Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017 | 12:05 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports editors Ray Brewer and Case Keefer welcome back football season by going through all the leagues, and also touch on major storylines. They also disagree on picks for numerous week 1 games.
Two-way players are common in high school football. Some will line up at wide receiver and defensive back, or linebacker and fullback, as coaches attempt to get their best 11 players on the field.
But at national power Bishop Gorman, where second-stringers have major Division I scholarship offers, it’s rare.
Then again, so is Jalen Nailor. The Arizona State commit is arguably the fastest player on the three-time defending mythical national champion’s roster.
Nailor showed his versatility tonight in a 35-22 victory against DeMatha of Maryland in the season opener, breaking loose for a 68-yard touchdown reception midway through the third quarter to help put the game out of reach and give Gorman its 55th straight win.
Until the play, Nailor’s night wasn’t as spectacular as last season when he caught 52 passes for 929 yards and 14 touchdowns. But in his first significant reps on defense at safety, Nailor helped stabilize a secondary featuring new contributors at most spots.
“I made two dudes miss and I was gone,” Nailor, who goes by the nickname "Speedy," said of his touchdown
Gorman fell behind 10-0 early in the ESPN-televised game, turning the ball over on downs on its side of the 50-yard line on its initial possession, and punting after three plays on the second possession. DeMatha’s second possession ended with a 30-yard touchdown run with the tailback going untouched.
But Gorman, and first-time starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, quickly settled down in taking a 13-10 halftime lead. Thompson-Robinson hooked up with Jimmy Nelles on a long completion to get the Gorman offense moving and then scored on a quarterback keeper a few plays later.
The victory wasn’t pretty by any means. But, after sputtering early, new-look Gorman showed similarities of past teams: They played tough defense, wore out the opposition and weren’t bothered by an upstart opponent attempting to dethrone the champions.
“That’s a pretty good team we just beat. That’s a big, physical team,” Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez said.
Thompson-Robinson went from understudy to standout in his first start at quarterback. The senior, a four-star recruiting prospect who is committed to UCLA, passed for about 300 yards and had five total touchdowns — three passing; two rushing.
He, of course, had been waiting in the wings the past two seasons behind the national player of the year.
“I thought he played great. I thought the offense as a whole played great,” Sanchez said. “If you score 35 points, you should be able to win the game.”
Brevin Jordan had six catches to lead Gorman, and Telles and Falcon Kaumatule had scoring receptions. Nailor nabbed three catches for 90 yards.
The schedule won’t get easier for Gorman. Next Friday, it’s in California to play Mater Dei, the nation’s No. 1-ranked team. Mater Dei’s quarterback JT Daniels threw a record 67 touchdowns last season and is committed to USC, giving Nailor another chance to flourish as a two-way performer.
“I just want to help my team win,” he said. “‘I’m filling a role. Wherever they need me to play, I’m ready.”