Texas Longhorns: Texas recruiting

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

November, 25, 2013

With five November commitments, good fortune has come Oklahoma's way on the recruiting trail.

The Sooners picked up a commit last week and also offered a rising junior wide receiver. We’ll take a look at those two players and discuss a big performance by a future Longhorns running back in this week’s Big 12 recruiting weekend wrap.

Biggest commitment: This goes to Oklahoma and the verbal pledge it received from outside linebacker Devante Bond (Roseville, Calif./Sierre College). Bond was the third commitment in a two-day span for the Sooners, who have five commitments this month and 19 overall. OU wasn’t in dire need of outside linebacker help with a pair of three stars on board in Tay Evans (Allen, Texas/Allen) and Curtis Bolton (Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta). But Bond solidifies the group's depth for the next couple of seasons, while also showing the country that Oklahoma isn’t afraid to go the junior-college route if need be. Bond also had offers from Nebraska, Cal, Fresno State, Memphis, Ole Miss and West Virginia.

ESPN Junior 300 analysis: Big 12 

November, 19, 2013
There was plenty of shakeup in the latest ESPN Junior 300, including some monumental jumps up the ranks -- and a few big tumbles.

Here is a look at some of the key recruits for the Big 12.

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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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Big 12 class ranking analysis 

November, 13, 2013
Not much has changed since the last RecruitingNation class rankings were updated as far as Big 12 programs are concerned. Texas, as it has been from the beginning, remains the top-ranked conference team at No. 8. The Bears check in at No. 16 followed by Oklahoma at No. 22, Oklahoma State at No. 27 and Texas Tech at No. 35.

The rest of the conference, according to our Big 12 rankings, has West Virginia with the sixth-best class, followed by Kansas, TCU, Iowa State and Kansas State.

Here is a closer look at the Big 12 class rankings:

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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

November, 11, 2013

Trey Millard has consistently been one of the best fullbacks in college football since he arrived in Norman, Okla. But with his eligibility running out after this season, the Sooners were in desperate need of finding his replacement.

Well, Oklahoma might have found him last week in the form of a former Boise State commitment. We'll take a look at that commitment, a huge offer given to the No. 3 wide receiver in 2015, as well as the two teams really vying for ESPN 300 safety Edwin Freeman in this week's Big 12 recruiting weekend wrap.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

October, 28, 2013
It was only a matter of time before a big-name program took a chance on 5-foot-6, 148-pound lightning bolt/quarterback Desmon White (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto). That chance came from a Big 12 program recently, and White wasted little time taking them up on their offer.

Find out which Big 12 program he committed to as well as a big offer from Oklahoma State in this week’s edition of the Big 12 weekend wrap.

Biggest commitment: He might not be big in stature, but 2014 athlete Desmon White will bring some much-needed play-making ability to TCU. White, who plays quarterback for the undefeated DeSoto Eagles, switched his verbal pledge from North Texas to the Horned Frogs on Tuesday. This season he has completed 141 of 204 passes for 2,304 yards, 21 touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s also the team’s leading rusher with 95 carries for 1,009 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s a football player, plain and simple. Nice pickup for TCU, which could use him in a variety of ways but will likely start him at slot.

Biggest offer: This one goes to Oklahoma State and the offer it extended to ESPN Junior 300 offensive tackle George Brown Jr. (Cincinnati/Winton Woods). If you are going to get into the sweepstakes for Brown, you might as well get in as early as possible. The No. 208 player in the country already has more than 30 offers, including from Big 12 programs Baylor, Kansas State and West Virginia. The only other 2015 offer to an OT that OSU has is to Texas commitment Maea Teuhema (Keller, Texas/Keller).

Best performance by a commit/target: Class of 2015 quarterback Ryan Agnew (Southlake, Texas/Carroll) completed 31 of 35 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-17 victory over Keller. Agnew doesn’t have any offers now but that won’t stay the case with more games like this. Several major programs are well aware of Agnew, including Texas. Tennessee and Texas A&M have also expressed interest.

Most important visit: There were several big names in attendance for Oklahoma’s victory over Texas Tech, but the biggest one was 2015 offensive guard Jalin Barnett (Lawton, Okla./Lawton). This was the fourth trip to Norman for Barnett, the No. 8 player in the country, No. 1 OG and No. 1 player in the Midlands region. That’s especially telling since he has yet to visit any other school.

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Big 12 recruiting storylines: Oct. 24 

October, 24, 2013
In the past week, the top players in Texas for 2014 and 2015 announced their commitment to the same school. One of the top playmakers in the Lone Star State switched his commitment to a Big 12 school. West Virginia got a visit from an athlete committed elsewhere.

We’ll take a look at those topics and a few others in this week’s edition of Big 12 recruiting storylines.

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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Texas quarterback commit Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/John H. Guyer) drew some of the highest praise of the weekend from Trent Dilfer after several workouts at the Elite 11 finals.

“I was worried,” said Dilfer, head coach of the Elite 11 program. “I didn’t know how he’d handle this environment.”

But Heard, 138th in the ESPN 300 and the No. 5-rated dual-threat QB, has answered the challenge.

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AUSTIN, Texas -- The last time Mack Brown took the witness stand -- aka the podium -- to justify Texas' latest class of recruits, he spoke of an ongoing change in the evaluation process as well as accountability among his staff of recruiters, therefore allowing for a better quality product upon enrollment at Texas and eventually a better product on the field.

Given that this mantra of change is a well-trod path that Brown has blindly stomped down, those in the jury -- aka anyone who covers the program as well as those who care for Texas football -- were skeptical. Additionally, there was that Mount Bonnell-sized pile of evidence blocking the optimistic panorama Brown continued to paint without the aid of numbers:

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsAfter a disastrous recruiting class in 2009, Texas and coach Mack Brown have rebounded with stellar classes in 2011 and 2012.
The 2009 class was a mess and has only further deteriorated. Just six players in a class that was supposed to be the backbone of 2011 and 2012 exhausted their eligibility at Texas. The 2010 class had hits -- Carrington Byndom, Jackson Jeffcoat and others -- as well as several big misses: Darius White and Taylor Bible to name a few.

Those two classes, in which 45 players were signed, provided just 11 regular or 2013 projected starters. That’s a 24 percent rate of return. The number most programs like to hit is about 60 percent. Not surprisingly, Texas’ recruiting misses have led to sub-par performances on the field.

But there was Brown on Feb. 1, 2012, saying the proper changes in recruiting had been made for the right changes to happen on the field.

"Because we took more time and watched five videos of [each recruit], and not just the ones with the highlight films, we did a better job of going back and evaluating every step," he said. "I think we know these kids better than maybe we did the last couple of years."

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IRVING, Texas -- Rami Hammad didn’t have to say much.

“It’s my dream school,” he said. And that pretty much told the story.

[+] EnlargeRami Hammad
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesThree-star lineman Rami Hammad adds to Texas' stellar offensive line class for 2013.
The moment Texas first offered last week, Hammad knew in his heart that playing in burnt orange was what he wanted. On Wednesday, the 6-foot-5, 314-pound Irving (Texas) High offensive lineman made it official with a verbal commitment, a tip of a fresh baseball cap and the traditional “Hook'Em” sign with his right hand.

Hammad's pledge gives the Longhorns 15 commits for the Class of 2013. A three-star recruit, Hammad is considered the No. 31 offensive guard in the country, but his size, footwork and overall versatility make him a legitimate candidate to play either guard or tackle at the next level.

“It’s just a great opportunity, a school with a lot of tradition and great academics,” Hammad said. “They’re ranked in the nation for their academics, and with my commit to them, I’m going to work to make sure we’re the best O-line in the nation. I believe in the setting there.”

Recruited by offensive line coach Stacy Searels, Hammad's stock has skyrocketed in the last two months. He originally committed to Oklahoma State in June, but he decommitted to explore his options. He then committed to Baylor in November -- before putting on an outstanding performance at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Carson, Calif., to start 2013.

Since that game, Hammad has been one of the nation’s hottest targets. Next, he was contacted by Texas, and promptly set up an official visit.

Things seemed to fit even better when Hammad’s assigned player host was freshman fullback Alex De La Torre, the son of Irving head coach Aaron De La Torre.

“It was crazy when I got [the offer],” Hammad said. “Once I got it, I had to take a step back. I feel like I’ve found a school that really has good football and good academics.

“Austin is like New York to me. I’m excited about Coach Searels and learning under him. I’m also excited about living in Austin. I’m ready.”

4-star RB Dodson unsure of Texas offer 

January, 8, 2013
Mark Dodson Jr. isn't sure what to think. First, he received a scholarship offer from Texas. Now, he can't get a return phone call.

"I'm not frustrated," the running back from Memphis (Tenn.) Whitehaven said Tuesday. "You just have to play the game by the books."

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Q&A: Coach of ATH Chevoski Collins 

December, 11, 2012
ESPN 300 athlete Chevoski Collins (Livingston, Texas/Livingston) took his time with the recruiting process, analyzing numerous factors before making his decision Oct. 8.

In the end he opted for the Longhorns over a plethora of other offers, including Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU.

Chevoski Collins
Max Olson/ESPN.comESPN 300 athlete Chevoski Collins could play either receiver or defensive back at Texas.
HornsNation caught up with Livingston coach Randy Rowe to discuss Collins’ decision, which position he thinks Collins will end up playing, and what went on when Longhorns defensive tackles coach Bo Davis stopped by the school last week.

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Q&A: 2014 center Terrell Cuney 

December, 5, 2012
Junior offensive lineman Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper) visited Texas’ campus briefly for the Longhorns’ spring game before this season. But he’d like to get even more familiar with what the campus has to offer, in case Texas does make him a priority in 2014.

Judging from a phone conversation he recently had with Longhorns defensive tackles coach Bo Davis, Texas would like for him to get back to campus again, too.

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ESPN 300 running back Kyle Hicks (Arlington, Texas/Martin) can’t deny what his heart is feeling.

Kyle Hicks
William Wilkerson/ESPN.comKyle Hicks said he has formed a bond at TCU and that's where his 'heart is at.'
For the last few months he has contemplated the idea of playing football closer to home, closer to his mother and close to his good friend and former high school teammate Devonte Fields.

Today, his heart couldn’t take it any longer.

Hicks called Texas co-recruiting coordinator Bruce Chambers and told him he had decided to switch commitments from the Longhorns to TCU.

“One, I get to play for an outstanding football team,” Hicks said. “Two, I get a good education from a private school, and three, it is 15 minutes from home.”

Hicks was Texas’ lone running back recruit in the Class of 2013. He had been committed to the Longhorns since Feb. 18.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Hicks said. “Talking to Chambers on the phone, my body was shaking. I never thought I would decommit from Texas. I created a big bond with Chambers for nine months. Just to decommit was the hardest thing ever.

“Of course he was disappointed. He wanted to know why. It was just a decision I had to make.”

Martin coach Bob Wager was in his office with Hicks when Hicks made the call to Chambers.

“He’s been agonizing over it for months,” Wager said. “He just called Coach Chambers 15 minutes ago in my office. Torn up, distraught, very apologetic. But very sincere. It’s the hardest thing he’s ever had to do. I was there watching him, and pain was showing all over his face.”

Hicks (5-foot-11, 190 pounds) is rated at No. 20 among running backs and No. 219 overall in the country.

He had to step in at quarterback for Martin this season and fared well. He threw for 458 yards and six touchdowns without an interception. But his bread and butter was still the run, which he did 177 times to the tune of 1,113 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Hicks tore his left ACL and meniscus Oct. 26 and is scheduled to have surgery Tuesday. It was the second serious injury for him in the last two seasons.

Last year, during the third round of the playoffs, he broke his foot on the first play of Martin’s game against Euless Trinity. He continued to play and finished the game with 20 carries for 113 yards and a 19-yard, game-clinching touchdown.

Hicks is confident that he’ll be fully healthy in six months and ready for fall camp with the Frogs.

“It was where my heart is at,” Hicks said. “I feel at home with TCU. Whenever I got the chance to visit TCU I just knew that was where I wanted to be. Great football team and it’s close to my mom. I can’t pass that down.”

Despite Texas' losses, recruiting sustains 

November, 21, 2012
Texas’ fall from grace as a recruiting superpower should’ve been swift and painful.

In 2010 and 2011, the Longhorns went a combined 13-12. There’s no escaping that number. For opposing coaches looking to do some negative recruiting against UT, it doesn’t -- or at least it shouldn’t -- get much easier than that.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
Michael C. Johnson/US PresswireThe Longhorns have not felt a drop off in recruiting since struggling on the field in 2010 and 2011.
They could say Mack Brown was losing touch or that he could retire at any moment. They might argue that no matter how many new assistants he brings in or how many changes he makes, the program is trending in the wrong direction.

Yet, despite everything that has been wrong with Texas -- real and perceived -- the Longhorns signed the nation’s No. 3 class in February, and the No. 5 class the previous year.

Texas hasn’t stopped selling the tradition and family atmosphere it offered before this two-year dip, but one thing has changed: Early playing time is now easily attainable.

Since that brutal 5-7 season in 2010, Texas has played a total of 34 true freshmen. That’s 70 percent of its signees in the past two years earning immediate playing time.

Those who have inked letters of intent with the Longhorns in the past two years have said they did so to bring the program back to prominence, to return it to national title contender status.

In order to get back to that plateau, Brown had to adjust his philosophy.

His staff’s tradition of locking up the majority of its class by summer’s end was trashed in 2011 for a full-out assault that saw 10 signees give their pledges in December or later. That included eight who were previously committed elsewhere, highlighted by a rare signing-day steal of LSU commit Shiro Davis.

Texas has pursued junior college transfers more than ever before. The Longhorns have accepted commitments from 2014 prospects earlier in the recruiting cycle than at any time in Brown’s history at UT. After years of sticking to the same approach, UT coaches have embraced change.

And so far, it’s working. The Longhorns seem to be inching closer to their previous prestige. But plenty of schools are lining up to threaten their recruiting dominance in the state of Texas.

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Texas Longhorns Show Out On Pro Day
The Texas Longhorns produced several eligible NFL Draft athletes who participated in Pro Day Tuesday afternoon in Austin, Texas.