Choctaw’s Juju Smith ‘can do it all’ — Smith, Del City’s Warren, Carl Albert’s Robinson and Heritage Hall’s Andy Bass headline OKC area players to watch in 2023

Last Updated: August 12, 20234.9 min read

The VYPE+ editorial team will begin releasing its top 150 football players in Oklahoma starting Aug. 17.

Braden Turner (Sr.) — Edmond North TE/OLB

Turner has been heralded as one of the city’s most dynamic players and will rarely step off the field this season.

Juju Smith (Jr.) — Choctaw ATH

Choctaw’s coach Jake Corbin’s strategy this year: just get the ball in Smith’s hands. The dynamic, speedy playmaker was instrumental in Choctaw’s 11-2 state-runner-up finish in 2022, finishing the year with just short of a grand in total offensive yards. He’ll play running back, receiver, quarterback, edge rusher and defensive back and will return kicks for the Yellowjackets this year.

Trevor Hand (Sr.) — Noble C/LB

Hand never botched a snap last season and displayed toughness and resiliency while playing through injury. Noble’s staff expects him to make significant contributions on both sides of the ball this season.

Kameron Oliver (Jr.) — Putnam City North ATH

Oliver will play just about every skill position for the Panthers this year. He took 90 carries for 453 yards and four scores last year; made 21 catches for 255 yards and two touchdowns; and completed 20 passes. He’s also expected to return kicks for the Panthers and is reportedly “already gaining [recruiting] interest from several universities”.

Hayden Calvert (Sr.) — Guthrie QB

The dual-threat three-year starter has racked up an impressive 21-5 record as the Bluejays’ starter.

Tanner Rice (Sr.) — Crescent QB/WR/LB

Few area players will carry their share of the workload quite like Rice. The all-around versatile athlete will be called on to carry the ball, throw it and catch it, then turn around and make a tackle on the other side of the ball.

Alex Jennings (Sr.) — Coyle QB

Jennings rushed for over 1,200 yards and added 400 yards through the air last season.

Skylar Mayer (Sr.) — Southmoore S

Entering his third year as a starter in Southmoore’s secondary, Mayer has put on over 20 pounds and will look to make an impact in all three phases of the game this year.

River Warren (Sr.) — Del City QB

Del City’s River Warren

The 6-foot-3 pro-style gunslinger traded in his Kelly green threads and teamed up with 5A rival Del City this offseason, and the anticipation to see his donning an Eagles uniform on Aug. 25 at Choctaw — and a potential McGuinness-Del City playoff clash — couldn’t be higher. From his first day on campus, Del City coaches say the exceptionally talented Warren was a leader in the locker room, in the weight room and on the field. With offers from Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic and others, Warren looks to prove his potential as a Power 5 recruit this year.

Garret Wilson (Sr.) — Oklahoma Christian School QB

The game-savvy senior completed 69 passes on 151 attempts last year for over 1,100 yards and tossed 12 touchdowns in nine wins. Head coach Tanner Roof said Wilson has “pretty much been another coach on staff” for the Saints during the offseason, helping install the offense and leading his teammates in and out of the locker room.

Clayton Creasey (Sr.) — Jones QB

Creasey led the Longhorns to 10-4 record last year throwing for just short of 3,000 yards and contributing 633 yards on the ground. He brings back 42 total touchdowns and exceptional football iQ for the Class 2A third-ranked Longhorns.

Xavier Robinson (Sr.) — Carl Albert RB

Robinson, a recent Oklahoma commit, one of the state’s top backs and a defending Class 5A state champion, will be one of the area’s most anticipated players regardless of position this fall. He rushed for an astounding 2,594 yards and 39 touchdowns last fall and will be more than a headache for opposing coordinators all year.

Cesar Garcia (Jr.) — Moore LB

An up-and-coming leader for the Lions, Garcia has displayed tremendous work ethic this offseason. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound backer will look to make equal contributions on the turf this year.

Alexis Hernandez (Sr.) — U.S. Grant OL/DL

U.S. Grant’s Alexis Hernandez

Hernandez will serve his second year as a Generals captain and even runs team workouts. His coaches describe him as “a leader on and off the field” and expect him to play at the collegiate level.

Aaron Edwards (Sr.). — Putnam City West WR/LB

They’re excited about the 6-foot-2, 195 player on 23rd and Council. Edwards’ coaches described him as big and versatile with impressive change-of-direction and speed.

Elijah Asberry (Sr.) — Putnam City ATH

Asberry, a versatile playmaker, will showcase his utility on both sides of the ball but arguably does his best work at defensive back.

JP Spanier (Sr.) — Bishop McGuinness RB

Spanier will get the chance to display his speed and quickness as McGuinness’ bell cow back this year.

Andy Bass (Sr.) — Heritage Hall QB/ATH

Bass, whose recruiting blossomed this offseason, whittled his standing list of 16 Division I offers to Oklahoma, Syracuse and Kansas State a couple weeks ago and intends to pick his suitor Aug. 24. A week later, he and his Heritage Hall teammates will begin their quest for a second consecutive title against Millwood on Aug. 31.

Ruben Vega (Sr.) — Luther RB/LB

A standout two-way player, Vega accounted for 1,000 rushing yards, 113 tackles, six sacks and three picks last year. Luther head coach Brad Robertson called him a special player who knows the game and “plays with bad intentions.”

K’Leon Johnson (Sr.) — Star-Spencer RB

Johnson’s coaches described him as “intelligent, fast and strong.” He could be Spencer’s feature back this year, but with utility all over the field, supporters can expect to see Johnson in a dynamic role that features him in various spots.

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