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Friday, July 26, 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 Stampede visitors list

We’ve been talking about it for weeks, and it’s finally here: Texas Stampede weekend.

The Longhorns’ big-time recruiting event to end the summer is Saturday, and we’ve confirmed the following recruits are expected to be on Texas’ campus:

2014 recruits
2015 recruits
2016 recruits

What exactly is the Texas Stampede? Everything we've gathered about the event suggests it is one final junior day-type event before the season hits. The idea surfaced earlier this summer as a potential way to get any prospects who missed the June camps on campus one more time.

The real reason why the Texas staff saw this as a must, though, was the fact there wasn't another on-campus recruiting event scheduled between June and the first home game at the end of August. Yes, a handful of prospects have made unofficial visits in the past month, but Stampede provides an opportunity to keep Texas' recruiting momentum rolling into fall camp and the opener.

As you can see, the list of expected visitors is strong in two areas: 2014 commits and top 2015 targets. While quarterback commit Jerrod Heard won't be able to attend, this is a big opportunity for the rest of the class to help work on those big-time juniors.

I'm told the staff isn't as concerned with landing commitments on Saturday, but there are several prospects who could pull the trigger. The obvious candidates would be Boyd, who nearly committed at camp in June, and potentially Hall. The former Nebraska commit told Damon Sayles that Oklahoma had made a strong push recently, but he wants to make his final decision in the next month. - Max Olson

Vahe ready for another visit

Euless (Texas) Trinity offensive lineman Patrick Vahe didn’t commit to Texas on Monday, but his unofficial visit to campus still went even better than he’d hoped.

Vahe, a four-star guard ranked No. 79 in the ESPN Junior 300, expected to spend a day with Stacy Searels or another assistant and get a tour of campus. Instead, he said he was greeted by Searels, co-offensive coordinator Darrell Wyatt, Patrick Suddes and Bob Shipley.

“I was stunned to see how many coaches came to see me,” Vahe said. “They made me feel like they really want me on their team. They really want me to understand why UT is a good pick, and they made me feel comfortable.”

The 6-foot-4, 286-pound lineman said he did feel some pressure to pull the trigger on a commitment, and it certainly crossed his mind. But he went home with a much better understanding of why the Longhorns would be a nice fit for him.

“I came back and I told my parents exactly what I saw and exactly how I felt,” he said. “They told me to go with my heart. I’m going with my heart and I will think about it. By my senior year, you’ll find out my answer.”

Then again, couldn’t the answer come this weekend? Vahe admitted that “depending how everything goes,” he could decide to become commit No. 8 for Texas’ 2015 class when he returns for Texas Stampede.

Texas does have this going in its favor: Vahe is traveling to the event with his cousins, Texas commits Sione Teuhema and Maea Teuhena. He’s looking forward to spending the day with the Keller (Texas) standouts.

“They told me they were going down this weekend, so I said, 'You know what? I’ll just go tag along with y’all,' " Vahe said. “We’re planning to go down there together.”

The opportunity to play with the Teuhemas has always been a major factor for Vahe and his interest in the Longhorns. While he doesn’t think they’ll put pressure on him during the car ride to Austin, he knows how special it would be to join them in college.

Vahe and both Teuhema brothers are Tongan, and they would take pride in helping establish a new Polynesian pipeline at Texas.

“It’s been a long time since the last Poly stepped on the field for Texas,” Vahe said. “It would be cool to bring that back to UT, where Polynesians can play there and start some roots. It would be a perfect opportunity for my cousins to back me up and me to back them up. It really seems like I could stand out a lot.”

Vahe called his Monday visit to Texas “amazing” and “incredible,” and he said Searels did a good job of explaining what kind of impact Vahe could make for the Horns when he joins the program.

Will that end up happening this weekend? Stay tuned. – Max Olson

Down the home stretch for Freeman

ESPN 300 safety Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie) has things figured out. Well, sort of.

The plan is to visit LSU, talk things over with his family after the visit and commit at some point before his season begins. He just isn’t sure when he’ll visit the Tigers and how long he’ll take to commit after he talks with his family.

Edwin Freeman
Four-star safety Edwin Freeman wants to visit LSU soon and then make a decision.
What is known is that his top three schools are still in the same order as they have been for months: Texas, TCU and Texas A&M.

Freeman wouldn’t comment at the Texas State 7-on-7 Tournament when asked if the Longhorns were head and shoulders above the other two schools.

When Freeman was listing his top schools, he mistook Oklahoma for TCU, corrected himself, and then added that he is still considering the Sooners.

You’ve got to figure Les Miles’ bunch will factor pretty heavily into things as well if he makes the visit to Baton Rouge, La. So you could realistically be looking at five schools vying for the No. 80 player in the ESPN 300 when it’s all said and done.

It’s not yet known which position LSU is recruiting him to play, but one reason that Texas is in the lead is because it likes him at his preferred position of safety. TCU and Texas A&M like him at linebacker.

He looked like a combination of both at the 7-on-7 tournament. You look at his size and instantly think he’s made for the middle of a defense. Then you see him in coverage and get an idea as to why he’s rated as the No. 6 safety in the country.

Freeman said he think people underestimate his coverage skills because of his size.

“I think that’s what it is,” he said. “They do see it and are surprised by it.”

He said he would be open to playing linebacker if that’s where he ended up.

“I’m pretty open to it,” he said. “Wherever I can get on the field I will take it.”

Freeman has told me in the past that he might “eat his way” into playing linebacker. When I asked him about that at the 7-on-7 tournament he said that he puts on weight pretty easily and that it would be hard to get some of it off.

He said he weighs 215 pounds now and has lost a tad bit of speed because of it.

“A little bit,” he said. “Maybe five milliseconds off my 40.”

Freeman would ideally like to be down to 205 for the season. – William Wilkerson

Hemphill talks favorites, pending Texas offer

If you didn’t know Reggie Hemphill’s classification when he participated in 1-on-1 drills during Texas’ three-day camp in July, you would have likely pegged him as an upperclassman.

It’s rare to see a freshman dazzle like he did. Yet, there he was, against 2014 Texas commitment Jermaine Roberts, doing basically whatever he wanted.

“I wanted to show the coaches what I’m about, what I can do and hopefully get an offer,” Hemphill (Manvel, Texas/Manvel) said after the camp.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago and Hemphill has been approved for an offer along with his teammate, 2016 defensive back Deontay Anderson. Hemphill isn’t sure exactly when the offer will become official but will be appreciative when it does.

“It means a lot, he said. “It just motivates me to work harder. I’m pretty sure they were looking at me before the camp. I think it was coach Major Applewhite who came to the school and watched during spring practice. When I came to the camp I had showed out in 1-on-1s.”

Hemphill, who said he had 10 catches for 100 yards and six touchdowns in 2012, doesn’t have any offers right now but does have a top two of two teams that he knows he’ll get offers from.

“A&M is my top school but Texas is really close,” he said.

Hemphill actually grew up a Texas fan because of Vince Young.

“My family is real close to him,” he said. “I have some uncles that went to school with him. I met him a couple of times. Last time I saw him I was in fifth grade and went to his camp. That was way back when.”

The Aggies hold the lead right now in large part to the Ag Swag movement that’s taken off like wildfire since they moved to the SEC.

“A&M, I have a lot of teammates, family, that goes there,” he said. “They are a crunk school and I like that. That’s good because, as a young player, you want to go to a school where they like to have fun but also take care of business.”

Hemphill said he doesn’t need to see more of a “crunk” atmosphere from Texas for it to pass A&M.

“It would but Texas is a traditional school and anyone would be glad to go there,” he said.

The Longhorns have several things working in their favor here. Being the first to offer helps. But they’ve also got family on their side. Class of 2013 wide receiver Jacorey Warrick is his Godbrother. Hemphill insists that Warrick isn’t selling Texas right now though.

“Nah he is letting me feel the experience myself,” Hemphill said. “He is not asking me to come. He is just saying that I need to take my time and make the choice for myself.”

The two haven’t had conversations about going to the same school before. But that has come up in conversation with Anderson.

“I have been trying to convince him to get offers from the same people and we can be a packaged deal,” Hemphill said. “But he really likes Alabama.” – William Wilkerson

2015 DT wants to commit to Horns

Texas might not be expecting many commitments to come out of Stampede, but what about offers?

There’s no doubt what Cleburn (Texas) 2015 defensive tackle Tevin Boone would do if he landed one from the Longhorns on Saturday.

Tevin Boone
Class of 2015 defensive tackle Tevin Boone says he would commit to Texas if offered.
“I would take that,” he said. “That would be great.”

Boone said he’s ready to make a commitment to Texas if the staff is ready to offer. The 6-0, 295-pound lineman attended UT camp in June and has been hoping for good news ever since.

“I’m hoping I get an offer,” Boone said. “That’s what I’m hoping for. But at the same time, I don’t know what to expect. I’m really excited to go and see the facilities again, because they’re amazing.”

Boone currently doesn’t hold any other offers and isn’t receiving much early interest. He attended a Baylor camp earlier this month and enjoyed meeting the BU staff, but he said contact has been limited since. He also hasn’t heard much from the Texas coaches since camp.

But Boone thoroughly enjoyed being coached up by Bo Davis at camp, and he’s looking forward to getting to know the rest of the staff while on campus.

“My parents are going to be there and I’m hoping one of my coaches will come,” Boone said. “If Texas decides they want to offer, that would be great. I want to check out the school, how it is and really just the school, period.”

Texas has one defensive tackle pledge for 2015 already in Bryce English (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto) but has only one other offer out to a tackle -- No. 1 in-state prospect Daylon Mack. Could Boone be in the mix for an offer? It’s not inconceivable, and the fact that he landed an invite to the fairly exclusive, invite-only Stampede is at least encouraging.

“I just need to keep what I’m doing, work harder and you never know what the outcome might be,” Boone said. – Max Olson

Texas has an in with elite 2015 wideout

The résumé wide receiver Christian Kirk (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro) has already put together is as impressive as you’ll find in the 2015 class.

Kirk went for 1,003 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012 and was one of only five 2015 recruits to land a rare early invitation to The Opening this summer.

He received offers from UCLA and Arizona State after his freshman year and now holds more than 20, including Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford, Notre Dame, Florida State and Texas A&M.

One school missing from that list? Texas. Kirk said he’s yet to hear from the Longhorns, but the No. 3 ranked receiver in his class would definitely like to soon.

“Texas was a childhood favorite when I was growing up,” Kirk said. “My dad loves Texas. I mean, that definitely would be a place I would strongly look into. With Texas’ tradition and campus and atmosphere, it would be a great place to look into.”

Kirk said he didn’t receive an invitation to Texas Stampede, but it’s likely the Longhorns coaching staff will be reaching out to him in the near future. The 5-10, 190-pound wideout is ranked 37th in the initial ESPN Junior 300 and is the top prospect in Arizona.

And if Texas does reach out to Kirk, they’ll have a strong in and an advantage in that recruitment.

Guess who coaches defensive backs at Saguaro High? Former Longhorn great Bryant Westbrook.

“He’s always in my ear telling me don’t forget Texas and throwing up the horns and trying to get them to recruit men,” Kirk said. “He’s still in their ear to recruit me and offer.

“You should’ve seen him when Oklahoma came by and offered. He pulled me over to the side and said, ‘Hey man, if you go to Oklahoma, I don’t know if we can be associated anymore.' "

Kirk said he’s not naming any favorite schools yet, but Tennesee, Arizona State, UCLA and Texas A&M have shown strong interest this summer. Kirk did visit the Aggies in the spring and said he’s been to San Antonio a few times, but never Austin. He’s hoping that changes this fall, if Texas begins to recruit him.

Kirk was proud of his showing at The Opening and said simply getting an invite was an honor. He called the experience “football heaven” and can’t wait to go back next summer.

“It showed me I can hang with anyone,” Kirk said. “It gave me a lot of confidence, and in some games I got open really easily and got off press coverage. That really gave me confidence to tell myself, ‘If I can get off the top DBs in the country, I must be doing something right.” – Max Olson

Texas in top two for ESPN Junior 300 athlete

Class of 2015 athlete J.W. Ketchum’s top two schools are Texas and Texas A&M, according to his mother Auntreek Rhoades.

Ketchum (Fort Bend, Texas/Marshall) is the No. 149 player in the ESPN Junior 300, No. 11 athlete and No. 23 player in Texas. The Longhorns are recruiting the southpaw as a quarterback.

Ketchum, who also has offers from Baylor and LSU, will be at the Texas Stampede, according to Rhoades, who does not expect him to commit.

He could be a valuable asset for the Longhorns if they can get him on board early and help them sway teammate, defensive back Kendall Sheffield, the No. 19 player in the ESPN Junior 300, to join him.

Sheffield won’t be able to make the Texas Stampede because he’ll be participating in the Junior Olympics. – William Wilkerson