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Friday, May 24, 2013
The Heard: UT recruiting news and notes

By Max Olson and William Wilkerson

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.

The next Fab Five?

Daylon Mack has a plan.

He has been reluctant to go public with it thus far and said he hasn’t told college recruiters or reporters yet. But on Thursday, the coveted 2015 Gladewater (Texas) defensive tackle spilled the beans.

“It’s supposed to be a secret,” Mack said. “But it’s probably about to get out now.”

He’s been working to put together his own version of the Fab Five. That group of five big-time 2015 prospects wants to play together in college.

Daylon Mack
Class of 2015 defensive tackle Daylon Mack has Texas A&M on top, followed by Texas and Alabama.
Included in the group with Mack is Sulphur Springs (Texas) safety Larry Pryor Jr., Whitehouse (Texas) safety Justin Dunning, Longview (Texas) running back Ja’Mycal Hasty and Mesquite (Texas) Poteet linebacker Malik Jefferson.

“We’re all trying to get together and go to the same school,” Mack said. “We feel like we’re the top guys in East Texas and we all know each other, so why not get together and go to the same college?”

Mack is the one who ties them all together. He grew up playing baseball with Pryor and basketball with Hasty and has recently struck up friendships with Dunning and Jefferson.

The fact that Mack would concoct such a plan after nearly committing to Texas A&M this spring is no doubt an intriguing move. Mack now wants to make his decision after his junior season, and it’s possible the rest of the gang could join him.

“Someone is going to hit the jackpot,” Mack said. “It would be a big deal. We’d all do it at the same time, too.”

So far, only one schools has offered all five recruits: Texas Tech. Texas has made offers to Mack, Pryor, Jefferson and, as of Thursday night, Dunning. Texas A&M has offered Mack and Jefferson.

There are, of course, holes in this plan. Mack already holds an offer from Alabama, for example. If no other member of his group lands an offer, are the Tide out of the picture?

There’s also the issue of individual preference. Jefferson still considers Texas his No. 1 school and isn’t too interested in following Mack to College Station.

“Yeah, we’ve been thinking about it,” Jefferson said of the pact. “But he loves A&M and I don’t love them like he does. We’ll see what happens.”

Dunning, Hasty and Pryor also confirmed on Thursday that they’re interested in Mack’s plan. The fact is, though, these kinds of agreements typically do not pan out. Guys fall in love with different schools and part ways, that’s all too common. Mack says he’s confident this proposal has legs.

What if Texas and Texas A&M don’t offer all five? What if some are ready to commit earlier than others? Mack is aware of the potential issues they could encounter, and he’s no less enthusiastic.

“I feel like we’ll have a group discussion before any one of us makes a commitment,” he said. “We’d talk about it. We’re good friends so it wouldn’t be no huge argument. We really do want it to happen, though.”

Mack still has Texas A&M as his No. 1 school, with Texas and Alabama tied for No. 2 on his list. Texas currently leads for both Pryor and Jefferson. Dunning only has offers from Texas and Texas Tech, while the Red Raiders are the only school to have offered Hasty.

Keep in mind, this isn’t a maneuver by Mack to try to score his friends more college interest. All five members of the pact merit legitimate attention from recruiters. And any school looking to lock up Mack would be wise to make a run at all five.

“I’m real excited about the possibility of playing with childhood friends and going to the same college,” Mack said. “We can really get up there and do some damage. You don’t see this a lot in football. I feel like it would be a special deal.” – Max Olson

2015 LB a well-known name

The word is out on 2015 linebacker Cameron Townsend (Missouri City, Texas/Ridge Point) and the Longhorns are doing what they can to make sure he’s aware just how important he is to them.

Texas was the first to offer Townsend during its inaugural sophomore day on March 23. It was then, in Austin, that the 6-1, 196-pound prospect familiarized himself with what the Longhorns had to offer. But he took another opportunity to get acquainted with the staff during the UIL Texas State Track and Field Meet.

“It was cool. We got to take a tour of the facilities and got to see the trophy cases,” Townsend said. “I talked a little football with Coach [Manny] Diaz and saw Coach [Mack] Brown. They had already gone over everything at sophomore day, which is when they offered me.”

One of the highlights of the unofficial visit was when Townsend and Diaz broke down some of his game film.

“He did tell me about my highlight tape, told me the good and bad,” Townsend said. “He told me stuff to work on and stuff I should tell other people in order for whole defense to be better. He broke film down more than I had ever seen before. It was for a minute. Probably for about 15 minutes. I could tell we could have gone longer if he wanted to.”

The Longhorns have also sent running backs coach Larry Porter to his school and will get to see him in action at their summer camp on June 2. It’ll be part of a busy camp circuit for a linebacker who already has offers from Texas, Baylor, Houston and, most recently, Michigan.

“I’ll be at Baylor on June 1 in Cypress,” Townsend said. “Before that I’ll probably drop by Oklahoma State’s camp. I won’t participate since I already signed up for Baylor’s camp. June 2, I will be at Texas. I’ll go to Oklahoma’s on June 9. I’ll be going to Oregon State and USC as well. So those are a few to look out for.”

Notre Dame also sent a camp invite but Townsend isn’t sure if he’ll be able to make it to South Bend, Ind.

“I do feel like my recent success has helped put me on the map a little bit,” he said.

One place on the map that Townsend is already very familiar with is Austin.

“I’m not from Austin but I have family there,” he said. “So seeing all the UT players walking around the city. To know I could be one of them is crazy.” – William Wilkerson

Texas, OU are top two for Leonard

When it comes to the recruitment of Longview (Texas) receiver Dorian Leonard, Texas and Oklahoma could not be more even at the top of his list.

In fact, Leonard finds the two programs to be almost too similar in how they’ve recruited him thus far.

“I can’t say either one of them is on top. They’re about the same,” Leonard said. “They say the same things, the exact same things: They talk about their offenses, their players in the NFL, all that stuff.”

Dorian Leonard
Longview, Texas, receiver Dorian Leonard has the Longhorns and Sooners on top of his list.
The 6-4, 200-pound wideout said he visited Austin twice this spring, for a junior day and the spring game, and he’s looking forward to going back for camp on June 9.

“Texas is one of my top schools,” Leonard said. “They said I have a chance to play as a freshman and they’ll have a new offense they’re running with three or four receivers on the field at one time, stuff like that. I know they’re highly ranked for their academics, too.”

Darrell Wyatt and Stacy Searels have been the lead recruiters for Leonard, and Larry Porter has also reached out to the Louisiana native. Leonard has enjoyed getting to know the Texas staff and was impressed by their facilities during his two trips to UT.

Still, it’s a tough call. You’d think one potential tiebreaker is Longview’s ties to the Sooners. The school produced two OU greats, offensive lineman Trent Williams and wide receiver Malcolm Kelly, in recent years. Williams has even shelled out more than $100,000 to renovate the Lobos’ locker room and facilities since leaving OU.

Then again, Texas does have one edge there: Wyatt was actually the one who recruited Kelly to Oklahoma, and he has a longtime relationship with Longview coach John King.

Leonard should have plenty of time to continue weighing his two favorite options. Though he’d like to make a decision before his senior season begins, he said his mother is pushing him to wait until November after official visits to make his pledge.

After visiting Longview this week, it’s easy to see why Texas thinks so highly of Leonard. He has long arms, huge hands and brings legit playmaking ability to the table, even if he only had 444 receiving yards and four scores in 2012.

And he’s working to get even better. King expects him to have a big-time senior season. At some point during it, Leonard will make his big decision as well.

“I know I’m a big physical receiver, and once I get to college I’m going to get stronger,” Leonard said. “It’s going to get worse for the cornerbacks.” – Max Olson

Defending champs offer Longhorn commit

There are just some phone calls you won’t forget. One of those happened to Longhorns wide receiver commit Roderick Bernard (Houston/Sharpstown) this week, and it came from someone Texas coach Mack Brown probably would rather stay away from his recruits.

“I spoke with Nick Saban on the phone and he was saying that he loved my competitiveness and what I do on the field, my ability to make cuts,” said Bernard, the No. 48 receiver overall. “I told him thank you. Then he said, ‘I just wanted to let you know you have an offer here.' "

That makes four offers for the 5-10, 175-pound speedster along with Texas, Houston and Oklahoma.

Luckily for the Longhorns, Bernard’s reaction to his offer from the Crimson Tide was the same as it was after he picked one up from the Sooners: Thanks but no thanks.

“It’s still the case with UT. I’m 100 percent,” Bernard said. “There isn’t anything that can change that. I know that seems crazy but I don’t think so.”

That’s not to say his offer from Alabama doesn’t mean a lot to him.

“A couple of weeks ago after the draft happened [and before Saban called] my coach told Alabama was thinking about coming through. I told him ‘Nah, you are lying.’ Well they came by and I spoke with one of their coaches in the office.”

Bernard should get used to these bigger schools inquiring about him. It’s not going to stop with the two-time defending national champions. He is just now getting used to that.

“At the beginning I thought that [I was under the radar] because I didn’t have any film. I saw it from all sides,” he said. “When Texas came my sophomore year I knew I wanted to go there because they had receivers my size that could play. If they made it and got to the league, then I can. Texas is a winning program.”

Bernard will do what he can to recruit for the Longhorns when he participates in Texas’ summer camp on June 2. – William Wilkerson

QB Sharp could be on radar

The Longhorns already have a firm pledge from ESPN 150 standout Jerrod Heard, but here’s another 2014 quarterback to keep an eye on: Aaron Sharp.

The 6-3, 188-pound lefty from Humble (Texas) Summer Creek heard from Texas co-offensive coordinator Darrell Wyatt this week. The Longhorns have some initial interest in looking at Sharp as an athlete prospect.

Aaron Sharp
Could the Longhorns offer Aaron Sharp as an athlete?
He badly wants to play quarterback at the next level, but any interest – serious or preliminary – from the Longhorns is a big deal to Sharp.

“I’m a diehard fan,” he said. “I still am a Texas fan. My family loves Texas. All my life, I grew up watching Texas.”

Sharp holds quarterback offers from Houston, Colorado, Wake Forest, Utah, Toledo and UTEP and said Arizona State, Mississippi State, Louisiana Tech and BYU all evaluated him this week. He may have the state track meet to thank for some of the new schools coming into the picture.

In a star-studded field that included Antuwan Davis, Robbie Rhodes, K.D. Cannon and Montrel Meander, Sharp took home gold in the Class 4A 200-yard dash, beating out Davis by three-hundredths of a second with a time of 21.19.

During that weekend at state, Sharp was also offered by Baylor. It’s his understanding that the Bears would take him as a receiver right now but could consider him as a quarterback if they don’t land Randall Cunningham II (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman).

The more he thinks about it, the more Sharp isn’t sure he’s willing to change positions.

“I definitely want to be a quarterback first,” he said. “Coach Wyatt told me they’re still evaluating me and there may be a chance where I could go in there as a quarterback and, if things don’t go well, they could move me. But I’m not looking to go in as just a receiver.”

Sharp said he’s not sure if he’ll camp in Austin next month, and he currently has no favorites in his recruitment. He’s wide open to anyone who offers, and an offer from Texas would be a game-changer.

“It would be a blessing. It’s going to be a lifelong dream fulfilled,” Sharp said. “I always dreamed to get that offer. If that happened, I’d have to do some hard thinking about that. It would be a big-time decision.”

Even if Texas did end up liking him as a quarterback, what does he think of Heard and Tyrone Swoopes standing in his way of a future starting job? Sharp doesn’t worry about that much.

“If they bring me as a quarterback at Texas, I’m definitely going to compete and I’ll try to beat them out,” Sharp said. “They said they want me to come in and throw for them, and I’d definitely do that. I have no problem with that, even if they have Jerrod. We’re pretty cool with each other. You’ve got to compete. That’s what I grew up doing.”

As a junior, Sharp put up 2,954 passing yards and 38 touchdowns with six interceptions. He’s already thrown for more than 6,000 yards in his career. Unless Texas decides he’s a quarterback in college, it’s hard to imagine Sharp would pass up a chance to play QB at another major-conference school. – Max Olson

Evans taking his time

Practice doesn’t make perfect, huh? Tell that to 2014 defensive end Victor Evans (Dallas/Skyline) or Michigan State for that matter.

Evans, who picked up a Longhorns offer a few weeks ago, was sitting in class on Monday when he got called out of class to meet with a coach of the Spartans.

“That really surprised me,” Evans said. “They came and got me out of the middle of class. He said he’d seen my film and was really interested. The defensive coordinator (Pat Narduzzi) came the next day to practice, which happened to be a real good day for me.”

A real good day that ended with an offer from the Spartans after Evans made a spectacular play on defense.

“It happened real quick. I picked the ball off and ran it back for a touchdown,” he said. “As soon as I got to the end zone he told me I was offered.”

Evans now has offers from Michigan State, Texas, Colorado, SMU and Tulsa.

“I’m always happy to get another offer but right now I am pretty wide open and want to see what will happen later,” he said. “I want to be able to take my college visits and make my decision during the season.”

A positive note for the Longhorns is that Evans will likely only camp at one school this summer, and it’s likely to be Texas on June 2. – William Wilkerson

New Orleans TE waiting on one offer

Class of 2014 tight end Anthony Jones (New Orleans/Edna Karr) wants a Texas offer badly. He has repeatedly told HornsNation that it’s his dream school and has thought about what it would be like to play for the Longhorns for years.

Well, Jones (6-6, 231 pounds) doesn’t have that offer yet. But he’s hopeful a recent visit from Texas’ coaches and a solid performance at an upcoming summer camp will get him one.

First, the coaches visit. Longhorns running backs coach Larry Porter and recruiting coordinator Bruce Chambers stopped by a few days back to talk with Jones.

“They just came by and talked to me for a minute,” he said. “They were just saying how much they want me and stuff and would give me a call soon. They pretty much said they like what they see.

Asked if he knew why the Longhorns hadn’t offered, Jones responded, “I’m not too sure. I guess they are looking at someone else or are waiting on a decision from Mack Brown.”

Jones isn’t hurting for offers. Auburn, Baylor, Florida State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisville, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska and Tulsa have all offered.

LSU, Baylor and Nebraska have stopped by since Texas left as well.

Fact remains, he wants that Texas offer and will try his best to get it when he participates in Texas’ June 2 camp.

“That’s what I am going to try to do, just compete and try to get an offer from them,” he said.

Jones will travel to Austin with Longhorns commitments Jermaine Roberts and Courtney Garnett of New Orleans Saint Augustine, who are also supposed to bring teammate Joseph Paul who is committed to Florida.

Jones said he probably wouldn’t commit right away if an offer were presented.

“I’d have to talk it over with my family,” he said.

But you can get a since for where his head is at with this next quote.

“I’m pretty much close to a decision,” he said. “I’m just waiting on that one offer.” – William Wilkerson

2015 QB recruiting coming into focus

With Tyrone Swoopes already in the fold and Jerrod Heard essentially a lock to sign in February, it’s not a big surprise that Texas is in a position to take its time with 2015 quarterback recruiting. But the plan is beginning to come together.

Major Applewhite took a big step this week by getting out to California to visit five of the state’s best in a three-day stretch. As we reported Wednesday, those five were Kevin Dillman (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada), Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure), Kyle Kearns (Pleasanton, Calif./Foothill), Jake Browning (Folsom, Calif./Folsom) and Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco).

Checking out all five was a smart move for Applewhite. The state is loaded with passers in 2015, and each and every of those guys could end up being ESPN 150 prospects. Seriously, it’s that strong of a class.

And Texas is looking to get each of them on campus for camp in June. I’ve heard that Town and Kearns both made big impressions on Applewhite when they threw for him, but it sounds like nearly all of them could show up for camp in Austin next month.

The Longhorns, after locking up three consecutive dual-threat quarterbacks, are apparently now in the market for more pro-style sophomores. Kearns brought that topic up during his long chat with Applewhite on Tuesday.

“He said they’re signing guys who can make plays with their feet, but they’re not singling out what type of quarterback they want,” Kearns said. “They want a guy who wins football games, whether that’s taking off running and escaping the defensive line or the guy who can throw the ball 40 times a game, accurate and consistent. They want the guy who wins games.”

What about the in-state options? From talking to sources, it appears UT has legitimate interest in three Texas quarterbacks right now: Fort Bend Marshall’s J.W. Ketchum, Allen’s Kyler Murray and West Mesquite’s Chason Virgil.

There are lots of other intriguing options behind them, but right now those are the three the staff is keeping an eye on. Ketchum has an offer, and Texas coaches will be visiting Murray soon. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he gets an offer upon visiting Austin this summer.

Could Texas take two quarterbacks in 2015? Hard to know which class will need a second one more as long as Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet remain in the program, though Overstreet could change positions.

Remember, a lot can still change and so can Texas’ needs at quarterback. If Brewer were to leave, Texas could be looking at a future with only Swoopes, Heard and potentially Overstreet on board entering the 2015 season. They’ve got to have more than that. – Max Olson