Thursday, November 8, 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.
A few things discussed in this week’s edition:
Should Texas give up on a top receiver target?
Are the Longhorns keeping an eye on a Tennessee commit?
Another 2014 DE to watch
A note on one school that could potentially steal a 2014 UT commit
2014 commit working on sharpening his receiving skills
Robinson has done very few interviews since his first official to Florida State, but I talked with him extensively on Sunday. What’s clear is this: Robinson could face a very difficult final decision next month.
A'Shawn Robinson is visiting Alabama and USC later this year.
The Fort Worth (Texas) Arlington Heights defensive tackle will be at Alabama this weekend, but it’s his trip to USC that looms large.
Robinson told me he’s scheduled his official visit to Southern Cal for the weekend of Dec. 7 through Dec. 9. Texas coaches can’t be thrilled about that.
Why? Because that’s the same weekend of the Texas football banquet. That’s when the Longhorns’ verbal commits are expected to make their official visits to campus.
It’s a big recruiting weekend for UT and traditionally one that bolsters the bond between members of the recruiting class. And Robinson will be off spending it with Lane Kiffin.
USC is very much the school that Texas ought to worry about, more so than Alabama or Florida State. Robinson told me he was a big Trojans fan growing up and still considers USC one of his favorite schools.
On the bright side for Texas, Robinson will not drag this process out. He’s planning to reach a decision shortly after he returns from the USC visit and doesn’t want this to keep going until signing day.
I’ve heard some rumors that Texas A&M might try to make a run at Robinson, but that’s nothing Texas should worry about.
“It’s too late for them, because it’s almost signing day,” Robinson said. “They should’ve started earlier.”
Robinson said A&M, Florida and Auburn have showed interest recently, but he’s not looking at any more schools beyond Texas, FSU, USC and Alabama and isn’t looking to take any additional visits.
Remember, Robinson has not decommitted from Texas and UT coaches have not pulled his offer or asked him to stop taking visits. They’re trusting Robinson to handle this as best he can. This isn’t the Ricky Seals-Jones situation all over again.
From Texas’ standpoint, though, Robinson’s recruitment is getting very interesting and we’ll continue to follow it closely. - Max Olson
Time to give up on Rhodes?
I spent some time chatting with Robbie Rhodes’ family on Saturday during Fort Worth (Texas) Southwest’s 42-10 win over Arlington Heights, and they told me the same thing Rhodes has been telling me for months.
The ESPN 150 wide receiver is perfectly content with his commitment to Baylor. Drastic changes would need to take place before the No. 4 ranked receiver prospect reconsiders his decision.
“Probably a coaching change would,” Rhodes said, “or something else happening. Yeah, a coaching change is most definitely the only thing that would probably change my decision.”
Why? Because Rhodes has developed a strong relationship both with coach Art Briles and his son, Baylor passing game coordinator/receivers coach Kendal Briles.
Kendal Briles is the only college coach Rhodes regularly calls. He has maintained contact with Texas receivers coach Darrell Wyatt recently, but that’s only been through Facebook.
Rhodes has been getting lots of questions lately about what he thinks of Baylor’s season so far. The Bears are 4-4 on the year and 1-4 in the Big 12.
Baylor’s defensive struggles aren’t of much concern to Rhodes. He knows he’ll still get a chance to play right away and haul in a ton of passes in an offense that’s No. 1 in the nation in passing this season.
“They’ve just got to find a spark,” he said. “They used to have RGIII (Robert Griffin III), and now that he and Kendall Wright are gone they’ve just got to find a way. Their defense has to find a way to bond together and get stops.”
While Texas has displayed a much-improved passing attack and ranks 11th nationally in scoring offense, Rhodes said he hasn’t spent any time watching Longhorn games this season.
For now, he has no need to. Unless Art Briles taking a head coaching job elsewhere, expect Rhodes to stick with the Bears. There’s still lots of time and a lot can change, but Rhodes isn’t looking to make a move anytime soon. - Max Olson
What’s next for Tennessee commit
Back in February, there was a good chance Kameron Miles could’ve committed to Texas.
The West Mequite (Texas) four-star safety had a great time at the Longhorns’ second junior day and would’ve felt comfortable with picking the Longhorns at the time.
Only one problem: He never got a scholarship offer. Miles wasn’t too happy about that.
When it came time for the ESPN 300 prospect to make a decision in May, he chose Tennessee over Stanford and Penn State.
Kameron Miles is committed to Tennessee ... for now.
Six months later, the Vols are 4-5 and haven’t won a game in SEC play. Tennessee coach Derek Dooley appears to be on his way out. So what’s that mean for Miles?
“It’s all going to come down to the coaches,” Miles said. “Really, it’s if coach Sal [Sunseri] stays on board. If he ends up leaving, I’ll have to think about opening up my recruiting process. That’s the only way I’m staying with Tennessee, if he stays.”
Sunseri, the Vols’ first-year defensive coordinator, is one of several Tennessee coaches that Miles talks to on a frequent basis. They’ve all told him the same thing about what to expect after the season.
“Everybody says don’t worry about it, and if they do get fired they’ll understand if I decommit,” he said.
Several schools have begun upping their interest in Miles since Tennessee’s season went downhill. Texas A&M has offered and sent a coach to a West Mesquite game last week, and Miles said Georgia and Auburn have contacted him recently.
What about Texas? Miles said he hasn’t heard from secondary coach Duane Akina in quite a while, but the safety hasn’t completely ruled out consider the Longhorns.
“They’d be another option I could look at,” Miles said. “They’re kind of outside of it right now. Only way I’d take them serious is if they offer me.”
Right now, though, Miles says he isn’t worrying about his recruitment. He’s going to focus on his senior season and deal with the college dilemma after the season.
Miles doesn’t want to decommit, at least not right now, but if there’s a major shakeup at Tennessee as most expect he will certainly be a guy to keep an eye on. - Max Olson
Keep an eye on Lubbock DE
Here’s a name to remember as a possible 2014 offer down the road: Lubbock (Texas) Coronado defensive end Duncan Douglas.
I’ll have much more on Douglas in the future but the long and short of it is the kid can play, he just hasn’t been able to show it this season.
Douglas (6-foot-6, 245 pounds) tore his ACL on the first day of two-a-days and has missed the entire 2012 season.
“They are releasing me Feb. 16,” he said.
Teams have still inquired about him despite his absence.
“Alabama, Texas, [Texas] Tech, LSU, Florida State, Georgia, Boise State, Big 12, Pac 12 have all called,” he said.
Because of the long recovery process he’s going to miss most of the basketball season, which is another sport he excels at. Douglas claims to have basketball offers from Texas Tech, Baylor, LSU, IUPUI, Kansas State, Arizona, Wichita State and Weber State.
While he would really like to play both sports in college he is unsure how the coaches from whatever school he chooses would feel about him playing another sport. So, right now, if he had to choose a sport to play he’d choose football.
“I have a better opportunity at football,” he said. “For basketball I just have Baylor, Texas Tech, the Big 12. But in football I have everywhere [calling]. You have a better opportunity going to the league in football.”
Douglas has an impressive bloodline of football players in his family. His father, Danny Douglas, played for UT-Arlington and then New Mexico. His uncle Donald Douglas played at Texas Tech and another uncle, Steve Douglas, played at Nebraska.
The good thing for Texas, if it does get serious about Douglas, is that he grew up rooting for the Longhorns, as well as Texas Tech. He was actually on Tech’s sideline for the Longhorns’ victory over the Red Raiders on Saturday, and was happy to see Texas win.
“I was actually proud of them,” he said. “I was on the sidelines on Tech’s sidelines. I was glad Texas won but I was surprised as well.”
Douglas did say that contact with Texas has been limited.
“There hasn’t been much conversation between us,” he said. “It’s really been a letter here or there or a phone call to my coach. They say they are interested in me. Coach [Duane] Akina told my coaches that he wanted me to call him. I got his number and called him plenty of times but he didn’t answer because it’s his office and he hasn’t been there. They’ve told me that he can’t call me back because I’m not a senior. Texas would be like a dream come true.”
Another interesting thing about Douglas, which could be good news for the Longhorns, is his strong relationship with fellow defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell), who has been offered by Texas. The two have discussed the idea of playing together. - William Wilkerson
Several schools have already offered 2014 DE Myles Garrett.
“He is emerging as one of the top defensive end prospects in the country,” Wager said. “Aside from what he has done on the field, it is what he did in the offseason. He put on a lot of muscle, grew an inch, his 40-time dropped considerably. He has the best pro-agility time on our team, which is remarkable.”
Wager said that Garrett, who wears size 18 shoes, also has the teams highest vertical jump at 36 inches.
One of the main things Wager has seen from Garrett, an ESPN Watch List member, is that he is learning to control his appendages. At 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, that can be a difficult thing for someone of his age to do.
Wager insists that Garrett isn’t simply relying on his superior athleticism to dominate opponents but that he is utterly sound in his technique as well.
“Our defensive line coach grinds him,” Wager said. “He is solid. He knows what he is doing.”
Wager said that things have slowed down during the season in terms of college coaches calling him in regards to Garrett. But it was like he’d never seen during the spring.
“It was Texas, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and several others,” Wager said. “When you see him there is the wow factor. He passes the eye test. Then he’ll look you in the eye and answer ‘Yes sir’ and ‘No sir.’”
The two have spoken only briefly about how Garrett will handle his recruitment moving forward, once at the beginning of the season and then a few weeks ago.
“On both occasions he has said, ‘Coach right now I am focused on being the best Martin Warrior I can be and we will focus on that after the season,’ ” Wager said. “He hasn’t given me any indication [of when he’d make a decision].”
Martin is 7-2 overall and 6-0 in District 3-5A. The Warriors, led on offense by 2013 Texas commitment Kyle Hicks, will face Arlington Bowie (6-0 in district) for the district crown tonight.
Wager said that is where Garrett’s focus has been all season and will likely remain until season’s end.
“I know he has been to a couple of ball games this fall,” Wager said. “His sister [Brea Garrett] is a track and field athlete at Texas A&M so I know he has been down there. But I don’t think it’s been a pressing issue because some of the calls I get are, ‘How come Myles hasn’t checked my Facebook or whatever.’ He doesn’t even check it. He has no idea what people think about him. He is just a 16-year-old kid that goes to class everyday and plays football.”
Garrett also has offers from Arkansas and Minnesota, and will surely see that list stretch to many more as he continues to fight back from a broken bone in his leg, which caused him to play in only four games last season. - William Wilkerson
One school can steal Catalon
Since giving his early commitment to Texas in August, 2014 running back Donald Catalon (Houston/Eisenhower) has continued to receive plenty of interest from schools.
He’s added an offer from Oklahoma State, and Notre Dame is also expected to offer in the next week or two. Neither of them are schools Catalon would back out of his Texas pledge for, but there is one that he’ll always like.
“LSU, that’s my other favorite school,” he said. “I’m with Texas right now. Maybe if I changed my mind someday, it would be LSU.”
Catalon has never heard from Tiger coaches during his recruitment, but they’re certainly familiar with his school. Starting LSU safety Craig Loston is an Eisenhower alum.
“I always liked LSU when I was little,” Catalon said. “My dad is from Louisiana, so we’d watch all their games. That’s why I liked LSU. I like Texas, but I still like LSU too.”
None of this is to suggest Catalon is wavering on his commitment to the Longhorns. He still stays in touch with running backs coach Major Applewhite via Facebook on a weekly basis.
Catalon has had a strong junior season with 772 rushing yards and six total touchdowns despite dealing with nagging turf toe.
He suffered the injury to his left big toe during Ike’s second game of the season against Klein Collins and has been playing through the pain ever since. At first, he had no idea what turf toe was. He knows the ailment well now.
“I can’t bend my toes and I don’t have any flexibility,” he said. “It hurts. When I’m running I don’t feel it, but after when I’m walking I feel it. It’s hard.”
But he refuses to stop playing. Against Houston Alief Taylor last month, Catalon even volunteered to play cornerback and cover touted 2014 receiver Keenen Brown for the game.
“It’s making me tougher. When I’m in a game, I’m still running hard,” Catalon said. “It’s little things that can set it off, though. On the first play of one game I tried to jump over a dude and my toe hit his helmet, and the whole game it was killing me. It’s the little things.” - Max Olson
Joe keeping hands fresh
Longhorns wide receiver commitment Lorenzo Joe (Abilene, Texas/Cooper) had the opportunity to watch his future school take on the only other team to offer him on Saturday in Texas Tech.
He made it a point to watch it on television, but his heavy eyes wouldn’t allow him to watch the whole game.
Lorenzo Joe plays quarterback for his high school team but will likely play receiver at Texas.
“Actually on Saturday morning I had to go take the SAT,” Joe said. “When I started watching the game I was a little tired so I dozed off.”
For the record, Joe thinks he did well on the test.
“You know what, I hope I made a good high score,” he said. “I am very confident in what I did. I’m hoping it’s high.”
What Joe did see of the game was a Texas team that looked hungry for a win, and got one by being balanced on offense.
“I saw that Texas was doing very well,” he said. “Mike Davis had himself a game. Their running backs did a good job of running the ball. It was a pretty balanced team win.”
Joe said it was really hard for him to compare himself to one of the Texas receivers. He started to say Mike Davis before he stopped himself.
Anyone who has tried to see for themselves this season hasn’t been able to get a glimpse of him at his natural position. Joe (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) has started at quarterback all season where he’s led Cooper to an 8-2 overall record, and a playoff berth.
He’s completed 109 of 174 passes for 1,593 yards, 14 touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s also rushed 104 times for 556 yards and six scores.
But Joe knows what he’s going to college for, and has made sure to keep is receiving skills on point.
“I am continuing to get faster and even though I am playing quarterback right now I need to keep the hands ready and run good routes,” he said. “So I will go out there and run routes and keep it fresh as a receiver.
“After practice our receivers do little catching drills so sometimes I will join them just to keep it fresh. I just can’t stop doing that. That would be bad.” - William Wilkerson