Mack Brown finally did it. He raised his finger and -- with equal parts enthusiasm and reluctance -- pressed the big red button.
He and his Texas staff dropped a recruiting bomb on the state on Thursday. More than 20 offers went out to 2014 recruits in a sudden and startling break from the Longhorns’ recruiting tradition and philosophy.
Gone are the days of earmarking offers for February junior days, or making noncommittal promises of “approved offers.”
Then Houston Roosevelt running back Donald “Duke” Catalon pulled the trigger on his decision Friday.
For the rest, those who are now formally on Texas’ board, Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints offensive tackle Demetrius Knox said it best:
“This is big-time,” Knox said. “I mean, I respect the way they were doing it. They like to give the 2013 class their respect and their moment to shine.
“But at the same time, you’ve just got to get on the ball and start the recruiting process with everybody. Best come, best served.”
And Texas did just that, handing out offers to nearly all of the state of Texas’ most talented juniors.
For many this was not a surprise. Knox, La Porte linebacker Hoza Scott, Denton Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard and Beaumont Ozen cornerback Tony Brown were just a few of the elite 2014 prospects who knew their UT offer was coming eventually.
But sending out so many offers, all in one day, all at the same time? It was a master stroke, one that gave the Longhorns’ 2014 efforts a much-needed boost.
Among the flurry of offers, six went out to members of the state’s loaded class of defensive backs. Several of them -- particularly Brown and Mansfield Timberview’s Ed Paris -- had given strongest interest to those who offered earliest.
“If Texas needs a recruit, they have a better chance of getting that recruit if they offer him early,” Brown told HornsNation in May. “You want to be where you’re loved. I think that’s a big deal if a school offers you early.”
The defensive backs weren’t the only ones who got some long-awaited love from the Longhorns.
At least three running backs received offers, including Knox’s close friend and teammate fullback Daniel Gresham.
They sent one to elite Mount Pleasant wideout K.D. Cannon as well as three other receivers.
They hooked the much-hyped Scott up with his offer, as well as Dallas Carter linebacker Cameron Hampton.
And the Texas staff didn’t forget to reach out to the top out-of-state prospects they’d scouted this spring, making sure each one knew his offer was official.
For Las Vegas Bishop Gorman running back Nathan Starks, that sent a message.
“It’s awesome, especially knowing that they hardly recruit out of Texas,” he said. “Coach [Darrell] Wyatt said it’s time for a change. The coaching staff has done a lot of talking and they decided it was time to offer me.”
And offering did Texas a whole lot of good. Bishop Gorman produced former Oklahoma back DeMarco Murray, and for that reason Starks has long had a strong affinity for the Sooners. Now he says Texas is up right there with OU and USC.
Along with Starks, linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), receiver Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) reported offers on Thursday, and it’s possible several more have been extended.
This might only be the beginning of Texas’ reformed recruiting plan, but there’s really no going back now. The Longhorns dove headfirst into the never-ending brawl that early recruiting has become.
That button can’t be unpushed. But the boom it produced sure left an impact.