Thursday, September 5, 2013
Texas lands versatile 4-star DB Bonney
By Sam Khan Jr.
It has been a long, winding recruiting process for four-star safety John Bonney (Houston/Lamar).
With 32 offers and an effort to visit as many of those schools as he possibly could, Bonney and his family have put in much time and effort in vetting the potential options, virtually all of them good ones.
In the end, it came down to some long-held feelings, as Bonney chose his childhood favorite and committed to Texas on Thursday night.
The 6-foot, 182-pound Bonney, the nation's 21st-ranked safety, is the 24th commitment in the Longhorns' 2014 recruiting class.
Growing up, Bonney annually attended Texas football games at Darrell K. Royal-Memorial Stadium and developed an affinity for the program. The Longhorns became a serious contender for his services once they offered him and he began to develop a strong relationship with defensive backs coach Duane Akina.
"That played into it a lot," Bonney said of his longtime admiration for the Longhorns. "I just liked the tradition and the culture there and the atmosphere at their home games. Ever since then, it's been one of my dream schools, so to get recruited by them was a real blessing."
It was by no means a layup for the Longhorns though. Bonney said he gave serious consideration to several schools, including Oklahoma, Ohio State, Auburn, Stanford, Baylor, TCU and Houston. He originally intended to announce his decision before his high school football season started last week but delayed it as he continued to consider other options.
"All those schools, I know it's a lot, but I was literally torn," Bonney said. "All these schools are really great schools."
His relationship with Akina was key in his recruitment. Akina first saw Bonney play last December when Lamar met San Antonio O'Connor in the Texas Class 5A Division I state semifinals. Bonney played a lot of cornerback that day and excelled, making Akina a believer. Over time as the two kept in touch frequently and that relationship, combined with Texas' success at sending defensive backs to the NFL, were key in Bonney's mind.
"I probably talked to him more than any other college position coach," Bonney said. "His track record speaks for itself. Just to be a part of that whole DB fraternity is big."
Bonney is the third defensive back in Texas' class, joining ESPN 300 cornerback Jermaine Roberts and Grand Prairie (Texas) South Grand Prairie safety Jason Hall. The role the Longhorns are envisioning is Kenny Vaccaro's old role, with the ability to play multiple places in the secondary.
"He feels like I have the versatility to play cornerback or safety," Bonney said. "He feels like that Kenny Vaccaro 'field safety' position can benefit me and most importantly the team, so he's really looking forward and excited that I can fit into that role."
Landing Bonney's commitment is big for Texas and is the start of what the Longhorns hope is a strong fall in defensive back receruiting. They're still heavily pursuing ESPN 300 prospects Jamal Adams, Tony Brown and Edwin Freeman. And Bonney is a player who had offers to play all over the country.
ESPN scouts say Bonney has "the athletic ability and versatility to align throughout the secondary, Bonney makes plenty of plays and is a well-rounded run and pass defender. Has the athleticism and range to play from a two-deep or single-safety alignment and shows the polished coverage skills to match up tightly in man."
In the grand scheme of things, Texas offered Bonney many of the things he was looking for.
"It was more of the big picture," Bonney said. "This was not a four-year decision, it's a 40-year decision. The alumni at the University of Texas is so strong that I feel like it can benefit me after football is over. Being from Texas and living here my whole life [was important]. The biggest goal for me, as a player, is to get to that ultimate level, the NFL, and Coach Akina's track record, he's done it and is really good in doing what he does as a DB coach."