Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Texas still hunting for help from jucos
By Max Olson
With nearly seven weeks left before signing day, Texas’ recruiting board is beginning to thin out a bit.
ESPN Junior College 100
After watching countless hours of junior college prospects, ESPN RecruitingNation has named the top 100 juco players in the country. ESPN Junior College 100
All but a few of the high school prospects who hold offers from Texas have made commitments. Beyond Waco, Texas, lineman Andrew Billings, there aren’t many big fish left for Texas to catch.
More seniors are being evaluated and will emerge, but that has also prompted Texas to up its efforts on the junior college recruiting trail. So had a need for immediate help at a few critical positions.
Mack Brown has only signed four junior college transfers in his time at Texas. Landing two in 2012 was a bit of a breakthrough for the program, if only because it sent a statement that Brown and his staff were serious about upgrading their talent by any means necessary.
An up-and-down 8-4 season has only further motivated the Longhorns to go out and find instant-impact starters. Here’s the big juco names you need to know going forward.
OLB De'Vondre Campbell, Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College Of all the juco guys to keep on eye on, Campbell tops the list because he’s the one expected to reach a decision soonest.
Campbell has been committed to Tennessee since May. Once the writing was on the wall that the Vols' coaching staff was on its way out, Texas made its move and offered a scholarship.
Tennessee hired Butch Jones away from Cincinnati the day the three-star prospect arrived in Austin for his official visit for the banquet weekend. How well Campbell connect with Jones and his new staff will make all of the difference in where he ends up.
Campbell has kept quiet about where things stand ever since visiting Texas. He’s done so in an effort to respect his commitment to Tennessee. But a decision is expected on junior college signing day Wednesday.
De'Vondre Campbell has been committed to Tennessee since spring, but Texas is trying to swoop in and grab the linebacker.
Texas can offer the 6-foot-5, 224-pound outside linebacker a fair shot at starting right away after its linebackers endured more than their fair share of struggles in 2012. But will he take it, or stick to his word and sign with the Vols?
OT Desmond Harrison, Contra Costa (Calif.) College The most likely to end up at Texas, Harrison is a mammoth 6-foot-8, 310-pound lineman who grew up in the Houston area and has said he can see himself playing at UT.
But ESPN's No. 81 ranked juco prospect will not be signing with any schools this week. Harrison doesn’t graduate from Contra Costa until May, meaning he has plenty of time to let his recruiting process play out.
Harrison took his fifth and final official visit to USC this weekend after taking in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona State and N.C. State. Since the Wolfpack fired their head coach, Harrison is down to those first four schools at this point.
Now that officials are out of the way, Harrison’s decision will come down to who blows him and his mother way with an in-home visit. Harrison is going home to North Carolina this week and will host in-home visits there after the holidays. Texas is visiting in January. A decision is expected in late January or February.
Texas relied on only six offensive linemen this season and is looking to bolster its depth with Harrison and Billings. Missing out on Katy (Texas) Seven Lakes guard Caleb Benenoch makes the big man from California an even bigger priority.
DE Za'Darius Smith, East Mississippi Community College Texas brought Smith in for an official visit along with Harrison and Campbell, but it’s hard to know whether the Longhorns are truly in the mix for his pledge.
The 6-foot-6, 255-pound end, ranked No. 10 in ESPN's juco 100, has kept quiet throughout his recruitment. But he had Texas’ commits talking after meeting them on his visit.
“That one dude was big,” cornerback pledge Antwuan Davis said. “He was big. I was like, man, we definitely need you, bro.”
So do lots of other programs. Smith is seriously considering Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Florida State, among others. Though he hasn’t said which way he’s leaning, there’s a good chance he winds up in the SEC.
Smith is expected to sign this week. Right now, it would be quite an unexpected coup if he ends up with Texas.
S Shaquille Fluker, East Mississippi Community College Fluker was scheduled to join Smith for the Dec. 7 official visit, but canceled a few days before the trip.
The four-star defensive back is 35th in ESPN's juco rankings and has been committed to Georgia since August. Texas doesn’t stand much of a chance of flipping Fluker if he doesn’t make a visit to campus, but there’s still time.
Fluker is a May grad and is in no hurry to sign his letter of intent with Georgia. Texas has an awful big need at safety, so don’t be surprised if this isn’t the last you’ve heard of him.
WR Quantavius Leslie, Hinds (Miss.) Community College Another coveted juco prospect who Texas would like to get on campus, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound wideout is an LSU commit.
Leslie is a four-star prospect ranked No. 30 among all juco prospects and would certainly fill the large void that Ricky Seals-Jones left when he decommitted from Texas this summer.
Like Fluker, though, it’s hard to envision a way for Texas to snag a commitment from Leslie without getting him on campus and showing him what the Longhorns have to offer, and he hasn’t given any indication that a visit is upcoming.