Friday, November 23, 2012
The Heard: UT recruiting news and notes
By Max Olson and William Wilkerson
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 (though it's on Friday this week because of Thanksgiving).
Talk about it in our forum and, if there’s a recruit out there you’d like to hear more from, let us know.
In this week’s addition of The Heard:
2014 OT Knox ready for decision
Longhorns crack juco OL top three
2014 center on Texas’ radar
More on juco LB
Stock rising for Houston WR
Read The Heard after the jump.
Knox ready to make decision
Demetrius Knox (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints) has already made his college decision and is planning to announce it Monday afternoon. But first, he took in one more Texas game.
The ESPN Watch List offensive tackle, who’s down to Texas, Ohio State, Alabama and TCU as his final four schools, took in Texas’ 20-13 loss to TCU on Thursday night.
While the Longhorns struggled, Knox did still come away impressed by their fan base at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.
“The atmosphere was crazy,” Knox said. “At the start of the game and as it was going along, it didn’t look too good. But towards the end, when they had a chance to come back, the crowd was going crazy.”
The 6-foot-4, 300-pound lineman took in the game with All Saints teammates Daniel Gresham, a 2014 Texas commit, and Kendall Adams, and he enjoyed getting to spend time with UT pledges Tyrone Swoopes and A'Shawn Robinson.
Before the game, Knox caught up with offensive line coach Stacy Searels and the rest of the UT coaching staff and was reminded he’s as high a priority as any 2014 prospect on Texas’ recruiting board.
“[Searels] talked to me about the future of UT and how he said I’m his guy and his No. 1 guy for the 2014 class,” Knox said. “He thinks I have the potential to do great things at UT and, as time goes by, great things in the NFL.”
This was Knox’s third time seeing the Longhorns in person, after catching Texas’ 45-0 home win over New Mexico and its 63-21 loss to Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl.
He was happy for the Horned Frogs and knows their coaching staff well, but Knox was disappointed as he headed home on Thursday night. He was pulling for Texas.
No doubt one of the more frustrating aspects of UT’s loss was poor offensive line play. Knox admits he noticed it throughout the night, and he’s confident help is on the way.
“They’ve struggled this year a lot,” Knox said. “But once they get some good size to them with guys like Kent Perkins and Jake Raulerson and Darius James, they’re going to change some things around.
“The recruits and the commits they have coming in are crazy. I’ve had a chance to talk to some of the offensive line commits and the other recruits. They’re going to have a dream team.”
Now comes the fun for Knox. He’s ready to make his big announcement and bring an end to this recruiting process. He’s already reached his decision, but doing so wasn’t easy.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “This has been a really, really rough time for me.”
There’s a small chance Knox won’t end his recruitment on Monday. He said All Saints coach Aaron Beck might ask him to push back his announcement date past Monday. But Knox is ready to make the call, and he plans to do so when the school day ends around 3:30 p.m.
When he does pull the trigger, Knox will be done with recruiting for good. It’s time to make a commitment, and he takes that verbal pledge seriously.
“Once I commit to my college, that’s it,” he said. “I’m not talking to any other schools or anything like that.”
Texas still in Harrison’s top three
Get ready to start hearing more and more junior college names pop up over the next month or two as Texas coaches reinvest in the juco ranks to shore up depth issues.
One of the juco prospects who already holds a Texas offer is Desmond Harrison. The 6-foot-8, 310-pound tackle from Contra Costa (Calif.) College remains very interest in the Longhorns.
Harrison will take an official visit to Oklahoma this weekend for the Sooners’ Bedlam game against Oklahoma State. He’s planning to take an official to Arizona State the following weekend.
Then it’s time for Harrison to visit Texas. He’ll be in Austin for the team’s banquet weekend. As a Texas native, he’s been looking forward to this one for a while.
“I looked up to the Longhorns because I’m from Texas,” Harrison said. “I like that program. Coach [Stacy] Searels is a good guy. I’m just going down there to see everything, meet the coaches and get a feel for the campus.”
Harrison grew up near Houston in Missouri City, Texas, and attended Marshall High School before moving with his mother to North Carolina. She still lives in Greensboro, N.C., but Harrison visits his home state as often as he can when he has breaks from school.
“I’ve still got a lot of my family -- aunts, uncles, granddaddy, grandma, all of my cousins, all of them,” he said.
Harrison said the top three schools he’s looking at right now are Texas, Oklahoma and N.C. State. His mother isn’t trying to sway him to end up back in North Carolina and is going to support him in whatever school he chooses.
Harrison is looking to take one more official visit to either USC or Texas Tech. After that, he’ll be ready to reach a decision. He’s not in a hurry, though, since he’s not graduating from Contra Costa College until May.
Harrison entered the junior college ranks as a raw former basketball player. He’s had a lot to learn about playing on the offensive line. Lucky for Texas, Contra Costa’s offensive line coach, Thomas Byrd, was a starting center for Bryan Harsin at Boise State.
“I’ve learned a lot. Coach Byrd has been a big step for me,” Harrison said. “He’s helped me a lot and he’s really taught me all the technique and everything.”
Harrison knows about the Byrd-Harsin connection and sees that as a good thing. He hopes it’ll help him learn the playbook quickly if he chooses the Longhorns. - Max Olson
2014 center on Texas’ radar
The three offensive line offers that Texas has out in 2014 are all for offensive tackles. One interior offensive lineman that the Longhorns are now looking at is Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper), a center.
He and Bo Davis have talked briefly about trying to get him down to campus. It’s something Cuney has already done (for the spring game) but something he wants to do again.
“I used to love Texas,” he said. “There’s just something about that Hook’em. I just like that symbol. I don’t know I just like it.
“I went to the spring game. The atmosphere was great. It is amazing how much the fans love their team and their players.”
Cuney grew two inches over the summer and is now a hair below 6-4 and 257 pounds. So he has adequate size for the position. But his best attribute could be his speed -- he ran a 4.89 40-yard dash at his school.
“I have that first quick step and one day when I first came into high school they told me they wanted to try me out there,” he said. “When I first snapped I was snapping the ball in my quarterbacks bellybutton. So they kept me there because I was quick and could move. “
He also has a desire to play the offensive line, which is something not all prep athletes want to do.
“I actually love my position,” he said. “You don’t find too many offensive linemen that love the position they play. Usually they grow up big and end up having to play there. I always wanted to play on the line. You get to be nasty. It’s physical. It’s a good position to show that I can be dominant. I like being dominant.”
In addition to Texas, Cuney is hearing from LSU, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. The Cowboys, in particular, are peaking his interest.
“Distance doesn’t matter,” said Cuney, who lives five hours away from Austin. “I actually want to leave the state to play football. I’m actually looking at Oklahoma State. I just want to get out of Texas.” – William Wilkerson
The Tennessee commit hasn’t been doing interviews this week because Hutchinson coach Rion Rhodes wants him to lay low and think about his plans first. The fact that Derek Dooley and his staff are done in Knoxville certainly has Campbell thinking about his other options.
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And right now, the only other option -- or at least school that has offered -- is Texas. Campbell’s recruiter, Oscar Giles, made an impression on Rhodes this week.
“He really seemed like a great guy,” Rhodes said. “I thought he did a good job of handling De’Vondre’s situation. He’s an impressive guy.”
The mere fact that Giles was even reaching out to a Hutchinson Community College prospect made just as strong an impression.
Texas has only signed four juco transfers during the Mack Brown Era. It’s not too often the Longhorns come calling for a Kansas juco prospect.
“I was surprised and I was excited,” Rhodes said. “As a junior college coach, you love to see your guys have opportunities to go to the best programs in the country. Obviously Texas has been one of the best.”
Yes, Texas does have six linebackers returning next season who started at least one game this season. But Campbell is a 6-foot-5, 224-pound outside linebacker with impressive speed. He could certainly help a linebacker corps that has had its ups and downs in 2012.
Right now, it’s hard to predict whether Campbell will decommit or take a visit to Texas this winter. He’s waiting to see who takes over the Vols and what happens to the assistants that recruited him. If Texas can get Campbell on campus, though, they’ve got a good shot at landing him.
By the way, there was some speculation this summer that Texas was interested in one of Campbell’s teammates, coveted defensive tackle Toby Johnson. Rhodes told me Campbell was the only Hutchinson player Giles or the UT coaches have contacted him about. - Max Olson
Upchurch’s stock rising
One receiver that the Longhorns might want to keep an eye on is Pearland (Texas) Dawson’s Tony Upchurch, who has helped Dawson to an 11-0 record so far this season.
We touched on Upchurch’s quick rise from not playing football as a freshman, instead choosing to focus on basketball, in an earlier addition of The Heard. He’s only continued to excel in just his second full season on the gridiron.
To date, Upchurch has hauled in 38 receptions for 770 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has also rushed 24 times for 288 yards. He’ll try to help the Eagles advance to the third round of the playoffs when they face Houston Stratford (9-2) at 4 p.m. Friday at Reliant Stadium.
“I’ve been there to the Texans game but have never played there,” he said. “It is crazy. It’s just a blessing. We actually practiced there last year but didn’t play there. This will be something new for us.”
Upchurch hauled in a 43-yard touchdown pass in Dawson’s 28-14 bi-district win over Richmond Foster last week.
“I did pretty good,” he said. “The team came out very strong. They double-teamed me. I got behind them one play. “
That type of productivity has led to interest from Texas A&M and LSU, two programs he is particularly interested in.
“Our coaching staff, everyone loves Texas A&M because they all went there,” he said. “We basically run their kind of offense. It is easier for me to go in with a program that I have experience in running the same formation with. It just caught my eye.”
Upchurch said that the Aggies’ move to the SEC helps but he had his eye on them well before their move to a new conference.
“I really liked them before then,” he said. “I don’t want to just hop on the ride because they are in the SEC. “
As for LSU: “They told me they would offer me but that’s about it. “
One school that Upchurch hasn’t heard much from is Texas, which has already offered 2014 receivers K.D. Cannon and Speedy Noil.
“The only time I heard from them was after the camp,” Upchurch said, speaking of the mini camp he went to in June.” I spoke with Major Applewhite and said that he was going to talk to my parents and stuff. That was mainly it.”
Upchurch is hoping that contact with Texas will increase after the season. He said he wouldn’t be hitting the camp circuit that hard this summer because he would be playing AAU ball for Houston Hoops. – William Wilkerson