February 8, 2012

Rising '13 prospect ditches video games for real thing

The highlight reel looks something almost like a video game. Which is fitting for Frank Herron, since initially that's all the burgeoning Memphis Central standout wanted to play.

A surging 2013 prospect at the defensive end position, Herron needed some prodding from an older brother to discover his love for football.

"I always knew football would be the ticket, but I just love to play basketball. I started playing football in about fifth grade. I wasn't really good at it. My brothers made me get into it," Herron said. "Like when we were at the Boys and Girls Club, I would just be playing video games. And he said, 'No, get up.' He made me play, and I grew a love for it.

"He tells me to stay humble, don't get the big head and stay grateful because other people want to be in your position."

Herron's position seems only likely to improve. Measuring nearly 6-feet-6 and 245 pounds with raw speed off the edge, the Central product notched 54 tackles, seven sacks, seven tackles for losses, three forced fumbles and three fumbles recovered during his junior campaign. He's got a growing offer list that includes programs the ilk of Tennessee, Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

"I've got to make sure it's real. It's crazy. These guys are great coaches, big-time schools that are looking at a small kid like me out of Memphis," Herron said of the early recruiting process. "I am very excited and grateful. I just love it. I know it's going to get crazy down the road, but I just love this experience right now."

Though NCAA rules have prevented college coaches from having much contact with Herron thus far, he has had brief interactions with Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley and assistant coach Darin Hinshaw, a Rivals.com top SEC recruiter recently assigned by Dooley to handle the important Memphis area.

"I feel a great vibe, and they get straight to the point," Herron said of the Vols' coaches. "There's no beating around the bush with those guys. I like it."

Herron also has a pair of Memphis friends already wearing orange; tight end Cameron Clear and forward Jarnell Stokes.

"Those are some great guys right there. Jarnell, I can still call him every now and again. Cam, that's my guy. That's a great guy to be around," he said. "He just tells me what to look for in recruiting. Don't just look at the smile. There's life after football."

There's also a strong support system in place for Herron to assist in what is almost certain to bloom into a heated battle for his signature in less than a year.

"I think that's a great thing to have, with coach Williams, my mom and God," Herron explained. "The decision will probably be easier than some people think.

"I want [college coaches] to learn that there's a side to me besides football and I'm a great person to get to know, and I want to get to know them, too."

Herron believes on the field that coaches will see a player who has learned to pride himself in his versatility.

"They put me in so many positions, it happens naturally. At first it was hard, but in the summer me and coach Williams broke it down bit by bit and he said you've got do it. We kept doing it and he pushed me to it," Herron said of his ability to play several spots. "Sometimes they put me in the three technique to rush the quarterback; sometime they put me at outside linebacker to cover or just to get containment. And sometimes they put me in the two to rush and use my hands.

"I pride myself, but I thank coach Williams because he taught me what it means to cover. I wasn't really into covering, but he made it a big deal."

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