NCF On The Trail: Texas Longhorns

When listing the programs that needed a top-notch quarterback in the 2016 class, one would start with Texas. The Longhorns took a big step toward addressing the vital need on Feb. 23, securing a verbal commitment from ESPN Jr 300 Shane Buechele. He is the third ESPN Jr 300 commitment for Texas head coach Charlie Strong, joining wide receivers Collin Johnson (No. 130) and Reggie Hemphill-Mapps (No. 161).

Ultimate ESPN 300: Who's next? 

February, 20, 2015
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It’s never too early to look ahead to next year. Here are seven prospects in the 2015 class who could make their mark in future editions of the Ultimate ESPN 300.

DT Daylon Mack (Texas A&M): Last year it was DE Myles Garrett who made a splash for the Aggies, and Mack is expected to do the same in 2015. While Texas A&M returns some quality young defensive tackles, none has Mack's combination of explosive power and quickness plus the ability to be a disruptive force in the backfield.

S Derwin James (FSU):

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Quarterback Kyler Murray grabbed all of the headlines at Allen (Texas) High School over the past few seasons, but it’s actually junior offensive tackle Greg Little who is a higher-ranked prospect.


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Stop, for a moment, at the close of another wild and unpredictable signing day, and remember these eight therapeutic words: Not a single football game was played Wednesday.

Now, proceed to lose your mind.

In possibly the final signing day of its kind, college football grabbed the spotlight for its annual, offseason showcase of the bizarre. Winners and losers emerged. Mostly, though, it went off about as scripted -- and by that, we mean totally, beautifully unscripted.

[+] EnlargeSoso Jamabo
Matt Garnett/Icon SportswireSoso Jamabo helped start signing day, and UCLA's run, with his commitment to the Bruins.
Wednesday out West, signs pointed to a raising of the stakes in the Pac-12.

UCLA won the morning with big scores over Michigan for tight end Chris Clark, Texas for athlete Soso Jamabo, Georgia for No. 2 outside linebacker Roquan Smith -- more on Smith later -- and Oklahoma for offensive guard Joshua Wariboko.

The Bruins later snagged receiver Cordell Broadus, son of Snoop Dogg, but by mid-afternoon, the fireworks shifted to the USC Trojans' side of town.

USC won out for top-ranked inside linebacker John Houston Jr., No. 1 cornerback Iman Marshall and defensive tackle Rasheem Green Wednesday, along with athlete Porter Gustin, linebacker Osa Masina and defensive tackle Kevin Scott earlier in January. The Trojans' late rush helped their class finish No. 3 overall.

National champion Ohio State of the Big Ten made a morning splash by retaining the commitment of quarterback Torrance Gibson, who gave late consideration to Auburn and LSU. The Buckeyes flipped offensive tackle Isaiah Prince from Alabama's No. 1 class, which was otherwise largely put to bed weeks ago.

Texas flipped safety P.J. Locke from Oregon to punctuate Charlie Strong's 29-man, No. 9-ranked class that might signal the return to prominence of the Longhorns.

And the SEC added its share of drama, starting with the Auburn-Florida battles, in which former Gators coach Will Muschamp loomed large.

Muschamp's new program beat his old one for linebacker Jeffery Holland and the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect, defensive end Byron Cowart of Seffner (Florida) Armwood.

Cowart, though, failed to fax his signed letter of intent to Auburn for some seven hours while reports bounced back and forth about his eventual decision.

Clearly, he was torn, feeling compelled to consider Florida coach Jim McElwain and his staff, on the job for two months.

"It's not their fault they're new," Cowart said. "In the recruiting process, [coaches] tell you what you want to hear, and when you get there, everything switches."

So ultimately, Cowart went with Auburn -- and the coach he trusted.

The Tigers, after the great start, lost No. 1 offensive tackle Martez Ivey and second-rated defensive end CeCe Jefferson to Florida and top-ranked defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. to Missouri.

Tennessee claimed victory with the signing of elite defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie, a longtime commitment out of California, and the late flip of offensive tackle Drew Richmond from Ole Miss to secure the nation's fifth-rated class -- No. 2 in the SEC.

Ranked No. 1 nationally, for the fourth straight year, was the Crimson Tide.

"One of the very good things about this class is we didn't have a lot of drama today," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "These guys have been committed to us for a while.
"That's not the way to get the most attention from the media, but that certainly speaks highly of what a commitment means."

LSU, with its new all-star cast of recruiters headlined by Ed Orgeron, finished with good news early in the week on defensive end Arden Key, followed by the Wednesday addition of guard Toby Weathersby -- a former Texas pledge -- and the flip of receiver Brandon Martin from Missouri.

Martin punctuated his change of heart with this hashtag on Twitter.



And then there was the case of Smith, the linebacker out of Macon County High School in Montezuma, Georgia, who announced his choice of UCLA over Georgia on ESPNU but never faxed his letter of intent.

Why? Because in the moments after signing, Smith learned from reporters at his school -- as Georgia coaches furiously called with the same news -- that UCLA defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich was up for a job as the Atlanta Falcons' linebackers coach.

Ulbrich recruited Smith, who plans to wait "a couple days to figure things out," Macon County coach Larry Harold told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Ah, there's nothing quite like signing day, which could change considerably for the next class of recruits if a proposal is approved this spring by the Division I conference commissioners to add a three-day early signing period in December.

So, if this was the last of its kind -- with the full-on drama and star power that only a once-a-year event can provide -- then signing day as we know it went out in style.
videoThe national signing day ceremonies have concluded, the ink has dried and the fax machines have been turned off. The Class of 2015 is mostly in the books. As is the case annually, there were a number of winners -- and a couple of losers -- on national signing day. Here is a look at the schools that excelled and the schools that had a rough day.

SCHOOLS THAT FARED WELL

UCLA: The Bruins began the day at No. 17 in the ESPN RecruitingNation class rankings, but they quickly moved up to No. 11 with a run of ESPN 300 commitments. No. 111 prospect Chris Clark, a tight end, got the day started and was followed by RB Soso Jamabo (No. 28), OG Joshua Wariboko (No. 105) and OLB Roquan Smith (No. 29). The day got even better in the early afternoon when No. 130 recruit Cordell Broadus, a wide receiver, picked the Bruins over Arizona State. All five of the recruits who committed to UCLA on Wednesday are from different states.

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Completed class: Texas Longhorns

February, 4, 2015
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Texas has announced its 2015 class:

ESPN 300
Malik Jefferson, OLB -- Poteet High School, Texas
Anthony Wheeler, ILB -- Skyline High School, Texas
DeShon Elliott, S -- Rockwall-Heath High School, Texas
Chris Warren III, RB -- Rockwall High School, Texas
Devonaire Clarington, TE-H -- Booker T. Washington High School, Florida
Holton Hill, CB -- Lamar High School, Texas
Patrick Vahe, OG -- Trinity High School, Texas
Ryan Newsome, WR -- Aledo High School, Texas
John Burt, WR -- Lincoln High School, Florida
Kris Boyd, CB -- Gilmer High School, Texas
Cameron Townsend, OLB -- Ridge Point High School, Texas
Tristian Houston, RB -- North Shore High School, Texas
Davante Davis, S -- Booker T. Washington High School, Florida
Kai Locksley, ATH -- Gilman School, Maryland

ESPN JC 50
Quincy Vasser, DE -- Navarro College, New York

Four-stars
DeAndre McNeal, ATH -- Poteet High School, Texas
Kirk Johnson, RB -- Valley Christian High School, California
Garrett Thomas, OT -- Many High School, Louisiana
Ronnie Major, OT -- Huntsville High School, Texas

Three-stars
Du'Vonta Lampkin, DT -- Cypress Falls High School, Texas
P.J. Locke, S -- Central High School, Texas
Brandon Hodges, OT -- East Mississippi Community College, Mississippi
Connor Williams, OT -- Coppell High School, Texas
Charles Omenihu, DE -- Rowlett High School, Texas
Cecil Cherry, ILB -- Victory Christian Academy, Florida
Gilbert Johnson, WR -- Georgia Prep Sports Academy
Breckyn Hager, ILB -- Westlake High School, Texas
Tristan Nickelson, OT -- Navarro College, Texas

Watch: Texas' Charlie Strong talks 2015 class

February, 4, 2015
Feb 4
11:19
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Texas coach Charlie Strong joins Longhorn Network's Jane Slater to discuss his first full signing class with the Longhorns and the staff's approach to building the 2015 recruiting class.
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Texas has lured Under Armour All-American Kai Locksley from his commitment to Florida State. Below, see how his career could play out in Austin:


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It’s always fun to look into the history books to see how certain players lived up to their rankings. With signing day fewer than 24 hours away, here’s a look at the last five No. 1 and where I think they would rank stacked up against each other.


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Six of the top-10 prospects in the country remain uncommitted with plans to announce live on ESPN on national signing day. One of those is No. 6-ranked Daylon Mack. The 6-foot-1, 330-pound explosive defensive tackle announced on Twitter Saturday morning that he had made his decision between TCU, Texas and Texas A&M.


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ESPN 300 cornerbacks Holton Hill and Kris Boyd have committed to Texas. Below, see what this duo means for the Longhorns' 2015 class:


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Despite making a commitment to Alabama last week, ESPN 300 offensive tackle Isaiah Prince said Wednesday he's visiting Maryland and will give the Terps a solid look.


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Kyler Murray isn't the only high-profile Texan who will shape the future of Lone Star State recruiting, as ESPN 300 defensive backs Kris Boyd and Holton Hill will announce their decisions together Friday.


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It’s not often a recruit commits to the same school twice, but that’s what happened with ESPN 300 receiver John Burt on Monday.


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Soso Jamabo names a faux top two

January, 26, 2015
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The recruiting process can be stressful and serious for a lot of top recruits, which is why ESPN 300 running back Soso Jamabo decided to lighten the mood and crack a few jokes.

Jamabo is one of the more sought after uncommitted prospects in the 2015 class, with Texas and UCLA in the mix for the No. 28 ranked prospect. When asked in an interview who his top schools were, though, Jamabo named ITT Tech and the University of Phoenix as his favorites.



Jamabo continued with the joke on Twitter with a photoshopped picture of himself with the logos of the two schools.



Jamabo will announce his real college decision with ESPN on national signing day.

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