Texas Longhorns: Ole Miss Rebels

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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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 

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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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

September, 12, 2013
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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.”

New-school recruiting for Ole Miss, Texas

September, 12, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Their paths don’t cross much on the recruiting trail, and what they’re selling isn’t all that similar.

Texas offers tradition and the 16-year track record Mack Brown has built, the national titles he’s won and played for, the titles he expects to play for again soon. Ole Miss has traditions, too, but it’s now a younger program led by second-year coach Hugh Freeze that’s trying to rise up in the SEC.

Old School vs. New School? Not quite, but not far off in the eyes of some recruits.

The matchup this Saturday of No. 25 Ole Miss and Texas is no doubt an intriguing one when viewed through the lens of recruiting. Both schools are among the nation’s best on that front.

Texas has had top 10-ranked recruiting classes in seven of the past eight years. Being a power in those rankings is nothing new for the Longhorns. But in Freeze’s first year, Ole Miss stunned the recruiting world by signing the No. 5 class in the country, highlighted by No. 1 overall recruit Robert Nkemdiche, five-star receiver Laquon Treadwell and several other four-stars who will take the field Saturday night.

“He’s done a great job,” Texas coach Mack Brown said of Freeze. “I can’t remember what they did after our game, but they finished very strong, had the best recruiting year in the country and now they’ve got a great start. It’s great timing for us to bring a really good SEC team in here and challenge us before we get started in conference play. I’m excited about the challenge.”

Ole Miss went 7-6, but Freeze still capitalized on the annual phenomenon of coaches having first-year recruiting success. The relentless efforts he and his assistants make in recruiting are drawing attention.

There was also good fortune. Nkemdiche’s brother played for Ole Miss. Treadwell’s best friend did, too. Freeze proudly said on signing day that those ins were “God’s favor to us,” though the popular (and unproven) assumption among skeptics was that the Rebels had cheated.

[+] EnlargeRobert Nkemdiche
AP Photo/David TulisThe nation's No. 1 overall recruit, Robert Nkemdiche, led Ole Miss' recruiting success.
One thing was certain: Ole Miss sent a message on Feb. 6 when Nkemdiche, No. 1 tackle Laremy Tunsil and No. 2 safety Tony Conner all made signing-day decisions for the Rebels on national TV.

Jamal Adams was watching. The ESPN 300 safety from Lewisville (Texas) Hebron called that Ole Miss class “the best yet” and is convinced the Rebels are on the rise.

“They have the potential to go far in the next few years,” Adams said.

Adams has both Ole Miss and Texas in his top six and will take official visits to Oxford next month and Texas in November. He said most schools recruit him the same, but there is one thing Freeze’s staff does that caught him by surprise.

“They stay on you, giving you Bible verses every morning,” Adams said. “It’s cool at times.”

Ole Miss has offered more than 25 recruits from the state of Texas in this class and signed three Texans last year. Landing a big fish like Adams would do wonders for Freeze’s goal of making his program a national recruiting power.

"Recruiting in Texas has been big to us,” Freeze said Monday. “We've certainly picked up some momentum there. Going over there and doing well would provide dividends.”

Adams is as critical a target as any for Texas right now, a kid Mack Brown and his coaching staff has been recruiting for years. The approach they’ve taken -- not just with Adams, but all targets -- has undergone impressive changes in the past six months.

The hiring of Patrick Suddes in March to lead a new player personnel department has been a boon for the Longhorns’ recruiting efforts. They’re working hard to shed that “old school” label and modernize how Texas evaluates and pursues prospects.

Three-star Longview (Texas) defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson is keeping a close eye on both schools. He recently decommitted from TCU and has Texas and Ole Miss in his new top six. The moment he received an offer from the Rebels was a special one.

“I was like, dang. Nkemdiche, the No. 1 defensive end in the nation, is going to Ole Miss. And then when I got the offer, I was pumped up about it,” Henderson said. “I was like, ‘Man, I can go play with the No. 1 player in the nation.’ Not everybody can say that.”

He was raised by diehard Texas fans with Longhorn emblems on all their cars. Mom and dad love Texas, and his best friend Dorian Leonard has already committed to UT. Despite the recent turmoil in Austin following the firing of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, Henderson is still planning to visit Texas next weekend. He has a feeling both schools can be atop the college football world someday soon.

“Texas is very similar to Ole Miss in their recruiting style,” Henderson said. “Either you want to go to Texas or you don’t. They want to know that from the start, if you have any interest in them. If you do, they want to talk to you.”

Like the Twitter-savvy Freeze, Suddes has helped refresh Texas’ recruiting methods on social media. On the first day they were permitted, he and Mack Brown were up late into the night sending Twitter and Facebook messages to 2015 recruits on Sept. 1.

They’ve held new recruiting events and ramped up their efforts with that 2015 class to the point that they’re in the lead for most of the state’s best. The point isn’t to put together one great class. It’s to stay ahead and work on two or three at a time, advancing your message and brand in as many ways as possible.

Freeze undoubtedly subscribes to that philosophy. He admitted on signing day it takes two or three elite classes to build a title contender. He proved in Year 1 he’ll compete with anyone.

Now that includes Texas. The Rebels and Longhorns will square off Saturday night at DKR, but that won’t be the last time they battle.

First Glance: Ole Miss Rebels

September, 10, 2013
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A look at No. 25 Mississippi, the Longhorns' third opponent of the season. Texas plays at home Saturday (7 p.m. CT, Longhorn Network).

Campus location: Oxford, Miss.

Nickname: Rebels

Conference: SEC

All-time record vs. Texas: 1-6

Last game: Ole Miss jumped out to a 31-0 lead in the first half against Southeast Missouri State and went on cruise control from there for a 31-13 victory last Saturday. Bo Wallace threw touchdown passes of 64 and 67 yards and sat out the second half, and backup quarterback Barry Brunetti rushed for 111 yards. Getting a chance to rest starters and work on depth early in the season is always a good thing.

Last meeting with Texas: Steve Edmond took one of three Bo Wallace interceptions to the house to start off this blowout, and the Longhorns got a comfortable 31-10 lead by the half. They traded big plays the rest of the way, and Texas made a few concerning busts on defense but still won 66-31. Marquise Goodwin had one of the great games of his career with a 69-yard touchdown run, 55-yard touchdown catch and 198 all-purpose yards. The downside? Texas lost Jordan Hicks for the season and Malcolm Brown for much of it on that night.

Key player: Ole Miss’ two-quarterback system. Considering how much trouble Taysom Hill gave Texas last week, you can bet Texas will be ready for Wallace and Brunetti. Wallace is a far better passer than Hill with an array of dangerous receivers, and he’s mobile. Brunetti could be a problem, too. He’s rushed for 115 yards and three TDs in two games and can make plays in the read option game. Texas couldn’t handle that last weekend. The QB duo has combined for more carries (40) than top running back Jeff Scott (16).

Why Ole Miss might win: You watched that Texas game last week, right? The Longhorns have a lot of work to do in one week, and a lot will be asked of new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson. This Ole Miss offense can attack teams in a lot of different ways, and its athletic defensive line will also be a handful.

Why Ole Miss might lose: It is possible we’ve overrated and overhyped Ole Miss, just as we did this time last year. If their secondary is vulnerable to the deep ball again, Mike Davis and Kendall Sanders could blow this game wide open. We should see Texas players come out more focused than ever after the events of the past week, and the fact is they have much more talent than their inconsistent play suggests. Just when you count Mack Brown out, his team just might come strong, punch the Rebels in the mouth and surprise a lot of folks.
Family: The one word that many college football recruits use to describe Ole Miss after a visit. ESPN 300 safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) followed suit.


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LEANDER, Texas -- The 2013 Texas State 7-on-7 Tournament saw a number of college football targets put on a show. It also saw some of the lesser-known players make a case for more publicity.

Graham (Texas) High School won the Division II (small-school) competition, while Southlake (Texas) Carroll claimed the Division I (large-school) prize. Carroll won the first 7-on-7 state tile 15 years ago in College Station, Texas.

Here are five things we learned from the state tournament:

2015 has one over former Carroll QBs

[+] EnlargeRyan Agnew
Damon Sayles/ESPN.comClass of 2015 QB Ryan Agnew showed poise in leading Southlake Carroll's aggressive passing attack to the Division I title.
Southlake Carroll has a tradition of producing quality quarterbacks. Chase Daniel, Greg McElroy and Kyle Padron all have NFL experience, and Daniel, McElroy, Chase Wasson, Riley Dodge and incoming Texas A&M freshman Kenny Hill have won state championships. Ryan Agnew hopes to follow those footsteps.

The 2015 quarterback did something that the others hadn’t, and that’s lead Carroll to the state 7-on-7 title. Agnew connected with receivers such as Luke Timian and Keaton Duhon en route to an undefeated run in the tournament.

Agnew, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound quarterback, has early looks from Northwestern, Iowa State, Texas Tech and Ole Miss.


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