SHAWNEE, Okla. — Although Shawnee High quarterback John Jacobs III has been labeled by various recruiting analysts as a "game changer"—given he helped steer Shawnee from years of futility to a team that enjoyed consecutive playoff appearances—the East Carolina commitment is quick to point out that Tristan Wyatt has played a pivotal role in his progress in recent years.
"Tristan is the biggest asset to our team," Jacobs told Bleacher Report on Friday. "He's one of my best friends and keeps the team leveled headed and focused."
Wyatt, a 6'5", 290-pound offensive lineman who on Friday said he's being recruited by the University of Memphis, was a key ingredient to an offensive unit that was among the finest in Oklahoma Class 5A football this past season. For starters, Wyatt showed no signs of inexperience in his first full season as a starter. As a result, Jacobs managed to register impressive numbers both in and outside of the pocket.
To his credit, the assertiveness and poise Wyatt demonstrated in 2013 are among the reasons the Wolves recovered from years of futility and enjoyed consecutive playoff appearances.
A team that boasted an offensive line that weighed an average of about 275 pounds, the Wolves finished with a 9-3 mark and advanced to the Class 5A championship game.
While playing on the offensive line isn't the most glamorous of positions, credit Wyatt and his crew—a massive, rugged unit—for the job that it's done, a job it will need to pick up where it left off this past season.
As Wyatt is acknowledges, the effort he displayed was a testament of the brutal offseason workouts he had last summer.
"I learned that I truly have the potential to be one of the best linemen in Oklahoma," Wyatt said in assessing his performance.
Fortunately for Wyatt, a slew of college scouts took notice of the constant strides he made as a junior.
Wyatt, in fact, said he has already been offered a scholarship by the University of Tulsa, which will join Memphis in the American Athletic Conference this upcoming season. Besides the Tigers, he is being heavily recruited by Arkansas, Oklahoma State and a host of Division I schools.
Such a list will likely increase in the coming weeks, considering Wyatt is scheduled to attend several camps and combines, mostly at Iowa, Tulsa and Arkansas among others.
Weeks after the 2013 season, he earned invites to the Nike and Rivals camps in Dallas.
As he prepares for what figures to be a stellar senior year for a Shawnee team that returns the bulk of its offensive unit and will likely be a favorite to capture the Class 5A crown, Wyatt said there are a number of mechanics on which he must improve to ensure his final prep campaign is a success.
"My biggest strength is my footwork speed," Wyatt said. "I'm still trying to get quicker, but I can get my foot down real quick, kick back very quick and get to the spot I need to in order to block any defender on the field."
Besides having an experienced, bulky unit, which enabled him to adjust comfortably to his new role, Wyatt also credits Shawnee coach Billy Brown for instilling in him the confidence he needed to thoroughly carry out his duties.
"Coach Brown has really helped me understand football," Wyatt said. "I was at a loss coming into high school since I had never played, and Coach Brown's coaching, as well as the other coaches, had helped me to understand the game better."
That Wyatt adjusted masterfully to his role and evolved as the centerpiece among Shawnee's offensive linemen made his quarterback's job easy.
At least, Jacobs thinks so.
"It never hurts to have a bodyguard, either," Jacobs said with a grin.
He has his best friend to thank.
Andre Johnson, a senior writer for MemphiSport, is a regular contributor for Bleacher Report. To reach Johnson, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.