Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Coaching change shook up Lodge's plan
By Max Olson
On Monday, we went in-depth on just how many coaches were impacted this offseason when Mack Brown resigned. The ripple effect of the Texas coaching shakeup touched 103 coaches and 47 college programs. If you missed that story, click here to check it out.
If 103 sounds like a big number, just imagine how many recruits each and every one of those coaches would've affected. And not just the 2014 prospects who were forced to scramble before signing day -- these coaching changes have long-term implications for the Class of 2015 and beyond.
Wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge has closed the door on Texas after the coaching change and will likely choose from Texas A&M, Baylor and Ole Miss.
DaMarkus Lodge is just one example, and proof that it only takes one assistant coach to completely change a kid's plans.
The ESPN 300 standout from Cedar Hill, Texas, is the state's No. 1 wide receiver prospect. When he announces his decision on June 20, most expect he'll be choosing from Texas A&M, Baylor and Ole Miss.
What most don't know is just how close he came to committing to Texas last year.
Ever since attending Texas' 36-20 win over Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry in October, Lodge was sold. He and his parents visited Texas again in November, for at least their third time since the spring. Lodge had every intention of leaving that weekend visit as a Longhorn.
"It was actually about to happen," Lodge said last month. "I was going to commit."
Darrell Wyatt had everything to do with that. Texas' now-former co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach had a remarkably strong bond with Lodge and was one of the first to offer him a scholarship. Wyatt's advantage was unmistakable: He had coached Lodge's personal trainer, David Robinson, while an assistant at Oklahoma. Robinson, the co-owner of Quick Twitch Training in Dallas, swore by Wyatt's expertise.
"Everything D-Rob is telling me, that's what he said they were teaching at Texas," Lodge said. "I was already ahead of the guys who were there and the guys who were coming in. I knew I was going to come in there and play for sure."
Lodge says his parents were on board with him making that November commitment. But for some reason, which even Lodge can't explain today, right when he was on the cusp of making the pledge, his gut said no.
"I was about to do it, about to pull the trigger, and something was telling me in my head, 'Don't do it. Just wait,'" he said. "So I told them never mind."
A month later, Brown announced his resignation. Lodge was glad he'd held off, but he was especially troubled to learn Wyatt was not going to be retained by new coach Charlie Strong. That was the game-changer.
"He was like a dad to me," Lodge said. "I was kind of heartbroken. I used to talk to Wyatt three times a week. [Texas] would've had me."
Texas' new coaches visited Cedar Hill several times this spring in the hopes of re-sparking his interest. Is there any chance they can still sway him to follow through on his old plans of becoming a Longhorn?
"Not at all. Not at all," he said. "For me, that door is just not open. I think they know they really lost me with the whole staff change."
But there's one more door that has yet to open. Wyatt remains unemployed. Lodge has no idea why.
While he says he would hate to decommit from his June 20 choice later on, Lodge is not afraid to admit it: Wyatt is still the one person who can change his mind.
"I wonder where Coach Wyatt is going to go," Lodge said. "If he goes to one of the schools that I'm looking at, or if he picks up another job, then I'm probably already 90 percent with him.
"I can't wait to see where he goes. If he goes to one of these big programs, I'm probably with him. I really wanted to be coached by him for the next four years. Wherever he ends up ... it's going to be crazy."