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Thursday, December 6, 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 of the notes in today's The Heard:
Read The Heard after the jump.

Banquet visitor list has a few surprises

Well, the big weekend is finally upon us. Texas has asked all of its commits to save their official visits for the big Longhorn end-of-season banquet weekend.

Right now, it’s looking like at least 18 official visitors are expected for this weekend. Here’s the list we’ve put together so far.
Fort Worth (Texas) Arlington Heights commit A'Shawn Robinson told me Wednesday he’s still set to take his official visit to USC this weekend.

Shaquille Fluker, the Georgia safety commit who Texas recently offered, won't end up making it to Austin this weekend for his official visit. His East Mississippi Commmunity College teammate Za'Darius Smith is -- at least for now -- still expected to attend the banquet.

Juco tight end commit Geoff Swaim can’t attend because he already used his official visit to Texas in the summer and doesn’t think he can afford an unofficial trip to Austin this weekend.

Erik Huhn won't make it to the banquet because Cibolo Steele has a playoff game Saturday at 4 p.m. against Brandeis.

Andrew Billings would be a bit of a surprise, but from what I’m hearing it appears Texas is expecting him to make the trip. I’d heard there was a possibility Caleb Benenoch might be coming to Texas this weekend, but he told me he hasn’t set up a visit. He’s making his commitment announcement on Monday. More on that later in The Heard.

We’ll have complete coverage of the banquet recruiting weekend on the HornsNation all weekend, so be sure to follow along. – Max Olson

Texas already the leader for McEvoy?

Tanner McEvoy met with Bryan Harsin on Monday and liked what the co-offensive coordinator had to say. He didn’t watch Texas much while growing up in New Jersey, but Harsin was convincing.

Jim Dedmon/Icon SMI
Former South Carolina quarterback Tanner McEvoy knows he could play right away at Texas.

“He didn’t have to sell me on much,” McEvoy said. “I understand how great of a school and great of a football team it is, and how great Austin is to live in.”

At the very least, he has heard enough about the Longhorns program to know that Texas has endured some struggles at the quarterback position. But McEvoy knows there’s plenty of talent to play with if he ends up wearing burnt orange.

“I know they had a down year for Texas, but they still have players and young guys and in the next few years they’re going to have a pretty good team,” he said. “That might be something I want to be a part of.”

The fact that Mack Brown is serious enough about McEvoy that he wanted to meet his parents this week made a serious impression on the junior college standout. Those plans didn’t pan out on Monday, but they might still be in the works. McEvoy called it “a great idea” and hopes Brown will reschedule and take a trip to meet his family.

Arizona Western coach Tom Minnick said Oregon has been by the school to recruit McEvoy -- “Don’t ask me why,” he said, “but they are.” -- and McEvoy said Arkansas has also shown interest. That option could get more appealing now that Bret Bielema is running the show in Fayetteville. He leaned heavily on transfer quarterbacks at Wisconsin in the past two seasons.

The fact that Oregon is relatively loaded at quarterback with redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota and talented young backups Bryan Bennett and Jake Rodrigues might make the Ducks a tough sell for McEvoy, at least according to Minnick.

“I think if Texas offered him, he’d probably go,” Minnick said. “I don’t know if he’d be interested in Oregon just because of their quarterback situation. I think he’d go with Texas and what they’ve got. I think he’d be more comfortable there. But you never know, more schools will probably come in.”

Both said that Harsin seemed most interested in McEvoy’s size and dual-threat capabilities. A 6-6, 215-pound quarterback is hard to come by, let alone one with some wheels.

I asked Minnick who he’d compare McEvoy’s game to among college quarterbacks. His answer? Collin Klein.

“He’s like the kid from Kansas State, but not as thick,” Minnick said. “He’s skinnier, but he’s a tough kid. He’ll try to run you over. He likes the contact. He’ll be like that Kansas State kid.”

McEvoy said Harsin didn’t set a clear timetable on when he’ll decide whether to offer, but the quarterback is hoping to hear back from the Texas coaches later this week. – Max Olson

Two schools on top for Marshall

Now onto Nick Marshall, who’s definitely more of a wild card when it comes to the two juco targets.

First off, keep in mind that Marshall played defensive back during his only year at Georgia. When he got to Garden City, he knew getting back to playing quarterback would mean taking some lumps.

While Marshall earned conference player of the year honors, he did also throw 19 interceptions and was a 57.4-percent passer. Still, he said he was proud of how his transition back to QB went.

“It’s been great,” Marshall said. “At the University of Georgia I caught on as a defensive back, but me knowing my talent I knew quarterback would be my best bet. It took me a little while to get back into the groove, but when I got better I was all right with it.”

Still, you can’t discount what he provided in the run game. Marshall ran for 200-plus yards in two games and 155 in another, and he produced four-touchdown games twice this season.

I talked to a source close to Marshall’s recruitment who made it pretty clear that Indiana and Kansas State are the two teams to beat.

Marshall is going to Indiana this weekend and will get to catch up with his cousin, Antonio Marshall, who’s a junior cornerback for the Hoosiers. The source said that unless Indiana does “a hell of a job” with the visit, don’t expect Marshall to pull the trigger on a commitment. He’s not in a hurry.

He’ll visit Kansas State the following weekend. Heisman finalist Collin Klein is graduating, leaving a big void in the KSU offense.

I’m told that Kansas State co-offensive coordinator Del Miller likes freshman Daniel Sams (a fan favorite) to take Klein’s spot, but that Bill Snyder might actually favor Marshall or will at least give him an equal shot.

Where does Texas fit into the mix? Marshall has been in touch with Bryan Harsin and, as we reported Tuesday, is more than interested in visiting Texas in January.

Because Marshall isn’t graduating until May, he’s not on as big of a time crunch as McEvoy. We’ll see how much that plays a role in Texas’ decision.

If the Longhorns staff decides Marshall is their man, I still think this recruitment could last well into January. But clearly he’s fairly uncommon prospect when it comes to his skills and athleticism, and Marshall might very well be worth the wait. – Max Olson

Massington not interested

ESPN 300 wide receiver Eldridge Massington (West Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite), who decommitted from USC on Tuesday, said he has no interest in hearing from the Longhorns now that his recruitment is open again.

“No, I still hold a grudge on Texas a little bit,” Massington said. “I feel like Texas had a shot but they tried to pressure me and stuff. They told me that basically the only way they would offer me is if I commit.”

Tom Hauck for
Eldridge Massington won't be attending Texas.

Massington would seem like a perfect target for the Longhorns, who have been looking for a third receiver to add to their 2013 class ever since Ricky Seals-Jones’ decommitment. But that won’t be the case it appears.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound receiver had been committed to USC since May 4. He tore his left ACL at a Tennessee camp he attended in July and hoped to graduate early in an effort to arrive in Los Angeles for further rehabilitation.

But he wasn’t going to be able to get to USC in January and needed to get somewhere by then to make sure his rehabilitation was moving along.

“They kind of knew,” Massington said of USC’s coaching staff knowing of his decision to decommit. “They understood everything coming in.

“It’s been frustrating a little bit. I thank God that I am still getting schools interested in me. But it has been frustrated.”

Massington said he started running routes this week and that the next step in his rehabilitation was going to be getting his mind right.

“I really just need to get my mental state back,” he said. “I feel like my knee is secure. I just need to get over it mentally. You can easily tell yourself that you are ready. But there is a lot more to it than that. Your muscles don’t forget the injury. I’m almost there.”

Massington has several schools interested in him, including Alabama, Arizona State, Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tennessee and UCLA. Coaches from UCLA, LSU, Alabama and Arizona State contacted him on Tuesday.

He’s not wasting any time moving forward with his recruitment. Masssington will take his official visit to Alabama over the weekend.

“I just want to see how it is down there,” he said. “You don’t have to say too much about their offense but I just want to see how it is down there, the campus life and get to know the coaches a little better.” – William Wilkerson

Harrison excited for official visit

The big visitor of the weekend for Texas is Contra Costa (Calif.) College offensive tackle Desmond Harrison. Here’s the latest on his recruitment.

Texas is seemingly going all-in on Harrison at this point. Mack Brown called Contra Costa coach Alonzo Carter on Monday, Stacy Searels was set to drop by the school Wednesday and Mack could stop the school by next week during his trip to see Swaim.

“They’re excited about him,” Carter said. “Coach Brown said he’s the most athletic big man they’ve seen.”

The coach said Harrison is excited about his trip to Texas and is coming off a very successful official visit to Arizona State, one that went much better than he’d expected.

After he checks out Austin, Harrison will take one more official visit. Right now that’s looking like Alabama, who recently offers. USC and Texas Tech are also in the mix.

From there, it’ll be time for in-home visits. Carter said Texas has already said they’ll be making one when Harrison is back home with his mother in North Carolina.

“They’ve set up a home visit in January,” Carter said. “They did call his mom. When he goes home on Christmas break, he’ll go see his mom. Before he comes back to school, a lot of the schools are going to visit him and his mom.”

Expect a decision after those in-home visits are completed. Harrison will lean on his mother to make his decision.

“The discussion is going to be between him and his mom about what he really wants to do,” Carter said. “There’s going to be some in-depth discussions after they have a couple home visits in the early part of January.”

The fact that N.C. State just fired its coaching staff means the Wolfpack likely aren’t an option at this point. The fifth official visit may just be a formality, because right now Harrison feels strongly that his top three, in no particular order, are Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona State.

Don’t be surprised if Harrison, who grew up near Houston, is blown away by his trip to Texas. But that likely won’t lead to a quick commitment. The battle for Harrison likely won't go until February, but it’s not ending this weekend. – Max Olson

Slot or safety

Sam Khan Jr./
Chevoski Collins thinks he'll start out on offense at Texas.

ESPN 300 athlete Chevoski Collins (Livingston, Texas/Livingston) received an in-home visit from Bo Davis on Monday when, among other things, they spoke about Collins’ future role as a Longhorn.

There has been plenty of back-and-forth about where Collins would be positioned once he got to Texas. The majority of his recruitment by Texas was with the understanding that he would come as a defensive back, which didn’t always sit well with him.

But after Monday Collins has a feeling he could start his career off as a slot receiver.

That’s the position he prefers but he also said that Texas has told him it would use him in special teams and also have packages for him on defense.

He’ll have more time to discuss his future with the coaches and other recruits this weekend when he takes his official visit during Texas’ banquet weekend. – William Wilkerson

Safeties first

2013 Georgia safety commitment Shaquille Fluker tells us he is still undecided if he will make his official visit to Texas this weekend. We’ll keep you abreast of his plans as we get them.

Longhorns tackles coach Bo Davis offered Fluker (Meridian Miss./East Mississippi Community College) just before the Thanksgiving break. There is still the possibility that his teammate, defensive end Za’Darius Smith, will make the trip to Austin this weekend.

We mentioned in last week’s Heard about Texas looking at Oklahoma State safety commitment Deric Robertson (Killeen, Texas/Killeen). He has not heard from the Longhorns since he spoke with Manny Diaz a few weeks ago and hasn’t heard from anyone else at all for that matter. Robertson said that he would at least entertain the idea of coming down for a visit if Texas showed enough interest. He is great friends with Longhorns commitments Darius James and Naashon Hughes from nearby Harker Heights. – William Wilkerson

Watkins in no hurry

Texas lost out on one of its 2014 defensive back targets last week in Lancaster’s Nick Harvey, but Nick Watkins is still very much an option.

William Wilkerson/
Class of 2014 DB Nick Watkins wants to major in business in college.

The Dallas Bishop Dunne cornerback holds a Texas offer and made the Texas-Baylor game one of the three he attended this year. He’s been staying in touch with lots of college coaches this fall, including UT recruiting coordinator Bruce Chambers.

“He’s a great guy,” Watkins said. “He’s a great coach. He definitely knows what he’s talking about, and he can lead you in the right direction.”

But don’t expect Watkins to follow Harvey, Cedric Collins and other 2014 defensive backs in making an early decision. Right now, all he’s worried about is keeping a 3.6 GPA.

The recruiting process should get going for Watkins once he starts taking junior day trips this spring. At this point, he hasn’t given any thought to what schools he wants to check out.

“I just want to experience something new,” he said. We’ll see what happens.”

He was happy with the experience he had of visiting Austin in October. What stood out the most to Watkins and his parents wasn’t the 56-50 barnburner between Texas and Baylor, but the academic portion of the trip.

“Texas is a great school with a great business school, and that’s what I want to major in,” he said. “They can do a lot of things for you. They want you to succeed, that’s the main point.”

Watkins said all of the more than 16 schools who have offered are even right now in his book. Oregon coaches visited his high school on Tuesday, and he’s looking forward to seeing more pass through Bishop Dunne now that their season is over.

For now, though, Watkins doesn’t anticipate getting truly serious about his recruiting decision until he starts taking official visits next fall.

You have to think Texas will be one of those schools in line for an official when that time comes, but a lot can happen between now and then. The Longhorns do have one key advantage: Alex Norman.

The Bishop Dunne grad and Texas freshman defensive tackle still keeps up with Watkins and has been doing some recruiting.

“We still talk, and he’s doing good,” Watkins said. “He likes it down there, and he tells me, ‘Hey man, you need to commit and come down here.’” – Max Olson

Martin’s interest picking up

With as proactive as 2016 running back Kameron Martin (Port Arthur, Texas/Memorial) is about getting his name out to college programs, you knew it was only a matter of time before programs started to come his way.

Baylor cornerbacks coach Carlton Buckels stopped by Memorial on Tuesday to check in on Martin (5-foot-10, 170 pounds).

“He didn’t talk to me,” Martin said. “But I talk to him every week. I call him and see how things are going at Baylor. But my coaches told me he is trying to recruit me young.”

Martin took his first unofficial visit to LSU this season to watch the Tigers play Mississippi State. He said that LSU wide receivers coach Adam Henry is going to be by the school sometime this week, and that he thinks an offer could come soon.

Obviously there is a lot of time between now and when Texas will really focus in on 2016 running backs, but the Longhorns do have an in with Martin if they should choose to recruit him.

Martin, whose room is decked out in Longhorns stuff, is friends with Jamaal Charles, who went to Port Arthur Memorial.

"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."

Martin has had one brief conversation with Texas’ coaches.

"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." – William Wilkerson

Briefly ...
Celina (Texas) sophomore quarterback Nathan Elliott received a letter from Georgia in the mail three weeks ago.

“It just said that they were looking at me,” Elliott said.

Elliott filled out the information sheet that Georgia requested, and is hoping to hear back from the Bulldogs down the road.

The southpaw threw for 1,619 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions, and also rushed 88 times for 499 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. He played the latter part of district with a hurt ankle.

Elliott said that he would definitely attend Texas’ camp this summer, just as he did last summer. He said he would also try and get to camps at TCU, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State.

DeSoto (Texas) junior receiver Chris Lacy is seeing his stock soar this season as the Eagles continue their run deep into the Class 5A playoffs.

Lacy said that he has been getting letters from LSU, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Alabama, Purdue, Boise State, Missouri, Houston and Texas A&M.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Lacy has 24 catches for 296 yards and three touchdowns this season. He plays on a DeSoto offense that you could argue has as many playmakers as any in the state, including Oregon commitment Dontre Wilson. So his numbers don’t really do his abilities justice.

Lacy said he is interested in hearing from Texas. He hasn’t focused too much of his time toward recruiting because he is focused on helping DeSoto win a state title. The Eagles are three wins away from doing just that. – William Wilkerson