Houston’s entry into the Big 12 for this basketball season provided that opportunity.

Sampson received a warm welcome as he entered the Lloyd Noble Arena court, with many fans applauding, cheering and standing. Just before player introductions, Sampson and his three assistants with Oklahoma ties — former players Hollis Price, Quannas White and Kellen Sampson, his son — were individually recognized with announcements and pictured on the video board.

“The memories that I will take from here are just amazing,” Kelvin Sampson said. “Oklahoma will always be home in a lot of ways.”

Houston made its first week this season at No. 1 a successful one, with two wins. The Cougars are a game ahead of No. 8 Iowa State in the conference standings with two games left in the regular season and remain in the conversation for the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Houston has won eight of the last nine games it has played as the No. 1-ranked team and is 35-5 overall while atop the AP poll.

Oklahoma dropped its second game of the week against a top-10 opponent, having lost 58-45 at Iowa State on Wednesday night.

The Sooners pushed Houston to the limit. Houston led 67-52 with 12:01 left, but the Sooners methodically closed that gap and Javian McCollum’s layup with 11.8 seconds left tied it at 85. It came after a hustle play by Uzan, who tracked down a rebound off a missed free throw and threw it off the leg of Sharp, allowing it to carom out of bounds.

Oklahoma coach Porter Moser said the vibe in the Sooners’ locker room was “tough. It wasn’t like they were happy to be close. They’re hurting. That’s a good sign. … That’s the elite of the elite and we’ve got to find a way to win that. That’s my job.

“I thought they were resilient battling back. Houston made tough shots, open shots, good shots. They do a lot of good things … but I thought we did too. We played the best team in the country, but we fell short. The margin of error when you play a team that good is small.”

Godwin went 6 of 6 from the field and led Oklahoma with 17 points, missing only the one free throw in six attempts as well. He also had seven rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Houston: Sampson surely appreciated the warm welcome from fans on his return to Oklahoma, but he’s undoubtedly glad to have the emotional game against the Sooners over with. Now he can push the Cougars to focus on finishing the regular season strong and prepare them for the postseason.

Oklahoma: A win over the nation’s No. 1 team might have pushed the Sooners up a line or two in NCAA tournament seeding, but the loss shouldn’t damage their postseason hopes too much. Oklahoma probably needs at least one win next week — at home against Cincinnati or at Texas — to stay comfortably off the NCAA bubble heading into the Big 12 Tournament.

UP NEXT:

Houston: At Central Florida on Wednesday night.

Oklahoma: Host Cincinnati on Tuesday night.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome