Thursday, January 3, 2013
The Heard: UT recruiting news and notes
By Max Olson and William Wilkerson
Welcome to The Heard, HornsNation’s weekly in-depth look inside the never-ending world of Longhorns recruiting with news, notes and interesting tidbits on the latest happenings around the program. We’ll release this every Thursday.
Talk about it in our forum and, if there’s a recruit out there you’d like to hear more from, let us know.
A few of the notes in today's The Heard:
Update on Texas' four early enrollees
Commits impressing at all-star games
Four-star WR excited for visit
Big in-home visit coming up
New school in play for Marshall
Watch List DE coming to junior day
Paris ready to name top 10
The bell cow of 2014
Read The Heard after the jump.
Early enrollees update
Texas has four recruits planning to enroll early for spring practices. Here’s the latest on their plans for getting to Austin.
Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
Four-star prospect Jake Raulerson will begin his Texas career on the defensive line.
Butte (Calif.) College tight end Geoff Swaim has already signed and faxed his letter of intent and told me he plans to arrive at Texas on Jan. 12. Of course, that date is a bit flexible since Swaim has to make a drive of more than 27 hours to get all the way from Butte to UT.
Jake Raulerson graduated from Celina on Dec. 20 and told me he’s eyeing a Jan. 11 arrival at this point. Deoundrei Davis is expected to join the program on or around Jan. 14. That’s the day Texas starts its first day of classes.
Tyrone Swoopes should be coming in a little later. Whitewright doesn’t end its semester until Jan. 17. He told me he’s not sure what day he’ll get to Austin, but it should be shortly after that date.
Hawkins and Moore turned that opportunity into starting jobs, and Thomas and De La Torre both saw the field as freshmen. Hughes would’ve had a shot at playing had he not suffered a torn ACL in a pickup basketball game in June.
Raulerson has been guaranteed he will not redshirt in 2013, and Swaim should give Texas some offensive flexibility as a H-back/tight end immediately.
Davis should get a shot at challenging for time at outside linebacker, too. The question mark, of course, is Swoopes and how he fits into Major Applewhite’s plans going forward.
Don’t expect Texas to land any more early enrollees this late in the game. All of the junior college prospects it’s still pursuing -- namely Desmond Harrison, Nick Marshall and De’Vondre Campbell -- are May grads who wouldn’t join the program until the summer.
Just as we did this summer, we’ll have Q&As with each of the incoming recruits this month before they officially begin their careers at Texas. - Max Olson
Longhorns shining at all-star games
Texas is well-represented in San Antonio with six commitments at the U.S Army All-American Bowl. Here is a breakdown of how each commitment has played through two practices (the players were off on Wednesday).
QB Tyrone Swoopes: He probably entered practices as the most questioned quarterback and one of the most questioned players, but he's done a good job in being consistent and staying within his lanes. He's overthrown a couple of receivers, but that's been the case for most of the quarterbacks as they learn their receivers this week.
WR Jake Oliver: Wide receiver play has been good all-around for the West, and Oliver fits right in. He's shown that his hands can be trusted, and he's running good routes. Using his 6-foot-4 frame will be key against the East secondary if he wants to contribute in helping the West win on Saturday.
DT A'Shawn Robinson: Of all the Texas commits, Robinson may be the most impressive for the week. He's earned the nickname "Kimbo Slice" by his teammates because of his beard, but he's been Slice-like with his intensity and overall power on the field. Robinson is a part of a very talented defensive line that could give the East team fits.
CB Antwuan Davis: A lot of chatter has been about CB Tre'Davious White playing so well. Davis should be included in that conversation. He's been solid against a West receiver group that is one of the tallest the Army game has had in its existence. Davis is 6 foot and 190 pounds but because of his play, you wouldn't know he's giving up anywhere from 4-7 inches to a receiver every play.
OL Jake Raulerson: Raulerson is showing his versatility on the field. He's the team's starting center, and he's also handling deep snapper duties. If needed, Raulerson also can play on the defensive line. Along with being versatile, Raulerson also has been a vocal leader. Everywhere you go, you know what you're going to get out of him, on and off the field.
OL Kent Perkins: Quietly, Perkins has emerged as one of the top linemen for the West team. He doesn't say much, but as long as he continues to produce the way he has been, he won't have to. At 6-6 and 300 pounds, Perkins has good feet, even better agility and a wing span of roughly seven feet. - Damon Sayles
And here's RecruitingNation's Derek Tyson with his thoughts on Darius James, who's competing at the Under Armour All-American Game this week in Florida.
Darius James: Darius has been great. He’s been one of the top offensive linemen we’ve seen on the Black team. He handles the bull rush really well and doesn’t get pushed back a whole lot, and he handles speed rushers well too. He went against LSU commit Greg Gilmore and did very well against him. He’s really one of the few guys that at least slowed down Robert Nkemdiche. Overall he’s been one of the most impressive linemen I’ve seen so far.
Four-star WR excited for visit
One of the intriguing targets still left on Texas’ recruiting board is four-star receiver James Clark.
The New Smyrna Beach, Fla., slot receiver will take an official visit on Jan. 18. It’s just one of many trips he’s got slated for January, along with Nebraska and Rutgers and perhaps one more.
Texas is a long way from home, but the sell for Clark is the opportunity to replace Marquise Goodwin in Texas’ offense. He paid close attention to the senior when watching the Alamo Bowl and was impressed by the offensive MVP honor he took home.
“It showed me that’s what I need to work to become,” Clark said.
Receivers coach Darrell Wyatt has told Clark he’d have a chance to compete for Goodwin’s job if he comes to Texas. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound receiver does see some similarities. But is he as fast as the Olympian?
“No. No way,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve got some work to do there.”
Texas may have a reputation for being a bit of a run-heavy team, but Clark said after watching the Alamo Bowl he had no concerns about the direction of the offense or how receivers will be used under Major Applewhite.
“They kind of showed me that they’re going to get the ball in their playmakers’ hands. That’s what I got from the game,” Clark said. “That excited me. It showed me that if I go there and work hard and become a playmaker, I can find a way to get the ball in my hands. That’s something to be excited about.”
Clark said he hasn’t spoken with Wyatt or the Texas staff since setting up his visit two weeks ago, but he’s built a good relationship with Wyatt and is impressed by the receivers he’s coached up in the past.
As for where Clark stands with an offer from the Longhorns, he’s not entirely sure. He’s confident that will get cleared up during his visit.
“[Wyatt] didn’t really go into detail, but I imagine when I get there I’ll probably have an offer,” Clark said. “They just want to get me on campus first.”
Clark told me his top five right now, in no particular order, remains Northwestern, Nebraska, Texas, Rutgers and Florida. He doesn’t have an offer from the Gators yet but is hoping to hear about that soon.
We’ll have more on Clark in a story on HornsNation on Friday. – Max Olson
In-home visit coming soon for Harrison
Here’s a quick update on where things stand with coveted Contra Costa (Calif.) College offensive tackle Desmond Harrison.
The 6-foot-8, 310-pound lineman told me he’s not sure what date Texas will do its in-home visit with him, but he’s expecting Texas, USC and possibly Arizona State to send coaches to his home in North Carolina as early as this week.
Harrison said Texas contingent making the trip to see him will be Mack Brown, offensive line coach Stacy Searels and defensive tackles coach Bo Davis.
As we’ve said in past editions of The Heard, expect a decision from Harrison in the middle of January and not long after those in-home visits are over. – Max Olson
New offer a big one for Marshall
Texas offered Garden City (Kan.) Community College three-star quarterback Nick Marshall last week. That was a big deal to him. He held off committing -- likely to Indiana -- because he insisted he wanted to take a visit to Texas first.
Now that’s going to happen, but a new school on his radar should seriously push both schools.
Courtesy of Garden City Community College
Juco QB Nick Marshall was recently offered by Texas and Auburn.
Marshall got offered by Auburn this week and told me he plans to take an official visit there on Jan. 25, the weekend following his trip to Texas.
New coach Gus Malzahn had offered Marshall a scholarship while at Arkansas State, so that wasn’t necessarily a big surprise. But the Tigers have been staying in touch and are interested.
In terms of its ability to offer Marshall immediate playing time, Auburn might be a better fit than Texas. Freshman Johnathan Wallace ended the season as the third quarterback to earn a start for the Tigers.
Kiehl Frazier started the first five games, Clint Moseley started three, then Wallace got the final four. In other words, Malzahn inherits a bit of a mess at that position.
I still think Texas is in a great position to land Marshall if they truly can offer him a chance to play early on. He’s got a redshirt season available, but he wants to help a team win from day one.
Indiana can offer that. Kansas State and Auburn might be able to. We’ll see what Texas tells him when he makes his official visit to Austin on Jan. 18. -- Max Olson
Thomas a priority for many
ESPN Watch List defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) remains one of the Longhorns’ top targets for 2014. But he’s a priority for several other schools as well.
Texas, Alabama, Stanford, Iowa, Oklahoma and Texas Tech were among the schools that recently stopped by Coppell High School for visits.
Thomas (6-foot-3, 265 pounds) couldn’t visit with the coaches long but got a good enough feel for each program while they were at his school.
“It’s really only like a minute talk because of the rules,” Thomas said. “I just appreciate how they are coming down to see me and show interest in me. I was just seeing what they had to say compared to all the other coaches.”
The Longhorns have made Coppell a routine stop as of late but Thomas was appreciative of them stopping by despite their repeated trips.
“It was good to see them even though they have come a lot before,” Thomas said. “It was good to see Coach [Oscar] Giles again and also Coach [Darrell] Wyatt. I like them a lot.”
One of the things that Thomas took away from the visits were several junior day invites.
“I know I will for sure be going to Alabama, one of Texas’ junior days,” Thomas said. “I’ll go to OU and try to go to Baylor and Texas A&M.”
Until then Thomas will be busy in the weight room getting his body right for next season as well as Friday’s U.S. Army National Combine at the Alamodome where he’ll be competing against hundreds of other non-seniors.
“Every since we lost to DeSoto I have been in the weight room working out,” he said.
Thomas has also been busy watching bowl games. He’s not doing so as a casual fan either, but as someone who could eventually be playing for those teams.
“Every game I watch how the line plays,” Thomas said. “When I watch Texas I watch [Alex] Okafor, Reggie Wilson and Cedric Reed. I watch all of the guys and how they play and the system that they have. So I am not really watching as a fan just more comparing myself to see how I would fit in and what I could bring to that system.” – William Wilkerson
Paris set to name top 10
All throughout the fall, ESPN Watch List safety Ed Paris (Arlington, Texas/Timberview) played things close to the vest when it came to his favorite schools. He repeatedly said every school is even and equal.
Class of 2014 DB Ed Paris (left) will release his top ten this week.
On Friday, he’ll begin narrowing down his options. That’s when the touted 2014 safety is planning to release his initial top 10 list.
“I’ve been looking forward to putting it out,” he said. “It’s hard to put out something like a top 10 when you have other schools you really want to put on it.”
Expect Texas to be on that list when he announces it at the U.S. Army combine. Paris said the schools that showed him the most interest this fall were LSU, Alabama, Texas, Texas A&M and UCLA.
There have been rumors floating around for a while now that it’s already a done deal, that Paris has already silently committed to LSU or is planning to commit to the Tigers soon. Not true, he said.
“Everything is still wide open,” he said this week. “That’s not the case.”
Paris took unofficial visits to two Texas games this season – losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma – and said he’s been impressed by UT secondary coach Duane Akina.
“Coach Akina is a really cool, laid-back guy, but he’ll get on your butt if you mess up,” Paris said. “At Texas, they have a lot of DBs on the field. I like that a lot and I could see myself liking that as a DB there. Texas is nice.”
Will he visit Austin for a junior day next month? Paris isn’t sure. He has yet to make any junior day plans yet. He said there’s even a chance he could skip all of them and just wait for his official visits to start in the fall.
At this point, Paris said he’d like to either make his decision in the spring or sometime in September.
Though he took several unofficial visits to Texas in 2012, LSU is likely still the team to beat in his recruitment. For now, though, he wants to take things one step at a time. The first one comes Friday. – Max Olson
Gresham wants to recruit
If Paris does make it to Texas junior day, you can bet Daniel Gresham will be in his ear.
The Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints fullback commit is already working hard to round up more pledges for Texas’ 2014 class.
“I hope a lot of guys come to junior days and actually see it and not just go off what people say about Texas,” Gresham said. “I know some people try to downplay and bash Texas.”
The bell cow of the Longhorns’ 2013 class was Jake Raulerson. Who’s going to supplant him as the most vocal, passionate leader of the 2014 pledges?
“Honestly, I feel like it will be me or Jerrod Heard,” Gresham said. “I talk to him quite a bit, we always try to get people there and are always tweeting at people to try to get them on. I’d say both of us as a team, and Demetrius [Knox]. He’s a big name, and that by itself attracts people.”
Gresham said the biggest names on his wish list for 2014 are Lewisville (Texas) Hebron safety Jamal Adams, Beaumont (Texas) Ozen cornerback and Duluth (Ga.) Peachtree lineman Orlando Brown Jr.
Adams is atop that list for a reason. Gresham has taken to his Twitter account (@DGresh33) to work hard on recruiting the ESPN Watch List safety, and so has Knox. Adams is expected to attend UT’s first junior day on Feb. 10.
While he’s has remained coy about which school is No. 1 in his book, Gresham and Knox won’t give up until Adams is commit No. 7 for the class.
“I feel like that will take a little work, but I think we can get him,” Gresham said. “I like his size. I didn’t realize how big he was until I saw him at a photo shoot the other day. He’s pretty tall. I’ve looked at his tape, and he’s a player.” – Max Olson