Varsity Preps

Ben McDonald’s “Next Up”: Vol. 3

Will Matthews (photo courtesy of

Every recruiting class has its highly-touted athletes, but there are many other very talented players who fly under the radar. Here’s a look at several players whom people may not have heard of but have the potential to be difference makers at the next level:

2015 RB Will Matthews; 5-9, 210; Destrehan (Destrehan, LA)

Matthews is an bonafide stud. He’s strong as an ox and runs with shiftiness, speed and power. His small, but stocky, stature makes it easy for him to slip through cracks in the defense, and once he finds a gap, he’s not easy to bring down. Matthews is also effective catching passes out of the backfield and is a solid blocker. He currently holds offers from Kent State, McNeese, Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin. It’s surprising that more schools haven’t caught wind of him; he’ll be an absolute steal for whichever program lands him.Twitter: @_illwill21
2014 season highlights: 

2015 WR Nick Mathews; 5-10, 160; Patriot (Nokesville, VA)

This young man’s stellar senior campaign etched him into the Virginia high school record books. Mathews set a new state record with 102 catches, moved up to fifth all-time in Virginia history with 1600 receiving yards and third all-time with 22 touchdowns. His hands are more than a sure bet, his route-running is extremely efficient and his speed allows him to rack up plenty of yards after the catch. He’s also a weapon as a return man and plays some safety, as well. Currently has interest from James Madison, Richmond and Towson.Twitter: @NM1_ERA
2014 season highlights:


2015 LB Gage Carroway; 6-0, 228; Benton (Benton, LA)

Carroway is an absolute offense disruptor. He has a keen sense of finding the ball and making ballcarriers pay for running his way. Carroway’s play has garnered him a host of awards and accolades over the past two seasons, including capping off his senior year as the District 1-4A MVP.

Twitter: @gagecarroway
2014 season highlights:


2015 CB Jameel Austin; 5-10, 165; Grissom (Huntsville, AL)

Plenty of quarterbacks and receivers have challenged Austin throughout his high school career, but most times those receivers came up empty-handed, and those quarterbacks were left shaking their heads. Austin’s highlight tape speaks for itself, clearly showing that it’s not an easy task to catch a pass on him. Army, Georgia Southern, Eastern Kentucky and a few more programs have sights on him, but no offers as of now.

Twitter: @db_jaustin
2014 season highlights:


2015 DL Keondre Dawson; 6-2, 250; Airline (Bossier City, LA)

He’s big. He overpowers offensive linemen. He pummels ballcarriers. He gets the job done. Dawson is probably one of the biggest sleepers in Louisiana. Several schools such as Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, McNeese and Central Arkansas have looked at him but have yet to offer. He’s definitely one of the Boot’s hidden gems.

Twitter: @dawsonkeondre1
2014 season highlights:


2016 QB Cameron Bowman; 6-2, 192; DeSoto Central (Southaven, MS)

Bowman is patient in the pocket, extremely intelligent when it comes to checking progressions and makes accurate passes more often than not. Schools such as Mississippi State, Georgia, Louisiana-Monroe, Purdue and Memphis have shown interest, so far. Definitely a name to look out for in the future.

Twitter: @CamBowman97
2014-15 season highlights:


2016 DL/OL Joshua Paul; 6-1, 270; Coral Springs (Coral Springs, FL)

Paul is a big guy with loads of talent. He’s deceitfully quick for a kid his size and he uses that to get to the ball and lay the boom on his opponents. Paul is primarily a defensive tackle, but he’s also used to open up holes on the offensive line. His versatility should give college coaches plenty to consider. He won’t be a sleeper for long.

Twitter: @PrimetimeJp52
2014 season highlights:


2016 DE Eric Mitchell; 6-2; 225; Miami Norland (Miami, FL)

Mitchell is a player that offensive tackles don’t want to be lined up against. His quickness off the line and bevy of moves put him in the backfield almost as often as the ballcarriers he’s chasing down. Florida Atlantic has offered him, while Arizona, Utah, Syracuse and Miami are showing interest. College coaches will be trying their hardest to keep this stud in the Sunshine State.

Twitter: @E8_Mitchell
2014 season highlights:


2016 CB Madre Harper; 6-2, 170; Lamar (Arlington, TX)

The person that coined the phrase “lockdown corner” was probably talking about guys like Madre Harper. He covers receivers like a glove and does an excellent job of keeping plays in front of him, so it’s no mystery why schools like Oklahoma, LSU, Nebraska and Purdue are looking at him. He also sports a 3.7 GPA. Harper’s performance on and off the field are setting him up for a bright future.

Twitter: @SHARP_HARP34
2014 season highlights:



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