A grip of area football teams are just days removed from the rigors of two-a-days, which typically precede media day at the prep level.
On the NCAA front, however, coaches and players from high-major conferences already went through their annual media gatherings before any chinstrap buckled.
From the Big 12, Mountain West to Conference USA – each league a former Ellis County star is now affiliated with – an assembly of pundits from each league released their preseason polls.
If the scribes’ collective premonitions hold any weight, a few area household names will be seeing a few more Ws than Ls this fall.
Eight products from Midlothian, Waxahachie, Red Oak, and Maypearl are filling various rosters at college football’s apex and will either be vying for a starting slot or transitioning to college life when sanctioned practices begin next week.
The Mountain West Conference media panel tabbed league newbie and FBS power Boise State as the favorite, edging nearby defending MWC and Rose Bowl champion Texas Christian for the top slot.
The Broncos, who finished ninth a year ago in the final AP poll and are expected to make another run at a BCS bowl, welcome freshman defensive back Eric Agboroji, who graduated from Midlothian last spring.
Texas Christian, which finished second in both major top 25 polls last season, is also expected to make another top-10 push but it’ll have the aide of highly-touted receiver LaDarius Brown. Brown, a 2011 Waxahachie grad, could make waves as a true freshman.
On the other end of the spectrum is cellar-dwelling New Mexico. The Lobos are picked to finish at the bottom of the eight-team conference, but former Maypearl brute Austin Weatherford could see some time on the offensive line after a grayshirt season.
Oklahoma’s not only the prohibitive favorite to win the football-rich conference but prognosticators are also seeing an FBS title game showing in the cards.
The Sooners were a first-place vote away from being the unanimous preseason No. 1 in what is now a 10-team conference. The other top vote? Well, Texas A&M has it.
The Aggies, picked second, return a heap of talent to College Station a year after finishing 19th in the country and Midlothian’s Caleb Russell may log substantial time at linebacker. The 2008 MHS grad is A&M’s feel-good story, going from walk-on to possible starter.
Russell would take over the JOKER linebacker slot, which was previously occupied by Von Miller, who was taken No. 2 overall by the Denver Broncos in the 2011 NFL draft.
Oklahoma State, Missouri and Texas went 3-4-5 followed by Baylor at No. 6.
Baylor’s 7-6 bowl season in 2010 saw Waxahachie alumnus Gary Mason Jr. start 11 of 13 games at defensive end and he’s expected to be a bigger boon to the Bears’ defensive line as a junior.
Mason totalled 21 tackles to go with a sack, an interception and three hurries as a sophomore.
Baylor’s offense will again be paced by all-American quarterback Robert Griffin III, but waiting in the wings behind center is Midlothian’s own Bryce Petty who’s now entering his sophomore season.
The strong-armed Petty was a true freshman last season but didn’t appear in any games.
Texas Tech was chosen seventh before Kansas State at the eighth slot rounded out by Iowa State and Kansas.
Kansas State will also field representation from Midlothian this fall with incoming freshman Dillon Wilson. Wilson is one of four kickers on the Wildcats’ roster.
Of the two sections in the vast Conference USA, the western sect, which includes four Texas teams, was spearheaded in votes by Houston.
With the return of all-American quarterback Case Keenum, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility after tearing his ACL in what was thought to be a Heisman run in 2010, the Cougars have lofty goals in mind.
But much like Baylor’s Petty being behind one of the country’s best in Griffin III, former Red Oak gunslinger Austin Elrod is also a peg or two below Keenum on the depth chart at Houston.
Elrod, an Ovilla native, is entering his fifth season with the Cougars, who are coming off an aberrant 5-7 season. He’s completed four of his seven career passing attempts.
On the bottom of the Conference USA West fray is UTEP, which also plucked talent from the most northern part of the county.
The Miners open their arms to ever-elusive Red Oak receiver Ishmael Harrison, an incoming freshman, who was a dual threat for the Hawks.
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