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Recruiting picks up for Lobo juniors

By Jimmy Carter jcarter@news-journal.com
Jan. 30, 2013 at 10 p.m.

Dorian Leonard and his mother couldn't help but stay up late on Sunday night.

They spent the evening calling family members to let them know the big news that the Longview junior receiver had picked up his first scholarship offer from Oklahoma.

"We were so excited," Leonard said. "I was surprised and happy knowing somebody was out there watching me."

Leonard and Lobos defensive lineman Zaycoven Henderson were both offered two days after Sooners co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell visited with them at the high school.

The duo will join teammates Stephan Maxey and Travin Howard on a trip to Norman, Okla., to attend junior day on Saturday.

"The offer feels good," Henderson said. "I really wasn't expecting it. Not this early."

Recruiting is starting to take off for the quartet following standout junior seasons for the 9-4 Lobos.

Leonard is drawing interest from Texas State, SMU and multiple Southland Conference schools in addition to OU. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder caught 21 passes for 444 yards and four touchdowns in the fall, showing off a combination of size and athleticism that caught Norvell's eye and prompted comparison's to a former Longview star who ended up wearing crimson.

"He said I could be another Malcolm Kelly," Leonard said. "He said he watched my film and was very impressed. He said I was big and physical."

The interest between Leonard and the Sooners is mutual.

"I like Oklahoma," Leonard said. "Just because of the way they pass the ball. I want to go to a school that passes the ball a lot. All receivers like to get the ball. So that plays a big part."

Henderson turned heads by winning Defensive Line MVP honors at the Next Level Athlete Top 100 showcase in Pasadena on Jan. 20. The 6-foot-3, 292-pound tackle also had an impressive junior season, racking up 48 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and two sacks on a strong Longview defensive line.

He jumped out on film to the Sooners.

"He told me I really look good on film," Henderson said. "First step and hands look real good. They told all they had to do was watch the first four clips of my highlight tape."

Henderson was invited to Texas' junior day on Feb. 23 and is also drawing interest from Texas Tech, SMU, Texas State and Southland Conference schools.

While he and Leonard will make the trip to Norman with an offer already in hand, Maxey and Howard will be trying to showcase their talents.

Both safeties were solid players as juniors.

Maxey finished with 72 tackles, three tackles for loss and three passes broken up. The 6-foot, 180-pounder is a two-year starter.

Howard totaled 64 tackles, three tackles for loss, two interceptions and two passes broken up. The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder was physical against the run and filled a void as a first-year starter.

The trip to Norman will be an opportunity for Howard to prove himself.

"It's very exciting," Howard said. "It's one of the first colleges that's actually looking at me. And it's always been my dream to go to college and play."

<em>(Follow Jimmy Carter on Twitter: @jicartersports)</em>



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