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Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Options for Texas' third RB in 2014 class

By William Wilkerson

AUSTIN, Texas -- If all goes according to Texas’ plan in 2014, running backs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron will both return for their senior seasons and Johnathan Gray will be back for his junior campaign.

That’s a lot of ifs, though, which can doom a coaching staff if there isn't a sound backup plan.

The Longhorns have made significant strides toward establishing that plan with commitments from running backs Duke Catalon (Houston/Eisenhower) and Daniel Gresham (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints) in the Class of 2014.

Nick Harvey
Texas A&M commit Nick Harvey attended Texas' spring game but says he's set on the Aggies.
But they’ve made it clear, through offers and their travels over the evaluation period, that adding a third running back to the class is a must. Here is a look at those targets:

Realistic Chances

Auston Anderson | Plano (Texas) West
Texas offer: Yes
Committed to: Uncommitted

The gist: Plano West has become a must-see destination for programs across the country. For Texas that was initially the case because of one running back: 2015 recruit Soso Jamabo.

But the Longhorns have identified Anderson as a back they’d love to have and made that official by offering him in mid-April. Anderson grew up watching Texas, as many players in the state did. He, like his younger teammate, are both highly sought after, though.

The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder really likes Northwestern right now after a visit a few weeks back. He’s also visited Baylor, Tulsa and Rice. Expect things to heat up between Anderson and the Longhorns in the coming months.

Better Chance Than You Might Think

Joe Mixon | Oakley (Calif.) Freedom
Texas offer: Yes
Committed to: Uncommitted

The gist: On May 4, the Longhorns became one of the latest schools to throw their hat in the ring for the nation’s No. 9 running back and No. 135 player overall. And that was only the beginning of their recruitment of Mixon.

Mixon holds over 40 offers from a who’s who of football powerhouses, including USC, which appears to be the frontrunner. But don’t sleep on plenty of teams from the midlands region at least receiving unofficial or official visits from him. That includes Texas.

The Longhorns have visited him once and will send running backs coach Larry Porter out to see him soon.

Adam Choice | Thomasville (Ga.) Thomas County Central
Texas offer: Yes
Committed to: Uncommitted

The gist: Choice has lived in Georgia all his life but has been a Longhorns fan ever since 2004.

We'll have more on how his allegiance to Texas came about in The Heard but there is considerable interest between both sides. Choice, the first cousin of NFL running back Tashard Choice, said it would be hard to leave the SEC but mark Texas down as a place he could end up. He'll likely visit at some point.

The Door Is Still Open

Nick Harvey | Fort Bend (Texas) Travis
Texas offer: Yes
Committed to: Texas A&M

The gist: Yes, Harvey (5-11, 180 pounds) has been committed to the Aggies since November, but there have been increasing rumblings surrounding the stability of that verbal pledge.

He is saying all the right things right now but the Longhorns are still on a short list of schools he’ll monitor until pen hits paper on national signing day next February.

His visit to Texas’ spring game raised some eyebrows. Sure, he was in town competing at the Texas Relays. But there were other recruits that competed and didn’t attend the game. So the Longhorns have to take some solace in that.

His move to Fort Bend from Lancaster does make it easier on the Aggies’ coaching staff to keep tabs on him. But the Longhorns won’t mind an extra hour in a car to try and sway one of the best playmakers in the state.

Kevin Shorter | Newton (Texas)
Texas offer: No
Committed to: Uncommitted

The gist: There was some confusion as to whether Shorter was actually awarded a scholarship offer from Texas a few weeks ago. As it stands, it does not appear that the 6-foot, 188-pounder has one.

That can obviously change, as the Longhorns leave no stone unturned in pursuit of another quality back.

Something that could be concerning to Texas if it does enter the picture officially is the fact that Shorter isn’t short on offers. He has more than 20, including from Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas A&M and UCLA.

Shorter has told RecruitingNation that he plans on making a decision later this summer, which means the Longhorns are running out of time. He has made two trips to College Station already.

Just Don't See It Happening

Leonard Fournette | New Orleans Saint Augustine
Texas offer: Yes
Committed to: Uncommitted

The gist: As much as the Longhorns would love for this marriage to happen, it’s just not going to. The nation’s No. 1 player is going to end up in Tuscaloosa or Baton Rouge, the latter of which is my guess for his final destination.

This has little to do with Texas not giving it a valiant effort. Running backs coach Larry Porter and the rest of the coaching staff have done an incredible job of keeping their program a viable option for the five-star recruit.

They’ve recruited his school as much as any in-state school it seems and have garnered commitments from two of his teammates, Jermaine Roberts and Courtney Garnett.

They even persuaded him to make an unofficial visit over the spring game weekend. It just doesn’t appear that it’ll be enough to keep him away from the SEC.

Longshots To Keep An Eye On

Nathan Starks (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman)
Nick Chubb (Cedartown, Ga./Cedartown)
Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central) – committed to Florida
Sony Michel (Plantation, Fla/American Heritage) – committed to Georgia