Texas Longhorns: Donald Catalon

Texas signees anxious for big move

March, 31, 2014
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AUSTIN, Texas – Jerrod Heard has the date on his mind and on his calendar.

“June 3,” Heard said. “Then it’s showtime.”

The soon-to-be Texas quarterback was one of five Longhorns signees who returned to Austin to compete at the Texas Relays. It's one of his final visits before he makes the big move. It was a weekend off from a spring semester that can’t end soon enough. There are classes to complete and diplomas to collect, but the Texas campus is where they all want to be.

“It’s a teaser,” running back signee D’Onta Foreman said, “because we’re ready to graduate, ready to get up here and compete for a spot and be with our teammates and family for the next four years.”

[+] EnlargeJerrod Heard
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTexas signee Jerrod Heard worked out with quarterback guru George Whitfield on spring break.
It’s hard to appreciate in the heat of the annual January and February recruiting flurry, but the uncertainty of the coaching change couldn’t have been easy to navigate for Texas' commitments.

All five competing over the weekend -- Heard, Foreman, his twin brother Armanti Foreman, John Bonney and Donald Catalon -- committed to play for Mack Brown and watched that plan shatter in December. Charlie Strong rode in and inspired hope, but there was no way he could pick up all the pieces for these prospects in so little time.

Signing with Texas required patience, trust and, to some extent, a leap of faith. But they stuck with their pledges, and soon they’ll be back on the 40 Acres for good.

Heard is doing everything he can to prepare. He spent spring break in San Diego working with a handful of college quarterbacks with renowned quarterback coach George Whitfield.

The Denton Guyer star is dedicated to detail, and Whitfield is a pro at pointing out the little flaws. Heard is focused on improving his accuracy in any possible way, from how he holds the ball and bends his wrist to the balance in his legs.

“I think the smaller the things you can try to perfect, the more I can use my ability as a runner and thrower,” Heard said.

From an offensive standpoint, he’s comfortable with what’s coming next for Texas. At Guyer, he operated an offense that borrowed heavily from Oklahoma State’s concepts and playbook. That will make working under offensive coordinator Joe Wickline easier, and Heard likes the guru reputation that assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson brings.

As for how Strong is changing the Horns, Heard isn’t afraid of the head coach’s emphasis on discipline.

“That’s really going to mold us together. I’m all for it and really like it,” Heard said. “I think that’s why they’re starting out with the discipline, and I think that’s really going to change the team. We’re really going to shock a lot of people this year.”

Bonney has been able to witness the effects firsthand. By attending spring practice this month, the Houston Lamar safety received a clearer understanding of what it will be like to play for the new staff. One comment certainly got Bonney’s attention in his conversations with Strong.

“He says the defense is going to win the games this year for him,” Bonney said. “... That really struck a chord with me.”

Landing Bonney was a bit of a close call for Texas after he took official visits to Baylor and Auburn. Looking back, he said those trips were motivated by uncertainty. Watching defensive coordinator Vance Bedford and secondary coach Chris Vaughn in practice answered some of his biggest questions.

“They’re really cool,” Bonney said. “Coach Vaughn is more of a talker; he likes to coach you up that way, loves giving you visual things. Coach Bedford is so smart. It feels like he knows just about everything. I’ve been in meetings and his teaching film was real cool, real cerebral. You get the best of both worlds with those two.”

Bonney knows his best shot at playing in 2014 are on special teams and in nickel packages. Catalon doesn’t expect many carries as a backup to Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray, but the Houston Eisenhower back does hope to help out.

For him, sticking with Texas wasn’t a tough call. New running backs coach Tommie Robinson recruited Catalon while at USC. That familiarity made all the difference in staying put, and Strong sealed the deal.

“I like Coach Strong. He wants to win and he’s about business,” Catalon said. “The players they already have are good. It’s not like we have to rebuild. We just have to get to know the coaches.”

Armanti and D'Onta Foreman made the Texas coaches sweat in January when they nearly took a visit to Missouri, but the Texas City brothers say now they would’ve ended up in burnt orange no matter what.

They have big dreams for 2014. Armanti wants to play receiver and also line up on defense in certain packages, and he’d like a shot at returning kicks. D’Onta wants to stick at running back but is open to any position if that doesn’t work out. They want to contribute from Day 1.

They got to ponder these dreams again on Friday while playing pool in the players’ lounge at Texas’ football facility. Like the rest of the signees back in town, they took a chance on a program they’d long loved and a coach they hardly knew.

But they saw what he did at Louisville, and they know what needs to be done at Texas.

“I feel like he can come here and help us be a great team like that,” Armanti Foreman said, “and hopefully even better.”

Incoming impact countdown: Nos. 4-8

February, 20, 2014
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Now that they’ve signed their letters of intent, Texas’ incoming recruits can officially toss their stars in the trash. They don’t matter now.

While such ratings and rankings are helpful throughout the recruiting process, they mean nothing once a kid sets foot on campus and joins the program.

Gold stars won’t decide who gets to play as a freshman. Preparation, fit, need, raw talent, confidence, some good fortune -- a whole lot of real stuff matters now. Which members of Texas’ 2014 class have a chance to help out the Longhorns from day one?

This week we’re breaking down the Texas signees by their ability to make an early impact during their time on the 40 Acres, counting down from No. 23 to No. 1. If you missed it, here were the first three parts.

[+] EnlargeLorenzo Joe
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTexas has a logjam at receiver, but don't be surprised if Lorenzo Joe contributes this fall.
8. WR Lorenzo Joe
Abilene Cooper | 6-2, 190


2013: 1,864 passing yards, 13 passing TDs, 1,657 rushing yards, 22 rushing TDs

Joe is one of the clear-cut leaders of this class and one of its most intriguing athletes. Abilene Cooper wisely played Joe at quarterback in an effort to put the ball in the hands of its best player as much as possible, and he thrived in that capacity. But Joe has been working to refine his receiving skills on the side throughout during the two years, and won’t be as raw as you’d think by the time fall camp arrives.

The logjam at receiver has been well-documented in this series, so it’s once again difficult to peg where Joe fits into this mix and who he’s capable of surpassing on the depth chart. Devoting a year to the wide receiver position will be good for him, and Joe is talented enough to help the Longhorns in 2014.

7. CB Jermaine Roberts
New Orleans St. Augustine | 5-9, 170

2013: 56 tackles, 6 interceptions, 1 kick return TD

Roberts considers himself a game-changer akin to Tyrann Mathieu, and the Louisiana native will show up in Austin with immeasurable confidence and swagger, both on and off the field. But where does he fit in from Day 1?

There could be an opening at corner depending on how defensive coordinator Vance Bedford and defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn approach replacing Carrington Byndom, or maybe Roberts can step in and help on nickel and dime coverage immediately. He’s at least got a shot at finding a role on special teams, and he’ll want a shot at returning kicks. This kid wants to play, and he’ll have the opportunity to prove himself.

6. RB Donald Catalon
Houston Eisenhower | 6-0, 200

2013: 866 rushing yards, 410 receiving yards, 9 TDs, 38 tackles, 1 interception

As is the case with the other running back signees in this class, it’s possible Catalon could end up at another position besides running back during his career. He shows enough natural instincts and skills to play in the secondary. Is that where he’s most likely to maximize his potential? Too soon to tell.

What we do know is Texas needs help at running back this fall, and Catalon would appear to have the clearest path to entering that stable and contributing. He’s a slasher with a nice combination of speed and power, but he’s got work to do if he wants to get on the level of Texas’ three incumbent backs.

[+] EnlargeJerrod Heard
Max Olson/ESPNBarring injuries at the QB position, the best option for Jerrod Heard and Texas might be to redshirt in 2014.
5. QB Jerrod Heard
Denton Guyer | 6-2, 190

2013: 2,148 passing yards, 22 passing TDs, 6 INTs, 2,172 rushing yards, 28 rushing TDs

Why, you ask, is Heard not at the top of this list? Because where we stand today, it still seems like a redshirt is the more probable outcome for Heard in his freshman campaign. That seems even more likely if Texas does end up landing former USC quarterback Max Wittek via transfer.

Heard is special. We’ve written that he’s the quarterback of the future for the Longhorns. That’s still true if he doesn’t play in 2014, and that year would be a remarkably valuable experience. All bets are off if David Ash goes down, obviously, but right now the smartest course of action would be keeping Heard on the bench and letting him soak in the knowledge Shawn Watson and Joe Wickline offer.

4. DT Poona Ford
Hilton Head (S.C.) | 6-1, 288

2013: 135 tackles, 28 TFLs, seven sacks, 17 QB pressures, two forced fumbles

This is one bad dude. Power, quick feet and a knack for inflicting pain -- that, in a nutshell, is what Ford can bring to the table. And Texas coaches made it perfectly clear to him during his recruitment that he was a need, a must-get who can play from Day 1 if he brings his best.

The depth behind Malcom Brown, Desmond Jackson and Hassan Ridgeway is questionable at best. Playing time is there for the taking so long as Ford takes care of his business. And what else can he do? Well, he did play some fullback last fall. Enjoy.

Texas commits respond to Strong hire 

January, 5, 2014
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Charlie Strong has officially been named Mack Brown’s successor at Texas. It’s a move that appears to get thumbs up from many of his future athletes.

As 2014 Texas recruits waited to hear who would be their future head coach, many of them were hoping for the right fit. Strong’s résumé -- 23-3 in his past two seasons at Louisville, 3-1 in four bowl game appearances and an outstanding recruiting reputation -- says he fits the bill.

In short, Strong gets it, and while Texas commits had the utmost respect for Brown, they now feel they’re in good hands.

“I think he can do pretty good there,” four-star offensive lineman Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper) said. “I don’t think anyone can live up to what Mack did, but he’ll come in and do big things.

"Bring it on, man! 'Hook ‘Em all day!'”



Go ahead and mark this down as the biggest recruiting weekend of the season for the Texas Longhorns.

Jamal Adams
Damon Sayles/ESPNESPN 300 safety Jamal Adams will be among the highly ranked visitors expected to be in attendance when Texas hosts Oklahoma State this weekend.
It would have been impossible to comprehend that statement in mid-September when turmoil was at an all-time high around the program following back-to-back demoralizing losses to BYU and Ole Miss.

But now the Longhorns (7-2) are in the midst of a six-game winning streak and are one of two teams unbeaten in the Big 12 play. They’ll host No. 12 Oklahoma State on Saturday.

The Cowboys, at 8-1 overall, are doing very well and the matchup will help Texas as it hopes to impress a high-profile group of recruits expected to attend one of the top games of the weekend.

Among those expected to take their official visits this weekend are ESPN 300 members Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) and Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer), a Texas commitment.

The only thing that could derail these plans is that this week also marks the first week of high school playoffs across the state. But the 2:30 p.m. start time should allow recruits enough time to make the trip to Austin.

ESPN 300 running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), the nation’s top player, also told RecruitingNation that he’ll be at the game on an official visit. Two of his teammates from New Orleans Saint Augustine are already committed to Texas in defensive back Jermaine Roberts and defensive tackle Courtney Garnett.


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OU-Texas: 2014 recruiting tale of the tape 

October, 10, 2013
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When the Red River Rivalry is played, records are thrown out the window. When the game’s over, some love looking into the future to play “what if” with the next batch of talented college players.

While both teams have some room to land uncommitted recruits, both are pretty happy with where they are currently. Texas has 24 commits, and Oklahoma has 14, and when comparing ESPN 300 athletes, Texas only has a 7-5 lead.

Which team has the Red River Rivalry recruiting edge this year? Here’s a breakdown of eight positions and which team holds the edge for now.

Quarterback

Perhaps the most competitive comparison between the schools is at quarterback. ESPN 300s Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) and Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer) are the nation’s No. 4 and No. 5 dual-threat quarterbacks. Hansen is the Sooners’ top-ranked commit and has proven himself a first-class leader of the class. Heard already has one state championship ring, and he’s hoping for a repeat performance in December before arriving at the Forty Acres.

Advantage: Oklahoma

Dallis Todd
Erik McKinney/ESPNOklahoma will get 6-foot-5 playmaker Daliis Todd in its 2014 class.
Running back

There are high expectations for both ESPN 300 Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) and Donald "Duke" Catalon (Houston/Eisenhower). Perine is a physical specimen with the combination of power and finesse at 6-foot and 213 pounds. Catalon, at 5-10 and 193 pounds, has the agility and overall balance to make him a potential every-down back. Texas also has three-star Kevin Shorter (Newton, Texas/Newton), a player who plays with a chip on his shoulder, looking to show that he should be mentioned with the elite talent.

Advantage: Texas

Wide receiver

Neither Texas nor Oklahoma will be complaining about their receiver crop. The Longhorns have an ESPN 300 player in Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City), a rising star in Emanuel Porter (Dallas/Lincoln) and a player in Garrett Gray (Marble Falls, Texas/Marble Falls) who caught 13 passes for 293 yards and five touchdowns in a game last year. Oklahoma has size and athleticism in 6-5, 210-pound ESPN 300 receiver Dallis Todd (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) and a 6-7, 180-pound end zone threat in Jeffery Mead (Tulsa, Okla/Union)

Advantage: Texas

Tight end

Oklahoma has done well with recruiting tight ends and was able to land ESPN 300 players Carson Meier (Tulsa, Okla./Union) and Mark Andrews (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain). Meier is the No. 5 Y-tight end in the country, while Andrews is the No. 8 H-tight end. Texas also has a good one in junior college pledge John Thomas (Bossier City, La./Trinity Valley Community College). At 6-6 and 255 pounds, Thomas can be used as both a reliable blocker and receiver.

Advantage: Oklahoma

Offensive line

It’s hard to believe that between the two schools, only three offensive linemen are committed.

Sooners commit Alex Dalton (Troy, Ohio/Troy) is considered one of the nation’s top centers, and guard Jonathan Alvarez (Mesquite, Texas/Horn), with his work ethic alone, will surprise a lot of people in a couple of years. Texas, like Oklahoma, has a four-star center committed in Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper). Cuney is a player who might see immediate playing time as a freshman.

Advantage: Texas

Defensive line


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Best Big 12 classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
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There is still plenty of work for every Big 12 program to do before the completion of the 2014 recruiting cycle. But one can begin to at least paint an outline for how each class is going to look come February.

Here is a look at which Big 12 teams have the best 2014 recruiting class at each position.

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Texas recruits hanging with Longhorns 

September, 8, 2013
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Being the Joneses has its perks.

But when the Joneses can’t live up to their own way of living, things can go awry very quickly.

Manny Diaz found out just how quickly Sunday afternoon when he was relieved of his duties as Texas’ defensive coordinator not even 24 hours after the Longhorns gave up a school-record 550 rushing yards and 679 total yards to BYU in an embarrassing 40-21 loss in Provo, Utah.

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Stat check: Longhorns 2014 commitments 

September, 2, 2013
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Here is a look at how each one of Texas’ 2014 commitments faired this week:

Derick Roberson
Max Olson/ESPNDefensive end Derick Roberson helped Brennan shut out San Antonio Holmes 52-0 on Friday.
• ESPN 300 defensive end Derick Roberson (San Antonio, Texas/Brennan), the No. 8 DE in the country, helped Brennan shut out San Antonio Holmes 52-0 on Friday.

• ESPN 300 wide receiver Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City) caught three passes for 62 yards and a 44-yard touchdown in a 48-0 win over Dickinson.

• ESPN 300 quarterback Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer) completed 12 of 18 passes for 179 yards and two interceptions and rushed 18 times for 103 yards in a 38-28 loss to Cedar Hill (Texas).

• ESPN 300 cornerback Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) helped the Purple Knights defense hold Amite to six points in a 35-6 victory on Saturday.

• ESPN 300 outside linebacker Otaro Alaka and Houston/Cypress Falls lost to Conroe (Texas) Oak Ridge, 37-16.


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Texas adds three-star ATH Shorter 

August, 17, 2013
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The options were plentiful for three-star athlete Kevin Shorter (Newton, Texas/Newton). But in the end, he decided that his best bet was heading to the Forty Acres.

The 6-foot, 188-pound prospect from Southeast Texas announced on Saturday that he was staying in-state and gave his commitment to Texas. Shorter posted the news on his Twitter page on Saturday afternoon.

"I've made my mind up that ill be going to UT #HookEm," Shorter tweeted.

Newton head coach W.T. Johnston confirmed the commitment in a text message.

Shorter, the nation's 61st-ranked athlete, had 25 offers to choose from and had a final three of Arkansas, Texas and Texas A&M. He visited all three campuses within the last six weeks and originally planned to decide Aug. 3, but postponed his decision in order to take a couple more visits.

Some believed Arkansas might have the inside track on Shorter. His cousin, D.J. Dean, is a freshman cornerback at Arkansas and the two were high school teammates at Newton.

Texas didn't appear to be the favorite, especially after Shorter had a positive visits at both Arkansas and Texas A&M last month. But shortly after his trip to Aggieland, he made two visits to Texas in the span of a week. He visited the Longhorns for the Texas Stampede, then made return trips to Texas on Aug. 2, a visit that appeared to seal the deal.

Texas running backs coach Larry Porter, who led the recruitment of Shorter, was upfront with Shorter about the Longhorns plan for him and how they felt about the talented athlete.

The Longhorns got into the mix in the spring and Shorter got a chance to meet with the coaching staff several times when he was in Austin for the Texas state high school track and field championships.

Texas has two running backs in its 2014 class: ESPN 300 back Donald Catalon (Houston/Eisenhower) and Texas City (Texas) High School running back D'Onta Foreman.


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Considering he’d never set foot in the Lone Star State before Monday, Miami Central four-star running back Dalvin Cook didn’t exactly know what to expect going into his unofficial visit to Texas this week.

The Longhorns hosted Cook on Tuesday and made a strong impression on the No. 23 recruit in the ESPN 300.


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Texas hosts its final big recruiting event of the summer on Saturday with the Texas Stampede, but another big-time visitor is expected to visit campus on Monday.

Four-star running back Dalvin Cook, the No. 4 running back in the country and No. 22 overall in the ESPN 300, is planning an unofficial visit with his family to check out the Longhorns’ campus on Monday and Tuesday.

The Miami Central back is currently committed to Florida and has been since April after originally making a pledge to Clemson. Several programs -- including Miami, USC and Alabama -- have continued to recruit the 5-foot-11, 196-pound Under Armour All-American. Now Texas is in the mix, too.


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Thursday’s commitments from ESPN 300 wide receiver Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas High) and brother D'Onta Foreman gave the Longhorns 21 commitments in 2014, leaving them just a few more spots to fill.
Here are a look at five positions of need that could help Texas put a bow on this class.


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Texas impressing ATH Kevin Shorter 

May, 20, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- There was no way Kevin Shorter was going to be a well-kept secret for long.

Especially not after the statistics the Newton (Texas) athlete put up in 2012. His monster junior season has yielded an impressive number of offers this spring. The whole thing is becoming a bit more than he could have imagined.


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Texas poised to take big 2014 class 

February, 14, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas A&M was the talk of the state in 2013 with its 32-man recruiting class. Don’t be shocked if Texas comes close to those numbers with its 2014 class.

As always, it’s a matter of math. Texas, by rule, can sign no more than 50 recruits in any two-year period. The Longhorns inked 15 this year, so 35 is the absolute maximum for 2014.

Texas isn’t going for 35 this year. Its 2013 team will feature 15 seniors if Jordan Hicks is granted his medical redshirt. A full class of 25 signees is likely. But don’t rule out the possibility of 30.


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2014 RB Turner keeping options open 

December, 28, 2012
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The Longhorns are in good shape at running back in 2014 with the commitments of Donald Catalon and Daniel Gresham. The odds of them taking a third running back in this class could hinge on if they decide to take one in 2013 after the decommitment of Kyle Hicks.

[+] EnlargeXavier Turner
William Wilkerson/ESPN.comClass of 2014 RB Xavier Turner has Oklahoma No. 1 early but he hasn't been offered by any schools.
Should Texas seriously go after third back in 2014 it might look the way of Birdville’s Xavier Turner. The soft-spoken, well-mannered Turner rushed 207 times for 1,590 yards and 31 touchdowns, and also caught 22 passes for 349 yards and four scores this season. That’s all while missing three games with an ankle injury early in the season.

For reasons not explainable, Turner hasn’t received any offers yet.

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