High school and college football fans often obsess over recruiting and colleges across the country are always on the lookout for the next highly ranked player to add to their team.
The next big thing might be found at Deer Creek High School, where junior offensive tackle Jake Sexton has placed himself on the radar of every top collegiate program in the country.
The 6-7, 305-pound man-child is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals and is listed by some recruiting services as the top player in Oklahoma for the Class of 2022. He’s already collected 20 offers, including ones from Alabama, Oklahoma, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State and Stanford.
“I definitely think it’s cool,” said Sexton about the recruiting attention, “but at the same time, my opinion of myself wouldn’t change if I was the number one player or if I was unranked. I know what I can do.”
“He’s a dominant force on the offensive line,” said Deer Creek head coach Wade Standley. “Our pass protection and our run game go through him, no doubt.”
“I remind myself every day that we’re in season and I’ve gotta keep my head on that path,” admitted Sexton. “The college football part, talking to the coaches, is a lot of fun too, but right now I’m just focused on high school.”
“He is as advertised,” added Standley, who’s entering his fourth season at Deer Creek. “The most exciting part about Jake is that he’s a great teammate. He’s a great leader. He’s going to continue to get better and better.”
Sexton’s come a long way since he was thrust into the starting lineup as a freshman, a rare accomplishment for a lineman at the 6A level.
“I definitely remember it was exciting,” recalled Sexton. “I was a little nervous, but I had a lot of fun. That year I kind of just focused on myself because I was obviously the youngest kid on varsity and everybody else had their stuff handled pretty well. Now I’m to the point where I can focus on the whole team and not just myself.”
“Early on, we knew he was going to be a great player,” stated Standley. “He just needed to grow into the game a little bit. Jake’s always had great size. He is an extremely hard worker. He works at his craft. You knew from day one that he was going to max out his ability.”
Sexton is such a force on the field that Standley plans to also utilize him on defense in goal line situations.
“I played offense and defense all the way up to my freshman year, so I’m kicking the dust off now,” said Sexton, who admits he plays with a bit of a mean streak. “It’s definitely fun to be back on defense and get to play that side of the ball too.”
Like all linemen, Sexton’s dream is to have his number called just once on offense and get to run with the ball.
“I have a little bit, yeah” said Sexton about asking to have a play run for him. “We kind of laugh about it, but we might do one. That would be awesome for sure!”
Sexton credits his efforts as a wrestler for helping him improve on the football field. He believes the discipline and focus required to compete on the mat carries over to the football field.
“I’ve been wrestling for eight years now, so mindset is definitely the biggest one by far,” claimed Sexton, who was one win shy of placing at last year’s state tournament. “Obviously there’s leverage and balance and footwork, but mindset is where you can take the nerves and turn it into excitement and then turn the excitement into power.”
Deer Creek narrowly missed the playoffs last season and the Antlers are hungry to reach the postseason this time around. Last week’s season opener versus Edmond North was cancelled due to COVID-19, and the team is chomping at the bit to get their season underway.
“We got a couple of scrimmages in, but we’re just excited to play a game,” said Standley.
Along with Sexton, the Antlers return one of the top kickers in the state in senior Logan Ward. Ward nailed a 55-yard field goal last year and is a huge weapon for Deer Creek.
Deer Creek opens the 2020 season on Thursday, September 3 at 7pm against Southmoore in the Ford Game of the Week that will be broadcast live on YurView Cox Channel 3 and streamed online at yurview.com.