Thursday, June 27, 2013
The Opening: Texas storylines
By William Wilkerson
Texas will only have two commitments in attendance at The Opening next week in Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer) and Lorenzo Joe (Abilene, Texas/Cooper). But there will be, what seems to be, an endless amount of undecided prospects on hand who the Longhorns would love to have join their 2014 class.
Here are a look at those players and a few other storylines to keep an eye on July 1-3 at the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore:
1. Springs' decision looms
ESPN 300 cornerback Arrion Springs will decide between Texas and Oregon at The Opening.
ESPN 300 defensive back Arrion Springs (San Antonio/Roosevelt) will make his decision at The Opening and, as of now, all signs point to Oregon.
Texas, however, will get a chance to sway him one last time on June 28.
“I’m just going to hear their last pitch before I go make my decision,” he said. “My mom and I will go up that day and visit and hang out with Mack Brown and coach [Duane] Akina before I go to Oregon.”
The Longhorns will surely pull out all the stops to hopefully bolster a defensive backs class that only has one commit in ESPN 300 CB Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/Saint Augustine). Will it be enough to keep Springs from committing to Oregon at The Opening?
2. Perfect duo representing Texas
The Longhorns couldn’t ask to have two better commits representing their school at The Opening than quarterback Jerrod Heard and Joe.
Both are extremely talented and equally as loyal to Texas, which could come in handy with so many uncommitted targets on hand. There will be no fewer than 10 prospects in attendance that the Longhorns are really interested in.
How Heard and Joe divvy up this list, and who they focus on recruiting the hardest, will be a major storyline this week.
3. Get Adams out of a Florida state of mind
For a long time, the Longhorns were considered the frontrunner to land the commitment of ESPN 300 safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron). That’s not the case anymore.
Fresh off an unofficial visit to Florida, where Adams’ godfather, Joker Phillips, is the wide receivers coach, it now looks like the Gators are in the lead position rounding the final stretch of his recruitment.
If Texas had its say, Adams would likely be target No. 1 for Heard and Joe to focus on over the next few days. The three have a great relationship already. Look for the Texas duo to try and persuade the No. 3 safety in the country and then stay on him until he announces his commitment at the Under Armour All-American Game.
4. Heard needs a big week
Heard’s standing as one of the top quarterback recruits in the country is not in question. Not even close.
Anyone who saw his performance in Guyer’s state championship victory would agree with that. That won’t change regardless of what he does at The Opening.
But he could do himself, and the Longhorns, a huge favor with an outstanding camp, especially if he is in ear-shot of Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), the nation’s No. 1 player.
There’s an overwhelming feeling that Fournette is likely to stay in-state and play for LSU, or that he might spurn the Tigers and go to arc-rival Alabama. But Texas is in a better position that others think.
While it might be a long shot that he ends up in Austin, this is a golden opportunity for Heard to show Fournette what type of backfield mate he could play with over the next several seasons.
Heard has not been placed on a team yet. That will be decided on June 30. Fournette is playing for Team Superbad.
5. Figuring out Thomas
There probably isn’t a recruit in the country as up in the air as ESPN 300 defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell).
He has narrowed his list to a top eight of Stanford, Alabama, Ohio State, Texas, Notre Dame, Arkansas, Oklahoma and UCLA. You could probably throw Baylor in there as well.
Thomas has told HornsNation as recently as last week that he truly doesn’t know who he’s favoring right now.
Stanford and Texas are two schools long considered to be on the up-and-up with him. He has visited the Longhorns more than any other school, but hasn’t done so in a while.
What kind of effect will being on the west coast, in somewhat close proximity to Palo Alto, Calif., have on Thomas? Will he start to envision himself being able to live on that side of the country with his parents in Texas and his sister enrolled at Arkansas? Or will he figure out that being that far away from him isn’t what he wants to do and gives the Longhorns a longer look?
Unfortunately for Texas, neither Heard or Joe will play for Team Field Generals, which Thomas and Adams are both a part of.
Other Texas targets at The Opening include safety John Bonney (Houston/Lamar), DB Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), wide receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant), safety Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie), tight end Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) and running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom).