Sunday, September 8, 2013
Texas recruits hanging with Longhorns
By William Wilkerson
Being the Joneses has its perks.
But when the Joneses can’t live up to their own way of living, things can go awry very quickly.
Manny Diaz found out just how quickly Sunday afternoon when he was relieved of his duties as Texas’ defensive coordinator not even 24 hours after the Longhorns gave up a school-record 550 rushing yards and 679 total yards to BYU in an embarrassing 40-21 loss in Provo, Utah.
Not exactly Jones-esque as Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds once famously proclaimed the Longhorns of being.
Texas also announced that former defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, who rejoined Texas in July as an analyst, would take over as the defensive coordinator.
It was swift action for a program that understands the importance of momentum in recruiting, which is something they’ve actually enjoyed despite being 23-18 since its national championship loss to Alabama in 2009. That includes going 4-12 against ranked opponents with an average margin of defeat at 17 points.
Texas still has the No. 7 recruiting class in 2014, two slots higher than Texas A&M and 10 spots higher than its closest Big 12 counterpart (Baylor). The Longhorns’ 24 commitments are tied for second most among the top 40 classes.
They already have eight commitments in 2015 and one from 2016 receiver Reggie Hemphill (Manvel, Texas/Manvel), who could be the state’s top player in his class.
So it’s clear that momentum has been on its side lately. But will it stay that way after the thumping BYU put on them?
Early returns from recruits suggest that it will.
“No, not at all,” ESPN 300 quarterback Jerrod Heard answered when asked if his opinion has changed after loss. “I think last night was one of those games that everyone experiences. I’m still 100 percent with Texas.”
ESPN 300 running back Duke Catalon (Houston/Eisenhower) added: “I haven’t changed my opinion of Texas. I mean my high school team lost two ourselves and that hasn’t changed their feelings toward me so I am still solid.”
Four-star center Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper) echoed similar sentiments.
“That’s our loss and that’s our loss,” he said. “We’ve gotta move on from that and get better this week for a big one. We lost Friday night to a team we never lost to but that don’t make me question my Bulldogs. We’ll bounce back. I know my Horns.”
“It doesn’t affect my commitment because I know they are capable of doing so much more and it’s just one loss,” four-star wide receiver Emanuel Porter (Dallas/Lincoln) said.
And three-star wide receiver Roderick Bernard (Houston/Sharpstown)?
“I’m still 100 percent with UT,” he said. “It’s football. We are either going to lose or win.”
Eleven of Texas’ 24 commitments are defensive prospects, including ESPN 300 recruits Derick Roberson (San Antonio/Brennan), cornerback Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) and outside linebacker Otaro Alaka (Houston/Cypress Falls).
Roberson, the No. 8 defensive end overall, has had Longhorns fans feeling uneasy ever since he committed to Texas on Aug. 2, 2012. The dynamic playmaker has sporadically tweeted things that would lead you to believe he might be looking elsewhere. Tweets like the one he sent out earlier this week stating, “My top 3 college choices, Texas, USC, Oregon.”
Roberson could not be reached for comment but one has to assume that a move this grand could alter his opinion even more.
Decommitments, believe it or not, are not all that uncommon at Texas these days. Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints teammates Demetrius Knox and Daniel Gresham opted out of their verbal pledges in April and May, respectively.
During the 2013 cycle, Texas saw five players decommit, including highly regarded wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones, who ended up at Texas A&M, and defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, who signed with Alabama.
As it stands, no one has backed out of their commitments since Saturday nor hinted that they are thinking about it. But what about the targeted recruits still undecided? How will it affect their opinion of Texas?
ESPN 300 defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell), for one, isn’t rushing to judge.
“It does not hurt Texas with me,” he said. “But it is something to look into with new schemes and all that.”
Adams still plans on taking his official visit to Texas on Nov. 16 for its home game against Oklahoma State. He admittedly didn’t know much about Robinson.
Luckily for Texas’ new DC, he’s very familiar with Mack Brown’s mode of operation and recruiting the state of Texas. That should give him an advantage most other in-season hires might not have.
Three-star linebacker Andrew Beck (Tampa, Fla./Plant) will get to see how Robinson handles things first hand for his scheduled official visit on Sept. 14 for Texas’ game against Ole Miss.
“I still have all the faith in what they are doing over there,” he said. “[The loss to BYU] happens to everybody. You go into a game that you are definitely favored to win and that can go to your head a little bit. That happened to my high school team. We were supposed to beat a team pretty handily and ended up losing to them pretty handily. It doesn’t change anything for me. Yeah we struggled, but it’s nothing that they can’t fix.”