Texas Longhorns: Recruiting

Fournette set to visit Texas

November, 13, 2013
The nation's No. 1-ranked player Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine) will take an unofficial visit to Texas this weekend when the Longhorns take on No. 12-ranked Oklahoma State, Fournette confirmed via text message.

Many believe that the five-star running back is down to Alabama and LSU, but he said on Sunday, that is not the case and he remains open. Michigan, Miami, USC and Florida are other schools he has previously considered.

For the Longhorns, this is expected to be a very big recruiting weekend. In addition to Fournette, Texas is also expected to host five-star defensive back Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) and four-star safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron).

Both Brown and Fournette visited Alabama last week for its 38-17 victory over SEC West rival LSU and the two players hit it off, according to Fournette.

With Texas struggling on the field in recent years, landing a prospect like Fournette could be a program-changer. Texas currently has the No. 8-ranked recruiting class in the country including seven commits ranked in the ESPN 300.

Big 12 recruiting mailbag

September, 6, 2013
In this week’s Big 12 mailbag we take a look at a few questions surrounding the Longhorns, including who they could get as their next commitment? Also, what are the early prognostications on one of Missouri’s top players?

@TrentonAMakare: Who is a likely commit for #UT? Are there any 4 stars they might still get out of this senior class?

Trenton, there is still a ton of four-star talent out there with high interest in the Longhorns. Some of the more realistic names include ESPN 300 recruits Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell), Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron), Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie) and four-star John Bonney (Houston/Lamar). As for the most likely to commit, I’d say Bonney and/or Freeman at this point. Bonney could pull the trigger fairly soon. Freeman will wait until after a few official visits.

@DJS_09: Will the Horns grab both Bonney and Freeman for their 2014 class?

It’s possible. You just wonder if one commits before the other, will that turn the other away. The good news for the Longhorns is they are in good position to land at least one of them. I just don’t see a scenario happening where they don’t get one. I think Bonney will end up committing somewhere first, and I think it will come down to Baylor and UT. Freeman was going to commit before the season but has decided to take some official visits first. That isn’t exactly great news for UT, which has been considered his favorite for months now. LSU is a sneaky sleeper here.

@24Randazzo_J: How do you think Hale Hentges will end up in college?

Hentges, for those not aware, is an ESPN Junior 300 tight end out of Jefferson City (Mo.) Helias High School, who is rated as the No. 3 tight end in the country. He already has offers from Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Memphis, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Tulsa and Wisconsin. Hentges is a prospect that, because of his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame, could play tight end or defensive end in college. He played both very well last season. As a tight end, he caught 43 passes for 427 yards and seven touchdowns. As a defensive end, he recorded 62 tackles, seven sacks and five pass deflections. It’s going to be tough for Missouri to keep him in state, especially when programs like Stanford and Notre Dame are showing serious interest and have produced some of the top tight ends in the country over the past few seasons.

@KSUWinter: W/ Derricott committed to KState, do they have the upper hand for Errol Clarke? #emaw

It puts them in a better position, certainly. But the Wildcats do not seem to be the favorite right now for the talented outside linebacker from Garden City Community College.
D'Vonta Derricott, for those not aware, is one of the country's top junior college linebackers, who committed to KSU on Aug. 7. Having him on board should give Clarke more incentive to follow his teammate to Manhattan, Kan. But Wisconsin seems to have the upper hand on Clarke’s recruitment right now.

@Roberrttthom: What would the addition of Kenny Young do for the Cowboys recruiting class? His interest has really increased lately. #AskBig12

Getting a player the caliber of Young on board would greatly improve OSU’s chances of landing a top 15-20 class at the very least. The Pokes have done a great job recruiting linebackers so far this cycle with the verbal pledges of ESPN 300 OLB Gyasi Akem (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow) and four-star ILB Josh Mabin (Spring, Texas/Klein Oak). If OSU can continue to play defense like it did against Mississippi State and prove to Young that it can be a force on that side of the ball as well, it could go a long way toward his decision. One of the main concerns I’d have if I were OSU are the teams that are also in pursuit. They include heavyweights like Alabama, Florida, Florida State, LSU and Michigan.
As football season nears, most of the Big 12 sits in good position with their 2014 recruiting classes. But there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Here is a must-have recruit for each team. These prospects would go a long way toward improving their particular class.

S John Bonney (Houston/Lamar)
6-0, 182
ESPN 300 rank: N/A
Three-star defensive tackle D.J. Williams (Lufkin, Texas/Lufkin) expected big things to come out of his visit to the Texas Stampede on Saturday. He truly thought he was going to get an offer.

But Williams (6-foot-3, 270 pounds) never made it to Austin due to some last-minute scheduling issues. So now what?

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Recruiting is the lifeblood of every program in the country, and every conference has its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to landing top prospects. In the start of a weeklong series, we'll examine the BCS conferences plus Notre Dame to find each's strength, the biggest obstacle each faces and the overall view of the conference. The Big 12 is up Thursday.

Biggest obstacle: Texas is one of the top states in the country for producing recruits, which is great considering it's in the heart of the Big 12. The problem is that Big 12 teams not only have to fight one another for those prospects, but programs from around the country recruit Texas hard as well. For the 2013 recruiting cycle, the conference signed roughly 170 high school prospects, and 102 were out of Texas. Think about that: One state supplied 60 percent of the prospects signed within the entire Big 12. If you take newest member West Virginia -- which is not only new to the conference but also not a part of that region -- out of the mix, then a staggering 66 percent of the prospects signed among nine of the teams in the conference came out of just one state. Four of the teams in the conference are based in Texas, and while the states that the other six programs in the conference call home produce some good prospects as well, none can rely heavily on just in-state talent to build their classes from year to year. As a result, almost the entire conference often depends heavily on the talent from one state.

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Twitter recap: Texas junior day

February, 11, 2013
Texas held its first junior for the Class of 2014 on Sunday and several top recruits attended. For a recap of what Longhorns coach Mack Brown told recruits and parents, check out Max Olson's story. Insider

Be sure to check out our forum Insider for the details.

Click the jump below to see the best tweets and photos from recruits who attended.

(Read full post)

Derrick Dixon likes Texas coaching staff 

February, 10, 2013
Texas’ junior day on Sunday left a lasting impression on 2014 safety Derrick Dixon (Dallas/Skyline), someone who has watched his stock rise since the end of the regular season.

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ESPN Watch List defensive back Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) didn’t get to Austin for Texas’ junior day on Sunday until after lunchtime.

While it might have had stomachs turning for those worried he’d never make it, it actually turned out to be a blessing for the Longhorns in their pursuit of one of the top defensive backs in the country.

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One of the first offers that Texas handed out during its first junior day on Sunday went to a prospect who wasn’t even there.

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videoESPN Watch List outside linebacker Cameron Hampton (Dallas/Carter) told HornsNation on Sunday morning that he has committed to Texas at the Longhorns' junior day.

The Longhorns have not only addressed a major position of need for 2014, but they have also kept him away from one of their chief rivals in Oklahoma.

Cameron Hampton
Max Olson/ESPN.comClass of 2014 linebacker Cameron Hampton is Texas' first linebacker commit of the Class of 2014.
The Red River rivals were Hampton’s top two schools coming into this week, but it looks like he has had a change of heart and is now Texas’ eighth commitment in 2014.

Hampton (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) also had offers from Clemson, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and West Virginia.

He is in Austin for the second time visiting Texas’ campus today and told HornsNation earlier in the week that he was particularly excited about meeting one person in particular.

“I’m really just excited about being down there and seeing [defensive coordinator] coach [Manny] Diaz,” said Hampton, who got to Austin on Saturday in anticipation for todays event. “He said he is going to spend some 1-on-1 time with me and my family. Coach [Mack] Brown said the same thing.”

Texas and Oklahoma have made Hampton a priority over the past few months.

Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell has frequented Carter High since the Sooners started recruiting Hampton and has already built a strong relationship with him.

Diaz was at Carter’s basketball game last week, making sure Hampton understands how important he is to Texas’ future.

“I can’t really say [who I have a better relationship with], but I have a pretty good relationship with Coach Diaz,” Hampton said. “He actually came to see one of my basketball games last week. I talked to him the day before we played at my school. He was saying that he was looking forward to seeing me, hanging out with me and spending some more time with my family.”

Hampton is Texas’ first linebacker commit of 2014.

Video: Tom Luginbill on Texas' class

February, 8, 2013
ESPN national recruiting director Tom Luginbill says Texas addressed three key needs at the linebacker, offensive line, and tight end positions.
videoAUSTIN, Texas -- In the wake of five deommitments in the class of 2013, with one coming so close to signing day, Texas coach Mack Brown sent a with-us-or-against-us message to recruits.

He will also send the same message to the parents at Sunday's junior day.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
Fred Brooks/Icon SMITexas coach Mack Brown doesn't want commits to visit other schools anymore.
"We're going to explain the rules to the families very carefully," Brown said. "I know that we're going to ask the families not to commit to us if there's any chance that they might want to go somewhere else and visit because we think it's not best for them, it's not best for us."

Those Texas recruiting rules, which were suspended for a few years, have also been explained to the coaching staff.

"What I've talked to our coaches about is you have to do a better job of making sure you trust the parents and that you don't talk one into coming," Brown said. "If he decides to come now, if you get a commitment, it better be because he's wanting to come, not because you recruited him and talked him into it."

That doesn’t mean there will not be exceptions.

"For me to sit here and say in every case it's going to happen while I'm coaching in the future, you lock me into it, you say, 'He lied,' I'm not going to do that," Brown said.

But, by and large, in the future, if a player is committed to Texas, the Longhorns staff will advise that player if he starts looking elsewhere, Texas will do the same.

"If you start looking, to me you're looking for something different than you've got," Brown said. "I'm going to look for something different than I've got."

Texas already has seven commitments for its junior class. Two of those, teammates Demetrius Knox and Daniel Gresham (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints), attended other schools' junior days last weekend (Knox went to OU while Gresham went to Ole Miss). Both remain committed to Texas.

To further avoid situations, Brown has made more of an effort to be a part of the recruiting scene. He has already visited most of the high school programs where Texas has a 2014 prospect.

"I like to go to the school, see the coach." Brown said. "The other thing is that if you get a commitment, you'd like for the high school coach to help you keep it. We're going to make sure the high school coach buys into the commitment as well. I need to see those guys, shake their hand, tell them we're not backing out on kids."

That is as long as the recruit does not step out on Texas.

Early commits a game-changer for Texas 

February, 8, 2013
FORT WORTH, Texas -- When Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints teammates Daniel Gresham and Demetrius Knox snuck off to junior days last weekend, they didn’t mean any harm.

Gresham went to Ole Miss because All Saints lineman Markham Parkune wanted a buddy to come with him to Oxford. Knox visited Oklahoma with two teammates simply to get out of the house for the weekend.

Lorenzo Joe
Max Olson/ESPN.comAthlete Lorenzo Joe was Texas' first commit for the Class of 2014.
The Texas 2014 pledge didn’t take those trips to scare Texas fans and raise questions about their level of commitment. They’re kids. Kids like going out of town.

“The thing is, growing up as a child loving college football, it’s always been a childhood dream to take my five officials and go out and see the colleges,” Gresham said. “Even if I don’t plan on going there, I want to see them.”

That’s the kind of issue Texas signed up to deal with when its coaching staff broke from tradition and began accepting commitments from juniors last August.

Texas goes into its first junior day on Sunday with seven verbal commits already on board. The Longhorns are about to find out that having those early 2014 commits is a serious game-changer, in ways both good and bad.

The good: Texas will have seven young salesmen embedded in its group of visiting recruits this weekend. Along with Knox and Gresham, expect Denton (Texas) Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard to be a vocal presence. Texas coaches expect him to be a leader for this class, and it’s possible Heard will attend both junior days this month.

“It’s going to be fun,” said Lorenzo Joe, Texas’ first 2014 commit. “We’ve all got another year, but after that year it’ll be pretty cool to see us all in burnt orange and playing together. We’re all excited.”

The Abilene (Texas) Cooper receiver knows it’s not his job to be this year’s Jake Raulerson. He’s glad he’s one of many guys who are passionate about the Longhorns and motivated to make the class even better.

From a numbers standpoint, getting seven commitments early lays a major foundation. Texas has locked up a future quarterback, two running backs and two receivers. It’s a strong start.

But none of them are truly locked up, and that’s what brings us to the tough part of taking junior commitments.

By accepting these commitments, Texas entered into a non-binding agreement that has to endure a long, long time.

“Some of these kids we're going to have to keep a year and a half,” Texas coach Mack Brown said Wednesday. “If one of them backs out on you in December, it really hurts you.”

That’s why Brown doesn’t want his commits taking visits elsewhere anymore. He gave Knox and Gresham permission to take their trips last weekend, but don’t expect him to do so going forward.

Gresham said he’s completely OK with that and understands Brown’s stance.

“I have to be careful. I’m not going to take any more visits,” he said. “I know A'Shawn [Robinson] made it kind of uneasy and kind of ruined it for us.”

He’s not wrong. Texas let A'Shawn Robinson take three official visits elsewhere, and the ESPN 150 defensive tackle said all the right things -- that Texas was still No. 1 -- throughout. Then he decommitted the weekend before signing day, leaving the Longhorns with no options to replace him.

Decommitments are commonplace now. Commit to Texas and you’re practically guaranteed to get more offers and interest from other schools.

Gresham has to think for a moment when asked if he’s confident all seven of Texas’ early commits will sign with the school next February.

“I do feel like guys will decommit,” he said. “I also feel like a lot of guys won’t want to commit so early. They’ll start to kind of look out. I feel like commits will start to talk to other coaches also.

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Video: Max Olson on OL Darius James

February, 7, 2013

HornsNation's Max Olson discusses Texas' top-ranked commit Darius James (Killeen, Texas/Harker Heights)

Texas: 2014 prospects to watch 

February, 7, 2013
With signing day 2013 having wrapped up, it's time to turn our attention to 2014 recruits. Here are five players the Longhorns are really keying on, be it players who are already committed or top targets who will determine the direction Texas’ next class goes in:

[+] EnlargeJamal Adams
Miller Safrit/ESPNWatch List safety Jamal Adams has several offers to choose from.
1. QB Jerrod Heard - Texas commit
Denton (Texas) Guyer

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Texas Longhorns Show Out On Pro Day
The Texas Longhorns produced several eligible NFL Draft athletes who participated in Pro Day Tuesday afternoon in Austin, Texas.