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Friday, May 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 release this every Friday.

Talk about it in our forum and, if there’s a recruit out there you’d like to hear more from, let us know.
Read The Heard after the jump.

Georgia RB grew up a Longhorns fan

Question Texas’ decision to recruit out-of-state if you want. Had the Longhorns stayed within the Lone Star State, though, they would have never come across four-star running back Adam Choice (Thomasville, Ga./Thomas County Central) and discovered his allegiance to their program.

That’s right. Despite being the first-cousin of former Oklahoma and Georgia Tech running back Tashard Choice, Adam Choice actually grew up rooting for the Longhorns.

“I actually grew up a Texas fan but I never imagined they would give me an offer,” Choice said.

Adam Choice
Four-star running back Adam Choice said he starting liking the Longhorns after they won the national title in the 2005 season.
How did he become a fan of the Longhorns? Well he was an OU fan first, which could have had something to do with the fact that Tashard started out his college career as a Sooner. He was behind Adrian Peterson on OU’s depth chart in 2004 and decided to transfer after the season.

“In 2004 my favorite team was Oklahoma but they lost the national championship game to USC,” he said. “So I dropped Oklahoma as my favorite team because I was mad at them and from that point USC was the team. Then, the next year, when they made it back to the championship, Texas beat them.

“From that point on I decided Texas was going to be my team. Colt McCoy came through. It just stuck. Now that recruiting started it is still a dream. It’s surreal to me that they would offer after I have been rooting for them for so many years.”

The offer came about a month ago, and as a complete surprise, during a phone conversation with Texas running backs coach Larry Porter.

“He just said that they had a lot of interest in me, they wanted to offer and hoped I would come down for a visit,” said Choice, who has spent the last two seasons as a starting quarterback. “I am blessed to have an offer from Texas. They have a great program and I am excited they found interest in me to make an offer.”

That visit will come at some point. He’s just not sure when as he is still in the early stages of his recruitment.

Choice, who is 5-foot-9, 196 pounds, is rated as the No. 26 running backs overall and the No. 23 player in Georgia.

In addition to Texas, he has offers from Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Wisconsin. He has visited Georgia, Auburn, Clemson and South Carolina unofficially.

His ties to the Southeast are strong and that’s enough to keep many prospects from the area from venturing outside the SEC. But Choice said he doesn’t care what conference he plays in.

“I don’t have a preference what conference I play in but having offers from the SEC is an honor,” he said. “I am just grateful for every offer. I can’t complain about anything.”

Choice, who is also a talented baseball player, said he rushed for 1,900 yards and 19 touchdowns as a sophomore.

He hopes to trim his list of suitors in the near future. – William Wilkerson

Texas still possibility for ESPN 150 DT

Texas might not be in the top four right now for ESPN 150 defensive tackle Gerald Willis III (New Orleans/Edna Karr), but he’s still intrigued by what the Longhorns have to offer.

We covered the latest on his recruitment on Thursday, but Willis had plenty more to say about Texas. After giving his junior day visit high marks, Willis hasn’t forgotten about UT.

That top four of LSU, Texas A&M, Florida and Louisiana Tech didn’t include Texas, he said, because he feels he has seen those other schools more and knows their coaches better. But the Longhorns coaching staff is still working hard to get on that list.

“I talk to coach Mack Brown on Twitter, he tweets me all the time,” Willis said. “I keep in contact with him and the defensive ends coach, Coach [Oscar] Giles.

“I can actually see myself playing for them. At this point they’re not in my top four or five, but you never know what’s going to change. That’s why I’m taking the process slow. I’m going to make my decision at the Under Armour Game and take my time.”

Back when he visited in February, Willis said there was a good chance he’d be back this summer for another visit or camp. While he’s not looking to do any summer camps other than the elite national ones, Willis said coming back to Austin in the near future is a possibility.

More likely, though, might be an official visit. Willis said he’s kept that in mind ever since his first UT visit.

“I don’t know if we’re going to make another trip. I might make it an official,” he said. “I don’t know what my dad wants to do, he’s in control of all of that right now. I might take an official with them, depending on if there’s a certain game I want to see or something. I’m not going to say I’m not going to visit, but it’s not set in stone yet.”

Willis is happy to hear that Texas is investing more in Louisiana this year and already has pledges from New Orleans St. Augustine standouts Jermaine Roberts and Courtney Garnett. He doesn’t talk with them much, but he does know Roberts fairly well.

And he can understand why those two would choose to become Longhorns. Willis still has nothing but good things to say about his day trip to Austin.

“I went up there one time and it was great, it was awesome,” he said. “Beautiful campus, strong tradition, I saw all the NFL players that went to Texas. I could see myself actually on the Wall of Fame if I was to go there.”

Texas sent Duane Akina and Larry Porter down to Edna Karr this week to check in on Willis, Speedy Noil, Anthony Jones and the rest of their talented teammates. The staff continues to make a strong effort in the state in this 2014 class. That excites Willis. He’s glad to know he’d have some connections if he did ultimately end up in Austin.

Expect official visits to be the big decider in this recruitment. If Texas can get Willis back on campus one or two more times, it’s safe to say they can be a legitimate contender in this race. – Max Olson

Elite juco WR likes Longhorns

We told you new junior college names would start popping up this month while the Texas coaching staff hits the recruiting trail. One name you absolutely must know: D’haquille Williams.

It’s no surprise Williams is the first junior college prospect to land a Texas offer. We caught up with two of his coaches at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College this week, and both made it clear they’ve never coached a guy like him.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound wide receiver is one of the nation’s top juco prospects. He put up 1,295 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns on 67 catches as a freshman at MGCCC and also has offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Miami, Texas A&M, USC and a long list of schools.

According to Mississippi Gulf Coast assistant coach Pete Bennett, Texas is near the top of Williams’ short list.

“The three he’s expressed to me as his top three are Auburn, Texas and Southern Cal,” Bennett said. “He’s very interested in Texas. He spent a semester at a prep school in Houston before we got him. I think he kind of experienced that whole Texas-Texas A&M deal. He’s definitely interested in Texas, I know that.”

The Louisiana native spent one year at Southeast Prep in Houston before enrolling at Mississippi Gulf Coast. Though the Texas connection is a real plus, the Longhorns also have one very strong tie to Mississippi Gulf Coast.

During his time at Alabama, UT defensive tackles coach Bo Davis discovered and signed Terrence Cody at Mississippi Gulf Coast. Back then, nobody wanted the future second-round NFL draft pick.

“To be honest with you, Bo Davis took Terrence Cody when nobody else wanted to,” Bennett said. “Mississippi State, Southern Miss, they didn’t want him. Bo Davis signed him and liked him and got Saban sold on him at Alabama. We know how that ended up. But if Terrence Cody didn’t go to Alabama, his only other offer, I think, was Memphis. So yeah, he’s done a good job recruiting our guys for sure.”

Mississippi Gulf Coast has produced Cody, Indianapolis Colts running back Vick Ballard, recently drafted Saints defensive tackle John Jenkins and several others who made an impact in college. Their coaches say Williams is simply the best they’ve ever seen.

“He had a great, great season. He burst on the scene right off the bat and was an impact player,” Mississippi Gulf Coast head coach Steve Campbell said. “He’s got a chance to score every time he touches the ball, and if you can get it near him he’s going to catch it.”

When he first got to MGCCC, Williams talked a lot about planning to sign with LSU someday. That was always the goal. Not anymore.

Contact between Williams and the Tigers has been almost minimal, Bennett said, and Auburn has easily been recruiting him the hardest of any school. LSU hasn’t offered and certainly seems to have fallen behind, to the point that an offer might not change things much.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think he’s really interested in LSU anymore,” Bennett said. “I think he’s kind of past that. And to be honest with you, they haven’t shown much interest in him.

“Some of these kids want to be recruited and shown some love, and he’s that type of kid where I think he’s going to end up at the place where they recruit him the hardest. And LSU, they really haven’t recruited him as hard as the other schools.”

Campbell said Williams is in good shape academically and slated to graduate from MGCCC in December and enroll at a college in January. Right now, Texas has as good a chance as any to win him over. – Max Olson

Unprecedented offer impresses 2017 ATH

Yes, it’s true. Texas has offered a scholarship to a prospect in the Class of 2017. A kid who doesn’t turn 15 for another 15 days.

But when you find one as good as Dylan Moses, it’s a no-brainer. On Wednesday, Texas became the eighth school to offer the Baton Rouge (La.) University Lab athlete. That offer means a great deal to him and his father, Edward Moses Jr., and it’s going to make the Longhorns a contender for his pledge ... someday.

“He’s excited about it. He really likes the Longhorn football team,” Moses Jr. said. “They have a long history, of course, with Vince Young and Ricky Williams and Earl Campbell and all those guys. He’s a running back himself and he likes their tradition.”

Moses gained national attention earlier this spring when Alabama and LSU offered him scholarships. His father always envisioned he’d become a middle linebacker, and he’s played mostly linebacker and running back thus far in his young career.

Moses, who’s currently in 8th grade, has yet to play a snap of high school football. He was kept on the 8th-grade team last fall and put together a highlight tape that has already garnered nearly 600,000 views on YouTube. Seriously.

“Everybody coming in the picture, man, this is blowing us away,” Moses Jr. said. “I never expected it, wasn’t expecting it. It just keeps coming.”

Moses was expected to play on the JV team next season at University Lab, but his father said there’s now a good possibility he’ll play linebacker on varsity and get a few snaps a game at running back.

Count the Texas offer as just one more pleasant surprise for the Moses family, one they never would’ve expected. The earliest coach Mack Brown had ever offered a prospect, prior to Wednesday, was defensive tackle Daylon Mack (Gladewater, Texas/Gladewater) after his sophomore season.

“It just comes out of the blue for us,” Moses Jr. said. “Coach [Larry] Porter told us he wants us to come and talk to coach Mack so we know that it’s real, that Texas really wants Dylan over at their university to play ball and ultimately get a degree. I took that with the utmost respect.”

Moses Jr. said his son is in for a busy summer of recruiting visits. They plan to visit nearly every school that has already offered, and Texas will be one of them.

“We’ll definitely visit,” he said. “Our intent was to go to one of the camps. I’m trying to set the schedule to visit Texas and maybe Texas A&M while we’re in the area. We’re definitely going to stop in at least for a day to meet coach Mack and the coaching staff and get a tour of the campus.”

Throughout this crazy process, Moses and his father have agreed there’s absolutely no pressure at this point to make any decisions or commitments. Moses Jr. said he’s doing everything he can to shield his son from the pitfalls all this attention brings.

“I think he’s handling it well,” Moses Jr. said. “We sit down and talk about his responsibilities and what’s expected of him. We’re constantly talking about this stuff. He’s been playing since he was 7, and all we’re worried about is developing his game.”

Offering a scholarship to Moses simply means Texas is interested and wants to get him on campus. That’s all. No matter how you feel about offering middle schoolers, this is not something anyone will do with any regularity.

The offer also goes to show you just how talented the kid is, and now he'll have four long years to consider the Longhorns. – Max Olson

Freeman firm with top three

ESPN 150 safety Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie) is solid in his top three.

Edwin Freeman
ESPN 150 safety Edwin Freeman's top three consists of Texas, Texas A&M and TCU.
“Texas, TCU, Texas A&M,” he said on Tuesday.

That hasn’t changed ever since the powerful 6-1, 212-pound safety unofficially visited Texas during its spring game.
He was blown away by the city atmosphere of Austin and really appreciated the fact that the Longhorns were looking at him at safety even though he admits “I am getting too big for that.”

Freeman, the No. 78 player in the ESPN 150, is rated as the No. 6 safety overall and the No. 12 player in the state of Texas.

He is one of many highly regarded safeties Texas has offered that remain uncommitted. The Longhorns are also in hot pursuit of Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron), Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) and John Bonney (Houston/Lamar).
Freeman said he would like to make a decision before the beginning of his football season and has no plans to do anymore visits. – William Wilkerson

Dallas RB picks up Ohio State offer; wants to hear from UT

Anytime a school like Ohio State comes down to Texas and offers a recruit, it can perk up ears from programs in the Lone Star State.

It remains to be seen if that will be the case for Corey Avery (Dallas/Carter), who was offered by the Buckeyes on Monday, but it’s hard to imagine the likes of Texas, Texas A&M, TCU and others won’t look a little harder now.

Avery certainly wouldn’t mind if the Longhorns came calling.

“They are my No. 1 school, Texas,” Avery said on Tuesday.

The Longhorns have plenty of reason to visit Dallas Carter with it being the home of 2014 linebacker commit Cameron Hampton. They made the trip a few weeks back and inquired about Avery too.

“I spoke to their coach a couple of weeks ago when they came to our school,” he said. “They said they liked my video and wanted me to keep up the hard work.”

Avery and Hampton are really good friends and they’d enjoy playing with each other if they were able to.

Texas is looking for a third running back, and could be looking for more soon, so there is a chance Avery could grow on its radar.

In addition to Ohio State, which would like to use him in a Percy Harvin role, Avery also has offers from Nebraska, Texas Tech and West Virginia. He would really like to hear from USC, LSU and Ole Miss.

As far as visits go, Avery said he would visit Ohio State on June 9, which is the day Texas will hold its second summer camp. He could make it to the day camp on June 2, though he did attend a camp last year.

Avery rushed 131 times for 839 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2012. He also caught 25 passes for 395 yards and six touchdowns. – William Wilkerson

Suitors coming after Cuney

Have you ever been in the ocean when the waves are really rolling? You fight them off to get to one sandbar, where you take a deep breath before you begin being pelted by waves on your way to another sandbar?

Longhorns offensive lineman commitment Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper) is on his way to that second sandbar as other programs hike up the intensity of their sales pitches.

Terrell Cuney
Four-star center Terrell Cuney is being pursued by other schools but he says he's firmly committed to Texas.
“All the other school just haven’t stopped since I committed,” he said. “They are coming harder now.”

The main schools right now are Oklahoma State, Oregon and Stanford. Though they haven’t offered, the Cowboys and Ducks have long been in pursuit of the second-rated center in the country.

They’ve really increased their letters, according to Cuney. The same goes for the Cardinal, though, none of these schools have sent coaches to Jasper, which isn’t exactly in an easy-to-get-to location.

Even if coaches did come through Cuney would likely respectfully decline their interest.

“I tell them that they can come and do what they have to do but I am not talking to them,” Cuney said. “Whenever they do come my coach sends him on their way because he knows I’m a Longhorn. He sat me down and asked me if I wanted him to give me the letters from other schools. I said he could give them to me as souvenirs but that’s about it.”

That’s good news for the Longhorns, who will be happy to know that Cuney is 100 percent firm in his commitment.

“Oh yeah, I am not changing nothing,” he said. “I wouldn’t have committed if I wasn’t sure. Ain’t nobody taking me from there. I’m a Longhorn and nothing is changing that.”

Texas was supposed to send Searels out to Jasper on Thursday. – William Wilkerson

2014 OT visiting on Friday

One of the many recruits planning to visit Texas during his time at the UIL state track and field championships is legacy lineman Blake Blackmar.

The Houston Clear Lake offensive tackle is planning to visit campus today before he checks into his hotel for state track. It’s a visit he’s been looking forward to for a long time, especially considering Texas has seemingly shown little interest in recent months.

Blackmar, a 6-6, 325-pound junior, is competing in the Class 5A discus finals on Saturday. He’s the son of former UT lineman Bruce Blackmar and has long considered Texas his favorite school.

Going into the visit, though, Blackmar said he’s not going in with the expectation of getting an offer. While Texas is in need of linemen after losing Demetrius Knox, he doesn’t know if he’ll end up being a target.

“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “If they offer me, I wouldn’t commit right away or on the spot. I’m going to stick to my plan and wait it out until the summer and make my decision then. This is the first time they’ve really established contact again, so I’m not going in there expecting to get offered. I guess I’ll just see what happens.”

Blackmar already holds seven offers and said Baylor, Texas Tech and Kansas State are the schools he talks with most frequently. TCU is sending its offensive line coach to Clear Lake to scout him in the near future, and Purdue and Wake Forest both appear to be close to offering.

The communication between Blackmar and UT was good early on in his high school career, he said, but has been fairly minimal lately.

He picked up the invite to visit when area recruiter Larry Porter visited Clear Lake to check out Blackmar and coveted 2015 tight end Jordan Davis, a Florida State pledge.

“He told me to come down and check them out and meet with coach Searles before I check into the hotel for the track meet,” Blackmar said. “I guess I’ll just see what happens.”

An offer from the Longhorns would be a big deal for Blackmar, there’s no question about that.

“It would be pretty cool to have your favorite team growing up say they want you,” he said. – Max Olson