Notebook: Texas' Under The Lights camp


A look at what we learned from Texas’ Under The Lights camp on Saturday night. The Longhorns had more than 100 campers inside Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, including six ESPN 300 standouts.

Stars on the sideline

The elite recruits in attendance at Texas’ UTL camp Saturday stuck to street clothes. Camp season is pretty much over, and the big-time players didn’t have much to prove. The action on the sideline proved as relevant as the drills and competition.

Defensive tackle Jordan Elliott, a Houston pledge, spent the night in a burnt orange Longhorns shirt hanging with fellow ESPN 300 stars Dontavious Jackson and Erick Fowler plus Alief Elsik teammate Chris Brown. Jeffrey McCulloch, another ESPN 300 standout, was spotted chatting with elite 2017 linebacker Anthony Hines III and former Longhorn All-American Brian Orakpo.

ESPN 300 receiver Dee Anderson, an LSU commit, watched with Texas commit Reggie Hemphill-Mapps. Another LSU commit, tight end Jamal Pettigrew, made an unofficial visit over the weekend and kept his eye on how Jeff Traylor coached up the tight ends. Four-star athlete Christian Wallace took the camp in with Texas’ freshman defensive backs and said afterward he'll take official visits to UT, Mississippi State, LSU and Oregon.

And mammoth defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, one of the state’s best for 2017, spent his time hanging out with Elliott and 2017 teammate Walker Little.

Throughout the night, Charlie Strong made his way around the field and chatted with all those critical targets. That one-on-one time should prove valuable. More important, Strong didn’t pressure them to make commitments. The pitch, as usual: Take your time and take your visits.

"They all pretty much told me to enjoy my senior year," said McCulloch, who's narrowed his list to Texas, Texas A&M, Florida, LSU, Alabama, Oregon, UCLA and Notre Dame. "If I'm ready to commit, go ahead and do it. If not, relax and enjoy senior year and don't think about it."

Fixing to flip?

Anderson has been committed to LSU since August 2014, but Texas won’t let up on trying to persuade the No. 167-rated recruit to switch sides.

He arrived in Austin early Saturday and grabbed lunch with his cousin, Texas freshman receiver DeAndre McNeal, before taking in the camp. His mother also made the trip down from Dallas to check out the camp.

If Texas can flip Anderson, they can probably shut down their receiver recruiting for 2016 with Hemphill-Mapps, Tren’Davian Dickson and Collin Johnson already on board.

As for Elliott, he’s taken several unofficial visits to Austin this year. Strong devoted quality attention to the state’s No. 7-rated recruit, a former Baylor pledge who picked Houston in May. He could be on flip watch in the near future.

Fowler made a surprise pledge to LSU this summer but will be a Texas target until signing day, in part because he’s an ideal fit for their “Fox” end/linebacker spot. Convincing Pettigrew to back out on LSU will be hard, but Fowler could be attainable if Strong’s staff keeps pushing.

Texas’ 2017 QB hunt

With Shawn Robinson (TCU), Kellen Mond (Baylor) and Chris Robison (Oklahoma) already off the board, Texas needed to determine its preferred target at quarterback for the 2017 class. Looks like Saturday sealed the deal.

Austin Westlake standout Sam Ehlinger received an offer from the Longhorns on Sunday afternoon, a move that certainly was expected after his performance. The 6-foot-1, 207-pound gunslinger has had a killer summer, winning both the MVP at the Longhorns’ elite QB camp and the title at the Texas state 7-on-7 tournament last weekend in College Station.

Ehlinger showed up early on Saturday for a film session with Watson -- as he’s done several times a month this summer -- and came out to prove he should be the take for 2017. After the camp, he was asked if a Texas offer would motivate him to commit.

"I think I'd probably want to keep it open right now," he said. "It's pretty early in my recruiting and I want to live through it because it only happens once."

Ehlinger competed with Jaylon Mascorro, another exciting 2017 passer out of Refugio with early offers from Houston, Kansas, SMU and Rice. He’s worth keeping an eye on as more in-state programs continue to search for next year’s quarterback commit.

Carson has early leader

Texarkana Liberty-Eylau defensive end Lagaryonn Carson, one of the top defensive recruits in Texas for 2017, says Texas moved to the top of his list after his unofficial visit on Saturday.

"They're at the top now," Carson said. "They've been at the top. I just like the people here, the place, the staff and all that."

The Horns were first to offer the athletic 6-foot-4, 260-pound end, who’s also high on Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor and Texas A&M early in this process. He didn't work out at the camp on Saturday, but did spend time chatting with Strong and Malik Jefferson. Carson got a TCU offer on Friday after attending their Friday Night Lights camp and said he'll visit A&M in a few weeks.

Young risers shine

As for those who did compete on Saturday, watch out for Camron Buckley. With Damarkus Lodge off to Ole Miss, he could be the next great receiver for state champ Cedar Hill. The long, quick 2017 receiver has offers from TCU and Houston and said he’s expecting one soon from Texas after his performance Saturday.

Another 2017 skill player worth watching is Wylie East running back Eno Benjamin, who rushed for 1,700 yards as a sophomore and already has nearly a dozen offers, including Miami and Texas Tech. He was one of the best of a talented group of backs that camped.