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By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
JO JO EARLE (ALEDO HIGH)
447 TOTAL YARDS
149.0 YARDS PER GAME
296 REC. YARDS
17.4 YARDS PER CATCH
3 REC. TDs
151 RUSH. YARDS
2 RUSHING TDs
-1 RUSHING 2 PT CONV.
"LSU constantly put people in the league...and I want to be one of those people."
-JO JO EARLE 2020
...and he is one of those people...
Striding towards the end zone, the pride of Aledo High scored the game-winning touchdown to end an all-out Texas high school football battle royale, dragging a toe in the corner of the end zone vs Frisco Lone Rangers as Aledo High escaped a 34-32 thriller.
It's not out of character for Jo Jo Earle to pull off game-winning antics like this before (Aledo come into the season as 2x defending state champs) but on this night, as the entire state of Texas (and far beyond) watched in wonder at the all-purpose shootout between Jo Jo's Aledo High & Frisco Lone Star Rangers, they witnessed calculated greatness.
In 4 topsy turvy quarters, Earle amassed 152 total yards, 93 on the ground and 2 Receiving TDs (including one catch early in the game where he leaped into a wayward pass, his catch saving a pick six as he took a nasty shot up high).
Jo Jo's triumphant, game-winning antics vs Frisco Lone Star Rangers followed his breathtaking showmanship against Weatherford in a 70-7 reckoning from only 45 total offensive plays.
During the 2020 opener, LSU's future WR ran the ball a slight two times, both excursions ending in touchdowns with devastating effectiveness (1 from the goalline, another a 31 yard burst up the sideline in spectacular fashion).
However on this night in particular, Jo Jo really made headlines by catching 6 passes for 169 yards and a 73 yard long TD, an explosion of receiving greatness from Jo Jo, gaining 201 total yards throughout the massacre of Weatherford.
In spite of last week's 27-17 loss to Cedar Hill (Jo Jo grabbing 11 touches for 94 total yards), Earle proved to be the difference which has continuously handed Aledo High such success throughout his tenure....beyond anything numbers can illustrate, Jo Jo's best talents lie in his athletic versatility.
Though he stands only 5'9, when Earle contests for the ball he somehow brushes aside thicker corners or routinely towers above DBs over 6 feet....this is due to his bizarre and unnatural jumping prowess...this dood has serious hops (37.10 vertical)!!
Beyond his stunning aerial ability, Jo Jo remains the fastest football player in Texas (easily ranking within the top 2 or 3 quickest players from the 2021 class overall, a few come to mind specifically Atkins High's Kreed Stubbs);
On the field, Earle remains impossible to track, the senior quickly wears down defenders who dare to keep up, and he's a certified rushing threat.
His rare combination of speed, power, hops, agility between the tackles or on the edge makes Earle an unstoppable offensive force. We've compared Earle to LSU's Early Doucet or Florida's Percy Harvin, such is his comfort moving from out wide, inside the slot, motioning across the backfield for end arounds, reverse plays or even taking handoffs as a running back, Earle can do it all....
When we first watched Jo Jo play football, we immediately saw the light.
I want to avoid hyperbole, his game doesn't need to be sanitized or hyped by my word play...just put on the tape of his blistering performances over the last two years and you'll find yourself just as intrigued by his 4-D powers as we are.
Earle is a true football freak, much like the all-encompassing superstars LSU are recruiting and sending into the NFL for the past 35 years specifically, players who dominate both sides of the ball, maybe even special teams too and excel at every level...to the point it can be difficult figuring out a jack-of-all-trades' true position on the field.
Which is why Aledo High Head Coach Tim Buchanan has Jo Jo doing it all, #1 receiver, #1 rushing threat, game-changing DB (Coach Buchanan called his pass deflection last year "the play that won us the championship") and he could be a punt/kick return phenom....
To get the best from Earle, you must keep him flowing:
Aledo often pull Jo Jo in motion and quickly flip the ball to the LSU commit and watch him take off for 30 or 40 yards....or, Aledo's quarterbacks the last three seasons could make a horrific throw over the middle and STILL Jo Jo would hang tough, fight for the ball and rip possession away (see: early vs Frisco 2020).
Sure, he's 170 pounds and 5 foot 9 inches tall...his "measureables" are barely giving me a run for my money, but the real secret to Jo Jo's greatness would never be anything "measureable"...on the field right now, he'd break my neck.
Heart can't be quantified except by other human beings...no computer, no statistical trend, no standard deviation, no sample size determination or hypothesis testing will help us understand why the Aledo High senior LSU commit continues to raise his profile after every one handed circus catch or miracle rushing touchdown (where Jo Jo seems to ghost through defenders in prime position for the tackle, hitting the afterburners at the precise moment....effortless cheetah chrome).
Because the young man is a champion mentally, Jo Jo usually wins the game before he physically steps on the field....
While his trajectory may cast him as a superstar, the young man stays grounded and has been called "the complete teammate" by Head Coach Tim Buchanan.
One of those Aledo teammates who knows Jo Jo most is 2022 LSU commit Bryan "B.J" Allen, a brilliant safety who followed Jo Jo's path to Baton Rouge due to his slightly older friend's influence.
"BJ's like my little brother, don't let him tell you anything else, but me and BJ, we always go at it in 1-on-1s. I'm making him better, he's making me better," Earle revealed to 247Sports. "His commitment did make me lean a little bit more, because I was talking to him before he even committed. I didn't know he was gonna commit to LSU, but I was telling him I might go to LSU. I'm really leaning towards them. He was like, 'I like LSU too'."
For his part, BJ Allen (21 tackles, 19 solo, 1 PD, 8 rushing yards) said of his Tigers commitment as well as Jo Jo speciifically:
"Right after he committed he was like, 'Come on,' and I was like, 'Man, I'm thinking about it,' so a couple weeks later, I just made that decision. I talked to my parents and made sure that they were fine with it and I made the commitment in April."
Currently, Jo Jo has only been to Baton Rouge three times and none of those vacations were for an official visit, however he committed quickly to Mickey Joseph's Tigers after a sideline meeting with Coach Ed Orgeron, the National Champion coach visiting Jo Jo in Aledo.
"I just shook his hand really but that was good too because when I hugged him it just felt like love," Earle said. "We talked a lot on the phone and he just kept telling me that I was the best player in the country, that nobody can do what I can do."
It seems no matter what anyone could've said or done, Jo Jo Earle was intent on playing football at LSU...but the reality within his successful Tigers recruitment lies in the mutual knowledge between player and team that Jo Jo will be a major offensive force, utilized in a variety of areas, just as he is now.
"The way they use their slots on the inside, they get them into space and when I get the ball in space, I can make moves and get to the endzone," Earle detailed. "I really model my game after Tavon Austin, a shorter guy who makes the most of his size by being elite in other areas."
Correspondingly, Jo Jo makes the most of every inch a defense unknowingly hands him, too: Watch as the Aledo High senior creates his own holes, running lanes and lowers the shoulder through a battering ram cardiac canyon of blood and bone in between the tackles....and at 5'9 and 170, Jo Jo doesn't merely survive the hits...more than that, he deals the pain on defenders himself.
Last year's state title game displayed all sides of Jo Jo Earle's football potential, the WR gaining 164 total yards during the 45-42 title win over Fort Bend Marshall (107 receiving from just 4 catches, averaging 26.8 each touch and taking a big time grab to the house, adding 43 yards rushing to the docket);
Earle controlled the game with his deceptive route running, opening up lanes for his WR teammate Money Parks. Parks' 2 touchdowns accelerated Aledo's title quest, handing Buchanan's team a 45-27 lead at one point in the 4th before a "too late" comeback from Fort Bend Marshall's gutsy fighters brought the score closer....
Earle had done this before....
2019's Championship Game was a near carbon copy repeat of his 2018 State title game appearance:
Taking on the same opponent in late December 2018, Earle torched FBM for 166 total yards, 63 rushing, 103 receiving and ripped an absolutely diabolical touchdown out of the sky, assisting Aledo's 55-19 obliteration of Fort Bend Marshall...
2019 was just to seal Aledo's greatness.
Aledo's quest for Texas dominion began as a typical case of revenge...they'd lost the DII State Championship game to College Station by one point, falling 20-19 in a game you must look up on YouTube and watch if you're a football fan...pure spills, thrills and near-kills...the hits are as savage as the chess match unfolding before your eyes.
Coach Tim Buchanan has always been a buccaneering, aggressive head coach...and once his dynasty in the making lost on such a grand stage by such slim margins, the only way to respond was by fighting fire with fire and kicking out the jams....
Pedal to the floor...there aint ceilings anymore...
Earle only appeared in 5 games that freshman season, 238 all purpose yards purely as a rusher (8.8 yards per carry) and return specialist (106 kickoff return yards), scoring 1 rushing TD...
In a desperate attempt to wrestle the title game back from College Station, Buchanan tossed Jo Jo out there for his first of three consecutive title game appearances (37 all purpose yards, 22 long kickoff return)...but to no avail in the one point defeat.
That scared mindset was over...Coach Buchanan would now play his best players...no matter how old they were or what their superficial ranking may be. Ever since Buchanan changed his mindset, Aledo have won consecutive state title games and stand in pole position for a hat trick in 2020...with Jo Jo Earle and defensive stalwart B.J Allen leading the cause.
EDIT BY @j_samuelson88
After maximum impact last year, senior Jo Jo hopes to grab yet another state championship on his way to Baton Rouge, making a stunning 4th title game appearance in 4 years and hopefully, a third ring upon his finger.
Concerning his future at LSU, the 2021 DB Cannibal will do everything in his power to resume his serial winning, play-making, history-taking ways, but the more Earle evolves as a Tiger under Orgeron, the greater the possibilities become...especially when you consider who Jo Jo would be lining up alongside as a Tiger.
Next to 2021 commits Chris Hilton, Deion Smith and potentially Brian Thomas Jr from the 2021 class alone, Earle would then bounce off of 2020's Arik Gilbert, Kayshon Boutte, Koy Moore or 2019's Jaray Jenkins and Trey Palmer (there's a small chance Terrace Marshall could stay for his red shirt junior year)...
The personnel listed above would be more than enough to seal Mickey Joseph's WR corps as the best in the country yet again, and though the room may seem crowded, Jo Jo Earle's ability to attack any opposition's front seven and secondary on every single play stands alone....in fact, you could argue Aledo High's titan senior receiver is LSU's most important 2021 WR commitment.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
COPYRIGHT 2020 UNINTERRUPTED WRITINGS INC LLC
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