Thursday, November 15, 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.
Tyrone Swoopes didn't have the senior season he had hoped for but that doesn't mean his talent is limited.
I talked to five people for the Tyrone Swoopes feature that’s up on HornsNation today, and there was just way too much good stuff to cram into one story.
But I thought I’d save some of the best leftovers for you loyal Heard readers. Here’s more of what Trent Dilfer had to say about working with Swoopes at the Elite 11 finals.
First off, remember how poorly Swoopes played at The Opening in Oregon this summer? That showing ended up being what knocking him down the recruiting rankings. He threw pick after pick, struggled to make progressions to his second and third receiver and had a hard time digging himself out of a hole once the mistakes piled up.
Frankly, he was a bit out of his league. That’s to be expected, of course, since Whitewright doesn’t play competitive 7-on-7 football in the summer. Swoopes had never competed in such high-level 7-on-7 and never seen that many good defensive backs in his life.
Dilfer told the folks who run The Opening that he shouldn’t be in it. Didn’t think it would be fair to Swoopes or his development. He needed more quarterback training and coaching before he’d be ready for that test.
“This kid needed a week with us first before that event,” Dilfer said. “If The Opening was after Elite 11, he probably would’ve been the MVP. But because you put him in The Opening before he gets the training background, you’re going to have issues.”
Second, Dilfer had zero interest in the fact that Swoopes went 1-8 this season at Whiteweright. In fact, he’s not that surprised.
“I don’t give a crap,” Dilfer said. “I don’t even follow what these guys do during the high school seasons.”
The last speech he gave his Elite 11 QBs before sending them home included a reminder that what they’d learned was intended to prepare them for starting in college football. High school is a different story.
“The problem is you’re going to go back to your high schools,” he said. “[Georgia commit] Brice Ramsey and Tyrone, you’re going to run these antiquated offenses that don’t utilize anything we taught you. But you’ve still got to go be a man and compete.”
One more point: This summer was Dilfer’s second of running the Elite 11 finals. Last year, Texas freshman quarterback Connor Brewer was in the field of campers.
Dilfer had nothing bad to say about the Longhorns’ third-string quarterback. But compare him to Swoopes and their talent ceilings aren’t even close in his opinion.
“Connor Brewer is solid,” Dilfer said. “Good football mind, talented kid, smart kid. He can win a lot of ballgames for you. And that might be the easy thing to do [for Texas], I could see that happening. But Tyrone Swoopes is one of those cats that, if you bring out the best ... I don’t care who you recruit, he doesn’t have a ceiling as high as Tyrone’s.” – Max Olson
Douglas gets in touch with Texas
Last week I wrote about 2014 defensive end Duncan Douglas (Lubbock, Texas/Coronado) as being a player to watch as a potential offer for the Longhorns down the road.
Douglas (6-foot-6, 245 pounds) made it clear that Texas was basically a dream school but said that conversation between he and the Longhorns hadn’t taken off because he hadn’t been able to get in touch with Longhorns defensive backs coach Duane Akina.
“They say they are interested in me,” Douglas said last Thursday. “Coach 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."
Well Douglas finally got in touch with Akina last Thursday, and now has a better understanding of what to expect down the road.
“[Akina] said they were going to start recruiting me pretty hard,” Douglas said. “And I said, ‘Yes sir, I am interested in Texas. It’s like a dream school of mine.' "
The conversation only lasted about five minutes as Douglas had to get back to class, and Akina had to head to a meeting, but enough was said to ease Douglas’ mind a bit.
Douglas tore his ACL on the first day of two-a-days, which has kept him out for the entire season. He’s been busy with rehab and took a huge step forward with the process on Wednesday when he starts to sprint for the first time.
“I’m a little nervous,” he said.
Douglas said his injury hurts the most when he lifts weights but said the recovery process is well ahead of where he thought it would be at this point.
“It is coming back a lot faster than I thought it would. It feels great,” Douglas said. “I am not 100 percent though. I couldn’t play on a football field though. If I got hit… whew. It’s only been three months since surgery. “ – William Wilkerson
James eyeing playoff return
Good news for Texas’ top-ranked commit: There’s a chance Darius James will take the field this weekend.
No. 1-ranked center Darius James hopes to play as a freshman.
Granted, this is no sure thing. James was still in a walking boot to begin the week after breaking his left foot on Aug. 30 in Harker Heights’ season opener.
But Harker Heights takes on Class 5A No. 2-ranked DeSoto on Friday in its opening-round playoff game. No way he wants to miss that game.
“I go to the doctor on Thursday to find out if I can play,” James said. “I’m still in a walking boot but I’m doing good. I definitely want to get out there.”
Sitting out the entire regular season for what was supposed to be a six-to-eight week injury has been brutal for the No. 1 center prospect, but James tried to find ways to ensure he wouldn’t waste this fall.
He said he’s been able to do any and all upper-body workouts and had given that a renewed dedication, but what really paid off was continuing to attend practice every day.
“I got a better understanding of the game,” James said. “I used to just go out there and know my position. Now when you look at it from a different perspective you can see everyone’s position and why everything happens and timing and all that kind of stuff.”
James said he’s been to a few Texas games this season and is still as excited as ever to be a Longhorn. He and Naashon Hughes will be back for banquet weekend, but neither of them intends to enroll early.
When James does join the program in the summer, he’s confident he’ll be able to push Dom Espinosa and the rest of the centers right away for playing time. UT offensive line coach Stacy Searels has told him he can be a key contributor from the get-go.
“I’ll be ready to play right away,” James said. “He’s told me I have a good chance, but nothing will be given to me.” – Max Olson
2016 RB hungry to be the best
If 2016 running back Kameron Martin (Port Arthur, Texas/Memorial) was a politician he wouldn't need a campaign team to get his message out to the masses. He can handle that on his own.
Martin (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) is as proactive a freshman as you will ever come across when it comes to getting his name out to prospective college programs. Just this past Saturday he traveled to LSU to watch the Tigers take on Mississippi State.
"It was a good visit for my first visit," Martin said. "This was my first visit in general. I really, really liked it."
The two sides crossed paths last summer when Martin ran in the Governor's Games at LSU's Bernie Moore Stadium. Martin said he finished 10th overall after running the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. Martin got 18th at the 2012 Junior Olympics by running a 22:12 200 meters and a 10:80 100 meters.
Conveniently, Martin lists speed as his best attribute and has put it on full display for Port Arthur Memorial this season by rushing 51 times for 400 yards. He patterns his game after fellow speedster, former Longhorn Jamaal Charles, who went to Memorial.
"I'm a speed running back like Jamaal Charles," Martin said. "He is like a cousin to me. He's from my hometown and I go to his camp every summer. I talk to him on Instagram. He actually asked me last week if we made the playoffs and also asked for my number."
It's because of players like Charles that Martin has decorated his room in burnt orange and white.
"My whole room is Texas," he said. "I am a big Longhorn fan."
Currently, LSU, Texas Tech and Baylor are the schools in contact with him. But he has crossed paths with Texas in the past and is hopeful that there will be more contact down the line.
"I actually talked to the Longhorns when I was in 8th grade," he said. "I talked to Major Applewhite. He was recruiting some of our players. During my 8th grade year I used to go watch the varsity practice and he was up there, and my coach wanted me to meet him. He said to keep doing what you are doing and you will be a Longhorn one day."
Martin clearly has a long time to go before he has to make any decisions but he's confident that those offers will come, and he'll do what he has to in order to get them.
"Every time I call a college they say that they haven't heard from a 2016 recruit yet," Martin said. "Not trying to be cocky or arrogant but I feel like I am the top freshman in the nation."
Martin is focused on helping Memorial in the playoffs but will turn his attention to camps this summer. He would like to make Texas one of his destinations. - William Wilkerson
Denton connection could help with Clark
We caught up with 2014 defensive end Sekou Clark this weekend to talk about his unofficial visit for the Iowa State game. While Clark enjoyed the Texas win, there was another factor that had him calling it a great visit.
Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
DE Sekou Clark doesn't have any offers yet but has received a lot of interest.
The Denton (Texas) Ryan prospect got to spend time with Texas 2014 commit Jerrod Heard during the day. The Denton Guyer quarterback and Clark go way back.
“I talked to him a lot,” Clark said. “We’re real good buds. We had a lot of fun up there.”
Between Heard and former Denton Ryan teammate Alex De La Torre, Clark was pleased to find he’d have a few friends to lean on if he ended up at Texas.
“I know [Heard] is pretty good, so if he goes there it would most definitely help,” Clark said. “Jerrod is a really close friend of mine, so I think it would be good being there with a lot of people I know.”
A 6-3, 217-pound defensive lineman with no offers but interest from lots of elite programs, Clark said Texas has been showing him “a lot” of interest and thinks there’s a chance he could end up with an offer by the spring.
He didn’t inquire about an offer during his visit to Austin, but Clark did appreciate getting to catch up with the Texas staff.
“I felt like they liked me,” he said. “I talked to coach [Oscar] Giles and I felt that he really liked me. I’ll try to get out there for another game and maybe come out in the spring for a visit.”
Denton Ryan kicks off its playoff run with a first-round game Saturday at Cowboys Stadium against L.D. Bell. Replacing No. 1 overall recruit and Florida State signee Mario Edwards Jr. is impossible, but Clark said several guys stepped up on the Raider line this season to fill the void. Now they’re ready to play under the bright lights.
“I can’t wait for the Cowboys Stadium experience,” he said. “Ryan has played there plenty of times, but I’ve never been on a team that played there. I’m really looking forward to it.” – Max Olson
McCrane mulling options
If 2013 kicker Matthew McCrane (Brownwood, Texas/Brownwood) walks on anywhere it's going to be Texas.
But he's still holding out hope that he'll at least have the option of playing at an FBS school by way of scholarship. He won't get it from Texas, which is not going to offer a scholarship to a kicker in 2013. But he could get one from the team the Longhorns will play on Dec. 1, Kansas State.
"I called Coach [Bill] Snyder and told him that I was accepted to Kansas State so that if he wanted me in the spring that I would be there," McCrane said. "He told me that he was going to see if they were going to offer or not. If I am going to walk-on anywhere I'll come in the fall. But if I were to get a scholarship I would come in the spring. I talked to him over email about how they were doing. He briefly asked me how I've been doing in my games."
McCrane, who just attended the Kornblue Kicking Fab 50 camp in Houston over the weekend, pinches himself at the thought of being recruited by one of the best teams in the country in Kansas State, and having email conversations with Coach Snyder.
"It's surreal, especially being the No. 2 team in the country," McCrane said. "It's something I've been dreaming about since I was a little kid. To be recruited by a team like Kansas State is a dream come true."
Things are still the same with Texas. The option of walking on is on the table, according to McCrane. He wishes that walking on wasn't the only way of making the team but is understanding of how many kickers Texas has on its roster.
"It's kind of disappointing not being recruited as much by Texas as another school," he said. "But Texas is my dream school and in talking with Coach [Major] Applewhite he is very nice and continues to encourage me to walk-on."
In order for McCrane to be able to walk-on at Texas, though, he has to be accepted. That hasn't happened yet.
"I am having trouble because I am not in the 8 percent right now, I am 9 or 10 percent," he said. "Any help from the outside to be able to walk-on is what I need. I applied in the spring and didn't get in. I retook my SAT and ACT to try and get my resume built a lot bigger. I have a 3.74 GPA so I'm not dumb it's just very difficult to get in if you aren't in the top 8 percent." - William Wilkerson