High School Football

Boasting potential and skill, Rams' Skinner finds home at Eastern Illinois

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 12/9/20

When Brooks Haack was hired as offensive coordinator at Mayde Creek last spring, he was intrigued at what he had in 6-foot-2, 192-pound senior receiver L’den Skinner.

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High School Football

Boasting potential and skill, Rams' Skinner finds home at Eastern Illinois

Posted

When Brooks Haack was hired as offensive coordinator at Mayde Creek last spring, he was intrigued at what he had in 6-foot-2, 192-pound senior receiver L’den Skinner.

Haack, a former honorable mention all-state quarterback at Katy High, was bringing a wide-open, pass-happy spread offense to the Rams. And right away, he knew he had a talent in Skinner.

“L is a great kid and someone we knew early on that he was going to be an instrumental part of the offense,” Haack said. “He was very raw, and I could tell once he understood what we were trying to teach him, then sky’s the limit on what he could accomplish.”

Skinner was just as excited as Haack. He’d only primarily been a blocking receiver for a Rams offense that was run-heavy under previous head coach Mike Rabe.

Getting the ball more was a welcomed thought.

“I knew this was my chance to show what I could do,” Skinner said. “It was my spotlight.”

That light shone fairly bright as Skinner was one of the more dynamic playmakers in Katy ISD football this season.

He led all of Katy ISD in receiving with 768 yards and a touchdown on 50 catches, averaging 15.4 yards per catch for the district’s top offense. It was a considerable rise from 2019, when he had 10 catches for 211 yards and a touchdown.

Though a relative newcomer to the sport and position, having played football only since the seventh grade and receiver since his sophomore year, Skinner earned an opportunity to play at the next level when he verbally committed to Eastern Illinois on Dec. 6. He plans to formally sign his letter of intent on Early Signing Day on Wednesday, Dec. 16.

“When I first talked to Eastern Illinois, I could tell they had a family atmosphere from the jump,” Skinner said. “Everything clicked. We just had this chemistry off the bat. The people and the community at Eastern Illinois was strong, and that’s why I chose to go there.”

Skinner said he’s barely scratched his potential.

“I feel I can show off my speed a lot more,” said Skinner, who runs a 4.42 hand-timed 40-yard dash. “I showed it off a couple games early on, but I want to show how fast I can really run with the ball in my hands and how fast I can run after the catch.

“This was my first year ever having the football in my hands. I had a lot to learn, and I still do. It was a quick jump, but I had to rise to the occasion. I feel things came together pretty fluidly for me.”

Skinner had a rough season opener against Conroe, when he had two catches for 29 yards and dropped three passes.

“I was excited,” he said. “I could even say I was too excited; my first game, it wasn’t great at all. It was terrible. But I came back to myself. I couldn’t let the moment soak me up. I had to just play my game.”

Eventually, Skinner got more comfortable as a primary option on offense. Haack said his route-running and understanding of how to use his body and leverage improved drastically.

Physically, Skinner has all the tools. Every program wants a tall, fast receiver, especially Eastern Illinois, which plans to use Skinner on both the outside and inside and will play him as a true freshman if he proves himself.

“A few things he can get better at would be understanding the game and coverages and how to win a route versus everything,” said Haack, who played collegiately at Louisiana-Lafayette and Northwestern State. “Speed and strength will come as well at the next level, and just being a student of the game.”

Growing up, Skinner always wanted to be a professional athlete. He just thought he’d be in the majors.

He played centerfield and shortstop for his travel ball teams from nine years old up until his freshman year. His mom only started letting him play football in the seventh grade at Mayde Creek Junior High.

“She hated it,” Skinner said, laughing. “She didn’t like how physical it was, felt it was abusive to the body. She’s actually starting to like it more now. She won’t admit it, but she does.”

Skinner loves it. He played fullback, which is where he learned to appreciate the art of blocking, and cornerback in junior high. As a freshman, he played outside linebacker. Finally, his sophomore year, he was moved to receiver.

His one endearing memory is that first touchdown catch, a 65-yarder. From there, he only wanted more and more.

“I just like catching the ball and running with it,” he said. “If you gave me that, I was good.”

This season was the culmination of it all. He had a 48-yard catch against Cypress Lakes. A 37-yard haul against Dulles. His touchdown catch went for 91 yards against Taylor.

Skinner’s 50 catches were 17 more than the next-best receiver in that department and his yards were almost 100 more than the next-best in that respective category.

“He’s a young man that deserves everything that’s coming his way,” Haack said, “and if he will continue to work, like I know he will, then he will have a great career and great life even after football.”

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