Stephenville was the smallest school competing in the Dallas Under Armour Sevens tournament in Cedar Hill Saturday. But that didn't stop the Yellow Jackets from being the best team in the event, and it didn't stop two standouts from earning some big-time attention.
The soon-to-be 3A Yellow Jackets won all six contests including thrashing Abilene Cooper 42-15 in the championship when wideout Brice Gunter hauled in three touchdown passes from quarterback Tyler Jones.
ESPN Recruiting Nation writer Damon Sayles kept a close eye on Gunter and Jones throughout the event, and caught up with the seniors-to-be after the championship game.
"He told me he was doing a feature, but I was surprised I had made such a big impression. I was so happy, shocked really, when I saw how big the story was," said Gunter. "I'm just so happy for everyone on the team, and I hope this helps bring everyone some attention."
A full-length feature on Gunter was online by Saturday night, and by mid-morning Monday, a recruiting profile on Jones was also online.
"There were a lot of familiar faces there as far as reporters," he continued. "Rivals and 24/7 Sports were there, but I didn't expect to see ESPN and I definitely didn't expect to get a feature or anything like that."
Stephenville eliminated Arlington High 37-29 in the semifinals and Mansfield Summit 34-14 in the quarterfinals after winning its pool by beating Arlington Seguin 32-26, Fort worth Paschall 38-10 and Mount Pleasant 36-28.
"Tyler threw great passes all day and the offense really started clicking," Gunter added. "In the championship, we were having so much fun. Everyone on the sideline was cheering, it was a great experience."
Gunter has received an offer from Air Force and is likely to receive more offers from major Division I programs soon. He stands 6-3, 195, reportedly runs the 40 in 4.56 seconds - "deceptive" is the adjective ESPN used to describe his speed - and hauled in 69 passes for 1,099 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior.
"Baylor, Texas, North Texas and Tulsa have come and watched practices," Gunter said of the recruiting attention he and other Jackets are receiving. "They don't talk to us much, they just say they like what they see and keep working."
Jones, who stands 6-2, 195, has reportedly received an offer from Division I mid-major Texas State and also has interest from Houston, Texas Tech, SMU and Louisiana Tech.
Recruiters are often seen as a distraction, especially at team practices and workouts. But Gunter says the players have learned to tune them out.
"We try not to worry about them much and just practice," he said. "The first couple times they were out there was kind of nerve wracking, but once it happened more and more we started settling down. Now it's like it's just us and the coaches out there working out."
Gunter said he has also heard from SMU, Houston and others.
"I just can't let it go to my head, I have to keep working," Gunter said. "It's all a product of the work I've put in, and the work we've all put in. None of this comes without all that work and the success we have as a team."
With offers still expected to come, college decisions can wait. Gunter is focused instead on his upcoming senior season.
"It was a big confidence boost for us to go up there and compete with a bunch of 4A and 5A schools and win," he said. "We knew we could do that because we've been doing it for years, but now we're 3A and we're not supposed to be fast enough or big enough to compete with them. It was nice to see how all our hard work pays off and we can still go out there and execute and compete with anyone."
For Gunter, Jones and the Jackets, it's all about winning, regardless of the opponent.
"What I'm seeing is anytime our guys step on that field, we always compete. Nobody on our team ever gives up," Gunter said. "If it's a competition, we're here to win."
Follow Brad Keith on Twitter @etsports
See the ESPN feature on Gunter at http://espn.go.com/college-sports/recruiting/football/story/_/id/7950655/brice-gunter-making-lost-time.
See the ESPN recuriting profile on Jones at http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/ncfrecruiting/midlands/post?id=3494&action=login&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fblog%2fncfrecruiting%2fmidlands%2fpost%3fid%3d3494.