Texas Longhorns: Football Recruiting

DALLAS -- Winning football games holds top billing in most cases, but when discussing the most important objective to college football coaches, a great recruiting class is always high on the totem pole.

The Big 12 media days on Monday and Tuesday gave coaches a chance to share their opinions on their teams, their competitors and the future of college football. It also allowed each coach to talk about the positives and negatives of recruiting.

Texas held its first-ever "Under The Lights" night camp inside Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Friday. While the event did not immediately result in new scholarship offers or commitments, we still learned plenty from Charlie Strong's final summer camp of 2014, which featured well more than 100 participants including at least 30 ESPN 300 prospects. Here's what stood out:

1. Out-of-state commits shine

Zach Gentry had seen his future teammates on recruiting websites and kept up with them via one long group text message. But Friday's camp provided the ESPN 300 quarterback commit the first real chance for him meet the rest of the class -- and for them to meet him.

The Albuquerque, New Mexico, native flew out for the night camp and lived up to the legends of his startling size -- he's now 6-foot-7 and 237 pounds, and swears he's done growing -- while performing well under Shawn Watson's tutelage.

Gentry gravitated toward two other Texas commits with whom he shares plenty in common as outsiders: 2015 RB Kirk Johnson and 2016 WR Collin Johnson. The committed brothers from San Jose, California, made their third trip to Austin and earned rave reviews. Collin, a ESPN Junior 300 prospect, was especially impressive with 6-foot-4 size and major leaping ability.



The Johnson brothers are proud to say they did their part to ensure Gentry joined the class in May, and the trio stays in touch frequently. Surely they'll soon reach out to their newest out-of-state future teammate, Garrett Thomas of Many, Louisiana. The four-star tackle did make it to Austin as well Friday after delivering his commitment last week.

Another out-of-state recruit everyone was watching Friday: four-star QB Kai Locksley. He made his first visit to Austin this weekend and brought along father Mike Locksley, Maryland's offensive coordinator. Locksley showed off a quick release and impressive athleticism. Heck, he might be just as good a receiver at the next level, too.

Strong and Watson dedicated a lot of time to Locksley and his father after the camp wrapped up. It's going to be Texas, Florida State or Maryland in the end, and Locksley said he wants to make his decision soon.

2. Young linemen didn't disappoint

By the end of the night, most of the recruits who were getting significant buzz for their performances were underclassmen defensive linemen.

Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints defensive tackle Mike Williams, an ESPN Junior 300 prospect, was one of the breakout stars of the night and got plenty of attention from the coaching staff afterward. As usual, massive DT Kendell Jones of Killeen (Texas) Shoemaker was a star. The 6-5, 310-pound big man ranked No. 36 in the ESPN Junior 300 has visited Texas at least three times this year, including two camp trips.

Another player we'll all be talking about a year or two from now was Houston Episcopal's Marvin Wilson. The 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive tackle, a 2017 prospect, said after the camp the Longhorns are his early No. 1 school ahead of TCU, Ohio State and Texas A&M. Texas also got one of the state's best at camp in Houston Westfield DT Edward Oliver. He'll be as coveted as any in-state defensive lineman in the 2016 class.

3. Brown an exciting project

New defensive line coach Chris Rumph had to be just as excited about what he saw from the defensive ends, particularly ESPN 300 athlete Louis Brown and Texas three-star commit Charles Omenihu.

Brown, a former Baylor commit capable of playing defensive line, linebacker or tight end, shined in 1-on-1 work as a speed-rushing end. In fact, on back-to-back reps, he easily got past one of the camp's best linemen, coveted 2016 tackle J.P. Urquidez. For a kid from a small Class 2A school (Burton) who isn't used to big-time competition, Brown was unfazed.

Omenihu has been bulking up and received plenty of pointers during the camp from preseason All-Big 12 end Cedric Reed. It was clear throughout the night that Omenihu and Brown have a good bond. Brown will be a project early on in college, especially in the weight room at 6-5 and 210 pounds, but there's big potential. It's probably a safe bet he ends up choosing the Longhorns.

4. Commitments coming soon?

In addition to Brown, we'll give you three more recruits who might be on commitment watch in the not-too-distant future.

Three-star center Tyler Moore (Houston/North Shore) already has his offer and was back at camp. He and his father had an extended conversation with Joe Wickline afterward, but no pledge. Four-star defensive tackle Du'Vonta Lampkin (Houston/Cy Falls) visited Texas before the night camp and left with some news: He's announcing his decision on Sept. 15 and it's down to Texas, Oklahoma and LSU. The former OU pledge has repeatedly said the Longhorns are in the lead.

And keep an eye on WR Ryan Newsome. The ESPN 300 speedster from Aledo, Texas, came down to Austin for a full academic tour on Friday and spent time catching up with close buddy Jerrod Heard. He's not looking to decide until December after five official visits (Texas, Oklahoma, UCLA, Oregon, Tennessee) but admitted he'll be back for several Texas games in the fall, including his official for Baylor-Texas on Oct. 4.

5. The guys on the sideline

The campers who showed up but did not compete on Friday night were truly just as critical.

ESPN 300 cornerbacks Holton Hill and Kris Boyd spent much of the night together watching on the field along with four-star ATH J.W. Ketchum. They spent a lot of time with Texas freshman safety John Bonney, who played with Hill last year at Houston Lamar.

Boyd and his brother, 2016 LB Demarco Boyd, visited Baylor on Friday morning and then made the trip down to Austin. Demarco is seen as potentially the key to Kris' decision, and Texas has wisely been recruiting the younger Boyd for a while now.

Texas also hosted the No. 2 recruit in the state for 2016, safety Deontay Anderson, along with a large group of his teammates at Manvel (Texas) High School. Two more big names on the sidelines: Four-star DT Darrion Daniels and ESPN 300 WR John Humphrey Jr., the former Baylor pledge who hopes to earn a UT offer soon.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

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Here’s the latest in recruiting from around the Big 12:

BAYLOR

Total commits: 10

ESPN 300 commits: 3

The latest: The Bears lost their top-rated commitment last week when John Humphrey Jr. decommitted. Baylor had plans to use the four-star prospect as a cornerback, but Humphrey has his eyes on playing receiver, where the Bears are well stocked with playmakers.

IOWA STATE

Total commits: 6

ESPN 300 commits: 0

The latest: The Cyclones landed another commitment last week in Denton (Texas) Guyer safety Jordan Wallace, who is reportedly a distant cousin of former Iowa State standout OB Seneca Wallace. The coaching staff snagged five of their six commitments in the month of June, including Austin (Texas) Lake Travis dual-threat QB Dominic DeLira.

KANSAS

Total commits: 9

ESPN 300 commits: 0

The latest: Kansas continued to make noise on the recruiting trail by snagging a pair of Texas prospects last week. Carl Thompson, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive lineman from Denton (Texas) Guyer, had offers from Duke, Minnesota and Vanderbilt. Taylor Martin, a 5-foot-9, 179-pound running back, committed to Kansas later the same day. He had an offer from Colorado State, and was reportedly drawing interest from TCU, Illinois and Kansas State. The Jayhawks went into the month of June with one commitment, but now have nine.

KANSAS STATE

Total commits: 6

ESPN 300 commits: 0

The latest: The Wildcats landed two running backs last week, one from their backyard, the other all the way out of Georgia. Denzel Goolsby's recruitment picked up in the last week, with Kansas and Iowa State both extending offers. But the Wichita (Kansas) Bishop Carroll product wound up pledging to Kansas State. Goolsby is a versatile offensive threat, who also plays slot receiver and returns kicks. The Wildcats picked up another intriguing playmaker earlier in the week in Cartersville, Georgia, running back Kalin Heath, who had offers from the likes of Mississippi State, Washington State and Louisville. At 6-foot-1, Heath has the frame to become K-State’s next power back in the mold of Daniel Thomas.

OKLAHOMA

Total commits: 7

ESPN 300 commits: 5

The latest: John Humphrey’s decommitment from Baylor could be Oklahoma’s gain. The Sooners are giving Humphrey the option to play receiver, and Oklahoma appears to be his favorite. The Sooners also recently made the top five that ESPN 300 WR Ryan Newsome released, along with Texas, Oregon, UCLA and Notre Dame.

OKLAHOMA STATE

Total commits: 8

ESPN 300 commits: 3

The latest: The Cowboys already have one ESPN 300 cornerback commitment in Jaylon Lane, and now have a strong chance to grab another. Xavier Lewis announced last week that Oklahoma State made his cut of final four schools along with LSU, Arkansas and Texas. Lewis, out of Laplace, Lousiana, is the No. 14 rated cornerback in the country, seven spots behind Lane. If the Cowboys managed to scoop up Lewis, too, they would have an incoming cornerback tandem that would be the envy of the Big 12, and perhaps the country.

TCU

Total commits: 16

ESPN 300 commits: 0

The latest: Even though they didn’t add anyone last week, the Horned Frogs still easily have the biggest commitment total of the Big 12. They’ll have to fight to hold onto to guard Cody Ford, who is showing interest in the Sooners after recently getting an offer. At 6-foot-4, 314 pounds, Ford has the potential to be a road grader in the run game down the line.

TEXAS

Total commits: 10

ESPN 300 commits: 5

The latest: Texas is hosting a key night camp July 18 that will include visits from several of its top targets as well as top-rated pledge, QB Zach Gentry. Texas is also planning to host four-star QB Kai Locksley in mid-July after making his top six, along with with Florida State, Auburn, Maryland, Oregon and Virginia Tech. Locksley is the son of Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley.

TEXAS TECH

Total commits: 7

ESPN 300 commits: 2

The latest: Texas Tech is still looking for its running back from this class, and last week extended an offer to three-star New Orleans product Kendall Bussey, who is currently committed to Nebraska. The Red Raiders also got a visit recently from Waco, Texas, four-star safety Kahlil Haughton, who has offers from Baylor, Ohio State, LSU and Oklahoma, among many others.

WEST VIRGINIA

Total commits: 13

ESPN 300 commits: 2

The latest: The Mountaineers already have three pledges in this class from their Miramar, Florida, pipeline, and could be close to adding another. Mammoth offensive lineman Leeward Brown, who is currently committed to Miami, visited West Virginia last weekend along with Miramar teammates Kahlil Lewis and Kendrell McFadden, and reportedly came away impressed. If the Mountaineers wind up offering the 6-4, 340-pound Brown, they stand a chance of flipping him.
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Charlie Strong has a Texas-sized problem on his hands.

When a new coach is hired, especially at a place like The University of Texas, it usually creates excitement with prospects and high school coaches on the recruiting trail. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, that buzz isn’t there. With the addition of ESPN 300 receiver DaMarkus Lodge on Thursday, Texas A&M further tightened its grip on the top talent in the Lone Star State.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Strong
AP Photo/Eric GayCharlie Strong still has nearly eight months to bolster his 2015 recruiting class.
Lodge’s pledge gives A&M three of the top eight players in Texas and positions the Aggies for a run that could include four of the top five and five of the top 10.

On the other hand, the Longhorns, whose 2015 class is ranked No. 11 in ESPN's rankings, are struggling within their home state. Texas has yet to gain a commit from a top-10 in-state player. To make matters worse, Strong’s staff is losing commits to conference rivals and SEC powers in Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, LSU and Oklahoma.

“In the state of Texas, A&M has taken over,” Cedar Hill (Texas) High School coach Joey McGuire said. “Through what coach [Kevin] Sumlin has done and then what Johnny Manziel did to help put that school in such a great position, it's helped them move to whole different level. They're the hot thing going right now. It's hard to beat, even for a program like Texas.”

As any Texas fan will tell you, there’s nothing worse than losing to the hated Aggies. The recruiting beatdown could continue as A&M is in good position with cornerback Kendall Sheffield, linebacker Malik Jefferson, defensive end James Lockhart and cornerback Kris Boyd -- all ESPN 300 prospects strongly considering playing in College Station.

A Big 12 assistant who recruits in the Lone Star State said he could see that Texas would have problems on the recruiting trail the minute Strong announced his staff. The assistant praised Strong for luring Joe Wickline away from Oklahoma State and believes his addition will help the Longhorns find some hidden gems along the offensive line. But after that, the assistant said it was hardly the all-star cast many thought Strong could assemble, given the school’s resources.

“I thought [Strong] needed to bring in guys that can stand toe-to-toe against A&M, LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma and all the other top teams that recruit in Texas,” the coach said. “He needed guys that had deep ties with the high school coaches in Texas. Instead, he got a lot of coaches that can win recruiting battles against Cincinnati, UCF and teams like that. This is the Big 12, not the AAC.”

In defense of the Longhorns, Strong did retain Bruce Chambers, who is entering his 17th season in Austin and has connections with high school football in the state. He also hired Les Koenning, a 1981 Texas graduate who is entering his 34th year of coaching after previous stops at Mississippi State, South Alabama, Texas A&M, Alabama, TCU, Houston, Duke, Rice and Louisiana-Lafayette.

Replacing Mack Brown wasn’t going to be easy. Replacing the relationships he so tirelessly built with Texas high school coaches will take some time.

All of this has made Strong’s job of recruiting local talent more difficult than most assumed it would be when he was first hired six months ago. But all is not lost. There has been no shortage of effort from the Longhorns’ staff, and Strong can sway some recruits with a simple formula this fall: winning.

“If Charlie Strong comes out and wins, there might be another flip,” McGuire said. “If they can come out and surprise some people this year and win games, then they’re going to be the hot team with recruits. Winning and losing is going to make a big part of those schools' recruiting classes.”
AUSTIN, Texas -- Charlie Strong's first freshman class at Texas is still missing three players.

While the rest of Texas' incoming freshmen enrolled at the start of June, running backs D'Onta Foreman and Kevin Shorter and defensive tackle Poona Ford have yet to join the program.

Ford, a defensive tackle from Hilton Head, South Carolina, is set to enroll for Texas' second summer session, according to Hilton Head coach B.J. Payne. Those classes begin July 14, and Payne said Ford is "all good" with his academics for qualifying.

There is greater concern about the status of the running back signees. Houston Eisenhower back Donald Catalon is already enrolled and on campus, but Foreman and Shorter both have work to do to get to Austin.

Shorter said he needs to take a TAKS standardized test and complete some online coursework before he can join the program. He was told he must to report to the team by Aug. 27.

"I have a few things to take care of then I'll be on my way," Shorter said.

The running back from Newton, Texas, suffered a bruised spinal cord in October that ended his senior season and put his playing career in jeopardy. Whenever he does join the program, Shorter will have to go through testing with UT doctors to determine if he'll be cleared to play again in 2014 and beyond.

There's more progress but less optimism in the case of Foreman, the Texas City, Texas, standout whose twin brother, Armanti Foreman, has already begun classes at UT.

Foreman is still waiting for a ruling from the NCAA clearinghouse, according to Texas City assistant coach Chase Fickessen. Foreman has submitted his paperwork and is hoping to hear back on qualifying before the July 14 session begins. If he does enroll in the summer, he'd likely need to take several summer classes at UT to maintain his eligibility.

If Foreman does not qualify, Texas would place him at a junior college this fall with the intention of eventually re-signing him.

Losing Foreman and Shorter would be a tough blow for Texas' depth at running back behind the veteran trio of Malcolm Brown, Johnathan Gray and Joe Bergeron. Their top backups would presumably be Jalen Overstreet, who converted from quarterback to running back a year ago, and Catalon. Texas has already landed three verbal commitments from running backs for its 2015 recruiting class.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

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Here's the latest in recruiting around the Big 12, with several programs seeing their commit list grow during the past week:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Baylor offered Class of 2016 standout Shane Simmons, a defensive end from Hyattsville (Maryland) DeMatha. The Bears joined West Virginia, Arizona State, Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee and others on his offer list. Baylor also joined the race for elite 2017 prospect Anthony Hines III of Plano (Texas). Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and Kansas are among the 20-plus teams who have offered Hines, who has committed to Mississippi State.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 3
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones have been on a roll on the recruiting trail, landing Waukee (Iowa) defensive end Anthony Nelson early last week, just days after Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Prairie offensive lineman Bryce Meeker joined Iowa State's pledge list. At 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, Nelson is a lean defensive line prospect with plenty of room to grow.

KANSAS
Total commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Kansas' commit list exploded over the weekend with five junior college standouts picking the Jayhawks, according to KUsports.com. Charlie Weis’ program secured verbals from offensive lineman Jarek Smalley of Garden City (Kansas) Community College, defensive tackle Jacky Dezir of College of DuPage (Illinois), offensive lineman DeLonte Murray of Lackawanna (Pennsylvania) Community College, offensive lineman Will Smith of Butler County (Kansas) Community College and receiver Raeshawn Lee of College of San Mateo (California). It’s pretty clear new offensive coordinator John Reagan wants to upgrade the talent along the offensive line.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 3
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: K-State landed a commitment from Seward, Nebraska, defensive end Adam Holtorf, who announced his pledge on social media late Sunday night. The Wildcats also began their pursuit of Class of 2015 Sachese, Texas, running back Devine Ozigbo with an offer last week. Kansas, Iowa State, Wisconsin and Boise State are among the teams that have offered the three-star prospect.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Oklahoma added another commit to its list, with Lancaster (Texas) guard Dominique Hearne choosing the Sooners. Hearne turned down offers from Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and Arizona State to pledge to Bob Stoops’ program.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Cowboys landed commitments on back-to-back days last week with the additions of Tyler (California) Junior College defensive tackle Motekiai Maile and Houston (Texas) Alief Taylor safety Kenneth McGruder.

TCU
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Gary Patterson’s squad continues to add athletes to its class with Mansfield (Texas) athlete Julius Lewis joining the Horned Frogs’ commit list this week. Lewis has the ability to play several different positions at TCU, but has been recruited as a cornerback to add speed and athleticism to Patterson’s secondary.

TEXAS
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: The Longhorns didn’t hesitate to throw their name into the mix for ESPN 300 athlete Louis Brown of Burton, Texas, making an offer to a player who decommitted from Baylor last week. Charlie Strong’s program also offered Class of 2016 running back Devwah Whaley of Beaumont (Texas) Central.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: Kliff Kingsbury’s program secured a early commitment from up-and-coming safety Collin Wilder of Katy, Texas, as Texas Tech got a jump start on its Class of 2016. The Red Raiders offered Marvel, Texas, athlete D'Eriq King joining Clemson, Louisville, Michigan State and UCLA. Kingsbury’s program also offered Hines and Class of 2016 quarterback Shane Buechele of Arlington (Texas) Lamar Consolidated in the past week.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers began their pursuit of in-state signal caller Tyrhee Pratt of Charleston Capital. The Class of 2016 prospect could be a key recruit for West Virginia's 2016 class, as they’d hate to miss out on a in-state prospect who could end up with a lengthy offer list.
Here's the latest in recruiting around the Big 12 with summer camps in full swing:

Baylor
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Baylor added a commitment with the pledge of linebacker Clay Johnston of Abilene, Texas, last week. Johnston picked the Bears over offers from Texas Tech, Tulsa, Duke and others. It wasn’t all good news for the Bears as the No. 246 player in the ESPN 300, athlete Louis Brown from Burton, Texas, elected to decommit from Baylor and reopen the recruiting process.

Iowa State
Total commits: 2
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones reeled in their second commitment in the Class of 2015 with Bryce Meeker’s pledge. The three-star offensive tackle from Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Prairie picked ISU over offers from Illinois State and Northern Iowa. ISU also held a summer camp over the weekend including an appearance from Billy Bahl, a 6-foot-4, 213-pound quarterback from Woodstock (Illinois) Marian Catholic.

Kansas
Total commits: 1
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Jayhawks looked east to make one of their latest reported offers, putting their name in the mix for Pawling (N.Y) Trinity Pawling defensive end Austrian Robinson. The Class of 2015 prospect also has offers from Boston College, Maryland, Rutgers and others.

Kansas State
Total commits: 2
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Wildcats dipped into SEC country for their second commit for the Class of 2015. Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson receiver Isaiah Zuber picked KSU last week, spurning offers from Boston College, Virginia Tech, Purdue, Illinois, Iowa State and others. Zuber is a quick receiver who could excel as a slot possession receiver.

Oklahoma
Total commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: It was a huge week for the Sooners as they continued to add quality recruits to their commit list. Running back Rodney Anderson picked the Sooners after attending OU’s camp over the weekend. The Katy, Texas, standout is No. 263 in the ESPN 300. Cornerback P.J. Mbanasor, the No. 84 player in the ESPN 300, also chose OU last week. The Pflugerville (Texas) Hendrickson turned down offers from LSU, Ohio State, Florida and others.

Oklahoma State
Total commits: 5
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Much like the rest of the Big 12, the Cowboys are actively involved in summer camps, including a satellite camp in Rockwall, Texas, on Sunday. Oklahoma State also reportedly offered a scholarship to ESPN 300 cornerback Kris Boyd of Gilmer, Texas, who also holds offers from Alabama, Baylor, Florida State, Texas, TCU, Oklahoma and others.

TCU
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: TCU’s class is shaping up nicely with New Boston (Texas) athlete Jeff Gladney and Houston Westfield guard Cordel Iwuagwu joining the Horned Frogs’ commit list in the past week. Gladney will likely play cornerback for Gary Patterson’s team. TCU also held a summer camp over the weekend that featured several standouts including KeShawn Somerville, who reportedly ran a 4.37 in the 40 at the camp.

Texas
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: The Longhorns held a camp on Sunday with several elite prospects, including cornerback Jared Mayden, a Class of 2016 recruit, in attendance. Mayden, from Sachse, Texas, already holds offers from Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU, Texas A&M and others.

Texas Tech
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: This week should be big for the Red Raiders as they participate in satellite camps across the state, including one on Sunday at Euless (Texas) Trinity. But the biggest recruit the Red Raiders landed in the past week was quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who decided to turn down professional baseball to join Kliff Kingsbury’s program after going undrafted in the first two days of the MLB Draft. Joining Davis Webb as the Red Raiders’ lone scholarship quarterbacks, Mahomes should be Texas Tech’s No. 2 quarterback this fall.

West Virginia
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers held a summer camp on Sunday with several targets participating, including Clairton, Pa., 2017 target Lamont Wade, who can play multiple positions, and 2016 target Aaron Mathews, a receiver.

Top Big 12 recruiters 

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There has been a lot of transition within the coaching ranks at Big 12 schools, which has caused the league’s reputation on the recruiting trail to slip a little bit. But if you dig deeper, you’ll find there are still plenty of quality established recruiters, and some rising newcomers at major programs like Oklahoma and Baylor.


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video The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Notre Dame’s recruiting efforts for 2015 suffered a major setback when ESPN 300 quarterback Blake Barnett decommitted. So where do the Irish turn now at the quarterback spot? Plus, could Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas’ loss be Arkansas’ gain?


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Tale of the tape: Texas-Texas A&M 

May, 23, 2014
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There are those who believe the rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M is dead because the two programs are no longer in the same conference.

[+] EnlargeKendall Sheffield
Sam Khan Jr./ESPNTexas and Texas A&M are both after Kendall Sheffield, the No. 2 CB in the nation.
Those people are misguided. And emphatically incorrect.

Two words in February by new Texas head coach Charlie Strong helped light a new spark in the rivalry between two of the most respected programs in the Lone Star State. When asked about A&M’s recruiting methods -- which includes coach Kevin Sumlin making player visits in a helicopter dubbed the “Swagcopter” -- Strong said the Longhorns didn’t need to be a “gadget program,” as the university and its prestige still was enough to attract recruits.

The rest of the spring and the upcoming summer will be perfect opportunities to gauge where both programs stand among some of the elite athletes who are still uncommitted. Which school will dominate in recruiting the 2015 class?


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When looking at the top recruiting jobs in college football, it’s not always about looking at final poll rankings or teams that have recently won the most games.

Yes, winning matters, but there are other factors. Location, region and in-state talent are major contributors. Revenues build facilities and pay for the modern-day arms race. National appeal, identifiable former players and recent NFL draft success also have a hand in making an impression on high school athletes.

Here’s a look at the top five recruiting jobs in the country:

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Which is the best recruiting job in college football?

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    23%
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Discuss (Total votes: 4,677)

1. Florida Gators

Proximity to out-of-state talent: The state of Florida probably has the most talent in the country, and the Gators also sit five hours from the Atlanta area, with talent bases from South Georgia into Atlanta. The states of Florida and Georgia combined to produce 60 NFL draft picks in the 2014 draft, one more than the states of California and Texas combined (while having less than half the combined population). Gainesville is also relatively close to three other out-of-state hotbeds: Charlotte, North Carolina; Mobile, Alabama; and New Orleans.

Dollars and cents: Florida reported total football expenses of $23,045,846 and total football revenue of $74,117,435 in 2011-12. Florida will benefit greatly from the launch of the SEC Network in August, which is a 20-year agreement between the SEC and ESPN.


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When looking at the best recruiting jobs in the Big 12, the conference begins with Texas and Oklahoma, as it always has since its inception in 1996. After the Longhorns and Sooners, the conference has a quartet of programs to consider as the next tier of recruiting jobs in Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech.

While Oklahoma State has separated itself from the pack in terms of facility upgrades in recent years, the rise of Baylor has changed the recruiting landscape in the state of Texas for programs such as the Cowboys, Horned Frogs and Red Raiders. When it gets down to TCU and Texas Tech, proximity to in-state and out-of-state talent looms large in the equation when looking at the current landscape.

Here is a look at the top five recruiting jobs in the Big 12.

1. Texas

[+] EnlargeOklahoma State - Texas
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesDarrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium seats 100,119 for Longhorns home games.
Proximity to out-of-state talent: Texas has had success recruiting in the Phoenix area, which is 1,000 miles away, and parts of Louisiana are less than 400 miles from Austin. Under Charlie Strong, Texas is now focusing on Florida, with the Tampa area being about 1,100 miles away.


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Here's the latest in recruiting around the Big 12:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 9
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: Recent commit Jordan Tolbert, a cornerback prospect from Missouri City (Texas) Ridge Point, has a torn ACL but remains committed to the Bears. BU is off to a terrific start in its 2015 class, particularly at the skill positions, but could use some added beef up front with Plano (Texas) defensive tackle Sam Tecklenburg as the lone lineman committed.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 1
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones reportedly threw their name into the mix in the chase for Mesquite (Texas) West Mesquite cornerback Josh Butler. The three-star prospect has offers from Baylor and Oklahoma State in addition to the recent ISU offer.

KANSAS
Total commits: 1
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Jayhawks hit the state of Texas, particularly the Dallas area, hard last week with multiple reported offers, including Dallas Bishop Dunne receiver A.D. Miller, Denton (Texas) Guyer defensive lineman Carl Thompson and Frisco (Texas) Wakeland linebacker Justice Williams. KU had some success in the Dallas area a year ago, signing Dallas Carter running back Corey Avery.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 1
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Wildcats became the first Big 12 school to offer Gilbert (Ariz.) Williams Field prospect Cade Cote. The 6-foot-3, 257-pound prospect is projected to line up at offensive guard in college.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 4
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Sooners sent out multiple reported offers last week, including Olathe (Kan.) North defensive end Josh Moore. He’s unranked, but his offer list features some of the nation’s elite, including Auburn, Ohio State and Florida State as well as fellow Big 12 schools Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Kansas and Iowa State. The Sooners also made an early offer to 2016 receiver Dionte Mullins of Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep, joining Alabama, Ohio State and others on Mullins’ offer list.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 5
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Cowboys made an early offer to 2016 prospect Mike Williams. The Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints Episcopal defensive tackle also has offers from Michigan, Kansas State and UCLA.

TCU
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: TCU widened its net in the search for more offensive linemen, with reported offers to Fort Bend (Texas) offensive lineman Joshua Jones and Houston Westfield offensive lineman Cordel Iwuagwu. The Horned Frogs also offered 2017 athlete Anthony Hines of Plano (Texas) East, who is currently committed to Mississippi State.

TEXAS
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: It was a big week in Austin as the Longhorns could have landed their quarterback of the future with the commitment of Albuquerque (N.M.) Eldorado signal-caller Zach Gentry. The four-star prospect sits at No. 72 in the ESPN 300 and is the second-ranked pocket passer in the nation. Gentry turned down Baylor, Alabama, Oklahoma State and others to make his pledge to the Longhorns.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Red Raiders reportedly offered Jefferson (La.) Riverdale cornerback Donte Jackson as Texas Tech continues to expand its recruiting reach and battle the nation’s best for some of the hottest recruits in the country. Jackson, who ran a 10.42 100-meter dash and 21.42 200-meter dash to win Louisiana state titles earlier this month, has speed to burn.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers hit Clairton (Pa.) High School last week, reportedly offering 2016 prospect Aaron Mathews and 2017 prospect Lamont Wade. Mathews is a 6-foot-5 athlete who could end up as a college receiver; Wade could end up at running back or cornerback in college.
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HAYWARD, Calif. -- California will be well represented at the quarterback position when the Elite 11 Finals get underway in early July, as the Golden State is home to three of the four signal-callers who punched their tickets to the main event during Friday's Northern California Elite 11 regional.

Pac-12 fans will undoubtedly enjoy this year of the California quarterback, as the conference continues to gobble up commitments from some of the top recruits in the state, but Big Ten fans in East Lansing, Mich., Columbus, Ohio, and Evanston, Ill., should take note of Friday's events as well. While an emphasis was placed on the four quarterbacks moving onto the finals, there was plenty of attention given to several 2015 quarterbacks who could still help shape the Pac-12 recruiting race, a trio of 2017 quarterbacks on the rise and a wide receiver who might need some rest after a Texas-sized workout.

Final Four


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Days after the NFL draft, some Texas Longhorns fans still scratch their heads in disbelief. How a celebrated college football program -- one with decorated, award-winning athletes -- have zero players drafted into the NFL?

For the first time since before World War II, a Longhorn wasn’t selected in the draft. It became national news, and it’s news that no program wants to have attached to it, let alone one of the nation’s most established programs. When Memphis safety Lonnie Ballentine was selected by the Houston Texans as the 256th pick -- the last pick of the seven-round draft -- it opened the floodgates for barbs thrown by Texas antagonists.

What the draft ineffectiveness failed to do, however, was steer recruits -- committed and uncommitted -- away from the program’s future. If anything, it’s drawn some closer to the vision of new coach Charlie Strong and his staff.

“Some people are taking it all over the top,” uncommitted ESPN 300 linebacker Malik Jefferson said. “Those weren’t Charlie’s people; he didn’t develop any of those kids. Why would people want to change their minds off going to a great school like Texas because of something they couldn’t control?”

[+] EnlargeKendall Sheffield
Sam Khan Jr./ESPNKendall Sheffield, the top-ranked player in Texas, said the fact the Longhorns had no draft picks has no bearing on his recruitment.
The draft has forced recruits to answer questions some might feel are slightly unnecessary:

“Will the draft affect your thoughts on Texas?”

“Can you trust the Longhorns to groom you into a pro-ready athlete after college?”

“Do you want to be a part of the laughingstock of college football?”

ESPN 300 cornerback Kendall Sheffield has had to answer some of these questions this week. The top-ranked player in Texas, Sheffield said he still has the Longhorns high on a list of several schools, a list that includes Texas A&M, Alabama, Baylor, Florida State, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon and USC.

Sheffield admitted to being shocked that the Longhorns didn’t have a draft pick, but to look at the program with a side eye -- particularly with a new coach in charge -- is something that never crossed his mind.

“I don’t know if it plays a role in recruiting. I mean, they’ve still got to rebuild,” Sheffield said. “I know they’re going to still get some big recruits in. For me, I’m going to find the school that’s the best fit for me and the place I feel has the best position coach. The draft won’t have nothing to do with it.”

Jefferson, believed to have Texas high on his list along with Texas A&M, Baylor, Alabama and others, reminded people that while the Longhorns went without a drafted player, Strong's former team at Louisville had three first-round picks in safety Calvin Pryor (No. 18 overall to the Jets), defensive end Marcus Smith (No. 26, Eagles) and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (No. 32, Vikings).

“He knows what he’s doing,” Jefferson said of Strong.

During the Mack Brown era, 58 Longhorns were drafted. Safety Kenny Vaccaro was a first-round pick by the Saints last year. Receiver/return specialist Marquise Goodwin (Bills) and defensive end Alex Okafor (Cardinals) were selected in the third and fourth rounds in 2013.

This year’s crop of undrafted talent included defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat and receiver Mike Davis. Jeffcoat was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and the Ted Hendricks Award recipient, recognizing the nation's top defensive end. Davis caught 200 passes in his college career and is one of only four players in school history with 200 or more receptions.

Jeffcoat and Davis, as well as other Longhorns, signed with NFL teams as undrafted free agents, which is another reason why recruits aren’t worried about the draft results. ESPN 300 offensive lineman Patrick Vahe -- who committed to Texas during the Brown era and chose to stay committed under Strong -- believes the draft is in full control of a player and not the coach.

Texas’ ability to produce NFL offensive linemen has been sliding in recent years. The Longhorns haven’t had an offensive lineman drafted since tackle Tony Hills in 2008. To assist in further developing linemen, Strong hired former Oklahoma State coach Joe Wickline, who coached NFL linemen Russell Okung, Corey Hilliard and Charlie Johnson at the college level. Okung is fresh off winning a Super Bowl with the Seahawks.

Vahe said he’ll worry about being a pro athlete when that time comes. Right now, he’s focused on being the best college athlete possible, and the 2014 draft isn’t weighing on his decision.

“I think I can learn a lot from [Wickline].” Vahe said. “We talked about his game plan, and I’m putting a lot of trust with him. The rest of it … I think people are just taking it over the top.”

Todd Dodge, head coach at Austin Westlake High School, former head coach at North Texas and a former quarterback for the Longhorns, said a draft should never have an effect on a recruit’s decision.

Dodge played at Texas from 1982-85. In that span, he saw several teammates drafted, including first-round cornerbacks Mossy Cade and Jerry Gray. The 1984 draft class featured 17 Longhorns.

Not having a draftee was an eye-opener, Dodge said, but it shouldn’t be a discussion piece in relation to Texas’ recruiting -- particularly with the changing of the guard at head coach.

“If Coach Strong and his staff are on the road making their rounds and people are using common sense, they’ll judge them by what they see,” Dodge said. “Texas has always been in the hunt for great players in the state of Texas. If there’s any doubt, you can always point to the players drafted from Louisville. Coach Strong has a track record that’s proven.”

As for the jokes from rival schools, Vahe understands that they come will with the territory, whether the program goes winless or earns a BCS championship. He also understands that the way to silence some of the jokes is by producing in practices and games and later during NFL combines and workouts. He believes a change for the better is near for the program.

“People love to talk, but it’s nothing big, really,” Vahe said. “I know [Strong] just got there, and they’re all going to start a new era. Hopefully I’ll be one of those who helps start the new era.”

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