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Dallas Jackson is the high school sports expert for RivalsHigh.com. Send him a question or comment at DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him at twitter.com/rivalshigh.
With nine Division I recruits on defense, it's not surprising that Dallas (Texas) Skyline is undefeated at 5-0 and has risen from No. 79 to No. 12 this season in the RivalsHigh Top 100 rankings.
The jump, however, began in July.
The team attended the Nike 7-on-7 championships in Beaverton, Ore., this summer and - simply put - got smoked.
Dallas (Texas) Skyline coach Reggie Samples said at the time that his team was not motivated or focused.
"We just need to keep their attention," Samples said. "We have guys who have their offers, and have their headlines, and now we have to deal with keeping them motivated to play this season."
Now, according to another coach on the Skyline staff, motivation is not an issue and the Raiders are working hard to win this, and every week.
"The lack of motivation shown in Oregon was left on the west coast," assistant coach R.J. Bond said. "I think getting our (butt) kicked in Oregon was the best things that could have happened to our program.
"We went out there with nine guys committed, and a handful of others with offers. We were picked to win states in the preseason, too. The kids just thought they could put on their helmets and they were going to win."
That thought has all but left their mind. Now, a spot in the Top 10 is what it is after.
"Coach Sample is not letting up," Bond said. "We are held to a higher standard now. He is driving that home.
"Our goal is to win this week. Then win next week. Setting your goal for states does not make us any different than any other team out there. Our work ethic will make us different."
Well, work ethic and nine Division I football players on defense.
With players committed to Michigan, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, LSU and others this is as close as it gets to a Division I defense. The Raiders are also one of the deepest teams in the country but according to Bond they are lead by Texas A&M commit Corey Nelson, Oklahoma commit Joe Powell and 2011 linebacker Anthony Wallace.
Wallace, Bond singled out, as one of the hardest working players on the field and has grown into a leader that other players respect.
"When we got back from Oregon our leaders would remind the guys 'how Lakewood did it' and 'how Pahokee did it,'" Bond said. "They know if they don't have their minds right we won't get to where we want to go."
Right now the goal is a win over Richmond (Texas) High, next week it will be Richardson (Texas) Berkner, but ultimately the Raiders want to be the last team standing in Texas 5A football.