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Sunday, October 13, 2013
Commits, targets chime in on Texas win

By Damon Sayles

Talk about needing a victory for multiple reasons.

More than 92,000 fans watched Texas on Saturday not only beat archrival Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry but also temporarily silenced all of Mack Brown’s critics. When the game ended, there was no demand for Brown to call it quits as the Longhorns’ head coach at the end of the season. There was also no talk of Oklahoma’s seniors sweeping the rivalry through their four-year span.

All that was mentioned was the final score at the historic Cotton Bowl: Texas 36, Oklahoma 20. The Longhorns, considered major underdogs, grabbed a win that put them in first place Big 12, along with Texas Tech, at 3-0 -- a half-game ahead of Baylor and a full game ahead of Oklahoma.

It was a game that several recruiting targets had marked on their calendars. With 24 commits in its 2014 class, Texas doesn’t have much room to add players. However, the Longhorns are hoping to land one or two more elite athletes. Defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell), safety Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie) and cornerback Nick Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne), all ESPN 300 players, are still considering the Longhorns.

There’s plenty of room, however, in the 2015 class, and while the Longhorns already have eight commits -- all ESPN Junior 300 players -- they are looking to add more playmakers. One player on hand who was impressed was ESPN Junior 300 receiver DaMarkus Lodge (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill), who currently has the Longhorns high on his list.

DaMarkus Lodge
Damarkus Lodge was impressed by Texas' performance Saturday.
“The game was great. I already knew Texas was going to beat OU. I predicted it,” Lodge said. “The atmosphere was crazy, very live. It was fun, and the offense was fire. They didn’t throw the ball as much, but it was still great.”

Another ESPN Junior 300 player, safety Justin Dunning (Whitehouse, Texas/Whitehouse), also was in attendance. He, like Lodge, has offers from both Texas and Oklahoma, and he was looking for a competitive finish in a rowdy environment.

“It was great. A good game by Texas and a great atmosphere,” Dunning said. “It was a big win for Texas. Very important.”

Lodge said Saturday’s win should give Texas a second wind with some of the uncommitted targets. It definitely will help fans, critics and all in between forget the losses to BYU and Ole Miss earlier this year. It also should answer any questions that a wavering commit might have had.

Thomas, the nation's No. 31 recruit and one of Texas' most sought-after targets remaining, came away impressed with the Longhorns and the direction of the program.

“It was a really good game to watch,” he said. “I feel like that is the true Texas team and they have the potential to play like that every game.”

Freeman, meanwhile, needs to see more.

"Texas still has to win consistently," the No. 81 player in the ESPN 300 said.

Four-star defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren) is a solid Texas commitment, and he was proud of how his future team responded to having its back against the wall. He also liked how the Longhorns went all in for Brown in a game considered a must win.

“It was a good win, and they definitely have improved from last week. That’s what they have to keep doing throughout this season,” said Lealaimatafao, who also described the atmosphere as “ridiculous.”

“It was too loud to think, and all I heard in the first half was ‘Texas, fight’ and ‘Boomer Sooner.’ I loved it.”

Several Longhorns commits were in attendance, but one player on hand had some asking questions. ESPN 300 athlete Nick Harvey (Richmond, Texas/Travis) -- a Texas A&M commit -- took in the game and saw positives in both Texas and Oklahoma.

“The atmosphere was great on both sides,” Harvey said. “Both teams had a pretty good crowd, and they both showed how much love they really have for their team. This was my second year going, so I kind of knew what to expect.”

Harvey then killed all rumors that he was considering switching his commitment to Texas or Oklahoma. Originally from Lancaster, Texas -- roughly a 20-minute drive from the Cotton Bowl -- Harvey said he was in town to see friends from his old high school, take in the state fair and see a great football game.

“A&M fans don’t have to worry about anything,” Harvey said. “I’m solid.”

Texas Twitterhorns

When the game is over, it’s always fun to see what commits and targets post via social media. Several Texas commits took to Twitter after the Longhorns scored the win. ESPN 300 athlete Lorenzo Joe (Abilene, Texas/Cooper) left a couple of direct messages to those against the Longhorns.

S/O to all the Texas haters    #HOOKEM

— Lorenzo Joe (@LoJoe12) October 12, 2013


ESPN 300 outside linebacker Otaro Alaka (Houston/Cypress Falls) didn’t make the trip to Dallas, as he was focused on his school’s homecoming weekend. Alaka, who was named homecoming king, said everything that needed to be said in three words.

Texas is Ballin!

— Otaro Alaka" (@OtaroAlaka) October 12, 2013


And then, there were the recruits who had Texas high on their lists but chose to commit elsewhere. ESPN 300 cornerback Arrion Springs (San Antonio/Roosevelt) tuned in and was impressed with what he saw. Springs, who committed to Oregon in August over Texas and other schools, then provided a rational tweet that reminded many fans of something they had forgotten.

Why is everyone shocked Texas is playing like this... This level of play should be expected with the talent they have

— Arrion Springs  (@A_Springs4) October 12, 2013
RecruitingNation's Will Wilkerson contributed to this story.