Thursday, March 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:
Cuney delaying his recruitment
2014 DB visiting today
2015 CB on the rise
2015 RB intrigued by Sophomore Day
2015 RB grew up a Texas fan
2015 OG already with three offers
DB Dunning excited to visit
2015 WR keeping busy schedule
2015 WR about to blow up
Read The Heard after the jump.
Cuney delaying decision
Class of 2014 center Terrell Cuney wants to visit a few more schools before making a commitment.
It was only a few weeks ago that 2014 center Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper) was thinking about putting an end to his recruitment and committing to Texas.
But he has since had a change of heart and now would like to slow things down a bit.
“I am going to go back to making a decision before football season,” Cuney said. “It’s just I’m not ready to shut it down just yet. I want to go check out a couple of other places and see how it is. If it isn’t up to what Texas has then, well, I’ll make that decision.”
That’s not to say that Longhorns fans should be discouraged. Texas is still his No. 1 school and he’ll travel down to Austin for the spring game on March 30.
“Right now it is just Texas and then everyone else,” said Cuney, who also has offers from TCU and Texas Tech. “It’s really who is showing me the most interest after that.”
Texas, TCU and Texas Tech are the three schools that have offered him so far but there are numerous schools showing heavy interest. He’d like to visit Oklahoma State, Auburn, Alabama and Oklahoma before a decision is made.
Auburn hasn’t always been one of the schools he’s been interested in but the Tigers have not held back in their feelings for him.
“We’ve started talking and they have sent like 10 letters a day,” Cuney said. “I’ve got over 50 letters from them. They want me to go to their junior day but it’s hard to get to Alabama from Texas. They are showing me a lot of interest.”
Oklahoma State has long been a school that Cuney has put up there with Texas. The Pokes have also sent him numerous letters. As has Oregon.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “I can’t believe this is happening to me.”
Fact remains, though, that all of these schools still trail Texas and it’s going to take something extraordinary for them to top the Longhorns.
“It really is. It’s going to take a lot,” he said. “It’s going to take one of them to psych me out and show me something that I really, really like.”
His reasoning for liking Texas so much is fairly simple.
“Really I just grew up liking them,” he said. “I’ve really just liked them since I was little. They were who I used to play with on the games and stuff. It’s not too far away from home. It’s somewhere where I can get home for spring break and stuff like that. It would be easy for my parents to get to games too.” – William Wilkerson
2014 DB visiting today
Chance Waz almost didn’t believe it when he found out. When the Pflugerville (Texas) Hendrickson defensive back learned his father had received an email from Texas secondary coach Duane Akina, he didn’t know what to say.
“I was surprised,” he said. “And I was definitely happy, because they’re just down the road.”
The 5-foot-11, 173-pound junior received an invitation from Akina to come check out a Texas practice. He’s taking Akina up on that offer and will take in Texas practice on Thursday afternoon.
“He said they liked my film and he talked to coach [Major] Applewhite, and they want to invite me to a spring practice to check me out, evaluate me and see how I like the program.”
It’s easy to see what Akina liked about Waz’s film. The safety led Hendrickson with 115 total tackles in 2012 and added two picks and two forced fumbles.
Despite those numbers, Waz’s recruitment has been off to a slow start. He heard from Colorado this weekend and the Buffaloes plan to send a coach down this spring to check him out, but other than that only Utah and Northern Illinois have showed any legitimate interest.
“I’ve been very surprised,” Waz said of the lack of interest. “I had a pretty good season and my highlight tape is really good. I’m surprised nobody has picked up on me.”
Waz said he’s likely a corner at the next level because of his size, but he still prefers roaming around as a safety. If he’s invited, he’d come back to Texas next weekend for the spring game.
Texas was the school Waz liked growing up, and it would be hard not to commit right away if he did pick up an offer in the near future.
“If they were to offer me, I would go there,” Waz said. “That would be an easy decision.”
Speaking of Hendrickson, ESPN Watch List running back Samaje Perine did tell me Monday that he began hearing from Texas in the past few weeks.
Perine committed to Oklahoma last week and never received any serious interest from UT duringh is recruitment, but he said new running backs coach Larry Porter did reach out to express interest around the time that Alabama offered.
Doesn’t matter to Perine. He said he has not called Porter and he doesn’t feel the need to. He picked the Sooners and is sticking to his word on that pledge. – Max Olson
2015 CB on the rise
One of the hottest names on the recruiting trail right now is 2015 cornerback Kendall Sheffield of Fort Bend (Texas) Marshall.
Sam Khan Jr./ESPN
Class of 2015 defensive back Kendall Sheffield is visiting Texas on Saturday.
The 6-foot, 170 pound Sheffield, who runs a 4.45 40-yard dash, already has offers from Baylor, LSU, Oklahoma and Texas A&M. More are undoubtedly on the way.
“I’m honored to have all the offers,” Sheffield said. “Now I just to keep my grades up and keep working hard so I will have plenty of more offers.”
The first one came from Baylor a week before Christmas, which was obviously a huge moment for the soft-spoken sophomore. It really got things rolling for others to hop on board.
“I was excited to get that first offer. It was a surprise,” Sheffield said. “I think that got things started because then Oklahoma came into the picture.”
Getting the Sooners on board was a big deal for Sheffield as he grew up rooting for Oklahoma.
“I always liked their defense and their head coach,” he said.
That begs the questions: What about Texas?
“I love Texas,” Sheffield said. “I’ll go anywhere.”
The Longhorns have really started to ramp up their recruitment of Sheffield and even invited him to both junior days, which he couldn’t make due to track.
But he will be at Texas’ sophomore day on March 23. Not sure if an offer will be handed out there, but one might come his way at some point. – William Wilkerson
2015 RB intrigued by sophomore day
Until he received his invite to Texas’ sophomore day this week, Rockwall (Texas) running back Chris Warren didn’t think the Longhorns were all that interested.
A bruising 6-foot-2, 210-pound back, Warren already has an offer from Baylor and has been hearing from several programs so far. But Texas is new to his radar.
“This sophomore day should be pretty interesting,” Warren said. “This is kind of the first contact, really. Major Applewhite had been by the school, but I hadn’t really heard from them since then. This is pretty interesting and new.”
Warren is just exciting to see things get moving forward in his recruiting process. The son of former 11-year NFL running back Chris Warren has been looking forward to this for a long time.
And Texas was always a school that he appreciated when he started taking an interest in college football.
“Growing up, it’s been one of the schools I’ve looked at for a while,” he said. “I’ve been watching them since, well, I can’t remember. Back in the Vince Young years was when I first started watching.”
Warren took an unofficial visit to Baylor’s big upset win over Kansas State last fall, and he’s looking forward to getting out to more campuses this year. After visiting UT on Saturday, Warren said he’ll start making plans to attend camps at Texas, Oklahoma, LSU, Texas Tech, Baylor and Texas A&M.
Warren knows those camps will provide a key opportunity to show recruiters what he’s capable of, but this weekend is an important one too.
“I really want to make a good impression on them,” Warren said. “You have to wait until camp or the spring when they watch you to do it on the field, but I really want to make a good impression on the Texas coaches.”
Texas could have a bevy of talented backs in town on Saturday, including Rawleigh Williams III (Dallas/Bishop Lynch) and Soso Jamabo (Plano, Texas/West). We’ll see where Warren fits into the group, but Texas will have to address the graduation of Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron with its 2015 class and could take multiple pledges at that spot. – Max Olson
2015 RB grew up a Texas fan
Class of 2015 running back Rawleigh Williams (Dallas/Bishop Lynch) will have to wait a little bit longer for his face-to-face introductory with Longhorns running backs coach Larry Porter.
Williams told me late Wednesday that he was no longer going to be able to make it to Texas’ sophomore day due to family obligations. For what it’s worth, he did say that his family was fine but that he needed to be there for them.
What Williams was looking forward to the most from his visit was getting to know Porter, who invited him down for the event.
Courtesy of Bishop Lynch HS
Class of 2015 tailback Rawleigh Williams III said he has always been a Texas fan.
“My coach told me that Coach [Larry] Porter liked my film and wanted me to know that he wanted me to go down there this weekend,” Williams said. “Obviously it feels good to be wanted by Coach Porter. I have heard nothing but good things about him. So for him to want me to be down there is pretty cool.
“I haven’t met Coach Porter yet so I’d like to get a sense for how he likes things to be ran. I hope that we can gel well.”
Williams grew up a Longhorns fan but knows that he has to be wary of that while being recruited.
“I’ve always been a Texas fan,” he said. “I think when the Vince Young era started I loved them ever since then. Now that the recruiting process has started I have to stray away from being a fan and keep all my options open. But I still root for Texas.”
That said, Williams will play everything by ear and just take things in once he gets to Texas.
“I am so young I have no leaders,” he said. “So if there is anything I can get out of this I’ll take it. I’m not trying to force my hand or anything. I am just going to accept what they tell me and continue to work hard to get to where I want to be.”
If Williams is offered by Texas one of its main competitors could by Ole Miss, which offered him during spring practice of his freshman season.
He and the Rebels' coaches talk every week and he’ll visit Ole Miss in a few weeks.
At 5-foot-10 and 196 pounds, Williams, who runs a 4.56 40-yard dash, rushed 191 times for 1,191 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and 14 touchdowns in 2012. He also caught 11 passes for 137 yards and three scores for a Bishop Lynch team that lost in the TAPPS semifinals.
He’s really bonded with current Texas freshman Jake Raulerson and is looking forward to getting down to Austin. – William Wilkerson
2015 OG already with three offers
There are plenty of mammoth offensive linemen across the state, which is half the battle of being a heralded recruit. But college coaches are looking for that extra spark as well.
Class of 2015 OG Zach Rogers (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) has the size at 6-foot-3 and 275 pounds, and thinks he has that extra something that separates him too.
“I have a switch in my head that goes on when I hit the field. I become a different person,” Rogers said. “I am very mean and nasty on the field. I like to move people from A to B against their will. I will do anything in my power to win the battle.”
That do-whatever-it-takes attitude has attracted coaches from several conferences and has earned him offers from Arkansas, Texas Tech and UCLA already.
“When I got my first offer from Arkansas last summer it was definitely a surprise,” he said. “I didn’t think anything like that would happen this early on, but ever since it happened I have just accepted it and have tried to stay on top of things.”
Rogers said that coaches rave about his feet and his continuous motor. They also like the fact that he’s playing against strong competition on a weekly basis.
“They definitely understand that I am playing against some of the top talent in Texas every week,” he said. “It makes it easier when they watch my film and know the guys I’m going against are good football players.”
Rogers recently visited Arkansas for the first time under the Bret Bielema regime and loved what he saw.
“I definitely like them,” he said. “I think they are all great coaches and very passionate. I got to spend time with the head coach, offensive line coach [Sam Pittman] and offensive coordinator [Jim Chaney].”
He also visited Oklahoma not too long ago with teammate Jamal Adams.
“My parents are both from Oklahoma so I grew up rooting for OU,” he said.
It was his third time there in recent memory as he went to two football games in Norman in 2012.
One school he has yet to familiarize himself with is Texas but he’s hopeful he’ll get his chance.
“I haven’t heard anything from them,” he said. “I would definitely love to hear from them. They are one of the best programs around. Not hearing from them is not surprising because I know they like to take their time with everything and really evaluate. So it doesn’t bother me at all. I hope that they do get in contact with me at some point.”
Rogers found out on Tuesday that he was invited to Texas' sophomore day and will attend. – William Wilkerson
DB Dunning excited to visit
Another recruit who really hadn’t heard much from Texas until his sophomore day invite came was Whitehouse (Texas) safety Justin Dunning.
That doesn’t make him any less excited for this weekend. Dunning is bringing his family with him for the visit and said he’s always wanted to check out the Longhorns’ campus and facilities.
“I think it’s great. Texas has always been one of my favorite schools,” he said. “I always wanted to go there. We’ll see what it’s like when I get there.”
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound safety racked up 61 tackles and intercepted five passes in 2012, his first season on varsity. This is Dunning’s second college visit of the spring after attending a junior day at SMU.
Duane Akina is recruiting Dunning as a safety, and the UT secondary coach caught up with him this week to talk up the inaugural sophomore day event.
“He told me he watched my film and thinks I’m a good player, and he told me about the sophomore day a little bit,” Dunning said. “He said to be be there at 8:45 and they’re going to tour the weight room, eat lunch and talk about football and academics. There’s going to be some NFL players and graduates who are going to be there, and we’ll get to watch some scrimmage and talk to the coaches.”
That all sounds likely a fairly standard junior day event, though the Longhorns will also have 2013 signees and some 2014 commits, including quarterback Jerrod Heard, in the house on Saturday.
Dunning said he’s been invited to attend spring games at Oklahoma and Texas Tech, and he’s fairly confident he’ll be able to make it to Lubbock. He was already planning to attend Texas Relays next weekend, so Dunning did say he’ll be at Texas’ Orange-White spring game afterwards.
He’s looking forward to spending back-to-back weekends in Austin, and he hopes Texas will start upping its interest in him after these visits.
“I think once the first offer comes in, they’ll all start rolling in,” Dunning said. – Max Olson
2015 WR keeping busy schedule
When ESPN Watch List safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) hits the camp circuit he knows reps are limited in 1-on-1 action and wants to make the most of them. He wants to be challenged.
So it says a lot about 2015 wide receiver James Proche II (Dallas/Prime Prep) that he was called out by Adams on two occasions during a recent workout in Dallas.
“Jamal, to me, is the best player in the country,” Proche said. “If I can beat him every now and then I can play with the best. It’s very humbling that Jamal would call me out only being a sophomore.”
Both passes were well defended and Proche didn’t catch either of them but he made a statement by simply running routes against Adams.
The fact that he already has an SMU offer (he picked it up in January) considering Prime Prep’s limited schedule in 2012 speaks volumes as well.
“Last year we only had five games and I played in three,” he said. “I had 11 catches for 310 and four touchdowns.
Proche (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) has already attended SMU’s junior day and he’ll be on campus for sophomore days at Texas (March 23) and Texas A&M (April 5).
He actually grew up rooting for the Longhorns, which makes him even more intrigued by what he’ll see over the weekend.
“I saw them on TV and it was the very first college football game I watched, and that was when Vince Young was there,” he said. – William Wilkerson
2015 WR about to blow up
When you’re the No. 5 option behind senior receivers who will play college ball at Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Iowa State and Nevada, it definitely isn’t easy to get noticed.
That’s the challenge that Cedar Hill (Texas) wideout Damarkus Lodge faced in his sophomore season. Now it’s his time to shine.
The 6-foot-1, 172-pound prospect learned plenty from his time backing up guys like Laquivionte Gonzalez and Quincy Adeboyejo, but six catches for 59 yards on the year was far from satisfying.
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“I’m very excited,” Lodge said. “I didn’t get a chance during the season because we had so many great athletes. This is my chance now.”
Lodge picked up the first of many offers Tuesday from Arizona State. He took that as major affirmation that he’s on the right track.
“Oh man, words can’t explain how I feel right now,” he said. “This feels great.”
He’s not expecting an offer this weekend, but Lodge is ready to check out Texas’ sophomore day on Saturday.
“It’s a nice invitation. I love it. That’s the first time I’ve heard from them,” he said. “I visited them at camp last year and it was pretty good. I talked to some of their coaches and I hope I made a nice impression there.”
Lodge got a chance to check out the facilities during that camp visit, so he’s looking to find out more about the academic aspects of UT this weekend.
Lodge said two Cedar Hill teammates, quarterback Justin McMillan and defensive back Darrell Miller, also received invites to the sophomore event.
“I like Texas,” Lodge said. “I’m hoping to start hearing from A&M, Baylor and Ole Miss, but I’m open to anyone.”
The list of receivers who received sophomore day invites is a long one, but Lodge is definitely one name to keep an eye on this spring, especially after UT coaches stop by Cedar Hill to see a spring practice. – Max Olson