As a Division I football program that failed to put 4,000 people in the seats for a showdown with the No. 9 team in the country last season, one would think Sam Houston would jump all over an obvious opportunity to generate some semblance of interest in the city it calls home.
The Bearkats apparently had other ideas.
Huntsville senior Ed Bobino emerged as arguably the most dominant high school defensive lineman in Texas over the course of the 2020 season, racking up 24.5 sacks in 12 games — the most in Class 5A and above — on his way to being named District 10-5A, DII MVP.
To put in scale just how productive Bobino was while leading the Hornets to their first undefeated regular season since the 1980s, he was named one of 10 finalists for the Mr. Texas Football award — which honors the most outstanding player in the state — and was the only defensive player to make the cut. Bobino drew significant interest from a handful of schools as a result, including two of Sam Houston’s future WAC opponents.
Meanwhile, the Bearkats paid minimal attention ... and their biggest rival made them pay for it.
Bobino committed to Stephen F. Austin earlier this week, marking the latest notable recruiting pickup for SFA head coach Colby Carthel, whose Lumberjacks are swiftly emerging as Sam Houston’s biggest threat in the inaugural WAC FCS season coming up this fall. Just imagine if — or when — Bobino, the Huntsville kid that got away, helps SFA snap its decade-long losing streak to the Bearkats.
Sam Houston, to its credit, already has an impressive haul for the 2021 recruiting class. The Bearkats have signed 17 former Texas high school football standouts, including several three-star recruits, the second-leading rusher in Central Texas history and a trio of highly-touted defensive line prospects.
But for a team that likes to boast about having a staff member dedicated to finding the best high school players in Texas, they certainly whiffed on a great one in their own backyard.
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Josh Criswell is the sports editor of The Huntsville Item. Follow him on Twitter at @Item_Criswell.