Texas Longhorns: Ole Miss Rebels

videoOn Monday, we went in-depth on just how many coaches were impacted this offseason when Mack Brown resigned. The ripple effect of the Texas coaching shakeup touched 103 coaches and 47 college programs. If you missed that story, click here to check it out.

If 103 sounds like a big number, just imagine how many recruits each and every one of those coaches would've affected. And not just the 2014 prospects who were forced to scramble before signing day -- these coaching changes have long-term implications for the Class of 2015 and beyond.

[+] EnlargeDamarkus Lodge
Miller Safrit/ESPNWide receiver DaMarkus Lodge has closed the door on Texas after the coaching change and will likely choose from Texas A&M, Baylor and Ole Miss.
DaMarkus Lodge is just one example, and proof that it only takes one assistant coach to completely change a kid's plans.

The ESPN 300 standout from Cedar Hill, Texas, is the state's No. 1 wide receiver prospect. When he announces his decision on June 20, most expect he'll be choosing from Texas A&M, Baylor and Ole Miss.

What most don't know is just how close he came to committing to Texas last year.

Ever since attending Texas' 36-20 win over Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry in October, Lodge was sold. He and his parents visited Texas again in November, for at least their third time since the spring. Lodge had every intention of leaving that weekend visit as a Longhorn.

"It was actually about to happen," Lodge said last month. "I was going to commit."

Darrell Wyatt had everything to do with that. Texas' now-former co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach had a remarkably strong bond with Lodge and was one of the first to offer him a scholarship. Wyatt's advantage was unmistakable: He had coached Lodge's personal trainer, David Robinson, while an assistant at Oklahoma. Robinson, the co-owner of Quick Twitch Training in Dallas, swore by Wyatt's expertise.

"Everything D-Rob is telling me, that's what he said they were teaching at Texas," Lodge said. "I was already ahead of the guys who were there and the guys who were coming in. I knew I was going to come in there and play for sure."

Lodge says his parents were on board with him making that November commitment. But for some reason, which even Lodge can't explain today, right when he was on the cusp of making the pledge, his gut said no.

"I was about to do it, about to pull the trigger, and something was telling me in my head, 'Don't do it. Just wait,'" he said. "So I told them never mind."

A month later, Brown announced his resignation. Lodge was glad he'd held off, but he was especially troubled to learn Wyatt was not going to be retained by new coach Charlie Strong. That was the game-changer.

"He was like a dad to me," Lodge said. "I was kind of heartbroken. I used to talk to Wyatt three times a week. [Texas] would've had me."

Texas' new coaches visited Cedar Hill several times this spring in the hopes of re-sparking his interest. Is there any chance they can still sway him to follow through on his old plans of becoming a Longhorn?

"Not at all. Not at all," he said. "For me, that door is just not open. I think they know they really lost me with the whole staff change."

But there's one more door that has yet to open. Wyatt remains unemployed. Lodge has no idea why.

While he says he would hate to decommit from his June 20 choice later on, Lodge is not afraid to admit it: Wyatt is still the one person who can change his mind.

"I wonder where Coach Wyatt is going to go," Lodge said. "If he goes to one of the schools that I'm looking at, or if he picks up another job, then I'm probably already 90 percent with him.

"I can't wait to see where he goes. If he goes to one of these big programs, I'm probably with him. I really wanted to be coached by him for the next four years. Wherever he ends up ... it's going to be crazy."
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?

States of strength: Texas RBs 

May, 15, 2014
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When it comes to running backs, the state of Texas is loaded. Ten running backs represent the Lone Star State in the ESPN 300. Of those 10, five are committed. A total of seven running backs in the state have reported FBS commitments.

ESPN 300 RBs from the state:

No. 50 Ronald Jones II: Ranked the nation’s No. 3 running back, Jones is an explosive, game-changing back who -- as scary as it might sound -- will only get better. Jones committed to Oklahoma State on April 6 and finished his junior season with more than 2,400 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns.


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Florida has Florida State. Georgia has Georgia Tech. Kentucky has Louisville. And, of course, South Carolina has Clemson.

When it comes to the new SEC scheduling format starting in 2016, those four schools are already on board. Their annual rivalry games fulfill the league’s forthcoming requirement for a yearly nonconference game against an ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12 school.

But for the rest of the teams around the league, there’s a void.

Sure, they can go year to year and rotate in nonconference opponents. But where’s the fun in that? Let’s create some new rivalries, and in the case of some programs, reignite old ones.

[+] EnlargeBob Stoops and Nick Saban
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertThe spectacular salaries of college football coaches such as Bob Stoops, left, and Nick Saban are generated mostly by the labor of unpaid workers.
Alabama-Oklahoma: If FSU wasn’t already taken, the Noles would have been a perfect fit. The physical and philosophical proximity between programs is obvious. But looking elsewhere, Oklahoma might be a fun matchup. The Sugar Bowl has already created tons of tension on both sides with Sooners coaches delighting in calling out Nick Saban and the SEC.

Arkansas-Baylor: Call it a throwback to the old Southwest Conference. Arkansas, which didn’t join the SEC until 1992, has played more games against Baylor (69) than any school in its current conference. On top of that, the differences between Bret Bielema’s physical style and Art Briles’ free-flowing offensive scheme would be a joy to watch.

Auburn-Oregon: Recent history and playing styles dictates this matchup. Not only do we get a rematch of the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, but it pits offenses that live to go fast. Maybe it could be a two-hand touch game in which whoever reaches 100 points first wins.

LSU-Notre Dame: We couldn’t make a list of nonconference matchups and leave Notre Dame off, could we? Pitting the Golden Domers against an SEC program would be appointment viewing. Make that program LSU and the opposing coach Les Miles, and television networks will scratch each other's eyes out to get the game.

Mississippi State-Texas Tech: The Bulldogs have shied away from high profile nonconference games in the past, loading up on the likes of Memphis, UAB and South Alabama. Well, it’s time to infuse a little spice into the schedule. Kliff Kingsbury is too cool to keep out of the SEC. His Red Raiders would be a good matchup with Mississippi State, which faced Texas Tech seven times from 1953-70.

Missouri-Kansas: Does this one really need to be explained? The Border War should have never gone away in the first place. Now is the perfect opportunity to save face and bring back a rivalry that goes all the way back to 1891.

Ole Miss-Miami: We’ve got to get ‘The U’ involved. Miami and Ole Miss have already played a few times in their history, with the Rebs holding a 2-1 series lead. But bigger than that, it would get the SEC back into South Florida on a permanent basis because Miami and Florida don’t have the common sense to do that already.

Tennessee-North Carolina: Even if most people don’t remember it, there’s history there. Tennessee and UNC have played 29 times, with the Vols holding a 20-8-1 advantage. Plus, even if your memory is short, you should recall the double overtime Music City Bowl from 2010 between the schools. If they can re-create that just once, it would make the rivalry worth it.

Texas A&M-Texas: See Missouri-Kansas. Don’t let conference affiliations ruin great rivalries. Texas A&M-Texas should have never been shelved in the first place. And while the UT administration might not see a reason to bring it back -- nor Texas A&M's leadership, for that matter -- surely both fan bases do.

Vanderbilt-Duke:Call it a private school showdown. The proximity is reasonable, the fan bases similar, and the rivalry could easily extend to the hard court. Plus, have you seen Derek Mason’s nonconference schedule this year? It needs help.

Getting to know DaMarkus Lodge 

April, 17, 2014
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video Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

DESOTO, Texas -- With all the multiple camps, combines and special events happening each spring, DaMarkus Lodge chooses not to be a regular on the circuit.

It’s not that Lodge is against them, or that he thinks he’s above them. The ESPN 300 receiver has simply prioritized his life as a student-athlete. The camp circuit happens to be a middle-of-the-pack priority.


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Texas Relays recruiting notebook 

March, 30, 2014
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AUSTIN, Texas -- The state of Texas’ top track athletes descended on Austin this weekend to compete in the annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays on the campus of the University of Texas, and the field of competitors included several touted 2015 and 2016 recruits. Here’s an update on where a few of them stand in their recruitment.

RB Jones wants to travel

The battle for Ronald Jones II, one of the state’s top running back recruits out of McKinney North, rages on as he should be hitting the road in the next few months.


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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: Snapchat is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of social media around, but college football coaches won’t be able to use it as a recruiting tool; keep an eye on Indianapolis, because the city again will be one of the top spots in the Midwest for recruiters; and one of the top 2015 prospects in Missouri has a busy spring on tap.


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ESPN 300 OLB Alaka setting up visits 

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Otaro Alaka has already lost his recruiter once. He’s not ready to do it again.

The ESPN 300 outside linebacker from Houston Cypress Falls has been committed to Texas since April but admitted Tuesday he’s considering a decommitment depending on which assistants new coach Charlie Strong decides to retain.


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Army Bowl notebook: Jan. 2 

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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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Cornell, No. 1 in 2015 class, narrows list 

November, 20, 2013
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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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New school in mix for ESPN 300 Adams 

October, 30, 2013
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ESPN 300 safety Jamal Adams’ top five is now a top six.

Late Tuesday evening Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) said Florida, Texas A&M, Texas, Ole Miss and Ohio State are still very high on his list of schools, but LSU is now in the mix as well. Adams was offered by LSU back in April, minutes after he competed at the Nike Football Training Camp in Allen, Texas, and earned a golden ticket to The Opening.


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ESPN 300 Adams discusses TAMU visit 

September, 15, 2013
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As much of a traveler as ESPN 300 safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) has become, Saturday was his first Texas A&M game experience at Kyle Field.

The atmosphere of 87,000-plus fans watching the Aggies and Alabama battle like heavyweight prizefighters was enough for him to want to make another trip to College Station, Texas, soon. Adams took the first of his five official visits this weekend and said he had a blast taking in the Texas A&M environment.


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Stats that matter: Ole Miss-Texas

September, 12, 2013
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Each week, HornsNation teams up with the ESPN Stats & Info crew to dig into the numbers that matter most and find three statistics which could make a big difference on Saturday. Let's take a look at Texas’ final nonconference test against Ole Miss (7 p.m. CT, Longhorn Network).

No. 1: 182.5

That's the number of rushing yards Ole Miss has averaged per game since coach Hugh Freeze took over last season. The most the Rebels have rushed for in a game since 2012 was 330 yards, and against Southeast Missouri State last Saturday, they put up 272. The Ole Miss school record, in case Texas’ run defense completely falls apart again this week, is 515. That was set back in 1951.

Mack Brown made the change at defensive coordinator because he refused to let Texas’ problems with run defense continue. Freeze has already expressed concern and discomfort about the fact Texas will be throwing a new defense at Ole Miss, and it’ll be interesting to see how he attacks that run D early and often. After Texas’ performance in Provo, what coach wouldn’t?

No. 2: 67th

New Texas defensive coordinator Greg Robinson has not coached a top-50 defense (in either scoring or yardage) since he left Texas following the 2004 season. His best season was in 2005, as first-year head coach of Syracuse, when the Orange finished tied for No. 67 in the nation in scoring defense and No. 57 in total defense. In his final season as Michigan defensive coordinator, the Wolverines were No. 110 in total defense and No. 108 in scoring defense.

Brown doesn’t care about those numbers. He’s said Robinson was working with bad players and a bad team at Michigan, and he’s confident that the Greg Robinson who takes the field on Saturday night will be much like the one he remembers from 2004. Texas doesn’t expect perfection in his debut vs. Ole Miss, but Brown is hoping his team plays more physical and tackles much better.

No. 3: 3-0

Texas got on a roll in 2012 in its 66-31 beatdown of Ole Miss thanks to three Rebels' turnovers, all interceptions thrown by Bo Wallace. Winning the turnover battle 3-0 in Oxford was no doubt critical to a runaway victory. Turnovers didn’t doom Texas last week against BYU, but they could this time.

Believe it or not, Case McCoy has only thrown interceptions in three games of his Longhorn career. Six of his seven career interceptions, though, came in the only two games of his career when he’s thrown for 300 or more yards. He led Texas up and down the field against Baylor in 2011 and Kansas State in 2012, but if he makes similar mistakes on Saturday, this game can get away from him like the last two did.

Three more to remember

113: The number of rushes of 10-plus yards that Texas has given up since the beginning of the 2012 season. That ranks second-worst in FBS behind Indiana.

9-2: Texas’ record when receiver Mike Davis scores a touchdown. He has three this season.

6-0: Texas’ record when playing on the Longhorn Network.

Video: Conference Call: Week 3

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In the Big 12 Conference Call, Jake Trotter looks at Texas trying to get new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson up to speed in time for Saturday's game against Ole Miss.


In 2013, Ole Miss plays the likes of Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M -- three programs ranked in the top 10. But when Donte Moncrief was asked which game he had circled on the calendar, it was this Saturday’s game at Texas. It had nothing to do with rankings or rivalries. It was all about revenge.

“They came to our house and beat us pretty bad, so we’ve got to go back and return the favor,” the junior wide receiver said.

The Longhorns certainly had their way with Ole Miss last year. They jumped out to a three-touchdown lead at the half and cruised to a 66-31 victory. The offense put up 676 yards of total offense, 326 through the air and 350 on the ground. It was Hugh Freeze’s first loss as head coach, and one that he has not since forgotten.

Jackson Jeffcoat
AP Photo/Rogelio V. SolisOle Miss QB Bo Wallace threw three interceptions against Texas last season.
“I know our defense spent a lot of time (watching the game) because they really had their way with us running the football last year,” Freeze said.

The message at practice has been simple this week -- don’t dwell on last year’s game but use it as motivation instead.

“Everybody knows how we felt in the locker room after the game last year,” defensive back Cody Prewitt said. “We know the sickening feeling we had in our stomach from how we played. We don’t want to feel that again. It makes you just sick, sick at your stomach, the whole thing. We looked back at Texas film, and most of us here would say that we’re a different team right now. We hope to prove that Saturday.”

The Rebels are a different team this year. They’ve added talented freshmen from a top five recruiting class, and they rallied to beat Vanderbilt in the season opener, a win that put them on the map and kept the momentum going around the program. But they were 2-0 last year before the Longhorns had their way with them in Oxford.

“(Saturday’s game) will certainly be a measuring stick for us as to kind of where we are right now,” Freeze said.

It will also be a good measuring stick for Texas, a program trending in the opposite direction.

The Longhorns gave up over 500 yards rushing in a 40-21 loss to BYU last weekend. The embarrassing performance led to the reassignment of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and the hiring of Greg Robinson as his replacement. Rumors have now started to swirl around head coach Mack Brown and his future at Texas.

Still, despite all of the off-field distractions, Ole Miss knows not to underestimate the Longhorns. They remember what happened last year.

“We expect the same type of team from last year, if not better, to be there, and we’re expecting a really fun game for people to watch,” Prewitt said. “We want to go out there and we want to perform at the best of our ability. But we’re expecting the best team that they have.

“I think it's a great opportunity for our young kids to go into an environment outside of conference play that's a very exciting environment to play in, against a team that I know will be playing with a chip on their shoulder and extremely motivated to play,” Freeze said. “I know we'll get their best shot.”

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