Thursday, January 10, 2013
The Heard: UT recruiting news and notes
By William Wilkerson and Max Olson
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:
Robinson ready to end process
In-home visit key for Harrison
Oliver values time at Army Bowl
The latest on Campbell
Would Hammad commit?
Perkins focused on one sport
2014 DB gets junior day invite
Davis wouldn’t mind moving around
TCU commit will visit Texas
2014 DB unsure of UT
Read The Heard after the jump.
Robinson tired of process, has two more visits lined up
Kimbo Slice is ready to tap out.
ESPN 150 DT A'Shawn Robinson is taking visits to Alabama and Texas this month.
A'Shawn Robinson, whose beard earned him that nickname during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, has had it with the recruiting process.
He’s tired of answering questions, over all of the notoriety that comes with being as good as he is. He, more than any 2013 recruit I have spoken to, can’t wait for national signing day on Feb. 6.
“I am just waiting for national signing day so I don’t have to deal with all of this anymore,” Robinson said after the U.S Army All-American Bowl on Saturday.
Unfortunately for him, Robinson is going to have to endure a few more weeks of questions (or at least people attempting to ask him) since he’ll be going on two more visits despite being committed to Texas since Feb. 16.
Robinson has visited USC (Dec. 7) and Florida State (Sept. 21). He said he will take a visit to Alabama on Jan. 18 and a visit to Texas on Jan. 25.
“I’m almost done with it,” Robinson told Damon Sayles after a U.S. Army practice. “Right now, I’m a hard [Texas] commit, but I’m just checking out the schools to make sure I’m making the right decision.”
Robinson echoed those sentiments to me after the game saying that “Texas was in good shape.”
The growing consensus around Longhorns commitments both in 2013 and 2014 that know Robinson is that he will end up at Texas but is taking these visits to other programs because they're a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Robinson surprised everybody when he took an official visit to Florida State and the strength of his commitment really came in question when he opted to go to USC instead of take his official visit to Texas on Dec. 7, when most of Texas’ commitments took their visits during the Longhorns’ banquet weekend.
Personally, Robinson is one of the tougher reads there is. He doesn’t say much at all. It has to be unsettling for Texas to have one of its prized recruits visit the two-time defending national champions this late in the game.
But it will get the last chance to woo him, which could go a long way in keeping him committed. – William Wilkerson
In-home visit big for Harrison
Is Texas the leader for Contra Costa (Calif.) College lineman Desmond Harrison? It sure seems like it these days.
A source close to Harrison told me it’s a 50-50 race between Texas and Arizona State following his final in-home visits. From talking to Harrison this week, it’s easy to see why the Longhorns might have the edge in that battle.
The mammoth tackle came away thoroughly impressed by the in-home visit he got from Mack Brown, Stacy Searels and Bo Davis. Brown won over his mother, but it was the assistant coaches who made the difference for Harrison.
“Coach Searels is good. He’s put a lot of guys in the NFL, and he really knows what he’s doing,” Harrison said. “And coach Davis, he’s real cool. He and I got real tight real fast. I’ve known him for a while now and we’ve been chopping it up. I like being around him a lot.”
That’s a good sign, considering one of the things Harrison originally found appealing about Texas was the presence of Bryan Harsin – he coached Contra Costa’s offensive line coach at Boise State.
What could Harrison do for the Longhorns in 2013? That’s a question he had going into the visit.
“They tell me I can come in, play right away, grind, get my position and get to the next level,” Harrison said.
His preferred position in college is left tackle. At Texas, that spot was occupied by another juco transfer, Donald Hawkins, this season. The fact Harrison doesn’t get a head start by enrolling early means he’ll have a tough summer ahead, but he’s not worried about that.
Nor is he overly worried about the depth charts of the schools he’s down to. He knows as a summer enrollee he’s going to have to beat out projected starters and face competition no matter where he goes.
“I’m not going to say there’s pressure. I’m just going come in and do what I do,” he said. “The coaches won’t put me in a bad situation. Competition is going to be everywhere. It’s a matter of how bad you want it.”
USC appears to be out of the race at this point and hasn’t sent in its coaches for an in-home visit. Oklahoma doesn’t seem to be a major factor either. Now it’s essentially down to two, and we’ll know Harrison’s answer in two weeks or less. – Max Olson
Oliver values time in San Antonio
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl isn’t necessarily the ultimate proving ground during the weeklong event. But the practices are.
Jake Oliver believes he'll play as a freshman for the Longhorns.
Recruits can find out a ton about themselves in one-on-one battles with some of the countries top prospects.
It was during those three days of practice that Longhorns receiver commitment Jake Oliver (Dallas/Jesuit) really learned some things about himself.
“I learned what I need to work toward,” he said. “It takes a lot of work. All of these guys are incredible athletes. I am happy to be named with the best of them. I am going to work as hard as I can to be at the elite level.”
Oliver didn’t have to prove himself in San Antonio. He is already a household name as the state’s all-time career receptions leader.
But he did see receivers taller than him, quicker than him, or crisper than him, which gave him things to strive for.
“It makes me want to work harder because I already know what my strengths and weaknesses are,” he said. “I need to work on my weaknesses and I will be a great player at the college level.
“I’m just going to be working my butt off. Running, lifting. Doing whatever I can to help Texas win a national championship.”
Oliver was only targeted twice in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and didn’t haul in either pass for a catch. That didn’t dampen his mood after the game because he was able to spend the week with several of his future teammates.
“It was awesome. It was a great experience to be with the guys,” he said. “I am really looking forward to being with them. We have grown a great bond that we will carry with us over the next four years.”
Oliver knows that Texas brings back some of its top receivers, including a few freshmen that should make more of a splash as sophomores. But he is confident that he will be able to see the field next season.
“I think I am very similar to Cayleb Jones. I think we are a little bit different,” he said. “But I think I will play an important roll on third downs and goal line. I’ll do whatever I can to help the team win.” – William Wilkerson
The latest on Campbell
De’Vondre Campbell has maintained his silence ever since the night many thought he’d committed to Texas. Right now, there’s nothing new to report on his recruitment.
A source close to the Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College linebacker said Campbell is still on semester break in Florida and has had little communication with his coaches since then.
As for Campbell’s tentative plan to take two more official visits, the source said Campbell has yet to reveal which schools would receive those trips.
The three-star outside linebacker has already been to Tennessee, Texas and Minnesota. It’s hard to tell where things stand between Campbell and the Vols since new coach Butch Jones took over, but for now he’s not considered a commit.
We’ll continue to follow this and should have more updates once Campbell gets back to school for the spring semester. Still, for now no news might as well be good news for Texas, especially considering he was evidently leaning toward UT last month. – Max Olson
Would Hammad commit?
We’ve written in the past few days about Rami Hammad, the Irving (Texas) offensive lineman committed to Baylor who’s got his eye on Texas.
Hammad has yet to hear back from Searels on whether he has a Texas offer, but that conversation could and most likely should happen any day now.
The three-star prospect told me he’s still confident he’s going to land an offer and, based on his previous talks with Searels, would be surprised if he didn’t.
What happens if and when he does get that offer? Hammad talked with his head coach Aaron De La Torre about that this week, and the coach was adamant that Texas would be his best offer and a school worth visiting.
Now, the real question is would Hammad just commit on the spot if he does land that offer? That wouldn’t surprise me one bit.
It’s clear from talking to the 6-foot-5, 314-pound guard that he’s excited about what the Longhorns have to offer and the line-heavy 2013 class they’ve put together.
Landing Hammad shouldn’t affect Texas’ chances with Harrison or Andrew Billings, particularly because Billings could start off at defensive tackle if he winds up in Austin.
We’ll know soon what Hammad’s plans are. He’s still solid in his commitment to Baylor, but by now it’s fairly clear a Texas offer would shake up his plans. – Max Olson
Perkins focused on football
ESPN 150 offensive tackle Kent Perkins (Lake Highlands, Texas/Lake Highlands) is known for his light feet and agility, which has made him one of the nation’s most coveted linemen.
One of the ways he kept that nimbleness in his 6-foot-5 frame was by wrestling for his high school team. He picked the sport up a few years ago and really found that it helped him maintain his quickness in the football offseason.
The rigorous workout schedule, however, also dropped his weight to 285 pounds. So he has opted to quite wrestling to focus on football.
“I want to get my weight up,” he said. “I was at 285. I am at 295-300. Texas coaches want me to come in at 305.”
Perkins got the start at right tackle in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and played very well.
He, like the rest of Texas’ incoming class, will join a Longhorns roster full of returning starters. But he is confident that hard work will lead to playing time in 2013.
“I am going to work hard,” he said. “Whatever coach wants me to do I am going to do it.” – William Wilkerson
Davis wouldn’t mind moving around
Could Antwuan David see time at safety for the Longhorns?
The Longhorns aren’t in the best shape at safety heading in to 2013, which has caused some to think that cornerback commitment Antwuan Davis (Bastrop, Texas/Bastrop) could help in filling the void.
His physical nature and sprinters speed make him an ideal candidate to switch from corner to safety. However, that isn’t something that Davis has ever discussed with Texas’ coaches.
“They haven’t told me anything like that,” Davis said. “My parents came in halfway through the week [to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl) and asked me if I was playing safety. ‘Safety?,’ I said. No someone just started a rumor. But I was straight cornerback.”
Davis prides himself in his ability to be physical with bigger receivers off the line of scrimmage, and he wants the opportunity to prove he can have his way with receivers in college as a cornerback. But he wouldn’t mind moving to safety if it means he can help the Longhorns win.
“Maybe my junior year they will move me around once I get to know the game better,” he said. – William Wilkerson
2014 DB gets junior day invite
After a 2012 season that couldn’t have gone much better, Houston Lamar safety John Bonney is excited to start focusing on his recruitment.
The 6-foot, 175-pound defensive back recently received an invite to Texas’ February junior days. That came last week, from secondary coach Duane Akina.
“That was great,” Bonney said. “Coach Akina, he’s a great coach and he came to one of my playoff games this year. That was one of my best games.
“He talked to my dad on Friday and my dad told me he’s really excited about me and really liked me. He has a great resume of DBs in the NFL.”
Bonney said he’s planning to attend junior days at Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M and Oklahoma this spring. He’s already picked up nine offers, most recently from UCLA and Auburn.
As a junior, Bonney helped lead Lamar to a 15-1 season and a berth in the Class 5A-I state championship game at Cowboys Stadium, where they lost to Allen 35-21.
That title game appearance was especially historic considering no school from Houston ISD has won a state title since in 1985, and Bonney was proud to be a part of it.
“It was a great year for me and great year for the team,” he said. “We had a great run.”
Bonney said he’s built up good relationships with all of the schools that have offered him a scholarship thus far. He’s looking forward to getting to know Akina, and landing an offer from the Longhorns would be a big deal to him.
“It’s a great school to get a degree from, especially if you plan to live in Texas,” he said. “They have great tradition and I like the city of Austin. A school like that having interest in me is pretty exciting.”
He isn’t naming any favorites at this point and doesn’t know when he would start seriously considering a decision, but Bonney is name to keep an eye on as we get closer and closer to Texas’ first junior day. – Max Olson
Porter will visit a Texas junior day
Class of 2014 wide receiver Emanuel Porter (Dallas/Lincoln) is still figuring out all that he can do on a football field.
A longtime basketball player, Porter is starting to come around to the idea that he could have a future catching a football. So much so that he has already committed to TCU.
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But that has not stopped other programs from inquiring about the 6-4, 185-pound prospect.
Texas coaches stopped by his school in December and offered him a junior day invite, to which he accepted.
“They just basically wanted to see what I could do so they offered me the junior day invite,” he said. “Hopefully they will offer me.”
Porter said he would also attend a junior day at TCU and travel to Oregon for a camp in June.
“I am very excited for this to all start up,” he said.
Porter was one of the standouts of a crowded U.S. Army National Combine at the Alamodome on Friday. He said he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds and recorded a 32 1/2 –inch vertical.
“It was great. I was nervous, but I just relaxed and did what I have to do,” Porter said. “It was crazy.”
Porter finished his junior season with 29 catches for 421 yards and three touchdowns. He’s envisioning much bigger numbers and becoming a more well-rounded player as a senior.
“I can block, and I want people to see that stats don’t mean anything,” Porter said. “It’s all about what you do when you have the ball in your hands.” – William Wilkerson
Simmons unsure about Texas
One safety prospect who’s garnered serious early attention is Brandon Simmons (Arlington, Texas/Timberview).
The ESPN Watch List prospect already has a long, long list of offers and has taken unofficial visits all over the country with teammate Ed Paris.
The duo made their way to Texas late last summer. Not long after that, Texas began offering 2014 prospects. Paris got an offer on that August day. Simmons did not.
He took to Twitter that night to express his unhappiness about not getting offered. Where do things stand now between Simmons and UT?
“That’s kind of a tricky one,” he said. “I did like Texas when I went down there, but I didn’t like the way they handled the whole offer situation. We don’t really keep in contact that much.”
Simmons said he’ll definitely take a junior day visit to Stanford and hopes to visit Texas A&M and Oklahoma as well. For now, it’s looking doubtful that he’d visit Texas, even if Paris did make a trip.
“It they come back down and talk to me some more, I guess it could happen,” he said.
If the Longhorns did start showing interest this spring, Simmons said he’d listen. But that seems like a long shot right now. – Max Olson