Texas Longhorns: Patrick Vahe

Tale of the tape: Texas-Texas A&M 

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There are those who believe the rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M is dead because the two programs are no longer in the same conference.

[+] EnlargeKendall Sheffield
Sam Khan Jr./ESPNTexas and Texas A&M are both after Kendall Sheffield, the No. 2 CB in the nation.
Those people are misguided. And emphatically incorrect.

Two words in February by new Texas head coach Charlie Strong helped light a new spark in the rivalry between two of the most respected programs in the Lone Star State. When asked about A&M’s recruiting methods -- which includes coach Kevin Sumlin making player visits in a helicopter dubbed the “Swagcopter” -- Strong said the Longhorns didn’t need to be a “gadget program,” as the university and its prestige still was enough to attract recruits.

The rest of the spring and the upcoming summer will be perfect opportunities to gauge where both programs stand among some of the elite athletes who are still uncommitted. Which school will dominate in recruiting the 2015 class?

Days after the NFL draft, some Texas Longhorns fans still scratch their heads in disbelief. How a celebrated college football program -- one with decorated, award-winning athletes -- have zero players drafted into the NFL?

For the first time since before World War II, a Longhorn wasn’t selected in the draft. It became national news, and it’s news that no program wants to have attached to it, let alone one of the nation’s most established programs. When Memphis safety Lonnie Ballentine was selected by the Houston Texans as the 256th pick -- the last pick of the seven-round draft -- it opened the floodgates for barbs thrown by Texas antagonists.

What the draft ineffectiveness failed to do, however, was steer recruits -- committed and uncommitted -- away from the program’s future. If anything, it’s drawn some closer to the vision of new coach Charlie Strong and his staff.

“Some people are taking it all over the top,” uncommitted ESPN 300 linebacker Malik Jefferson said. “Those weren’t Charlie’s people; he didn’t develop any of those kids. Why would people want to change their minds off going to a great school like Texas because of something they couldn’t control?”

[+] EnlargeKendall Sheffield
Sam Khan Jr./ESPNKendall Sheffield, the top-ranked player in Texas, said the fact the Longhorns had no draft picks has no bearing on his recruitment.
The draft has forced recruits to answer questions some might feel are slightly unnecessary:

“Will the draft affect your thoughts on Texas?”

“Can you trust the Longhorns to groom you into a pro-ready athlete after college?”

“Do you want to be a part of the laughingstock of college football?”

ESPN 300 cornerback Kendall Sheffield has had to answer some of these questions this week. The top-ranked player in Texas, Sheffield said he still has the Longhorns high on a list of several schools, a list that includes Texas A&M, Alabama, Baylor, Florida State, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon and USC.

Sheffield admitted to being shocked that the Longhorns didn’t have a draft pick, but to look at the program with a side eye -- particularly with a new coach in charge -- is something that never crossed his mind.

“I don’t know if it plays a role in recruiting. I mean, they’ve still got to rebuild,” Sheffield said. “I know they’re going to still get some big recruits in. For me, I’m going to find the school that’s the best fit for me and the place I feel has the best position coach. The draft won’t have nothing to do with it.”

Jefferson, believed to have Texas high on his list along with Texas A&M, Baylor, Alabama and others, reminded people that while the Longhorns went without a drafted player, Strong's former team at Louisville had three first-round picks in safety Calvin Pryor (No. 18 overall to the Jets), defensive end Marcus Smith (No. 26, Eagles) and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (No. 32, Vikings).

“He knows what he’s doing,” Jefferson said of Strong.

During the Mack Brown era, 58 Longhorns were drafted. Safety Kenny Vaccaro was a first-round pick by the Saints last year. Receiver/return specialist Marquise Goodwin (Bills) and defensive end Alex Okafor (Cardinals) were selected in the third and fourth rounds in 2013.

This year’s crop of undrafted talent included defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat and receiver Mike Davis. Jeffcoat was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and the Ted Hendricks Award recipient, recognizing the nation's top defensive end. Davis caught 200 passes in his college career and is one of only four players in school history with 200 or more receptions.

Jeffcoat and Davis, as well as other Longhorns, signed with NFL teams as undrafted free agents, which is another reason why recruits aren’t worried about the draft results. ESPN 300 offensive lineman Patrick Vahe -- who committed to Texas during the Brown era and chose to stay committed under Strong -- believes the draft is in full control of a player and not the coach.

Texas’ ability to produce NFL offensive linemen has been sliding in recent years. The Longhorns haven’t had an offensive lineman drafted since tackle Tony Hills in 2008. To assist in further developing linemen, Strong hired former Oklahoma State coach Joe Wickline, who coached NFL linemen Russell Okung, Corey Hilliard and Charlie Johnson at the college level. Okung is fresh off winning a Super Bowl with the Seahawks.

Vahe said he’ll worry about being a pro athlete when that time comes. Right now, he’s focused on being the best college athlete possible, and the 2014 draft isn’t weighing on his decision.

“I think I can learn a lot from [Wickline].” Vahe said. “We talked about his game plan, and I’m putting a lot of trust with him. The rest of it … I think people are just taking it over the top.”

Todd Dodge, head coach at Austin Westlake High School, former head coach at North Texas and a former quarterback for the Longhorns, said a draft should never have an effect on a recruit’s decision.

Dodge played at Texas from 1982-85. In that span, he saw several teammates drafted, including first-round cornerbacks Mossy Cade and Jerry Gray. The 1984 draft class featured 17 Longhorns.

Not having a draftee was an eye-opener, Dodge said, but it shouldn’t be a discussion piece in relation to Texas’ recruiting -- particularly with the changing of the guard at head coach.

“If Coach Strong and his staff are on the road making their rounds and people are using common sense, they’ll judge them by what they see,” Dodge said. “Texas has always been in the hunt for great players in the state of Texas. If there’s any doubt, you can always point to the players drafted from Louisville. Coach Strong has a track record that’s proven.”

As for the jokes from rival schools, Vahe understands that they come will with the territory, whether the program goes winless or earns a BCS championship. He also understands that the way to silence some of the jokes is by producing in practices and games and later during NFL combines and workouts. He believes a change for the better is near for the program.

“People love to talk, but it’s nothing big, really,” Vahe said. “I know [Strong] just got there, and they’re all going to start a new era. Hopefully I’ll be one of those who helps start the new era.”
Editor's note: This week we're taking a closer look at five key takeaways from Texas' spring practices and what they mean for the summer and beyond.

AUSTIN, Texas -- High school kids like new. In hindsight, we really shouldn’t have underestimated that.

New uniforms, new helmets, new stadiums. All critical assets in recruiting. Just ask Kevin Sumlin, who, seemingly overnight, changed the perception of Texas A&M.

[+] EnlargeToby Weathersby
Max Olson/ESPNToby Weathersby is one of six four-star commits in Texas' 2015 class.
Texas isn’t changing its uniform or its helmets this year. Its stadium isn’t expanding just yet. But the Longhorns have a brand new coach, and that has made a world of difference on the trail this spring.

For all the disadvantages Charlie Strong and his staff faced when they first arrived, it’s hard to call the early results anything other than impressive. Texas’ staff has assembled the No. 11 recruiting class in the nation and is well on its way to transforming the way recruits look at the Longhorns.

Defensive end Charles Omenihu, one of nine verbal commits in the class, was hooked from the very beginning of his junior day visit. New Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford’s pitch was simple and compelling: “Why not Texas?”

“He was right. Why would you not want to go to Texas if you live in the state of Texas?” Omenihu said. “Why wouldn’t you want to play big ball at a place with a tradition for winning? That really stayed in my mind.”

The three-star defensive end from Rowlett, Texas, committed two days later and has become one of the leaders of the class, constantly staying in touch with his fellow commits and countless blue-chip targets.

He didn’t think much of Texas in recent years. The new staff got his attention, however, and convinced him that the Longhorns’ glory days are coming again, and soon.

“I remember visibly when they won it all in 2006 and them guys were flying around and looked good doing it, too,” Omenihu said. “They looked good, played hard and beat people up. You could see that in practice this spring. You could just tell.”

For the new staff, that rebranding of Texas football in the spring helped make up for a lot of lost time. Keep in mind, Strong, Bedford and several other assistants hardly recruited the Lone Star State at Louisville and they risked falling behind with the 2015 class with all the time they expended to secure the glass that inked in Februarby.

While Texas scrambled to close out that group, Texas A&M and other in-state foes were already hosting early junior days. Everyone else had a head start.

But the Longhorn staff had their house and their recruiting board in order by the time they hosted that first junior day on Feb. 23. The event led to commitments from Omenihu, Ronnie Major and DeShon Elliott, and also ensured Patrick Vahe would stay on board. That’s when the #letsride momentum starting rolling.

Since that first event, Texas has secured eight new verbal commitments and completed a major overhaul of the class Strong inherited. Only two of the nine verbal commitments Mack Brown landed for 2015 are still on the commit list.

Five of those early pledges elected to decommit. The other two, defensive backs Jalen Campbell and Johnny Shaw, will continue to be evaluated by the new staff this spring and summer.

As it stands today, the revamped class has pledges from five ESPN 300 prospects. Offensive tackle Toby Weathersby, the nation’s No. 138 recruit, bought in one month after his junior day trip.

“It’s just the way they go about doing things,” Weathersby said. “They get to the point. Real demanding. Coach Strong wants them to get back to a winning tradition and he’s doing everything the way he wants it to go. Let’s get it done.”

The intensity was just what he was looking for, he said, because he plays on a tight ship at Houston Westfield. And how did Strong take it when Weathersby declared he was ready to commit?

“Well, I had to catch him,” Weathersby said. “He jumped in my arms.”

Like Omenihu, Weathersby had his own beliefs about what was wrong with the Longhorns. He felt that in terms of intensity, Texas was “like a golf club” in Brown’s final years. Strong drastically flipped his perspective on the program’s future.

“I can’t really go into detail, because it would take me months and months,” Weathersby said with a laugh. “But the way he changed everything, I think it’s a more strict football program and, with his way of doing things, it’s for the better.”

Omenihu’s wish list for this Texas class is ambitious, and includes ESPN 300 recruits Malik Jefferson, Chris Warren III, Holton Hill, Kris Boyd, Ryan Newsome and Cameron Townsend. And he doesn’t intend to give up on five-star Texas A&M commit Daylon Mack.

“I wonder why great defensive players would choose to go to A&M,” Omenihu said. “It boggles my mind. They don’t really play defense. If I’m wrong, someone please tell me.”

Worse things were being said about the Longhorns before Strong showed up, that's for sure. This is a game of perception, and so far, Texas' head coach is already changing the game.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Charlie Strong’s #letsride movement is picking up momentum, and it’s going to the next level on Saturday at Texas’ Orange-White spring game.

Strong and his coaching staff already have picked up seven verbal commitments since taking over and could have a chance to lock up a few more at the annual spring game. As many as 100 prospects from the 2014, 2015, 2016 and even 2017 classes are expected to be on the sidelines and in the stands for the unofficial first game of the Strong era.

The highlight of that lengthy list? Texas is expected to receive unofficial visits from the following members of the newly released ESPN 300:

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Today is a minor holiday for recruitniks: The newest edition of the ESPN 300 recruiting rankings have been released, along with a slew of other grades and evaluations.

It's always a big-time endeavor for the ESPN crew of scouts, so be sure to click HERE for the ESPN 300 rankings.

Several of today's updates to the ESPN 300 affect the Big 12. Here's a closer look at what you should take away from the rankings:
  • Oklahoma State quarterback commit John Kolar enjoyed an incredible jump, going from unranked to the nation's No. 3 pocket passer. He's now ranked No. 82 overall in the ESPN 300. The Norman (Okla.) North senior-to-be impressed filling in for injured Alabama signee David Cornwell last year, and he has wowed our scouts as well.
  • What a killer start for Baylor. The Bears have verbal commitments from six high school prospects, and all six made the ESPN 300. The highest ranked of the bunch is WR John Humphrey Jr., who announced his commitment last night. He's one of three ESPN 300 receivers in the class, joining Devontre Stricklin and Chad President. The Bears signed four ESPN 300 recruits in last year's class, and three the previous year, so this is quite the jump. With Baylor high on the list of several other ESPN 300 prospects, including WR DaMarkus Lodge (No. 63 in ESPN 300) and DE James Lockhart (No. 113), there's a good chance this class ends up being the best in the Big 12 when it's all said and done.
  • Texas now has verbal commitments from five ESPN 300 recruits: S DeShon Elliott (No. 94), OT Toby Weathersby (No. 138), OG Patrick Vahe (No. 171), new RB commit Tristian Houston (No. 208) and RB Jordan Stevenson (No. 296). The Longhorns are in the mix for more than 30 ESPN 300 prospects and have offered several more elite out-of-state recruits. Texas has some real momentum under new coach Charlie Strong at the moment, and it's possible more than 10 uncommitted ESPN 300 prospects visits Austin this week for the spring game.
  • The state of Oklahoma has five prospects in the ESPN 300, and nearly all of them could end up being Sooners. OU already has verbal pledges from DT Marquise Overton (No. 150) and OG Joshua Wariboko (No. 190) and is among the leaders for OG Jalin Barnett (No. 36) and S Will Sunderland Jr. (No. 212). And then there's Kolar, who the Sooners could still make a push for over time. Four of Oklahoma's five current pledges are in the ESPN 300.
  • Texas Tech already has two top-50 recruits in QB Jarrett Stidham and DT Breiden Fehoko, and they'll be the lead recruiters of this Red Raiders class. Stidham checks in at No. 37 in the new ESPN 300, which puts him No. 4 among all prospects in Texas, and Fehoko is the nation's No. 7 defensive tackle.
  • It's a great year to find a running back in the state of Texas. Ten of them made the newest ESPN 300, and six have already committed to schools. The top-rated member of the group is Oklahoma State commit Ronald Jones II, the nation's No. 3 running back. Texas already has Houston and Stevenson, Baylor has Ja'Mycal Hasty (No. 274) and Texas A&M has pledges from Rodney Anderson (No. 263) and Jay Bradford (No. 277).
  • West Virginia is off to a great start with the 2015 class thanks to its dedication to recruiting Florida. Two of its verbal commits made the ESPN 300 in WR Jovon Durante (No. 120) and S Kendrell McFadden (No. 153), and half of its 10 pledges come from the Sunshine State. WVU is one of only seven program in the country with double-digit commitments at this point.

Dallas NFTC notebook 

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DeSOTO, Texas -- Rain flirted with the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp on Saturday, but held off long enough for seven athletes to earn invitations to The Opening this summer.

Quarterback Kyler Murray, linebacker Malik Jefferson, wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge, offensive lineman Patrick Vahe (Texas commit) and defensive backs Justin Dunning (Texas A&M commit), Will Sunderland Jr and P.J. Mbanasor. all earned golden tickets after stellar performances at DeSoto High School. Murray, Jefferson, Lodge, Vahe and Sunderland were named camp MVPs of their respective positions.


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video Texas got stronger on Saturday with a commitment from an Under Armour All-American offensive lineman.

Houston Westfield offensive tackle Toby Weathersby became commit No. 9 for the Longhorns in the 2015 class when he gave his pledge after attending a spring practice.


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Strong first impressions at junior day

February, 23, 2014
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AUSTIN, Texas -- In the midst of the January recruiting frenzy, a process far more hectic than usual for Texas’ brand new coaching staff, defensive coordinator Vance Bedford submitted a plea on his Twitter account to the class of 2015: Be patient.

The new Longhorns coaches were scrambling to crisscross the state and finish off the recruiting class they inherited. They needed every day they could get.

Once the fax machine was turned off for good on signing day, the next battle began. Charlie Strong and his coaches had 16 days to plan for its first junior day and, truly, its first impression with a brand new batch of recruits.

That big day arrived Saturday. When it was over, the visiting recruits offered a common reaction as they left campus. Texas, they said, seemed different.

[+] EnlargeCameron Townsend
Max Olson/ESPNLinebacker Cameron Townsend says the new Texas coaching staff has made a strong early impression.
“Coach Strong and Coach Mack Brown are two totally different people. But, you know, I still get similar vibes,” Missouri City (Texas) Ridge Point linebacker Cameron Townsend said. “I definitely like the new coaching staff a lot. I really like Coach Strong. He seems like a really legit guy.”

Based on the standards his predecessor established, Strong’s first Texas junior day wasn’t filled with fireworks or countless rapid-fire commitments. But the first step in a long year of recruiting was a successful one.

Offensive tackle Ronnie Major switched his commitment from Baylor to the Longhorns midway through the day. The Huntsville, Texas, lineman landed his offer during the visit and committed on the spot.

Parting ways with Baylor wasn’t easy -- Major had been committed since August -- but it was the relationship he built with Joe Wickline and the staff in the past month that sealed the deal.

“That’s a great coaching staff,” Major said. “I’m going to like playing for them. They said when I come to Texas, we’ll have a great program and I’ll get a lot better.”

Major was one of seven visiting recruits who left town with scholarship offers. Those new offers went to ESPN 300 cornerback Holton Hill, receiver Ryan Newsome, safety DeShon Elliott, defensive end Charles Omenihu, Houston cornerback pledge Jordan Tolbert and a 2016 prospect, tight end Kaden Smith.

Smith already holds offers from the likes of Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, Texas A&M and Michigan but had never visited the Longhorns. Strong made it clear just how much Texas needed him.

“We were definitely impressed with Coach Strong,” said Janell Smith, his mother. “He has a lot of energy and it looks like a great future here.”

Hill, a corner from Houston Lamar, received the second offer of the day and admitted he’s built up a stronger relationship with this staff in a short period of time than he had with previous Texas coaches.

“I actually liked it better,” Hill said of the coaching change. “I like the coaching staff. I feel like I’ll have a better connection to them.”

Former LSU commit Xavier Lewis (Laplace, La./East St. John) remembers the first thing Strong said to him Saturday when they shook hands was simple: “I want you here.”

“Coach [Chris] Vaughn and Coach Bedford, they’re not all just about football,” the ESPN 300 cornerback said. “They’re about building you up as a man. I liked that [Strong] was really hands-on with everybody and moving around and talking to everybody.”

The experience had to be somewhat surreal for the six prospects committed to Texas. Brown and his assistants had recruited them for nearly a full year and convinced them they belonged on the 40 Acres. How would the new staff make them feel wanted?

That’s a question ESPN 300 running back Jordan Stevenson wanted to answer. The Dallas South Oak Cliff standout was recently offered by Alabama but says he’s confident he’ll still feel comfortable at Texas, no matter who’s coaching him.

Stevenson made his verbal pledge one day after Texas’ stunning Red River Rivalry victory over Oklahoma in October. A lot has changed since then.

“Everything happened so fast,” he said. “But now I’m stronger and prouder of the decision I made. I don’t ever question that. It’s a blessing.”

When his cousins Sione Teuhema and Maea Teuhema decommitted from Texas earlier this month and chose LSU, Patrick Vahe knew many expected him to do the same.

The ESPN 300 offensive guard from Euless (Texas) Trinity said he isn’t having second thoughts after spending time with Strong and his coaches. He brought his entire family along for the visit and was proud of what he witnessed.

“The coaches had a really close bond, and it only took them a few weeks to get that,” Vahe said. “That said a lot about them, about how they communicate with each other and get on the same page. I feel like they’ll do the same with the players.

“I’m not following people. I’ve thought about it and I think UT is the best place for me. Coach Strong, he showed us a lot.”

Corpus Christi (Texas) Flour Bluff cornerback Jalen Campbell is one of the leaders of that committed class. He still has lots of love for Brown and what he did at Texas.

But after Saturday, Campbell can’t wait to see what’s coming next.

“You could tell everybody was ready to go. The main goal is winning,” Campbell said. “I think, for the most part, the coaches were more serious. They were smiling, but they’re ready to go.”

Strong, Texas hosting first junior day 

February, 22, 2014
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Texas takes its first big step toward building up its 2015 recruiting class under new coach Charlie Strong on Saturday, with the Longhorns’ first junior day of the year.

The Longhorns are reportedly bringing in as many as 70 prospects for unofficial campus visits this weekend, including six committed prospects and more than a dozen ranked in the ESPN 300.


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Big 12 recruiting storylines: Sept. 5 

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College football is in full effect, but high school football opened with a bang as well. From SportsCenter-worthy catches to conflicting reports about a Big 12 commit -- or decommit, depending on which side you believe -- the weekend is expected to provide a lot of enthusiasm and excitement.

Here’s a look at some of the Big 12 storylines:


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RecruitingNation released its first ever ESPN junior 300 in mid-July, and a slew of already committed prospects have put six programs off to an electric start in the 2015 recruiting cycle. With the college season just days away, here are the fast starters with future commitments on the horizon.


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Texas landed commit No. 8 for its 2015 class on Sunday, and once again the pledge came from a member of the ESPN Junior 300.

Euless (Texas) Trinity offensive guard Patrick Vahe became the fourth lineman to commit to the Longhorns’ next class during the Longhorn’s Texas Stampede recruiting event on Saturday, but didn’t announce it until a day later.

“It feels amazing,” Vahe said. “It feels good. I’m very blessed.”

Vahe is ranked No. 4 ranked among guard prospects and No. 79 in the ESPN 300, and Texas was the first and only school to offer him thus far. The 6-foot-4, 280-pound junior also received interest from Utah, Utah State and Nevada.

Word got out of Vahe’s pledge to UT on Saturday night, but he said he didn’t announce it because his cellphone died on his way home from the visit. It was the second visit Vahe had made to Texas’ campus in a week after an unofficial visit on Monday.

“It was really fun on Saturday,” Vahe said. “Everyone made me feel at home. I just wanted my family to be able to watch me play in college, and that was one of the reasons. I liked the opportunity and I feel like I should be a part of their team.”

For Vahe, a commitment to the Longhorns was no surprise after his cousins, Keller (Texas) 2014 defensive end Sione Teuhema and 2015 tackle Maea Teuhema, committed in May.

Vahe was expected to attend the program’s new “Texas Stampede” recruiting event this Saturday, but he instead chose to do his visit to Austin to better get to know the coaching staff and all that the Longhorns have to offer.

He’d considered pulling the trigger on a commitment at Texas camp in June, but Vahe was unable to attend. He made up for that with a pair of visits that sold him on joining the Longhorns’ impressive 2015 class.

“I told them at the end of the day I was committing,” Vahe said. “It was really exciting. I just liked the way they brought me into their school and showed me around and made me feel at home.”

Vahe is the fourth offensive lineman in the Longhorns’ 2015 class, joining Teuhema and fellow ESPN 300 prospects Aaron Garza (Sherman, Texas/Sherman) and Connor Lanfear (Buda, Texas/Hays).

In fact, all eight members of the Longhorns’ 2015 class made ESPN’s initial Junior 300. Vahe becomes the No. 2 rated prospect in the class behind Teuhema, and he’s ranked No. 11 in the state of Texas.

He’d considered waiting until after his junior season to make a decision, but a chance to stick with the Teuhema brothers at the next level was too good to turn down.

“They were really happy that we’re all going to go to college together,” Vahe said. “I’m happy, too.”

Lessons Learned: Texas Stampede 

July, 28, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Stampede wrapped up before dark on Saturday, leaving the Longhorns with one commitment, on the verge of another and three new players with offers to consider.

Here is a look at those players and a few other things we learned from a first-of-its-kind event for Mack Brown and his program:

Equal balance

You never know who is going to show up to events like these. Things change. Family obligations take precedence, rides can be hard to come by, etc.

The list we had confirmed of those who would be in attendance was star-studded, but so to was the list of talent that wasn't going to make it to town.

As the day unfolded, some of the players who originally said they would make it weren’t able to attend, while others that didn’t think they’d be coming actually showed up. In the end, it all seemed to balance out for Texas’ staff.

No, it didn’t get the chance to visit with Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), who was in North Carolina competing at the Junior Olympics. But the Longhorns were able to get several hours with Daylon Mack (Gladewater, Texas/Gladewater).

No, Texas didn’t get to talk with 2015 defensive back Kris Boyd (Gilmer, Texas/Gilmer). But he’s a heavy Texas lean, anyway. Besides that, the Texas staff was able to spend time with four-star safety John Bonney (Houston/Lamar).

No, 2015 offensive lineman Trevor Elbert (Rockwall, Texas/Heath) didn’t make it down. But 2014 athlete Kevin Shorter (Newton, Texas/Newton) did, and now Texas is a serious contender for his commitment on Aug. 2, along with Arkansas and Texas A&M.

No, 2014 defensive tackle D.J. Williams (Lufkin, Texas/Lufkin) didn’t make it down. But Texas was able to get TCU safety commitment Nick Orr (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto) to town. The Longhorns didn’t offer, but they were at least able to spend some time with him in case an offer does come up down the road.

Longhorns continue to impress Ketchum


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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 Friday.

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 edition of The Heard:

  • Texas Stampede visitors list

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas hosts its first-ever Texas Stampede recruiting event on Saturday. Here’s what you need to know going into the big, one-day event and which recruits we’re keeping an eye on this weekend.

Five things to watch

What’s the message?

We know this recruiting event is not a camp. No 40-yard dashes will be run, no position drills will be conducted. Nearly every recruit attending already holds an offer from the Longhorns and doesn’t need to prove his value at this point. Most of them have already been on campus for one of Texas' various events -- junior days, sophomore day, spring game, state track, camp – and the majority aren’t coming to get a tour of facilities and the campus. What’s going to set this day apart and make it a meaningful one for Texas’ chances of landing each prospect? Is it about promoting a family atmosphere and working hard to win over parents? Will recruits attending Stampede see and do things that no other visitor has this spring or summer? We’re curious to see how Texas sets itself apart on Saturday.

The big fish

Tony Brown
Tom Hauck for Student SportsLonghorns coaches are hoping to get Tony Brown on campus for the first-ever Texas Stampede this weekend.
If Tony Brown were the only recruit scheduled to attend Texas Stampede, it would still be a significant recruiting day for the Longhorns. The Longhorns have long believed they were in good shape to land the Beaumont (Texas) Ozen two-sport star, and getting him on campus Saturday for one more visit before he takes official visits this fall is potentially huge. The timing is perfect for Texas, too, because it gives Brown and his family a chance to spent time with the new Longhorns track and field staff. Head coach Mario Sategna and newly hired hurdles coach Tonja Buford-Bailey are already recruiting Brown, and they will be critical figures in Texas’ hopes of signing him.

The Fab Four

Most members of the the Daylon Mack-created “Fab Five” we first told you about in May are expected to be on campus Saturday, including Mack himself. Whitehouse (Texas) safety Justin Dunning and Sulphur Springs (Texas) safety Larry Pryor Jr. won’t make it to Austin, but Mack (Gladewater, Texas/Gladewater) will be joined on the trip by Gilmer (Texas) cornerback Kris Boyd, Mesquite (Texas) Poteet linebacker Malik Jefferson and Longview (Texas) running back Ja’Mycal Hasty, the only member of the pact who doesn’t have a UT offer. Mack has suddenly shown increased interest in Texas and assistant coach Bo Davis, and the four recruits visiting have all said Saturday is their opportunity to catch up with one another and discuss what each is thinking. There’s no doubt the Longhorns will be in that conversation after Stampede.

Pulling the trigger

Saturday might not go like most Texas sophomore and junior days, where you’re sitting by the laptop repeating tapping refresh and waiting with nervous excitement to find out who committed to the Longhorns. That’s not what Stampede is about – the goal is to continue to get ahead with kids, even if that means that few leave campus committed. Several members of our five to watch below could go ahead and commit, but don’t be surprised if you see only one or two make that move.

Unifying the classes

Texas is recruiting now like it never has before, as the 2014 and 2015 classes are almost equally important in terms of their attention and efforts. We’ve written plenty about which guys are the leaders of the 2014 class, but realistically, wouldn’t now be the perfect time to unify these two classes? We’re expecting 18 of the Longhorns’ combined 28 commits from these two classes to attend Stampede. Shouldn’t it be their goal to start working together to recruit everybody else?

Five recruits to watch

2014 CB Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen)

Those in the know insist that Texas is still in the running for Brown, despite many believing this is a two-horse race between LSU and Alabama. If Brown does show up -- there is a chance he could, though nothing has been confirmed -- it would go a long way toward confirming what the Longhorns already believe. Brown is still a ways away from making any sort of announcement. However, he does want to enroll early so he can run track in the spring of next season, wherever he decides to go. He would like to take some of his official visits and Texas figures to have a good chance of receiving one of them.

2015 OG Patrick Vahe (Euless, Texas/Trinity)

This one only seems like a matter of time. Vahe unofficially visited Texas on Monday and all reports are that the visit went great. The No. 4 OG in 2015 and No. 79 player overall in the ESPN Junior 300 will make a return trip to the Texas Stampede, and few would be surprised if he went ahead and joined cousins Sione and Maea Teuhema as 2015 Longhorns commitments.

2014 S Jason Hall (Grand Prairie, Texas/South Grand Prairie)


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