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Thursday, February 21, 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 2014-heavy edition of The Heard:
Read The Heard after the jump.

The weekend visitors list

Last year, Texas brought in a group of recruits for its second junior day that featured only one visitor -- Kent Perkins -- who was guaranteed an offer. Nearly everyone else went home wondering if Texas would ever offer, and for most the answer was no.

This year is different. The group that’ll be in Austin on Saturday is certainly no “B” team of recruits.

Here’s the list of visitors we’ve confirmed will attend Texas’ junior day this weekend.
Remember, this list will grow considerably during the day Saturday and into Sunday. There will be more defensive back visitors. There will be more offensive linemen, and likely more defensive tackles.

From this group, we know Joe, Fournette, Cannon, Noil, Washington, Watkins and Willis will have offers when they set foot on campus. It’s a safe bet to say Sumner-Gardner, Cuney and likely Pruitt will receive offers during or following the visit.

On Thursday, Brenham (Texas) athlete Darrion Johnson told HornsNation he's making a second trip to Texas after already visiting for the first junior day. When asked if he's considering making a commitment, Johnson said, "I don't know yet." The Longhorns are the clear leader for the ESPN Watch List defensive back, and the fact he's making a return trip speaks volumes about his interest.

But who else will show up, and who’s going to pick up an offer by the end of the weekend? Stay tuned. We’ll have complete coverage on HornsNation throughout. – Max Olson

2014 OL has Longhorns on top

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a player as eager to get down to Austin this weekend as offensive lineman Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper).

Cuney, a center, is starting to become a known commodity around the country. But he’ll get to Austin on Friday anxious to see what the No. 1 school on his mind has to offer.

“That is pretty much my top school,” Cuney said. “Everyday [offensive line] Coach [Stacy] Searels hits me up on Facebook or calls me. Now Texas Tech is showing me interest everyday. Houston is too.”

Searels has already stopped by Jasper High School on two occasions to see him.

Cuney doesn’t have any offers yet but is hopeful the Longhorns will extend one his way on Saturday.

“I just want to go into the meeting room, maybe see some players,” he said. “I want to check out the weight room. I just want to see everything. It’s been a while since I’ve been down there. I can’t wait to get down there.”

The simple fact that he’s been asked by Texas coaches to attend this junior day is a blessing in itself to Cuney.

“It’s crazy. I’m telling you it means so much coming from where I come from,” he said. “Words can’t describe. I’m telling you everyday. Auburn is hitting me up now, schools you never thought growing up would be interested in you.” – William Wilkerson

Bishop Dunne duo high on UT

Two key visitors we’ll be keeping a close eye on this weekend are Dallas Bishop Dunne cornerback Nick Watkins and tackle Jovan Pruitt.

We’ve talked a lot about both guys in past editions of The Heard and had a blog post on Watkins up on HornsNation this week. Watkins, the coveted Watch List corner, isn’t looking to make a decision until perhaps his birthday in January 2014.

But what about Pruitt? The 6-foot-6, 295-pound offensive tackle doesn’t officially have a Texas offer yet. If he does get one this weekend (and we expect he will), he wouldn’t rule out making an immediate decision.

“He’d have to sit down and talk it over with his mom,” Bishop Dunne coach Michael Johnson said. “But if she feels comfortable and he feels comfortable and it’s the right situation, I almost see no reason why he wouldn’t commit.”

Johnson said he has yet to sit down with Pruitt this week to talk about his trip to Texas, but he knows the Longhorns are high on the lineman’s list.

“If he feels comfortable with the school and they show him genuine interest, he might commit,” Johnson said. “I know he’s really intrigued with Texas. If Texas extended an offer, he’d be excited about that.”

The coach was confident that, should an offer get handed out, Texas would move up to No. 1 on Pruitt’s list even if he did not commit this weekend. Pruitt camped at UT this summer and fell for the facilities, but this weekend is more about getting to know the coaching staff.

The Longhorns coaches have had their eye on Pruitt ever since they recruited teammate Alex Norman for the 2012 class, back when Pruitt was a sophomore.

“Jovan did well at the camp and they were very intrigued by his size,” Johnson said. “The coaches from the University of Oklahoma said he’s their best tackle in this class. He’s 6-6 -- he’s going to be 6-7 -- and he’s very athletic.”

As for Watkins, we reported this week that several out-of-state schools -- Notre Dame, Michigan and Alabama -- have his attention right now. If he’s going to stay in-state, though, Johnson said he thinks Texas has the advantage right now, and you’d have to think UT landing Pruitt would be a factor for him as well.

“I think Nick wants to be able to see every school. I do know that he really loves Texas. I know that Texas is one of his top choices,” Johnson said. “But before he makes a final decision, he wants an opportunity to see what each school has to offer athletically and academically.

“When it comes down to Texas, though, he really loves Texas and grew up watching Texas as a boy.” – Max Olson

Offer will sway Houston OLB

Count Otaro Alaka among the many prospects hoping he comes home from his Texas junior day visit with an offer. If that ends up happening, it could make things pretty easy for the Houston Cypress Falls linebacker.

Max Olson/
Class of 2014 linebacker Otaro Alaka admits he wants to stay close to home.

“Someone was talking to me about if I was going to commit at the junior day if I got offered,” Alaka said. “It would be hard not to, yeah.”

The 6-foot-3, 196-pound outside linebacker has been drawing considerable interest and from out-of-state schools lately. Michigan, Cal and UCLA have been talking to him frequently in the past few weeks.

Still, Alaka would like to stay close to home if the Longhorns give him that opportunity.

“I’ve always liked Texas,” he said. “If I stayed in-state, I think Texas would be the best school for me since it’s both good at football and also academically. For me, going outside the state doesn’t matter to me as much as it does to my family and my parents. I think my mom wants me to stay home more.”

If Alaka does pick up an offer from Texas, he said he’d likely prefer to go home and talk things out with his family Saturday night and Sunday before making his commitment.

That’s almost exactly what his Cy Falls teammate Jacorey Warrick did one year ago. The ESPN 150 wideout got offered after Texas’ second junior day and committed the following afternoon.

Alaka is looking forward to watching a Texas spring practice and seeing how Manny Diaz runs the linebackers group. Mostly, he wants to see where he’d fit into the defensive scheme.

Michigan has made a surprising push for him lately after offering on signing day. Alaka said he’d never heard from the Wolverines prior to that day, but he’s talked with Greg Mattison and Brady Hoke and enjoyed those conversations.

If Texas doesn’t offer? Alaka said he’ll be OK. He’s willing to be patient.

“I’m just trying to be hopeful and positive,” he said. “If I don’t get it, it doesn’t really mean that much. I know I’ll still have a chance in the spring.” – Max Olson

DL would commit on the spot if offered

C.J. Reese makes one thing very clear from the get-go.

“If Texas offers this week,” he said, “it’s a done deal.”

The San Antonio (Texas) Madison defensive lineman is attending Texas’ junior day with quarterback Cody Ennis. He’s been looking forward to this trip for a long time.

“I grew up being a Longhorn fan and my uncle went to Texas,” Reese said. “When I’ve been up there, I loved it. When I went to the camp, they showed they were interested in me and coach Brown even came to see me. Ever since then, Texas has been my No. 1 choice.”

So Reese says it’s a no-brainer if he is extended an offer on Saturday.

“That’s a blessing right there. It’s been my dream school since I was little,” he said. “I’m just waiting for the offer. I would commit that day, too.”

The 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive end has been hearing from UT, Baylor, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Boise State, and he recently got invited to an Oklahoma State junior day.

If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because Madison defensive tackle Vincent Taylor said a lot of the same things last spring. The ESPN 300 four-star lineman said he would commit on the spot if Texas ever offered. That didn’t end up happening, and he signed with Oklahoma State.

Now Reese is hoping that dream will come true for him.

“Vincent was my mentor growing up,” Reese said. “I looked up to him since my freshman year when he was on varsity. Me and him were always worked together one-on-one. He told me he wanted to go to Texas and waited for an offer, but everything happens for a reason. OSU is a good blessing for him.”

Texas already has one San Antonio defensive end in its class in Derick Roberson. Reese said he knows about the Brennan standout but doesn’t know him well, and he’d love to play with him in college. – Max Olson

2014 DT ready to visit Texas; won’t happen this weekend

The Longhorns are making defensive linemen a priority during their second junior day. But one defensive tackle that won’t be able to make it, despite being invited, is Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview).

He’s got a good reason though. It’s his parents' anniversary.

Henderson will head over to TCU’s junior day on Sunday but promises that he’ll be in Austin at some point in the near future to see what the Longhorns have to offer.

“For sure I will be visiting Texas at some point,” he said. “It is one of the colleges that I would take in any day.”

Defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson won't be able to make it to Austin this weekend.

Henderson (6-foot-2, 270 pounds) is one of the hot commodities at DT in the state right now. He picked up an offer from Texas Tech on Wednesday to go along with the ones he has from Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, SMU and TCU.

“My cousin that goes to Tech (Reginald Davis) says they say a lot of good things about me,” Henderson said.

Henderson, who was the defensive line MVP at the Next Level Athlete camp in Lancaster a few weeks ago, said his recruitment really began to pick up after Longview played Austin Westlake in the state playoffs.

“I had 11 tackles and just couldn’t be blocked,” he said. "The week after {Longview lost 38-10] I started basketball and SMU was at one of my games. They were the first school to show a lot of interest.”

OU, Missouri, Texas A&M and Texas Tech followed suit. So did Texas.

“I spoke with one Texas coach but didn’t get any contact information,” Henderson said. “I’m not sure if they are hoping on the bandwagon or if they are really interested. I am interested in any school. I am just trying to further my education.”

Henderson was absolutely dominant at the NLA camp, displaying a lightning-quick first step that offensive linemen simply couldn’t handle.

“I don’t know I just have that twitch,” he said. “I have really good hands. I just want to get to the next level. I am glad that others out there see that in me.”

Humble but determined, Henderson was taught by his late grandmother to dream big and that big things will happen.

“So I’m dreaming big,” he said.

Henderson isn’t sure when he’ll visit Texas. It could come this summer during one of its camps.

He already knows he’ll attend camps -- at USC and UCLA as his uncle, Tyrone Rodgers, a former defensive tackle for Oklahoma who later transferred to Washington, will take him. – William Wilkerson

DT Johnson likes Longhorns

Texas has taken a slow approach to evaluating and offering defensive tackles in this 2014 class, but one guy who could be in line for one Saturday is Rowlett’s Cedric Johnson.

The 6-foot-2, 267-pound lineman already has an offer from Baylor and has been receiving interest from Texas, Oklahoma and Tulsa.

DeShawn Washington (Nederland, Texas/Nederland) was the first defensive tackle to pick up a Texas offer on Wednesday, but Johnson would definitely be excited if he receives one.

“It would be the biggest offer so far,” he said. “I know a lot of people from my school actually like Texas and I have some alumni who go there too, so that would be pretty cool.”

That alumnus he’s referring to is receiver Marquise Goodwin. Johnson said Goodwin has given him advice from time to time when he’s returned to Rowlett, and Goodwin’s two-sport success at Texas certainly got the junior’s attention.
Count Johnson among the many looking to learn from the chance he’ll get to witness the Longhorns go through a spring practice.

“I’m looking forward to it. I’ll get to see what makes them different from any other schools,” he said. “Texas being highly successful in the past, I’ll get to see what their tradition and all that is like.”

Johnson is being recruited by Darrell Wyatt and said he’s feeling good about his chances of picking up an offer.
Would he commit on the spot? Most likely, no. But Johnson did say he’d go home and think it over Sunday. Washington is definitely someone to keep an eye on this weekend, but so is Johnson. – Max Olson

Programs lining up for 2016 RB

Initially, rising sophomore running back Kameron Martin (Port Arthur, Texas/Memorial) took it upon himself to get his name out to college programs.

Young and hungry, Martin (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) would send letters and make phone calls to anyone he could to try to, at the very least, get his name out there.

Oh how times have changed.

Courtesy of Martin Family
Class of 2016 running back grew up a fan of Texas and LSU.

In the span of a few months Martin has become a name that schools from all over are quickly becoming aware of. Take the last few weeks as an example of Martin’s rise in popularity when two in-state schools stopped by his high school.

The first was Texas Tech, who stopped by to check in on three-star cornerback Jalen Barnes.

“As soon as I walked into the room they were waiting saying, ‘Is this the fast freshmen that you are talking about coach?’ I shook his hand,” Martin said, speaking of Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury. “I’ve been talking with the DBs coach since then.

Texas A&M also came by while recruiting three-star defensive tackle Matthew Romar, who signed with Oklahoma.

“On the way to the high school I was talking with my coach wondering if A&M was going to be at the school that day,” he said. “As soon as I got there A&M was right there.”

In addition to these two schools Martin has also been in touch with LSU and Texas. He was invited to Baton Rouge, La., in 2012 to watch the Tigers take on Mississippi State.

LSU actually invited Martin to one of its junior days but he was unable to attend due to a track meet.

As for the Longhorns, Martin said that he spoke to Major Applewhite in 8th grade and has grown up rooting for Texas. He sees himself as a Jamaal Charles type; Charles also went to Port Arthur Memorial.

“My whole room is Texas,” he said. “I am a big Longhorn fan.”

Martin was recently in Austin trying out for Team USA’s U-15 team, which he believes he will make. He’ll attend the Nike SPARQ combine on Feb. 23 in Shenandoah, Texas and hopes to get down to a Texas camp this summer. – William Wilkerson

Perkins anxious for Austin

Class of 2014 wide receiver Marcus Perkins (Garland, Texas/Naaman Forest) will head to Austin for Texas’ junior day on Saturday hoping to, at the very least, gauge where he stands with the Longhorns.

“I talked to Coach [Darrell] Wyatt and he said they were evaluating me,” Perkins said. “I just want to know where I stand and what there plans are for me. I love Texas.”

Perkins, who grew up in Louisiana rooting for both the Longhorns and LSU, would likely jump at the opportunity to play for Texas. He feels like he can be the next Marquise Goodwin if given the chance.

“I have always been a Texas fan and have said that it would be an honor to have an opportunity to play for them,” he said.

Perkins has several ties with the Longhorns in that he was basketball teammates with current Longhorns ballers Demarcus Holland and Prince Ibeh.

His name is starting to echo through the halls of recruiting. He was the wide receiver MVP of the Next Level Athlete camp in Lancaster a few weeks ago and recently picked up his first offer from Texas State.

“It was a shock to me because I wasn’t expecting it,” said Perkins of his offer. “I was expecting UTSA to offer but they didn’t. They said they were going to take two offers and that I could be one of them. So I was expecting an offer. But they didn’t I thought they were playing games with me.

“At the end [of the Texas State junior day] I went in to Coach [Dennis] Franchione’s office and told him I was interested. He said he was interested in me and heard some great things from my coach and told me that I had an offer.” – William Wilkerson

2014 OL has UT ties

We did a Q&A with Van Alstyne lineman Connor Mayes that you can find here, but Mayes had a few more interesting things to say.

First, know that while he’s got strong family ties to TCU and Texas Tech and a brother who will play tackle at Minnesota, Mayes does have a key Texas connection: He’s good friends with Jake Raulerson.

“We played each other. We were in 3A my sophomore year and we played each other when he was at Celina,” Mayes said. “We’ve just been friends who talk at track meets and hang out and stuff. I got to see him do a workout on Sunday and talk to him in the locker room.”

You know Raulerson, being the super recruiter he is, put in a good word for Texas over the weekend. But first, Mayes needs an offer.

At this point, he’s feeling good about his chances of getting one after building up a good relationship with Stacy Searels.

“I’ve just been talking to coach Searels every day on Facebook and staying in touch and calling,” he said. “They sound like they’re pretty close to offering.”

Texas first got in touch with Mayes about a month ago and has stayed in the mix since, and Mayes said he’s starting to like Texas “a whole lot more now.”

Mayes was not offered after his junior day visit but was told the coaches want to keep building a relationship with him. He’ll continue to be evaluated this spring.

“They’re coming by to watch me,” Mayes said. “We don’t have spring ball because it’s Texas 2A and you’re not allowed to. But they’ll come watch me for offseason track stuff -- I throw shot put.”

Mayes is being recruited as a guard/center prospect. No guarantee he’ll get an offer from Texas, but he did get one from Texas Tech this week and more should be coming soon. – Max Olson

Positive signs for Evans

Class of 2014 linebacker/defensive end Victor Evans was one of several players from Dallas Carter that made the trip to Austin for Texas’ first junior day.

Although he did not receive an offer while on campus, he left the state capitol feeling good about his chances.

“They said they were going to continue to evaluate me and that an offer is pretty much going to come soon because everybody has seen my film but coach Mack Brown,” Evans said. “So Coach [Manny] Diaz told me that once he sees it he will determine if I will get offered but he seemed pretty pysched about it. So hopefully they offer.”

Evans, who already holds offers from Texas Tech, SMU and Tulsa, said his favorite part of the trip was getting to spend time with Coach Diaz.

“He told pretty much everybody that the linebacker core at Texas is pretty much where it’s at,” Evans said. “I come from a great history of linebackers at Skyline. It is power-packed. He showed a lot of examples of players that he’s coached and turned into better players that are now in the league.”

In addition to meeting the coaches and getting a tour of the facilities, Evans also got to spend some quality time with Longhorns receiver Mike Davis, a Skyline alum.

“He was giving it to us straight. He didn’t sugarcoat anything,” Evans said. “He told us how it was. It was cool.”

It was Evans’ second time on campus. He first visited for a track meet when he was able to get in touch with recruiting coordinator Bruce Chambers. He’s hopeful it won’t be his last.

“It was a blast,” he said. “The field was nice and they were showing us a lot of good hospitality. It was a real fun experience.”

From here Evans will head to an SMU junior day as well as one at Tulsa. – William Wilkerson