Friday, June 28, 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 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.
In this week’s edition of The Heard:
2014 DE names top two
2015 OL from Virginia interested in UT
Heard ready to recruit
Offer gets Anderson's attention
Rising junior RB looks to build off 2012 season
2015 OG Vahe visiting soon
2016 RB waiting on Longhorns
Gamble makes impression at camp
2014 DE names top two
Three-star defensive end Victor Evans (Dallas/Skyline) has narrowed it down to two schools: Texas and Ole Miss.
“They are both places where I can fit into the scheme of the defense,” Evans said. “They are places where the coaches are real cool. I can come and play. They are both places that I can have a good education at. They both have my major.”
Three-star defender Victor Evans has a top two of Texas and Ole Miss.
Evans (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) would like to major in sports science and become an athletic trainer if football doesn’t work out for him. He thinks that both schools have the proper programs in place to help him succeed in that field.
“Education is real important to the whole decision,” he said. “I want to major in sports science. That is kind of the basics of becoming a trainer and that is kind of what I want to do if football doesn’t work out for me. I want to be a trainer for a college or NFL team.”
There is one distinct difference between the two right now, which deals with where each would prefer he plays.
“I know that Robert Nkemdiche plays the same position as me,” Evans said of the nation’s No. 1 player in 2013, who signed with Ole Miss. “I’m going to end up playing more linebacker than DE, or I would be a stand-up DE on the opposite side of him.”
The Longhorns, though, would like to have him play a more traditional defensive end.
“Texas is more hand-in-the-dirt DE, which is something I am better at than the other things,” he said. “It is something that is easier to understand and that’s what I like about how they want to bring me in.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ole Miss is in the discussion for any recruit after the success it had in 2013. Evans is well aware of that but isn’t basing his opinion of the Rebels on last year’s recruiting haul.
“Honestly it is a pretty cool thing that they are getting top high school players,” he said. “But at the end of the day it doesn’t really mean anything if you have all of those high school players and you don’t make a difference. It’s good that they are getting it but I would go for my own personal reasons.”
Evans will get his first chance to experience Ole Miss in person when he unofficially visits on July 19. The Rebels will have some work to do to distance themselves from the Longhorns, who hold a slight edge right now.
“One doesn’t have the edge right now because I haven’t visited Ole Miss,” he said. “Once I do then I’ll pretty much make my decision. But if I had to say right now, Texas has the edge over Ole Miss.” – William Wilkerson
Heard ready to recruit
Texas couldn’t ask for two better representatives for its 19-man recruiting class to attend The Opening than Jerrod Heard and Lorenzo Joe.
Not only will the six-day event be a big opportunity for Joe to catch balls for Heard during Elite 11 drills, but they’ll be surrounded by 148 of the nation’s best recruits. They pride themselves on being the lead recruiters among UT commits.
Heard recently attended the Rivals Five-Star Challenge in Chicago and got a chance to develop relationships with several out-of-state targets. At the top of that list was Leonard Fournette, ESPN’s No. 1-ranked recruit.
“The running back from Louisiana, Leonard, we talked quite a bit,” Heard said. “I thought he was an amazing player, real good. I can’t wait to connect with him again.”
Here’s what Heard had to say about a few other ESPN 300 Texas targets he’s going to work on next week in Oregon.
Beaumont (Texas) Ozen CB Tony Brown: “That kid, I hope he comes to Texas. I’ve been talking to him since we went to our first unofficial visit.”
Oakley (Calif.) Freedom RB Joe Mixon: “I think he’s a great kid. I know that Texas likes him and I can’t wait to see who he chooses. I know he does like Texas, though.”
Lewisville (Texas) Hebron S Jamal Adams: “I have a strong feeling that Jamal will probably be with us in the end. But it comes down to how he feels. I’m not forcing him, but I am always talking to him about Texas.”
San Antonio Roosevelt CB Arrion Springs: “I feel pretty good about Arrion, too. I hope he commits to Texas. That’s going to be cool to see him announce at The Opening.”
As for Heard, he says he’s still 100 percent in his commitment to the Longhorns. USC and Nebraska dropped by Guyer this year to gauge his interest in flipping, but Heard politely turned them away.
“I’m kind of glad I’m not going through it,” Heard said of the recruiting process. “I committed to the place where I wanted to go. I’m very happy about it.”
While Heard has been working on Adams and Coppell (Texas) defensive end Solomon Thomas for months, he’s confident Texas will be in even better shape to land them after a big season in 2013.
Winning solves everything, he said, and he’ll be preaching that at The Opening to anyone who wants to talk Texas.
“I think winning is definitely the key thing with a lot of these recruits,” Heard said. “Hopefully we start rolling in the W’s and there’s a reaction from guys like Jamal and K.D. Cannon and Solomon. I feel great about this class so far. I feel very confident. I think this is the class that can possibly win a national championship.” – Max Olson
Offer got Anderson’s attention
Ever since he rushed for 1,169 yards and 16 scores as a freshman at powerhouse Katy (Texas), Rodney Anderson has been on everyone’s radar. That includes Texas.
The Longhorns extended an offer to the 6-1, 205-pound rusher when he and his mother visited campus on June 8. They’d already offered four other backs in the 2015 class, but the staff wasn’t going to pass up a chance at Anderson.
Anderson already holds offers from Auburn, Baylor, Houston, Michigan State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. He has lots of options, but he is intrigued by Texas.
Class of 2015 running back Rodney Anderson isn't in a rush to commit to a school.
“I came and had lunch with coach Mack Brown, and it was really good,” Anderson said. “We talked about the school, and it was really nice. Coach [Larry] Porter had lunch with us, too. I like him a lot. He’s really good at connecting with you. We talked about the campus and what all they have to offer, what their plans were for the upcoming year, stuff like that.”
Anderson received his offer and went home pleased. He was hoping to make that offer official with the visit.
“I thought that was pretty cool to be offered by Texas,” he said. “I was a Texas fan growing up. I had a couple teams growing up, really, but they were one of them.”
Anderson isn’t naming any favorites right now but also visited Texas A&M and Baylor this year. He also attended the UT sophomore day.
Between those two visits he has taken, Anderson feels he has a good sense of what the Longhorns bring to the table, and he liked what he saw from campus.
“Everything was great. It was top-notch stuff,” Anderson said. “It was really cool to see everything. I like their campus and how their coaches treat their players. I’m excited to see more of their coaches.”
During their lunch chat, Brown advised Anderson and his mother to take this process slow and not rush into a commitment. He’s got two years left of high school ball and plenty of time to consider his top schools.
Anderson was happy to hear that. That’s the approach he’s trying to take right now and isn’t too worried about recruiting just yet. He doesn’t think he’d make a pledge until next spring or summer.
“It’s really early for me, so I’m just waiting to look at more schools before I make my decision,” Anderson said.
You’d think the fact Texas has also offered Soso Jamabo, Chris Warren, Jay Bradford and Jordan Stevenson might put some pressure on Anderson to take a spot in the class if he wants one, but every college coach he’s heard from has lauded the depth of this 2015 in-state running backs class.
He’s used to it by now and doesn’t worry about the competition.
“I mean, everyone has told me it’s a strong 2015 class for running backs,” he said. “I need to take my choice slowly and make sure I pick the right school.”
Anderson missed a portion of spring practices with a sprained knee, but he’s healthy now and is in store for a big workload for the defending state champs now that Adam Taylor is off to Nebraska. If Anderson shines as he did in 2011, he could establish himself as Longhorns’ top targets at the loaded position. – Max Olson
Rising junior RB looks to build off 2012 season
The legend of 2015 running back Patrick Carr is not only growing inside the halls of The Woodlands (Texas) High School, but around the state of Texas.
He became the first running back in the history of this storied program to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season in 2012, finishing with 2,021 yards and 18 touchdowns on 224 carries.
What makes it even more impressive is the fact that he really didn’t get moving until the seventh game of the season, because The Woodlands’ coaching staff was trying to ease him into varsity ball.
“I just want to thank God for blessing me with the ability and the talent,” Carr said. “As a team we came together and I was able to do what I did. It’s a blessing.”
College programs from across the region are beginning to take notice of Carr’s abilities. That includes Texas, which has hosted the 5-8, 175-pound back on two occasions already.
Carr was at the Longhorns inaugural sophomore day.
“So I got a tour of their campus, the football part,” he said. “I liked everything about the school. It was nice and real organized. It was a nice campus.
“We had went into a meeting with the position coach [Larry Porter] and he was talking about what we have to do. We also watched film.”
Carr knows how important relationships with positions coaches can be right now, and once he gets to college. He was pleased with what he saw from Porter, especially when he attended Texas’ mini camp on June 9.
“When I went to the camp he was just telling me that he liked my effort,” he said. “I like how his drills are set up. It makes you want to work harder. It never stops.”
Carr has also stopped by Texas A&M’s “Friday Night Lights” scrimmage on April 5 and was in awe of the lively atmosphere helped out by the DJ on hand.
“It was nice and a good experience,” he said. “We saw the head coach and he talked to us about the program, how many guys they graduate per year and how he is changing the program around.”
Texas and Texas A&M will be key players in Carr’s recruitment if the schools continue to show interest. He grew up a Longhorns fan back when Vince Young was roaming the field. Arizona State and Oklahoma have also inquired.
For now, though, he has no leaders and is just trying to enjoy the process.
“It is so far away I can’t even think about that,” he said. “I am just keeping my options open. Whatever choice I make down the road is what I’ll do.
“You don’t want this to be the only thing you think about. You know, I don’t think about it that much because I’m still only going to be a junior. I just need to sit back while I keep working.” – William Wilkerson
2015 OG Vahe visiting soon
If Patrick Vahe (Euless, Texas/Trinity) had shown up to Texas camp on June 9, there’s a good chance he would’ve left the camp a Longhorns commit.
At least, that was his plan. But an unexpected weekend trip got in the way.
“I missed the camp because I was in Alaska for some church business,” Vahe said. “We were gone for the weekend and came back that Sunday night.”
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The 6-4, 286-pound offensive lineman was ready to put on a show at that camp and prove he deserved his UT offer. Since he couldn’t make it, though, he has a new plan.
Vahn said a coach from Trinity is planning to drive him down to Austin on July 10 for an unofficial visit.
“I’m really excited,” Vahe said. “I’ll finally get to go out there and meet the coaches. I just want to go out there, visit the coaches, see how the campus is and come back and tell my parents.”
Vahe got to spend time with cousins Sione Teuhema and Maea Teuhema this week at an All-Poly camp at Euless Trinity. Their on-field battles, he said, were epic.
“It’s a match to watch when we compete,” Vahe said. “These guys are both really good. Especially when I went against Sione, that was good competition. We went head-to-head three times.”
And how’d that go?
“He was the hardest guy I went against. Let’s just say I won two out of three.”
He’d rather play with his cousins, not against them, and that’s one of the big reasons why Vahe is pondering a commitment to Texas in the near future. He’s hearing from Utah, Utah State and Nevada lately, but no other school has offered besides UT.
Would an unofficial visit in two weeks seal the deal on his decision? He’s not ruling it out.
“Right now I’m going to wait until I visit their campus, and maybe that will support my decision or make me think about it more,” Vahe said. – Max Olson
But there is room for a few more and a prospects who is extremely interested in at least learning more about Texas is highly-regarded tackle Matt Burrell Jr. (Fredericksburg, Va./Chancellor).
Burrell Jr. already has 17 offers, including from Alabama, Arkansas, Clemson, Ohio State, Penn State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Though he has spent his entire life in Virginia, the 6-5, 282-pound sophomore has always been intrigued by what the Longhorns have to offer.
“Just the tradition,” he said. “I’ve always heard about the Longhorns. Texas is the home of football in America. The fact that you have a school that’s a powerhouse in Texas, there is no better way than to have a school run things, especially when it’s the birthplace of football.
“Also, I know the coaching staff is very serious when it comes to that type of stuff. Growing up watching Texas, I’ve always been interested.”
Burrell has yet to hear from the Longhorns. He knows the perfect opportunity to make an impression on Texas, and every other school, will be in the first few weeks of the season when the school he is transferring to, Woodbridge (Va.) C.D. Hylton, faces Woodbridge (Va.) High and five-star defensive end Da’Shawn Hand.
“I feel like if I perform I will have eyes on me wherever I did go,” he said. “But it’s going to be essential because I am playing against some of the top players in the country like Hand. I play against him in the first or second game of the year.
“He’s the type of guy I’ve looked up to since eighth grade. I would love to go against him one day and will have that chance pretty soon.”
Regardless of what he does against Hand, it’s clear that Burrell has already made a name for himself. He has been completely blown away by all the attention he’s received from programs across the country.
“Once I started hitting double-digits, I was just like ‘wow,’” he said. “I knew it was serious. At first I was nervous. But I am loving it.”
Burell isn’t exactly sure what it is he possesses that has all of these schools offering so early, but he has an idea.
“I’m not sure per say but I do think it’s my work ethic and the fact that I can finish a block pretty well,” he said. “Most of my highlight tape was pancakes so I think that really draws a lot of interest. And I am quick off the ball.”
Burell is hoping the Longhorns will take notice of his potential at some point.
“Texas is a favorite,” he said. “It’s home in the heart and if they want to extend that offer I would highly appreciate it and know they would be a top choice one day, maybe.”
As for the idea of going to school out-of-state, Burrell said, “I love in-state schools. They are home in my heart. But I don’t mind. As long as I can compete, whether it’s in the west or the south, I’ll go there.” – William Wilkerson
Gamble makes impression at camp
Justin Gamble has something to brag about that few other Longhorn recruits can match: He was so good at the June 2 camp, Texas coaches asked him to come back and compete again at the June 9 one.
The 5-11, 170-pound receiver from Round Rock (Texas) Stony Point got UT co-offensive coordinator Darrell Wyatt’s attention at the first camp, even on a day that featured Lorenzo Joe, Roderick Bernard and several other touted wideouts.
“I got to talk to Coach Wyatt a lot,” Gamble said. “At the first camp I don’t think he really knew who I was, and then I started making plays and he put me in with the guys he already knew. When I went the second time and he knew my name, I thought things were really starting to happen.”
Gamble was flattered when Wyatt asked his parents to bring him back for the second mini camp. He’d always been a fan of the program growing up, but the 2015 prospect hadn’t heard much from Wyatt prior to that camp.
“I always liked Texas growing up and Vince Young and all those guys,” Gamble said. “I started wearing No. 10 just because of Vince Young, and I wasn’t even a quarterback.”
After the first camp, Gamble said he received praise and encouragement from Joe and Jerrod Heard. That meant a lot to him, especially considering how overlooked he’s felt to start off this recruiting process.
Wyatt told Gamble he’ll attend a Stony Point game or two this fall to further evaluate him for an offer. One Big 12 school isn’t waiting to pull the trigger on an offer: Texas Tech.
Gamble received his offer after attending a Tech satellite camp earlier this month, and that has helped jump-start his recruitment. Now Colorado, Cal, Iowa and Michigan State are reaching out.
“When I got it from Tech, I was really excited. Really excited,” Gamble said. “I know that they like to pass the ball, and Michael Crabtree and Danny Amendola went there. I know I’m not really that big 6-foot-2 guy people want, but I could tell that they trusted me when they offered me.”
It’s safe to say Tech has an early lead thanks to that offer, though Gamble said an offer from Texas would be hard to turn down if he did end up receiving one. He’s going to be patient and hope that comes eventually. Right now, he’s just proud of the buzz he’s already starting to receive.
“I’m one of those guys who isn’t really on the radar yet, and I’m just now coming up on the rise,” Gamble said. “When I got to go against other prospects and commits at Texas camp and I did good on them, I felt like I started to make a name for myself. I might not be that big guy yet, but put me against anybody and I’ll do my best to get the job done.” – Max Olson