- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
Last year, Texas picked up 10 commits after the month of November. Six of those pledges came from recruits who were already committed elsewhere.
The Longhorns are taking a smaller class this year, so getting 10 late commits isn't feasible. But as Texas coaches hit the trail in these next few months before signing day, they won’t be afraid to inquire about other schools’ commits.
Sometimes it’s even easier than that: Coaching changes or late decommitments can lead to unexpected opportunity.
1. RB Jamel James
The thick power back from Katy (Texas) Cinco Ranch is no stranger to decommitments.
First, he backed out of his pledge to Arkansas immediately following the firing of Bobby Petrino. Can’t blame him for that, though he might’ve been a perfect fit for Bret Bielema’s version of the Razorbacks.
Now the ESPN 300 back has decided Notre Dame isn’t where he’s meant to be. He decommitted from the top-ranked Irish this week after being committed since July.
"He just decided that he felt like it was probably going to be too cold," Cinco Ranch coach Don Clayton told RecruitingNation’s Sam Khan Jr. "That's about all I got out of him.”
James also likely cooled on the idea of playing behind No. 2-ranked running back commit Greg Bryant, who committed earlier this month.
Texas, in need of one back for this class, might want to inquire. James isn’t a home-run threat, but he is a powerful, physical 220-pound back.
2. ATH Devin Lauderdale
The Houston Bellaire receiver decommitted from Texas Tech on Dec. 11 after Tommy Tuberville bolted for Cincinnati.
Texas has been seeking another speedy slot receiver for its 2013 class. The early targets for that spot -- Torii Hunter Jr., Devon Allen -- didn’t pan out, and it’s unclear if Texas is still seriously pursuing James Clark.
Would Lauderdale have interest in Texas if offered? It might be too late. He’s expected to visit Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, Cal and West Virginia over the next few weeks.
The 5-foot-11, 173-pound athlete put up 583 receiving yards and a team-high nine touchdowns as a senior. He might be the answer the Longhorns are looking for, but they’ll have to act quickly.
3. RB Corey Clement
This one is all about Thomas Hammock. The Wisconsin running back coaches has been in limbo since Bielema left for Arkansas and is rumored to be a potential candidate for Texas’ opening.
If Texas did bring on Hammock -- who might have a spot on new coach Gary Andersen’s staff in Madison -- you’d have to think that will affect Clement.
A 5-foot-11, 200-pound ESPN 300 back from Glassboro, N.J., Clement chose the Badgers over Pitt, Nebraska and Notre Dame back in November. Hammock is his lead recruiter. Prior to decision, he’d been committed to Pitt.
“Regardless of the coach I’m still for WISCONSIN,” Clement said in a text message to RecruitingNation’s Jared Shanker after Bielema left.
Whether Hammock ends up at Texas, Wisconsin or elsewhere, Clement is at least worth looking into.
4. ATH Dontre Wilson
Dontre Wilson is going to Oregon. Done deal. He’s been saying it for months, never leaving any shred of doubt.
Like Clement, he’s on this list for one reason: Texas’ running backs coaching vacancy.
If Texas indeed makes a run at DeSoto head coach Claude Mathis to take the job after the bowl game, that move could open the door for Wilson.
Texas was a not-so-close runner-up when Wilson made his decision in May, and he’s never strayed from his pledge to Oregon. Chip Kelly leaving won’t make a difference. Mathis leaving would.
That’s because Mathis is the only one who can guarantee Wilson a suitable role at Texas. He turned down the Longhorns this spring because he feared he’d only get a few carries a game -- and that was before Daje Johnson broke out.
Mathis coming to Texas might not change Wilson’s mind. But it would at least open up some intriguing discussions.
5. TE Durham Smythe
Smythe has said he’s not coming back to Texas, that he’s seen everything he needs to see and knows deep down he doesn’t want to be a Longhorn.
But Texas ought to at least continue recruiting the Belton, Texas, four-star prospect who decommitted last week.
As far as tight ends go, the only uncommitted one better than Smythe at this point is juco transfer Brandon Vandenburg of College of the Desert (Calif.), but he’s already set up all five of his official visit dates.
There’s also ESPN 150 prospect Travis Johnson of Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit. He’s worth a look, but Texas probably has a better shot at getting Smythe back.
Right now it appears the leader for Smythe is Stanford, where he’s taking an official visit on Jan. 11. If Texas is serious about getting another tight end in this class, though, Smythe is worth one more full-court press.