It was late September, the high school football season had just started and the Texas Longhorns were on a bye week.
Houston ISD’s Delmar Stadium was packed for a game between Katy Tompkins and Houston Heights. In the background, a deep, rattling sound accompanied the visual of a helicopter landing.
Texas head coach Tom Herman and recruiting coordinator Jason Washington stepped out of the chopper and walked into the stadium, where they prepared to watch one of their top 2018 recruits and one of the best high school defensive backs in the nation — Jalen Green, a 6-foot, four-star cornerback for Houston Heights.
“You can put me anywhere and I’ll make plays,” Green said.
The No. 5 cornerback in the nation per 247 Sports and a U.S. Army Bowl All-American, Green is part of the new wave of elite defensive backs headed to Texas.
Green, who was named first-team all-defense at Nike’s The Opening camp last summer, has a potent combination of athleticism and football IQ. It’s a combination that has led him to be a highly coveted defensive back.
“On defense, he shuts down one whole side of the field,” said Stephen Dixon Sr., Houston Heights’ head coach. “You can let him lock down one island and roll your defense to the other side.”
To add to his defensive prowess, Green had 13 touchdowns on offense this past season as a quarterback, running back and wide receiver, despite the fact his season was cut short because of a shoulder injury.
Green’s unselfishness makes players gravitate toward him. His teammates believe he has an ability to raise the level of the team because of how hard he practices.
“Not only is he versatile and great at what he does, he also makes opportunities for others on the field,” said Curtis Melrose, one of Green’s Houston Heights teammates.
Green’s unselfishness can be seen off the field, too. Dixon said that Green often deflects media attention away from himself and onto his teammates and has even told some college coaches to rescind his offer and give it to a teammate instead.
“He is a better young man than he is a football player,” Dixon said.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Justin Wells, Inside Texas
Green signed with the Longhorns in December during the early signing period.
It’s no secret that Texas has an elite recruiting class for 2018, which is currently ranked third nationally. It features six of 247 Sports’ top 25 defensive backs in the nation, including Green, B.J. Foster, Anthony Cook, Caden Sterns, DeMarvion Overshown and D’Shawn Jamison.
Green was well aware of that depth of defensive back talent when he signed with Texas.
“We all wanted to make a superstar team,” Green said of the star-studded class. “We just want to make a name for ourselves.”
But with a superstar team comes superstar expectations. The expectations for Green and this class are through the roof. They have the weight of being Herman’s first full class, and the new defensive backs must fill the voids left in the secondary by NFL prospects DeShon Elliott and Holton Hill.
Despite these challenges ahead, Green said he feels no pressure. He knows exactly what he’ll do when he steps on the 40 Acres.
“I’m going to make plays for the University of Texas when it really counts,” Green said.