Tablet Sports

Keller offensive lineman heads area’s Top 20 recruits

It’s not that Maea Teuhema didn’t like football growing up.

He just never watched it on television until September when his brother Sione took the field for LSU.

“All I did [growing up] was play music with my cousins,” said Teuhema, an offensive lineman for Keller. “Reggae music. Guitar, ukulele, piano. That’s what I did.”

So yes, Teuhema can block as well as anyone in the state of Texas ... and play the ukulele.

The 6-foot-4, 335-pound senior will join his brother at LSU next fall. He’ll sign with the Tigers in February.

Teuhema, whose final high school season ended two weeks ago, is rated as a five-star recruit by Rivals and 247Sports and a four-start recruit by Scout and ESPN. He’s ranked 61st overall or higher by all four recruiting services.

He holds a host of scholarship offers, from his choice of LSU to Oklahoma to TCU and Texas, where he was committed until February.

And now he can lay claim to the Star-Telegram’s top senior recruit in the area.

“There’s a reason we ran to the right a whole lot the last three years,” Keller coach Carl Stralow said. “We had a once-in-a-lifetime talent here.”

But it wasn’t until Arkansas offered Teuhema as a freshman that he began to realize football could take him places. The next year, Stralow arrived and began working with Teuhema to trim down and fine-tune his 350-pound frame.

On the scale, Teuhema gradually dropped around 15 pounds the past two years. But he’s improved his mobility, strength and flexibility. As a sophomore, he bench-pressed 350 pounds. Now he’s pushing up 450.

“We told him if he works as hard as he could, we would do everything possible to help him reach his potential,” Stralow said. “Now he’s a big, agile, flexible man. But you won’t get a word out of him.”

Said Teuhema of his improvement: “It was hard. It was really hard.”

But it’s that quiet demeanor that Stralow said helped Teuhema deal with the attention of being one of the nation’s top players. As the scholarship offers poured in and college coaches and reporters inquired as to which way Teuhema was leaning, he deferred most requests to Stralow. The only twist in his recruitment was when he and his brother switched their commitments from Texas to LSU in February.

But since then, he’s been set.

“He’s handled it better than any kid that I’ve had go through that experience,” Stralow said. “He never let it go to his head. He never separated himself. It was more of his teammates talking about how highly touted he is, rather than him.”

Teuhema projects as a guard in LSU’s pro-style offense. At Keller he specialized in run blocking but was athletic enough to move laterally as a pass blocker and finish through blocks down the field.

“He’s got just such an upside,” Stralow said. “He’s so athletic for a man his size. He’s only scratched the surface.”

Here’s a look at the rest of the area Top 20 recruits:

2. QB Jarrett Stidham, Stephenville

Committed to Texas Tech, with other offers from Baylor, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M

• Stidham emerged last year as one of the top junior quarterbacks in the state, starting at the position after playing receiver in 2012. Listed by most recruiting sites as a “dual-threat” player, Stidham described himself as a “pass-first” quarterback. His mobility, though, helps him evade sacks and tacklers. He’ll graduate in December and enroll next semester at Texas Tech, where he’ll have a chance to play immediately. Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury was a big draw for Stidham.



“I’m super-excited to get up [to Lubbock] and start learning the offense,” Stidham said. “A lot of people just talk about [Kingsbury’s] looks and personality. What people don’t really see about him is his work ethic. He’s up there at 4:30 every morning.”

3. OL Patrick Vahe,

Euless Trinity

Committed to Texas, with other offers from Baylor, LSU

• Vahe has been the latest in a long line of powerful offensive linemen at Trinity. He committed early to Texas, pledging before his junior season, and has remained firm in that decision even as the Longhorns switched coaches in January. Vahe has played up and down the Trinity line but projects as a guard in college, especially in Charlie Strong’s run-oriented offense. Vahe said he’s a big fan of the physical attitude Strong has brought to the program.



“We play physical up here, so when I get [to Texas] and start playing physical, that’s the thing I love. It brings me back home,” Vahe said.

4. WR Ryan Newsome,

Aledo

Undecided, with offers from Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA

• Newsome is as electric as any player in the state. He has narrowed his slew of choices to the five schools above, and he’ll announce his decision sometime in January. The school he picks will be getting a versatile athlete who has played slot receiver, outside receiver and running back for Aledo this year. Newsome also returns punts for the Bearcats. He returned seven for touchdowns as a junior. He’ll likely play slot receiver in college.



“They all want me to come in and play at the slot position,” Newsome said. “I’m able to play outside receiver as well and run between the tackles. They like my versatility.”

5. Madison Akamnonu

Arlington Bowie

Committed to Texas Tech, with offers from Arizona State, Baylor, Connecticut, TCU, Texas

• Akamnonu was a late bloomer in the 2015 class, picking up his first offer and then many more after his junior season. And while he’s still developing, he’ll be a nice fit at Texas Tech as a pass blocker. His frame is ideal for offensive tackle, and he’s athletic enough at around 280 pounds, most of which is muscle.



“It was February until I got my first offer,” Akamnonu said. “Before then, I was thinking, am I ever going to get a scholarship? But I wasn’t tripping too much. Through the hard work and everything, it all paid off.”

6. S Montrel Wilson,

Keller Fossil Ridge

Undecided, with offers from Arkansas, Baylor, TCU

• Wilson was committed to Baylor before reopening his recruitment this fall. He was banged up late in Fossil Ridge’s season but remained a playmaker in the secondary for the Panthers. He’s quick enough to roam free, tracking down ball carriers, and he’s tall enough to match up receivers on the outside and tight ends over the middle.



7. QB/ATH Tony James,

Arlington Bowie

Committed to TCU

• James, who committed to TCU just after his junior season, played quarterback for most of his three seasons on varsity at Bowie. He filled in for Keaton Perry as a sophomore and again as a junior before taking the role full time this year. And in each stint as a signal caller, he showed off his speed and versatility. He’ll play receiver at TCU, which he’s eager to do under new offensive coordinator Doug Meacham.



“I’m already very excited about the 4-wide [receiver sets], and spreading it out and throwing the ball and a lot of stuff,” James said. “Because stuff like that is what receivers like to do.”

8. DT Taaj Bakari,

Mansfield Legacy

Committed to Oklahoma State

• At around 6-foot-1, 270 pounds, Bakari balances being big and quick for a defensive tackle. And like other great defensive linemen, he’s usually as strong or stronger than the guy he’s lined up against.



9. CB Julius Lewis,

Mansfield

Committed to TCU

• Lewis was lightly recruited as a running back, a position he started at for Mansfield as a junior. But TCU liked Lewis’ speed and build as a defensive back, so he moved to that position before the start of his senior year and was solid there for the Tigers.



“He’s going to be a corner in college,” Mansfield coach Jeff Hulme said. “He’s got the speed, the height and the vertical.”

10. DB Niko Small,

Arlington Bowie

Committed to TCU

• Small was all over the field for the Bowie defense his senior year. His stats: 120 tackles, seven tackles for loss, six interceptions, three blocked kicks and three defensive touchdowns. Those were so impressive that Bowie coach Danny DeArman has thrown Small’s name into the discussion as one of the best defensive players in Arlington history. Small said he’s expecting to play safety for TCU.



“The [TCU] defense is crazy. It’s great,” Small said. “It’s the type of defense that when you get there, you want to keep the legacy. You don’t want to mess it up.”

11. LB Semaj Thomas,

Fort Worth Southwest

Committed to TCU

12. DE/LB Tipa Galeai,

Euless Trinity

Undecided, with offers from Missouri, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech, Utah

13. DE Kenneth Mann,

Burleson

Committed to Oklahoma

14. WR/ATH Darrion Flowers,

Arlington Sam Houston

Committed to TCU

15. QB Ryan Agnew,

Southlake Carroll

Undecided, with offers from Arkansas State, Connecticut, Houston, Texas State

16. RB Taylor Martin,

Fort Worth Dunbar

Committed to Kansas

17. WR Emmanuel Moore,

Justin Northwest

Committed to North Texas

18. RB Juwan Washington,

Kennedale

Committed to San Diego State

19. TE Jess Trussell,

Arlington Martin

Committed to Central Florida

20. CB Johnathan Durham,

Aledo

Committed to Texas State

Area Top 5 recruits

1. OL Maea Teuhema, Keller

Committed to LSU, with other offers from Oklahoma, TCU, Texas

2. QB Jarrett Stidham, Stephenville

Committed to Texas Tech, with other offers from Baylor, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M

3. OL Patrick Vahe, Euless Trinity

Committed to Texas, with other offers from Baylor, LSU

4. WR Ryan Newsome, Aledo

Undecided, with offers from Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA

5. Madison Akamnonu, Arlington Bowie

Committed to Texas Tech, with offers from Arizona State, Baylor, Connecticut, TCU, Texas

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