No doubt many football fans were at Dragon Stadium on Wednesday to catch a glimpse of Southlake Carroll phenom RJ Mickens.
The sophomore-to-be earned first-team all-district honors as a freshman this past season and already holds more than a dozen Division I scholarship offers.
Well, expect Mickens to be an impact player on both sides of the ball in 2017. Head coach Hal Wasson indicated Mickens’ offensive minutes may be somewhat limited early on.
“As it cools down and conditioning settles in, you’ll see him get a few more [offensive reps],” Wasson said. “He’s got great hands. He’s not quite a distinct route runner quite yet because he hasn’t had nearly the reps. But he’ll get those reps in 7-on-7 over the summer.”
Mickens, the son of former Texas A&M and NFL standout Ray Mickens, is looking forward to the opportunity as a two-way player and feels one position will help him play the other.
“I’m thrilled for it. I can’t wait,” he said. “I play DB, so I know how DBs think. I like to analyze my own position and have a chance to go up against it.”
Mickens did catch a touchdown pass in the game, dragging a defender into the end zone on a short pattern. The ball was delivered by Will Bowers, who Wasson said is QB1 at this juncture, though other guys including Blake Smith and Clayton Webb are also in the mix.
Protecting whoever takes snaps was a concern entering the spring, with Carroll graduating three pieces of one of its best offensive lines ever.
“We lost a tremendous group of offensive linemen. There’s no secret about that,” Wasson said. “Three of those guys went on to Division I scholarships. That’s pretty special.
“We’ve got three young guys coming in, but we’re anchored by tremendous leaders in Matt Leehan and Jackson Kimball. In order for us to get where we want to get, one of the big strengths of our team has to be our offensive line.”
Like every coach, Wasson says there’s still plenty to be done before the Dragons are ready for the 2017 season. Carroll, which lost two games in 2016 — both to state champions (DeSoto and Tulsa Union) — opens its season on the road at Broken Arrow (Okla.) on Sept. 1.
“I think we got a lot better this spring,” he said. “I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen. I look forward to watching them progress over the summer.”