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Thursday, October 11, 2012
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 Thursday.

Talk about it in our forum and, if there’s a recruit out there you’d like to hear more from, let us know.
Read The Heard after the jump.

Another big weekend for Longhorns

Texas might have lost its showdown against West Virginia but came away winners in the eyes of the recruits in attendance. They all seemed to be taken aback with the atmosphere created by the largest crowd in the history of Darrell K. Royal-Memorial Stadium.

This week, with Oklahoma the designated home team, the Longhorns are going to have to rely on their play to impress the recruits since they won’t be the ones in charge of handing out tickets.

Here’s our most up-to-date list of expected visitors that would concern Texas. We’ll be updating this list Saturday on The Tower and talking to many visitors on Sunday, so stay tuned this weekend.

Expected to attend:
Won’t be there:
- William Wilkerson

Longhorns trail Sooners for this recruit

Max Olson/
Class of 2014 linebacker Cameron Hampton says he favors the Sooners right now.

It’s still early in the game for many 2014 recruits, but it’s clear that Texas already has some work to do to with linebacker Cameron Hampton (Dallas/Carter).

The talented outside linebacker will be in attendance at the Red River Rivalry and he’s not holding back on what team he’ll be rooting for.

“I hope Oklahoma wins,” Hampton said. “I like [linebackers coach] Coach [Tim] Kish. I like Coach Diaz too but Coach Kish is a really cool coach.”

Hampton said the Sooners are currently No. 1 on his list and that Texas sits a close second.

“It’s a small gap right now,” he said.

This will be his first Red River Rivalry game, which he is anxious to attend.

“I’m really excited. I am looking for a lot of intensity in the game,” he said. “I really don’t know what to expect. I am just expecting a good game.” – William Wilkerson

More on Texas' new juco offer

When a 6-foot-8, 330-pound offensive tackle walks through your door, most coaches don’t get too picky. But that’s not the case for Contra Costa (Calif.) Community College coach Alonzo Carter.

When new Texas offer Desmond Harrison first joined his program, Carter didn’t let him slack off. He knew the converted basketball player had a chance to be great.

“He’s probably the most athletic big man I’ve ever seen,” Carter said. “I’ve coached 50 guys who played Division I ball and I’ve never seen a guy this athletic.”

Harrison, a former power forward, has been playing football for two and half years. The numbers he put up in his first year at Contra Costa are hard to believe.

He didn’t start seriously lifting weights until he joined Carter’s program. Now he’s almost benching 400 pounds. And despite those weight room gains, he still managed to drop 30 pounds to a much more productive playing weight of 300.
Oh, and he’ll turn 19 this month. He’s not done growing, Carter says.

“He just does things you don’t see most big guys do,” his coach said. “Most big guys don’t have the technique and footwork that he has. It’s just through the roof.”

Harrison grew up in the Houston area and still has most of his family there, so that’s a real plus for Texas. When he left Texas, he moved to Greensboro, N.C. He returned there this weekend for an official visit to N.C. State. He picked a good time for that trip, too, since the Wolfpack upset Florida State.

Carter doesn’t expect a quick decision from Harrison, though. He’s taking his time and still has three more officials lined up, to Iowa State, Arizona State and Texas. His coach doesn’t think he’ll make a commitment until after he visits Texas in December for banquet weekend.

There is one thing that will sway Harrison during this process: He wants to play with his best friend and roommate, Demetrius Cherry.

A former Washington State signee, Cherry is a 6-foot-6, 255-pound defensive end with offers from Fresno State and San Jose State. He’ll be joining Harrison on the visits to ASU and ISU.

“In a perfect world, they want to play together,” Carter said. “They’ve always spoke about playing together and they’re the best of friends. If they’re going to split, it’s going to take a program like Texas or USC to have that happen.” – Max Olson

Benenoch down to four

Caleb Benenoch doesn’t want to make a decision until after his senior season. That wasn’t going to work for the Texas A&M staff.

So the Katy (Texas) Seven Lakes four-star offensive lineman is no longer consider the Aggies among his favorite schools.

Max Olson/
Don't expect Caleb Benenoch to make a decision until after his senior season.

“They wanted to close the class faster than I was ready to make a decision,” Benenoch said.

The top Texas target was a bit disappointed that things between he and A&M had to end that way, but the fact is this: The Aggies have 28 commits. They’re in a tough spot here in terms of trying to land more pledges. Something had to give.

So now Benenoch is down to Texas, Oklahoma, Baylor and UCLA. On Sunday, he told me Texas is once again his No. 1 school following his visit for the West Virginia game.

After that game came to an end, Benenoch was reminded how much the Longhorns want to land him. That’s when offensive line coach Stacy Searels rounded up his recruits for a brief meeting.

According to Benenoch, all the big Texas lineman targets were in the room: Benenoch, Andrew Billings, Jake Raulerson, Darius James, A’Shawn Robinson and Kent Perkins.

“He told us they were taking two more offensive linemen, and they want to get me and Billings to finish off a really good offensive line class,” Benenoch said.

Right now, Texas still seems to be the favorite to land Benenoch. He’s an unabashed Longhorns fan and he has enjoyed every visit he’s taken to Austin. But the official visit to UCLA looms large. He’ll take that after his season ends in December.

No matter what, though, Benenoch has said he’ll do his best to visit Texas once more before deciding. – Max Olson

ESPN Watch List CB sees similarities in Diggs

When ESPN Watch List cornerback Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Beaumont) got settled in the crowd at Texas’ game against West Virginia, his mom asked which player from either team he’d be if he were playing.

His choice was an easy one: Longhorns sophomore cornerback Quandre Diggs.

“I told her I’d be No. 6,” Brown said. “He’s on an island and that’s where I feel most comfortable at.”

The Mountaineers didn’t test Diggs all that often, which had Brown’s mother feeling like she was watching one of her son’s games. He’s been thrown at one time this year and he intercepted it.

“My mom asked me why I’m not making plays like I was during the summer and I told her it’s because they aren’t throwing it my way,” Brown said. “In the summer there were really good receivers and quarterbacks that were wanting to test me. I’m not going against any five-star guys like I did over the summer.”

Brown tries not to get frustrated with the lack of challenges. It’s something he might have to get used to if he turns out to be anything like Diggs. That type of role -- being on an island the majority of the time -- is what the Longhorns envision being able to do with Brown.

“He was the one who was making big plays and was on the single receivers side,” Brown said. “Texas coaches were just telling me that I would fit right in with my man press coverage and that I have good size for it.”

Texas has put itself squarely in the mix for Brown but this one is a long way from being over. He says that everyone is about even right now.

Brown’s offers list is as impressive as they come. In addition to Texas it includes Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Illinois, LSU, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Rutgers, TCU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA, USC and West Virginia.

His sister, Bealoved Brown, is one of the top track and field recruits in the country and will be taking a visit to LSU this weekend so Brown will join her and attend the Tigers’ game against South Carolina. - William Wilkerson

Cannon talks Texas visits

Mount Pleasant (Texas) receiver K.D. Cannon is about to take in his third Texas game this season. Why does the touted 2014 prospect keep coming back for more?

Like everyone else in attendance, Cannon said he was blown away by the atmosphere at the West Virginia game and knew right away it was going to be far more intense than against Wyoming. He even called Texas-West Virginia the best college game he’s ever attended.

Bob Przybylo/
Oklahoma was the first school to offer WR K.D. Cannon, but Cannon has taken a shine to Texas.

After seeing Texas twice, one thing has really stood out to Cannon.

“The offense is throwing the ball a lot more and they move the ball around quick,” he said. “It’s a faster offense.”

Cannon enjoyed getting to catch up with UT pledge Lorenzo Joe and fellow top 2014 targets Tony Brown, Ed Paris and Jamal Adams. He got to speak with Mack Brown and Darrell Wyatt before the game and went into the locker room after the loss before heading home. The Texas coached told Cannon they were glad he came.

The more he visits Austin, the more Cannon can see himself playing for the Longhorns someday.

“I want a team that has a great fan base, and they have a great fan base and a whole lot more,” he said. “And they have a great quarterback who’s committed already for their 2013 class.”

The junior wideout got to meet Texas quarterback commit Tyrone Swoopes for the first time at the Wyoming game.

“He’s a great quarterback from what I’ve seen,” Cannon said. “The recruiting classes mean a lot. I’ve got to know who’s before me so I know if they have a good recruiting class.”

All in all, Cannon said Texas helped its chances of landing his pledge thanks to the atmosphere and improved passing game. He’ll be at the Cotton Bowl with tickets provided by Oklahoma.

Thomas visits Stanford, new schools entering mix

While several of Texas' 2014 targets were watching a shootout at DKR on Saturday, Solomon Thomas found a good one to attend on the West Coast.

The Coppell (Texas) defensive end took an unofficial visit to Stanford this weekend and took in quite a game. The Cardinal rallied from two touchdowns down to knock off Arizona 54-48 in overtime.

“It was definitely one of the funnest games I’ve ever seen in person,” Thomas said. “That was an exciting game to go to and I had a lot of fun out there. I had a good time.”

Coppell was on its bye week, so Thomas traveled to Palo Alto on Friday and got to spend time checking out the campus and hanging out with the team before and after the game.

Good luck getting Thomas to say which school is No. 1 for his pledge right now. He’s says he’s still evaluating all his options and trying to give every school a chance.

More and more schools are starting to show interest in the ESPN Watch list end, including Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

Texas, Stanford and UCLA have been among his favorite schools throughout this process. He’ll be at the Red River Rivalry game on Saturday with passes from OU, but the Longhorns are still recruiting him as hard as anyone.

“I’ve been chatting with Mack Brown and Oscar Giles a lot and I talked to them the other day,” Thomas said. “I’m trying to come back for one or two more home games this year and I’m excited to go to those.”

Thomas attended the Texas-New Mexico game earlier this season. There’s lots of reasons why he likes UT, but one big one is the successful start Texas has had to its 2014 recruiting class.

The Longhorns have five pledges so far, and Thomas is friends with or has met nearly all of them.

“It’s definitely a strong class so far with five really great players,” he said. “I’ve talked to some of them and they’re really good guys. That’s a really good way to start a class.”

Thomas originally hoped to reach a decision at the end of his junior season. After talking with his coaches and parents, he’s decided he won’t be able to do that.

“It’s such a big decision and I really need to wait and see how it plays out,” Thomas said. – Max Olson

Houston area WR one to watch in 2014

Tony Upchurch didn’t play football as a freshman at Pearland (Texas) Dawson, instead choosing to focus on basketball.

Turns out, he can play a little football too.

It took him all of one play to prove that when he caught a 72-yard touchdown pass on the first play of his varsity career a season ago. He ended the season with 40 receptions for 789 yards and seven touchdowns in 10 games.

It’s pretty clear that this junior won’t be having his version of a sophomore slump.

Upchurch has lit it up so far this season as he has 22 receptions for 357 yards (19 yards per catch) and 1 touchdown. He’s also rushed 13 times for 200 yards.

His numbers might be even more ridiculous through four games if he didn’t have to share the ball with Texas A&M-bound running back James White, who has 55 carries for 456 yards and nine touchdowns already.

Regardless, college programs have taken notice of the Houston area talent, including the Longhorns. Upchurch, whose former teammate Kennedy Estelle is a Texas freshman, has already camped at Texas.

"It went pretty good,” he said of the camp. “They talked to my parents and said they were going to offer me too."

Upchurch didn’t know when Texas would offer but he did reiterate that it would at some point.

“They said for sure they were going to offer me, he said. “They told my parents that."

Upchurch has also visited Texas for basketball purposes, so his familiarity with the school is not foreign.

“It's a nice school,” he said. “I wouldn't mind going there, but I'm just keeping my eyes open."

It appears that if Texas does indeed offer that it will have to hold off LSU for his signature. The Tigers are the overwhelming favorite right now. - William Wilkerson