When defensive end Justin Hollins first stepped into the hallway of Arlington Martin after receiving his varsity jersey — No. 18 — he was met with surprised looks from those around him.
Ever since former Martin defensive end and Under Armor All-American Devonte Fields took that jersey off for the final time in 2012 and moved on to TCU, the number has been held as sacred around the school.
For Hollins, the aura that surrounded the number became a challenge.
“It’s a way for me to show everybody that I have one of the well-known numbers in the school and I can represent it well, just as Devonte did back then when he was at Martin,” Hollins said.
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He clearly represented the number and his school well. Hollins is headed to Oregon as one of the top recruits in North Texas.
But what made Martin so successful — the Warriors reached the third round of the 5A Division I playoffs, where they lost to DeSoto — is the fact that Hollins isn’t the most touted recruit on the Warriors’ roster.
He isn’t even the highest-ranked player at his position.
Opposite Hollins on Martin’s defensive line was Myles Garrett, the top defensive end in the nation.
“The greatest blessing of having both of those guys is that they’ve made one another improve,” said coach Bob Wager, who has sent 50 players to Division I programs during his eight years at the school.
“They compete on the field and it’s a healthy competition but at the same time they are constantly in a race to get to the quarterback or make a big play or whatever it is. I think the two of them having one another this year has elevated both of their performances.”
Said Garrett, who has committed to Texas A&M: “I don’t see a spotlight. I just keep on playing the game the way I was two years ago when I wasn’t ranked anything. It’s just a ranking. It doesn’t mean anything until you prove it.”
Star-Telegram’s Top 10 recruits
1. DE Myles Garrett (6-5, 247, Arlington Martin, committed to Texas A&M): Teams across North Texas had to change their offensive approach when they faced Martin because of Garrett’s ability to get into the backfield quickly. If the quarterback didn’t throw quick screens or slants, Garrett typically had him on the ground before he had the ball out. Garrett has a great combination of speed and power and picked A&M because he believes he can quickly make an impact on the Aggies’ defensive line.
2. S Ed Paris (6-0, 201, Mansfield Timberview, committed to LSU): Paris’ size is his biggest asset as he moves into the college ranks. He is not shy to make contact, which translates well into playing safety at the next level, but as a taller defensive back, he can be used well in coverage and could play cornerback.
3. OG Demetrius Knox (6-4, 296, Fort Worth All Saints, committed to Ohio State): Knox turned down offers from almost every big-time program in the country and committed to Ohio State in September. As the leader of the offensive line on two SPC championship teams, Knox helped produce a 3,175-yard passer and two 500-plus yard rushers this season. Knox’s strongest asset is his killer mindset as he blows through defensive linemen.
4. QB Foster Sawyer (6-5, 210, Fort Worth All Saints, committed to TCU): Sawyer could make an immediate impact at TCU with the graduation of Casey Pachall after this season. Sawyer is an efficient passer, connecting on 66 percent of his attempts. Sawyer has a high work ethic. After winning an SPC championship on Nov. 8, he moved into the off-season program to get ready for TCU.
5. S Edwin Freeman (6-1, 212, Arlington Bowie, undeclared): Freeman holds offers from Baylor, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, Oregon and USC. With his size and linebacker-type mentality on the field, Freeman could fill many holes on a defense looking for a playmaker who can lay the big hit or come up with an impressive interception.
6. S Brandon Simmons (6-1, 182, Mansfield Timberview, committed to Stanford): Beyond Simmons’ athletic tools that make him a great coverage defensive back is his intellect. Naturally, Simmons said he chose Stanford because of the education he’ll receive while playing for a high-quality football program.
7. DE Justin Hollins (6-5, 207, Arlington Martin, committed to Oregon): His teammates made it a weekly tradition to challenge Hollins to a race. Hollins went undefeated. His speed and size made him a handful to stop in pass rush.
8. RB Daniel Gresham (5-10, 236, Fort Worth All Saints, committed to Louisville): At 236 pounds, Gresham runs like a wrecking ball. During All Saints’ SPC title game, Gresham broke off a 79-yard touchdown run in which he bowled over a defender 50 yards into the run. Combined with that strength is a quickness that allows Gresham to shoot through holes deep into the secondary before defenses pick up on the rush. Gresham will be a quality power back in college.
9. DE Sione Teuhema (6-3, 211, Keller, committed to Texas): Teuhema knew Texas was where he wanted to be early, and committed to the Longhorns in May. He is a power rusher who will get better as he adds muscle to his frame. Teuhema has the strength to make pockets collapse in pass coverage, giving aid to his secondary.
10. CB Nick Foster (5-11, 170, Keller Fossil Ridge, committed to TCU): Foster will be a great fit in Gary Patterson’s 4-2-5 defense at TCU as he is all about speed. Foster is a natural leader and his lead-by-example style commands respect from his teammates, his coaches said. Foster is an all-around good person who makes great decisions on the football field as well as in his everyday life, Fossil Ridge assistant coach Stanley Moss said.