Top Target: RB Ryan Houston

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Butler (Matthews, N.C.) star Ryan Houston , a big running back at 6-2, 240 pounds, looks like he will be one of the top prospects in the state of North Carolina in the class of 2007. Houston already has official scholarship offers from Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, N.C. State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

“It seems like a new school comes in every day,” Butler head coach Mike Newsome said. “[In addition to the schools that have offered,] Texas called recently, and so has Ohio State and Ole Miss. He’s getting interest from everywhere.”

Houston is the lone running back in a one-back offensive set. He did play rush defensive end as well, but only played that position sparingly. At running back, he carried the load in rushing 297 times for 1,910 yards and 34 touchdowns. A player Newsome says “has the softest hands on our team,” Houston also made 18 catches for 249 yards.

“I think that, for a large guy, he has unbelievable athleticism,” Newsome said. “He’s an extremely good athlete. The way he moves, his ability to make people miss and run by people…it’s all excellent. He’s just an outstanding overall athlete.”

With his size and athleticism, it’s conceivable Houston could end up at another position on the next level. But, all of the schools that have offered are recruiting him to play running back.

“It doesn’t really matter to me where I play, because I just want to help the team,” Houston said. “Running back is my favorite position and I would like to get a shot there. I’m working on improving my speed this off-season. I’m pretty fast right now, but I want to improve my quickness and agility.”

Expect Houston not to make an early decision, as he says “I’m taking my time. I don’t want anyone to know where I’m going until the Army Bowl.”

Some of the schools he has visited or plans to visit this spring/summer include N.C. State, UNC, Florida and Virginia. He also plans on attending several one day camps. Houston has visited Virginia twice – once for the Florida State football game last fall and once for the junior day this past Saturday.

“I’m real cool with the staff,” Houston said of UVa. “I really like the running backs coach. Virginia has a good chance. They are in my top five right now.”

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