Senior quarterback and Wisconsin commit Karé Lyles is losing his the states top playmaker for the last few seasons but is returning a receiving core that could possibly be even deeper than it was a season ago with Kirk in the mix.
“Losing a guy like Christian, some would say might hurt the team but I think it will actually better the team,” said Lyles. “I feel like this is the best receiving core we have had at Saguaro for quite some time.”
Leading the way is the most recruited player in the state for the 2016 class, Byron Murphy. The soon-to-be senior is an elite prospect on both sides of the ball currently holding 23 division I scholarship offers, most recently from Michigan and Utah. He will be the main option on the outside for Lyles.
“This group, they’ve been hungry,” explained Murphy. “Since Christian left there is a big role to fill. He was a big leader. But they have been stepping up a lot. Guys like Robert (Branch-Williams) have been stepping up as leaders. So this year, I think we’ll be good. We’ll be unstoppable.”
Robert Branch-Williams had somewhat of a coming out party for the whole state to see in the state championship game last season as a sophomore with three catches for 64 yards and a touchdown in the game. He runs a 4.3 forty yard dash time and he as well as his bother Calvin Williams who plays defensive back for the Sabercats, have really picked it up vocally for the team starting this spring going into their junior year.
“Christian from my perspective is one of the best players to ever play in this state,” mentioned Branch-Williams. “And to have my name next to his and say I could be able to fill his shoes would be an honor. We have other guys that can step up…We are going to be pretty deep this year.”
Transferring into the program for his senior season is Julian Carter who joins the program after playing with the Horizon Huskies the last two seasons. Carter is the biggest of the bunch standing 6-4 and 190 pounds with great footwork for his size. Mix Carters size with the speed of the other two already mentioned and you show quite the versatility. This spring he received his first offer at the next level from Idaho just a couple of days into spring ball.
“We’ve got size, we’ve got speed, we know what we’re going,” stated Carter. “Coach Collins is doing a great job of teaching us to run our routes correctly. Getting in and out of breaks. He’s done a lot to help us so I think we will be better than we ever have.”
To add insult to injury, there is a fourth that looks to become a household name this season on this Saguaro team going into his junior season. 6-3 receiver and safety Kaelib “KJ” Jarrell is almost like a sleeper prospect at this point who saw his first varsity action as a sophomore a year ago. He might be the best combination of size and speed potentially of this group and is really starting to bulk up in the process. Though it is taking him eating to the point where he can’t keep it in. Jarrell could be the one that may be passed over at first, but game planned for before the season is done.
“We are a younger team and we have a lot of hard-working guys in my class, the sophomore class,” said Jarrell. “We are stepping up. We got some playing time last year and we are just working hard this offseason, getting bigger, getting faster and improving our skills.”
All of these players credit where they are today in some capacity to how Christian Kirk aged the way and what they were able to learn from him both on and off the field.
“They saw it everyday,” mentioned Lyles. “With Christian, his motto everyday was to get better and they’ve pretty much took that from him. They used him as a mentor and saw what he was good at and have tried to apply it to their skill set.”