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Friday, July 12, 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: Texas back in it for Mack

Daylon Mack has said a lot of things in the past few months, mostly about his love for Texas A&M and his imminent plans to commit to the Aggies.

Well, the plans have changed. Take what he says here with a grain of salt if you want -- can’t blame you at this point -- but Mack has changed his tune considerably in recent weeks.

It started when his parents didn’t give him the green light to commit to A&M last month. Mack was ready to do it. He’d even told reporters from several websites what day it was going to happen.

Daylon Mack
Class of 2015 defensive tackle Daylon Mack is taking a step back in the recruiting process and evaluating several schools.
Nope. Didn’t happen. His parents once again weren’t letting him do that. So once more, Mack backed off and pondered what he should do. He now insists he’s fully reopening his recruitment.

“I did it because I really don’t know where I want to go,” Mack said. “I’m high on a couple of teams but I’m not really 100 percent sure.”

That’s why Mack recently called Texas defensive tackles coach Bo Davis to let him know he’s still very interested in the Longhorns. He wants Davis to ignore what he has said about A&M and continue to recruit Mack hard.

“I called and told him I was very open,” Mack said. “I’m not making a decision anytime soon. It’ll probably be this time next year. They have a lot of time to recruit me.”

Mack also reached out to three schools recently -- Miami, Clemson and LSU -- to let them know he’s interested. Miami and Clemson both ended up making scholarship offers this week.

Neither of those two schools are in the SEC. Isn’t that a problem for Mack, who’s repeatedly said the SEC was the biggest reason why he would pick A&M?

“I guess the SEC thing has worn off on me,” Mack said. “If you’re a good player, you’ll get drafted regardless. It’s all about winning. That’s all it is for me.”

Another reasonable question: Is all of this talk about other schools pointless? Is Mack going to end up committing to Texas A&M no matter what?

“It’s really open,” he said. “The A&M fans still think no matter what I’m going there. But it’s not like that. I really don’t know where I’m going to go. I really don’t.”

As we’ve reported in past editions of The Heard, Mack is going to be watching the Longhorns very closely this fall. If they win big in 2013, that will be a bigger sell for him than any other factor.

But there is another factor Mack is keeping a close eye on: The 2015 classes. Yes, he’d love to play with his close “Fab Five” friends. But the rest of the groups matter a great deal, and he is a big fan of where this Texas class could be heading.

“One of the reasons I like Texas and want to go there is they’re set up for a huge class,” he said. “Soso Jamabo, that’s a five-star. Maea Teuhema is a five-star. Then there’s Me, Larry Pryor, Malik Jefferson. That’s going to be a pretty dominant class and all just Texas kids. That’s a big reason -- I want to play with great players.”

Mack is excited about the opportunity to attend Texas Stampede on July 27 -- he said he’ll be driving Pryor up with him, too -- and the chance to take a long look at all the Longhorns are offering.

“Coach Davis said they’re going to bring in the guys they’re highly recruiting,” Mack said. “I was happy, because it’s been a while since I talked to Coach Davis and I always love talking with him. We have a good relationship. Getting to talk with him 1-on-1 would be really nice. It’s going to be a family-type thing, just chilling and hanging out with the staff.”

Though Mack says the schools in his top five right now -- he wouldn’t disclose them -- are all even, it’s still hard to picture a scenario in which he doesn’t end up at Texas A&M. But Texas does have a chance to change his mind, starting on the 27th. – Max Olson

ESPN 300 DB Brown wants to play two sports in college

I touched on Tony Brown’s track success in my story about how he has coped with his father’s stroke.

A quick refresher: During the indoor track season, he clocked the fastest high school time in the nation in the 60-meter hurdles with a 7.76-second blur at the Simplot Games in Pocatello, Idaho.

At the state championships in Austin he took home gold in the 110-meter hurdles in a Texas Class 4A record time of 13.4 seconds. He finished second in the 100-meter dash with a 10.53. Gatorade named him the Texas Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year.

His success has earned him a spot at the Pan American Junior Athletics Championship in Columbia in August.

Simply put, Brown is one of the best hurdlers in the world. So why give that up in college?

Brown doesn’t plan on it when he enrolls early to whichever school he chooses.

“When I come in I hope to be strictly track,” he said. “Now that it is getting deeper into the recruiting process I am going to start asking the hard questions. I’m definitely going to run track and play football.”

The Longhorns are obviously familiar with this with guys like Jamaal Charles, Marquise Goodwin and Sheroid Evans playing both sports.

Brown has had conversations with athletes who’ve attempted both and they’ve all made one thing clear to him.

“They said that you need to make sure it is straight with both head coaches,” he said. “That’s who it is going to go through. I need to make sure it is straight with head coaches of both programs and get it straight before I go in.

“If I go in thinking it’s all going to be OK then it’s not going to end up how I want it to be. I need to have a plan of action and I need to get my point across.”

Brown plans on telling those recruiting him that he wants to run track as soon as he steps foot on campus in January of 2014. He knows he’ll miss some reps in spring practice because of this, but that’s how it has to be.

“I will be missing a couple of spring practices, but I will get the mental reps, Brown said. “I just have to be stern about it, not in a rude way, and get that question out there and ask them how they will deal with that.” – William Wilkerson

Virgil not threatened by Heard

Class of 2014 quarterback Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer) is going to do plenty of good when he joins the Longhorns program. But that could be troubling news for Texas as it recruits quarterbacks for later classes.

Who would want to compete against a quarterback who accounted for seven touchdowns in a Class 4A state championship victory in 2012, right?

One player who wouldn’t be scared is 2015 dual threat Chason Virgil (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite).

Chason Virgil
Class of 2015 signal-caller Chason Virgil will take his time in his recruitment.
“Not really because I feel like you are going to have to compete anywhere you go,” he said. “With Jerrod going there it wouldn’t play a big role in me not going there. Why run away from competition, you know? You are going to have to compete anywhere you go.”

Especially if you want to accomplish what Virgil would like to as a freshman.

“For me, I would like to be that freshman that is coming in and starting like Johnny Manziel,” he said. “I think it makes you better being thrown in to the fire. With me being the competitor I am I don’t think it would phase me at all.”

Virgil (6-2, 169 pounds) is confident in his abilities, and why not? You would too if you sharpened your teeth against a secondary as good as West Mesquites on a daily basis.

In the past two seasons, Virgil has gone up against ESPN 300 safety Kameron Miles (a 2013 Texas A&M signee), ESPN 300 safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner (a 2014 Texas A&M commitment), three-star 2013 Arizona State signee Will Earley and 2016 stud Bailey Phillips.

“It helps me improve my game a lot because I feel as though we have the best secondary in the state,” he said. “Going up against them everyday with the types of guys we have being so smart in football, it helps me to really be able to gain confidence. It makes thing easier once Fridays come.”

It has really helped Virgil with his field reads.

“With those guys playing, you have to be able to read the field quicker,” he said. “Making me read the field a lot quicker, then it becomes second nature. Then when the season comes, I’m going up against defenses that aren’t as fast.”

Virgil has made a believer out of a lot of programs with offers from Texas, Arizona State, Clemson, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska and Toledo.

The Longhorns stand out to him as the only in-state school that’s offered.

“I’m interested in the Longhorns right now,” he said. “They are a real good school, a real good program. When I went down there I noticed they are all about family. They are right there with every other school.” – William Wilkerson

Texas still No. 1 for 2015 CB

Gilmer (Texas) 2015 cornerback Kris Boyd came close to committing to Texas during his camp visit last month. He’s glad he held off, but he wouldn’t rule out make a decision in the near future.

“I’ll either commit sometime before the season or next year,” Boyd said. “I’m waiting until I feel right.”

The 6-1, 185-pound defensive back impressed in his showing at Texas’ second camp on June 9, and he was proud to go home with an offer. The fact the Longhorns are known for their “DBU” legacy made that offer a special one for Boyd.

“I did kind of expect they would offer me, but I didn’t think it would be this year,” Boyd said. “I was pretty shocked. But the performance I had at camp shocked even myself.”

He has received offers from TCU and Texas Tech since then, and the list of schools showing interest in recent weeks is growing: Texas A&M, Baylor, UCLA, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Georgia and USC.

Oh, and one more. There’s one school Boyd finally heard from recently that he has serious interest in: Oregon.

“I got excited about that,” he said. “I like everything about Oregon. Besides the weather – I know it’s pretty cold out there – everything else is OK.”

Back when I visited Boyd at Gilmer in May, he said it would be awfully hard to turn down an offer from Texas, especially since his cousin Curtis Brown was a big-time defensive back for the Horns.

He still feels that way and admits he’d have a hard time saying no to UT, but he is enjoying the fact that more schools are noticing him.

Boyd said Texas is still his No. 1 school right now and continues to show the most interest of any school, but look out for Oregon. He’d also like to take unofficial visits to Texas A&M and Baylor later this summer or in the fall.
And you can count on him attending Texas Stampede at the end of the month with Mack, Pryor and their fellow East Texas standouts.

“I’m pretty excited about that,” Boyd said. “I want to see some of the players there and spend time with them. I want to see what the place is like and what there is to do on campus.” – Max Olson

Akina helping UT's cause with 2015 S Dunning

It’s not just his red hair that should make Class of 2015 safety Justin Dunning (Whitehouse, Texas/Whitehouse) stand out at the Texas State 7-on-7 Tournament in Leander this week.

His size for his position, and his ability to cover more ground than most, will be utterly recognizable as well. That 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame is precisely why Dunning believes he’s already gotten offers from Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.

Justin Dunning
Class of 2015 recruit Justin Dunning has built a solid relationship with Texas defensive backs coach Duane Akina.
“I think it’s my size and my athleticism,” he said. “I think the size that I have sticks out to a lot of schools. I’m a bigger safety. I think my size might give me more range and I can cover more area than other players playing my position.”

The Longhorns took notice of that appealing combination months ago when he attended one of their junior days, and rewarded him with an offer in late May. It meant a lot to Dunning, who has Texas high on his list of early favorites.

“Texas is probably, I don’t want to say they are my favorite, but they are one of my favorites,” he said. “The whole coaching staff is real cool. I went down there for a couple of visits and just really like it down there. It’s a family atmosphere.”

The relationship he’s already established with Texas defensive backs coach Duane Akina has a lot to do with the Longhorns’ positioning.

“Oh yeah, Coach Akina and me are real cool,” he said. “He’s a great coach. I like his attitude and the way he coaches. I know about his track record. He has a lot of guys in the NFL.”

The relationship with his position coach is going to be a huge determining factor for Dunning.

“It’s really important because I am going to spend most of my time around the coaches and the players,” he said. “I definitely have to like the coach. I definitely love Coach Akina.”

Dunning is well aware of all of the defensive back Akina has put into the NFL, which helps too.

“That’s real important because I want to go somewhere that is going to help me succeed and help me get to the league,” he said. – William Wilkerson

LB Townsend liking Big 12, Pac-12

A lot can still change in the next year and a half, but the recruiting plan for 2015 linebacker Cameron Townsend (Missouri City, Texas/Ridge Point) is starting to come into focus this summer.

I got a chance to speak extensively with his father at a 7-on-7 tournament in Houston recently, and right now he has a clear focus on where he’d like to see his son end up: In the Big 12 or the Pac-12.

That’s where the 6-1, 196-pound outside linebacker thinks he’d fit best in college. A lot of that has to do with schemes and his own playing style.

“Those are the two conference showing me the most interest,” Townsend said. “If those are the people who want me, that’s who I want to be around too. I’ve got big looks from most of the Pac-12 and Big 12 schools. I do believe that the spread attack is something I should be playing against. They have a lot of that.”

Townsend is up to eight offers now. Texas A&M is not one of them. Townsend said he was told he’d need to put on another 20 pounds before the Aggies would get serious about him. He knows that’s all about the SEC, but it still made him laugh.

“I’m only 16, man!” he said. “I’m only 16. I can move real good. I’m still developing. Of course I want to gain weight, but I’m not about to jump to 215 or 220 now. That’s just not me.

“I’m doing well, I had a good sophomore season, I plan on having an even better junior season. I think my play will speak for itself for the schools that really matter.”

In late June, Townsend did a West Coast trip to check out Oregon, Oregon State and USC. He camped at OSU and USC, and both schools offered after liking what they saw from his play.

The good news for Texas? David Townsend told me at every play he and his son visit, with every facility and locker room and stadium they check out, they’re comparing it all to Texas. His son agreed.

“Texas was my first offer. They really set the standard,” Townsend said. “Everything I see now -- and I’m going to be honest, nobody got Texas on the weight room -- I’m comparing them.”

Does that make Texas the leader at this point in his process?

“I don’t have any top anything just yet,” Townsend said. “But Texas is one of of the best schools in the Big 12, they were my first offer, they’re close to home. I wouldn’t just say, ‘Oh yeah, they’re my No. 1 right now,’ but I am heavily interested in them.”

Townsend said he’s definitely planning to attend Texas Stampede at the end of the month. He’ll likely take multiple out-of-state visits later this fall for games -- Oklahoma, USC, Michigan and Oregon State are in the running for his trips -- but plans to be at several Longhorn home games as well. – Max Olson

2016 RB waiting on Longhorns

The days of Kameron Martin (Port Arthur, Texas/Memorial) seeking out college coaches to try and garner attention are long gone.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Martin, a 2016 running back, won’t continue to do as he was months ago when he was trying to get his name out to recruiters. That’s just his way of going about things. He’s as persistent as ever.

But now he can ease up a little knowing that he already has three offers – Akron, Baylor and Texas Tech – and that plenty more are on the way.

Martin (5-10, 170-pounds) recently camped at Texas Tech and grew even fonder of the Red Raiders.

“I talked to Coach [Kevin] Curtis last night,” he said. “He was just telling me the offense needs me. Coach [Kliff] Kingsbury is a great dude. I talk to him all the time. He knows that I’ll get more offers but he just wants me to keep working hard.”

Like most recruits, Martin loves to feel loved and that’s exactly how Texas Tech made him feel.

“When I went to the camp last week I didn’t think I was going to get all that love,” Martin said. “They just made me a part of their family. When I got to the camp, Coach Curtis grabbed me by the shoulder and said they really wanted me to meet Coach Kingsbury again. Coach Kingsbury was like ‘What’s up, Killa Cam?’ That’s his nickname for me. They were just showing me love as soon as I got there. I felt pretty special.”

But special enough to consider committing right now? Not exactly, Martin said. He’s still waiting on a particular school to join the fold that would definitely make things interesting.

“It’s not really that hard,” Martin responded when asked if it’s difficult to stay uncommitted right now. “I’m just going to ride it out until my senior year. I still like Texas but I am feeling Texas Tech because they are showing me love right now. But if Texas came in the mix I’m going to feel Texas more than Texas Tech because that’s always been my favorite school. My whole room is Texas.”

The Longhorns haven’t been in touch with Martin lately but Major Applewhite did notice him when he was in eight grade.

Martin is also really interested in LSU and has already taken an unofficial visit there. He’ll be in Leander this week for the Texas State 7-on-7 Tournament. – William Wilkerson