Texas Longhorns: Arkansas Razorbacks

Altanta Elite 11 regional camp notebook 

March, 21, 2014
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SUGAR HILL, Ga. -- Several talented quarterbacks took the field at the Atlanta Elite 11 regional camp on Friday. Though no official invites for the Elite 11 finals, held in Beaverton, Ore. in July, were extended, there were five finalists with potential to eventually earn an invite. The finalists included Anthony Ratliff, Austin King, Kendall Hinton, Ross Trail and Alex Malzone. Four of the five finalists were from out-of-state. King is from Alpharetta, Ga.


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Top 5 now a top 3 for ESPN 300 DE 

January, 20, 2014
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The father of ESPN 300 defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) said two schools have been eliminated from contention as national signing day rapidly approaches.


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Well-rounded Thomas taking his time

January, 16, 2014
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video This is part of a series on the nation's top uncommitted recruits leading up to signing day. Click here for the full series.

Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) believes he’s found the formula for how to deal with college football recruiting.

Looking for the guy to stress about the process? Don’t look Thomas’ way. On Sunday, fresh off an official visit to Stanford, Thomas put priorities first.

He played a friendly game of 3-on-3 touch football with friends.

“I’m just doing my best not to let the process change me. I can’t let it define me,” said Thomas, a four-star defensive end with more than 30 offers. “I’m taking advantage of just being a kid right now.”

Thomas is the No. 25 player in the ESPN 300 and the nation’s fourth-ranked defensive end, but he’s also still an 18-year-old high school senior. He reminds himself of that as much as possible with games of touch football, a trip to the movies, a round or two of video games or an exciting game of "Fugitive," where he and friends literally make the entire city of Coppell the playing field with a lengthy game of tag.

For someone who is 6-foot-3 and 256 pounds, being labeled a “man-child” holds opposite-spectrum definitions. On the football field, he’s a man among boys. Away from the field, he’s a big kid -- and many times, the biggest kid.

“As a teen, he acts like he’s 18 going on 2,” said Chris Thomas, Solomon’s father. “And then there are some times where he’s 18 going on 65. He has an old soul about him.”

It’s that attitude that’s helped Thomas turn a potentially hectic recruiting process into one that hasn’t been completely bothersome. Rather than worrying about his future, Thomas lives for the now and enjoys life. Being a college athlete can wait, for the time being.

‘He’s doing it right’

[+] EnlargeSolomon Thomas
John Albright/Icon SMISolomon Thomas had three tackles for loss in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
At the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 4, there were times when Thomas was poetry in motion. In practices, he seemed to be in on every play. In the game -- which his team won 28-6 in front of 40,017 fans -- he showed his ability off the end, finishing with three tackles for losses.

Nine players announced their college plans during the game. Thomas wasn’t one of them, as he said he wanted to take all of his official visits before making a decision. Thomas’ January itinerary included the visit to Stanford and will conclude with Arkansas the weekend of Jan. 24 and Ohio State the weekend of Jan. 31. Thomas visited UCLA last month.

Those four schools and Texas make up his top five, and all five mean something special to Thomas. Many believe Stanford is the team to beat, as Thomas has made several trips to Palo Alto. His official visit was highlighted by news that he was accepted into the university, news he had been patiently waiting to hear.

“It was relieving to hear that,” Thomas said. “I felt like all my hard work in the classroom had paid off. Taking four AP classes and taking the SAT six or seven times, [academics] is a grind, just like football is. But it made me a better student and made me challenge myself.”

Thomas, however, is adamant about keeping the other four schools at the forefront of his decision. Thomas won’t declare a favorite and is expected to have all five hats on a table for his announcement on national signing day Feb. 5.

Coppell coach Joe McBride said Thomas has kept his opinions about the schools relatively quiet. Rarely does Thomas comment on the schools by way of social media, as he understands that every word said can be featured on a message board.

“He doesn’t talk about it a lot, but I think he’s doing it right,” McBride said. “He’s doing his own research and at times will come to talk to me about my opinion on a couple of things. He’s done a really good job in asking coaches how they want to use him. He’s just a smart kid who is taking his time and asking all the right questions.”

Four pieces of recruiting advice

McBride said he gave Thomas four tidbits of recruiting advice when schools first began to reach out. He wanted Thomas to look for a program’s stability in a head coach; build a solid relationship with a position coach; ask about a program’s depth chart; and find out how he’ll be used in that program’s package.

[+] EnlargeSolomon Thomas
Tom Hauck for Student SportsThomas is ranked No. 25 in the final ESPN 300.
“His coaches have been great with everything,” Chris Thomas said. “Solomon’s so grounded and focused on what his final goal is, and he’s been really organized in his decision-making. He’s listed key elements and other criteria for making a decision. He’s looking at location, the coaches, trainers, education . . . I’m not surprised he’s able to do it and be so levelheaded. That’s his personality.”

Thomas is a role model by nature, one who understands and appreciates hard work and its rewards. He’s a model student who also happens to play several sports recreationally -- basketball, tennis and sand volleyball -- because he doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as just another football player.

And when it comes to good manners, it's almost always “Yes, sir” or “Yes, ma’am." He’s a person who thinks about others first. One reason he chose to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl was to entertain the soldiers.

“It was a grind, but it was an honor and a blessing to be there,” Thomas said. “There’s so much tradition there, and I just wanted to go out and play as hard as I could for them. Overall, it made me better.”

In three weeks, Thomas will announce his verbal commitment, and one school will have a well-rounded individual who also happens to be a defensive juggernaut. It’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly and one that should be treated with the utmost care. Thomas gets it, even when in the recruiting world, taking your time often can be considered a bad idea.

“I want to be in a different category and do things my own way sometimes,” he said. “I just want to enjoy being a kid now. This is a big decision for me, so I know I need to take my time.

“I don’t want to rush it. I want to do it the right way.”

Army Bowl notebook: Jan. 2 

January, 2, 2014
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SAN ANTONIO -- Thursday’s practice session for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl saw players in more of a rhythm on offense, but it also saw defensive players showing their skills. If Thursday is any indication, Saturday’s contest could be a low-scoring affair.

Here are a few notes:

Cannon reaffirms Baylor commitment … again.

For the Baylor fans who read the late-Wednesday tweet coming from ESPN 300 receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant), don’t read anything into it.


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Under Armour Early Offer 

December, 30, 2013
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily morning dose of recruiting.

Today’s Early Offering is coming to you from the Under Armour All-America Game. Here’s a sample of some of the top news from the event, including a look at who stood out on the first day of practices and a quarterback who hopes to make a big impression.

No. 1 preps for announcement
Seven of the nation’s top prospects will commit live during the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 2 (ESPN, at 4 p.m. ET), including the No. 1 player in the country, running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine). Fournette has stuck with his top two of Alabama and LSU and said both school’s hats will be in front of him when he announces. A Texas hat will be there too, but it’s down to the Tigers and Tide. Fournette said he’s tired of getting asked where he’s going to end up, but that thankfully will end in a few days. “It is just something I want to get off my shoulders,” he said. “Everybody has been nagging me about a thousand times. At the end of the day, it’s where I’m going to be most successful and most comfortable at.”


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Jashon Cornell (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin Derham-Hall), the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2015, has narrowed his top list. After much deliberation, Cornell has cut the list of schools in the running down to 15.

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Programs off to fast start in 2015 

November, 19, 2013
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While recruiting is undoubtedly a marathon and not a sprint, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with a good start.

The key for any program is being able to sustain and finish strong, and only time will tell which programs will be able to do that, but what we do know is which teams are off to a fast start in the Class of 2015. Below are the five programs that are leading the pack early for 2015, as well as a few other notable fast starters:


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3-point stance: Change coming at Texas

November, 6, 2013
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1. Everybody knows it’s tough to follow a legendary coach. We’re about to find out how tough it is to follow a legendary athletic director. But when Steve Patterson takes over for DeLoss Dodds at Texas, he will be changing the way that Texas has operated for 32 years. He will have to replace legendary football (Mack Brown) and baseball (Augie Garrido) coaches sooner rather than later. And Patterson will be expected to make every decision correctly from the day he sets foot on the 40 Acres. No pressure there at all.

2. Among the four AQ conferences split into divisions, who are the only two coaches undefeated in their own divisions since the beginning of the 2012 season? Urban Meyer at Ohio State, obviously, since he is unbeaten against everyone. The other is UCLA’s Jim Mora, who takes a 7-0 record in the Pac-12 South to Arizona on Saturday night. Mora is 1-6 against the Pac-12 North, which is a reflection of both the relative strength of the two divisions and the fact that UCLA has played Stanford three times and Oregon once.

3. Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema is still looking for his first SEC victory and is one loss away from his first losing record after seven seasons at Wisconsin. But according to Bielema, the honeymoon continues. “If we weren’t doing things right, if we didn’t have kids believing in what we were saying, we’d be having problems right now,” Bielema said Monday. “We’d have kids that would be erupting on the sidelines. We’d have kids that are being problems in the classroom or doing some things that are just really disruptive to what’s going on and everybody just keeps humming, everybody just keeps sawing wood, everybody just keeps moving themselves in the right path.”

RecruitingNation's The Early Offer gives you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: By offering the top signal-caller in the 2015 class, Texas proves it is serious about fixing its issues at the quarterback spot; Arkansas hopes to make a big impression with four key official visitors slated to visit this weekend; and a NJCAA region VI playoff game will feature some of the best junior college players in the country.

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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: The Red River Rivalry always has recruiting implications, and this year’s game is no exception; Texas’ loss could end up being Arkansas’ gain; and one of the nation’s best offensive tackles will take trips to Florida and Florida State.


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Texas adds three-star ATH Shorter 

August, 17, 2013
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The options were plentiful for three-star athlete Kevin Shorter (Newton, Texas/Newton). But in the end, he decided that his best bet was heading to the Forty Acres.

The 6-foot, 188-pound prospect from Southeast Texas announced on Saturday that he was staying in-state and gave his commitment to Texas. Shorter posted the news on his Twitter page on Saturday afternoon.

"I've made my mind up that ill be going to UT #HookEm," Shorter tweeted.

Newton head coach W.T. Johnston confirmed the commitment in a text message.

Shorter, the nation's 61st-ranked athlete, had 25 offers to choose from and had a final three of Arkansas, Texas and Texas A&M. He visited all three campuses within the last six weeks and originally planned to decide Aug. 3, but postponed his decision in order to take a couple more visits.

Some believed Arkansas might have the inside track on Shorter. His cousin, D.J. Dean, is a freshman cornerback at Arkansas and the two were high school teammates at Newton.

Texas didn't appear to be the favorite, especially after Shorter had a positive visits at both Arkansas and Texas A&M last month. But shortly after his trip to Aggieland, he made two visits to Texas in the span of a week. He visited the Longhorns for the Texas Stampede, then made return trips to Texas on Aug. 2, a visit that appeared to seal the deal.

Texas running backs coach Larry Porter, who led the recruitment of Shorter, was upfront with Shorter about the Longhorns plan for him and how they felt about the talented athlete.

The Longhorns got into the mix in the spring and Shorter got a chance to meet with the coaching staff several times when he was in Austin for the Texas state high school track and field championships.

Texas has two running backs in its 2014 class: ESPN 300 back Donald Catalon (Houston/Eisenhower) and Texas City (Texas) High School running back D'Onta Foreman.


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Big 12 recruiting mailbag

August, 9, 2013
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Time to open up the mailbag and answer some questions about recruiting in the Big 12.

From Judd Blevins on Twitter: Possibility of Oklahoma getting 2 more RBs in Joe Mixon and Nathan Starks are…?

William Wilkerson: Surprisingly decent. Not to say OU can’t pull two running backs of this caliber. It most certainly can. It’s just rare for two players as good as they are to end up in the same recruiting class, especially with ESPN 300 RB Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) already on board with Bob Stoops’ program.

It’s long been thought that Mixon would stay on the west coast and play for either USC or UCLA, but that sentiment seems to have shifted and OU is a big reason why. He will officially visit the Sooners on Oct. 4.

As for Starks, it is no secret that he has long admired OU for its ability to recruit out-of-state backs but also make them into NFL talent. He currently has the Sooners in his top three along with Notre Dame and USC.

From James Robinson on Twitter: Are there any high school TEs Texas will pursue in the 2014 or 2015 classes?

WW: There are. Right now, Texas has offered ESPN 300 TE Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, CA/La Mirada) and is trying to get him on campus for a visit. The 6-foot-3, 243-pound TE is the top at his position in the country. So interest is high from everyone but he has expressed the desire to get to Austin at some point.

As for 2015, the Longhorns have offered ESPN Junior 300 TE Jordan Davis (Houston/Clear Lake). But it doesn’t look like that will lead to anything. Davis originally committed to Florida State but has since switched his verbal pledge to Texas A&M.

Texas has gone to the junior college ranks for the second year in a row to pick up a tight end. John Thomas (Trinity Valley CC), who was originally committed to LSU out of high school, gave his verbal pledge in June.

From Gold n Blue Nation on Twitter: Dravon Henry seems to be down to Penn St. and WVU with Pitt running third. What is your prediction?

WW: This could go any way at this point. I think he’ll eventually stay close to home and stick with Penn State. But that could change, especially given that the Nittany Lions already have commitments from two safeties and two cornerbacks in 2014. That’s definitely an angle that I would be selling to Henry if I were WVU’s staff, who only has one defensive back commitment in junior college cornerback Jaylon Myers. Pitt and Aliquippa have a long and prosperous history together so you can’t count out the Panthers. The key here could be where teammate Jaleel Fields lands. Pitt and WVU seem to be the front-runners for him.

From Jason Mitchum on Twitter: Do you see Peyton Newell staying in-state?

WW: I think he’ll end up with Bo Pelini. Mitchum visited the Cornhuskers on June 15 for Big Red Weekend, which really seemed to cement things in the minds of many. For what it’s worth, Kansas and Kansas State are amongst his finalists, which he will choose from at his school on Aug. 30.

From Jacob Ledo on Twitter: Update on Kevin Shorter?

WW: Things are getting really interesting here. It looked like Arkansas and Texas A&M were going to go head-to-head for his commitment, but Texas is squarely in the mix now. He’s visited the Longhorns twice within the last two weeks so there is obvious interest there. The fact that he has pushed his college decision back because he needs more time doesn’t bode well for the two original contenders. The Longhorns need another running back and are selling him on the idea of being that vertical threat out of the backfield. Larry Porter has done an incredible job with getting Texas in the mix.
BEAVERTON, Ore. -- ESPN 300 defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) has a top eight consisting of Texas, Oklahoma, Stanford, Notre Dame, Alabama, Arkansas, Ohio State and UCLA.

The 6-foot-3, 256-pound defensive end recently visited three of his favorites and said he came away impressed with each school.


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video
McKINNEY, Texas -- The 2013 Nike Football Festival made a stop in north Texas, and 24 teams from the Dallas metroplex and east Texas showed their skills in 7-on-7 competition and individual skills challenges at Craig Ranch and the Michael Johnson Performance Center. Roughly 400 athletes were in attendance, some considered major FBS recruits.

Here is what we learned after the event:

2015 QB Murray wins ... twice

That sigh of relief you heard in McKinney? It’s still to be determined if it was from the Allen faithful or the Texas A&M faithful.

Saturday afternoon, Allen won the event's 7-on-7 tournament, and 2015 quarterback Kyler Murray looked phenomenal in competition. He made the same kind of plays in the air that allowed him to lead Allen to the Texas Class 5A Division-I state championship in December. In short, Murray was outstanding.

Shortly after, the 5-foot-11, 166-pound quarterback picked up the much-anticipated offer that made Aggies fans gush. Murray, the son of former Aggies quarterback Kevin Murray, finally got an offer from Texas A&M to join offers from Ohio State, Clemson, Texas Tech, Arkansas and Arizona State.

Life after Texas commit looks promising


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MESQUITE, Texas -- Class of 2015 quarterback Kyler Murray (Allen, Texas/Allen) has five offers so far, and his list of interested schools continues to grow.

Murray took in a satellite camp hosted by Sam Houston State and assisted by Arizona State, one of the schools to have offered, on Thursday afternoon. While he chose to watch the camp and not participate, Murray said he was a fan of what he saw from the Arizona State coaches.

"I've been talking to [offensive coordinator] Coach [Mike] Norvell, and he told me they liked me," Murray said. "I like what they're doing over there. I'm definitely interested."


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