NCF On The Trail: Andrew Beck

Top position classes: LB 

February, 17, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)
The Alabama Crimson Tide’s 2014 class fill just about every need on the board, and that includes linebacker. With designs on addressing pass rushing and the ability to play in space on the edge at outside 'backer in Nick Saban’s 3-4 scheme, Alabama signed the Nos. 1 and No. 2 outside linebackers in the country in No. 48 overall Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) and No. 52 overall Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn), who is pound for pound of the best pure athletes in the 2014 cycle. The Crimson Tide added two more talented linebackers in ESPN 300’s No. 102 Shaun Dion Hamilton (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) and No. 281 Keith Holcombe (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest). Hamilton is an MLB.

The Crimson Tide had the nation’s best linebacker class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

January, 27, 2014
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As expected, this was one of the busiest weeks in the Big 12 from a recruiting standpoint. Teams were looking to fill in last-minute vacancies, and players were looking to finalize their college plans. TCU proved to be the big winner in the conference, landing six 2014 commits and two more commits from the 2015 class. Kansas wasn’t far behind, as the Jayhawks got verbal commitments from five three-star players for the 2014 class.

Here are some of this past week’s highlights:


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Three-star OG Anderson flips to Texas

January, 21, 2014
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Three-star offensive lineman Alex Anderson (New Orleans/O. Perry Walker) had a tough decision to make and no time to make it. Late Monday night, he knew, in his gut, that he was ready to choose.

Anderson backed out of his pledge to Arizona State and committed to Texas on Monday, becoming the 22nd member of new coach Charlie Strong’s class.

The 6-foot-3, 275-pound offensive guard will enroll early at Texas and said he’s hoping to be on campus for his first classes on Wednesday.

I'm coming in to play, and they dont have much depth and are in a predicament. I'll come in and be a high-impact player right off the bat.

-- OL Alex Anderson, after committing to Texas
The decision came after Anderson made back-to-back officials to Texas and ASU, a trip that began in Austin on Thursday and ended on Monday after two days at both schools.

What the decision came down to, he said, was family.

“I visited Arizona State, and the campus was outstanding. I really loved it and wanted to be there, but I had to see the reality of it,” Anderson said. “My family really couldn’t afford [visiting], and I didn’t feel too much at home. So that’s why I had to go in a different direction. I just really wanted to be close to home.”

Anderson had been committed to the Sun Devils since July but quietly reopened his recruitment recently, initially in the hopes of attending Oklahoma State. And then OSU offensive line coach Joe Wickline left to become the offensive coordinator and line coach at Texas.

While Anderson believed he was closing in on an offer from the previous Longhorn staff, the new one made it clear right away that he was a priority.

“When Coach Strong and Coach Wickline came in, they threw me an offer the first day they were there,” Anderson said.

Landing Anderson was crucial for a Texas class that has only one other lineman, four-star center Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper).

Both of Texas’ starting offensive guards, Trey Hopkins and Mason Walters, are graduating. There’s opportunity to play right away, and Anderson likes his chances.

“I’m coming in to play, and they don’t have much depth and are in a predicament,” he said. “I’ll come in and be a high-impact player right off the bat.”

He never would’ve guessed a few weeks ago that he’d end up at Texas, that’s for sure. When Wickline joined the Longhorns, Anderson knew he had to reconsider things and take a visit. He likes Wickline’s intensity, and he was wowed by the impression Strong made during the official visit.

“He’s a disciplined coach,” Anderson said. “He’s not going to expect nothing but greatness from you. I like that. He wants you to be the best, and he’ll push you to be the best. That’s a program I want to be a part of. I feel like the old Texas is about to be back in effect.”

Anderson will be Texas’ third early enrollee in the 2014 class after tight end Blake Whiteley and linebacker Andrew Beck enrolled last week.

Longhorns land ESPN 300 S/LB hybrid

January, 16, 2014
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Just when the Texas Longhorns needed some good news from the defensive side of their recruiting class, an ESPN 300 safety/linebacker delivered it with a verbal commitment.

Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie) pledged to new coach Charlie Strong on Thursday afternoon, giving the Longhorns another ESPN 300 prospect and further quieting the grumblings of the Longhorns losing three four-star defensive tackles last week. Freeman, No. 128 in the ESPN 300, became the Longhorns’ 21st commit of the 2014 class.

Freeman, who confirmed the commitment via text message, chose the Longhorns over Texas A&M. The two in-state schools had been his top choices for several months, but Freeman has always had a love for Texas.

“I’ve liked Texas ever since I was a kid,” Freeman said in an interview shortly after Texas and former coach Mack Brown parted ways. “I just want to wait and see who the new coach is.”

In Strong, Texas will get a no-nonsense coach and someone who expects perfection with his defense. That was one of the winning points with Freeman, a hybrid defender.

At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Freeman is quick enough to play safety, powerful enough to play outside linebacker and a hard-enough hitter to excel at both spots. Freeman said that while he doesn’t mind playing outside linebacker, safety is “where my heart’s at.”

Baylor, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and USC were among the many schools to offer Freeman. Assistant coach Bruce Chambers, who remained on the Texas staff after Brown’s departure, recruited Freeman to the Longhorns.

The news on Freeman helps offset the recent decommitments of defensive tackles Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren), Courtney Garnett (New Orleans/St. Augustine) and Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview).

In addition to Freeman’s pledge, a Texas spokesperson, per ESPN’s Max Olson, also confirmed Thursday that tight end Blake Whiteley (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada/Arizona Western College) and linebacker Andrew Beck (Tampa, Fla./Plant) have enrolled early and are now on campus.

OU-Texas: 2014 recruiting tale of the tape 

October, 10, 2013
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When the Red River Rivalry is played, records are thrown out the window. When the game’s over, some love looking into the future to play “what if” with the next batch of talented college players.

While both teams have some room to land uncommitted recruits, both are pretty happy with where they are currently. Texas has 24 commits, and Oklahoma has 14, and when comparing ESPN 300 athletes, Texas only has a 7-5 lead.

Which team has the Red River Rivalry recruiting edge this year? Here’s a breakdown of eight positions and which team holds the edge for now.

Quarterback

Perhaps the most competitive comparison between the schools is at quarterback. ESPN 300s Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) and Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer) are the nation’s No. 4 and No. 5 dual-threat quarterbacks. Hansen is the Sooners’ top-ranked commit and has proven himself a first-class leader of the class. Heard already has one state championship ring, and he’s hoping for a repeat performance in December before arriving at the Forty Acres.

Advantage: Oklahoma

Dallis Todd
Erik McKinney/ESPNOklahoma will get 6-foot-5 playmaker Daliis Todd in its 2014 class.
Running back

There are high expectations for both ESPN 300 Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) and Donald "Duke" Catalon (Houston/Eisenhower). Perine is a physical specimen with the combination of power and finesse at 6-foot and 213 pounds. Catalon, at 5-10 and 193 pounds, has the agility and overall balance to make him a potential every-down back. Texas also has three-star Kevin Shorter (Newton, Texas/Newton), a player who plays with a chip on his shoulder, looking to show that he should be mentioned with the elite talent.

Advantage: Texas

Wide receiver

Neither Texas nor Oklahoma will be complaining about their receiver crop. The Longhorns have an ESPN 300 player in Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City), a rising star in Emanuel Porter (Dallas/Lincoln) and a player in Garrett Gray (Marble Falls, Texas/Marble Falls) who caught 13 passes for 293 yards and five touchdowns in a game last year. Oklahoma has size and athleticism in 6-5, 210-pound ESPN 300 receiver Dallis Todd (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) and a 6-7, 180-pound end zone threat in Jeffery Mead (Tulsa, Okla/Union)

Advantage: Texas

Tight end

Oklahoma has done well with recruiting tight ends and was able to land ESPN 300 players Carson Meier (Tulsa, Okla./Union) and Mark Andrews (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain). Meier is the No. 5 Y-tight end in the country, while Andrews is the No. 8 H-tight end. Texas also has a good one in junior college pledge John Thomas (Bossier City, La./Trinity Valley Community College). At 6-6 and 255 pounds, Thomas can be used as both a reliable blocker and receiver.

Advantage: Oklahoma

Offensive line

It’s hard to believe that between the two schools, only three offensive linemen are committed.

Sooners commit Alex Dalton (Troy, Ohio/Troy) is considered one of the nation’s top centers, and guard Jonathan Alvarez (Mesquite, Texas/Horn), with his work ethic alone, will surprise a lot of people in a couple of years. Texas, like Oklahoma, has a four-star center committed in Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper). Cuney is a player who might see immediate playing time as a freshman.

Advantage: Texas

Defensive line


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Big 12 recruiting storylines: Sept. 12 

September, 12, 2013
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[+] EnlargeCorey Avery
Max Olson/ESPN.com Corey Avery won't be in Lubbock for Thursday's game, but he could make a visit soon.
Change is happening in the Big 12. Some is good, and some is questionable. The good, it appears, is taking place in Lubbock, Texas, which will be the center of the college football world on Thursday. The questionable is happening in Austin, Texas, where a former Longhorns defensive coordinator has been summoned in to a second stint. Will it work and appeal to recruits? A look at these topics and more in Big 12 recruiting storylines.

All eyes on Lubbock
The stage couldn’t be set any more perfectly for Kliff Kingsbury to make his Big 12 debut as the head coach of his alma mater. Not only does Texas Tech host TCU to begin conference play, but it will also do so on Thursday. So you can bet all eyes will be on Lubbock to see what kind of atmosphere the Red Raiders can drum up for their fans, players and recruits who might be in attendance.

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Texas recruits hanging with Longhorns 

September, 8, 2013
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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.

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Stat check: Longhorns 2014 commitments 

September, 2, 2013
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Here is a look at how each one of Texas’ 2014 commitments faired this week:

Derick Roberson
Max Olson/ESPNDefensive end Derick Roberson helped Brennan shut out San Antonio Holmes 52-0 on Friday.
• ESPN 300 defensive end Derick Roberson (San Antonio, Texas/Brennan), the No. 8 DE in the country, helped Brennan shut out San Antonio Holmes 52-0 on Friday.

• ESPN 300 wide receiver Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City) caught three passes for 62 yards and a 44-yard touchdown in a 48-0 win over Dickinson.

• ESPN 300 quarterback Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer) completed 12 of 18 passes for 179 yards and two interceptions and rushed 18 times for 103 yards in a 38-28 loss to Cedar Hill (Texas).

• ESPN 300 cornerback Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) helped the Purple Knights defense hold Amite to six points in a 35-6 victory on Saturday.

• ESPN 300 outside linebacker Otaro Alaka and Houston/Cypress Falls lost to Conroe (Texas) Oak Ridge, 37-16.


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Class of 2014 linebacker Dylan Douglass (Canyon, Texas/Canyon) didn’t drive eight hours to Austin for the black Nike Longhorns cut-off. He came to work and to open some eyes on the Texas coaching staff.

“My goals were to meet all of the coaches here and get familiar with them, let them get familiar with me and let them see what I can do," he said. "I thought I made it worth the drive.”

Douglass (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) certainly passed the eyeball test.

He popped up on Texas’ radar a couple of weeks ago when Longhorns co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite visited his school.


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It’s convenient to assume that Tennessee is the only UT on the mind of ESPN 150 outside linebacker Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla./Ponte Vedra).

His father, Dallas Cowboys special teams legend Bill Bates, played for the Volunteers in the early 1980s before a 15-year career with Dallas.


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Weekly commitment roundup 

April, 12, 2013
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ACC
Boston College
Harold Landry DE Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest
HT: 6-foot-3 WT: 230 pounds

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Coming off his final unofficial visit to Stanford, all signs seemed to be indicating Andrew Beck (Tampa, Fla./Plant) was headed to California. Until they pointed to Austin, Texas, instead.

Dressed in a suit, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound inside linebacker stood and thanked those in attendance, and some that weren't. But when it was time to pull the hat out of the bag, it was burnt orange, not red.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Beck
Tom Hauck/Student SportsAndrew Beck committed to the Longhorns following a visit out west to Stanford.
"Everybody told me, 'When you get to the right place, you just feel it in your stomach,'" Beck said of his visit to Texas. "That's really what I felt at Texas. Not just the players and the coaches, but everybody that is associated with Texas football.

"Everybody at Texas was real with me. They were not going to lie and say that you aren't going to play your freshman year, but they aren't going to say that you are."

Manny Diaz, Beck's future position coach, plans to use him in the middle. And that was truly important to him. Beck's comfortable there, and quite successful, too, as evidenced by his offer list.

"They want me as a middle linebacker," Beck said. "That's what I wanted to play, that was my preference. Playing middle linebacker at Texas is just icing on the cake. They did say that one the goal line, they might use me as an H-Back, but that is nothing different from what they do now there already."

(Read full post)

A seemingly easy decision quickly became a difficult one for Otaro Alaka this spring, but in the end he went with the school he has always loved.

The Houston Cypress Falls outside linebacker committed to Texas on Monday night, choosing the Longhorns over Texas A&M. He became commit No. 13 in Texas’ 2014 recruiting class and the Longhorns' fifth pledge in the past 10 days.

[+] EnlargeOtaro Alaka
Max Olson/ESPN.comClass of 2014 LB Otaro Alaka went to the same school as Texas receiver signee Jacorey Warrick.
"It feels good to be a Longhorn," Alaka said. "I just want to thank God first of all and just thank my coaches, parents and teammates for everything. I just felt like I was ready to pick Texas. They have a great atmosphere, great people and great academics. I just really liked their coaches."

A 6-foot-3, 205-pound prospect, he also had offers from LSU, Oklahoma, Florida State, Michigan and Baylor, among others. All along, though, it had been a two-school race.

When his recruiting process began, Alaka said he’d commit to Texas if he got an offer from the program. He did, but nearly 20 other programs also offered.

He held off making a decision when UT offered Feb. 25 after his junior day visit. Alaka took two visits to Texas A&M -- including this weekend for the Aggies’ Friday Night Lights scrimmage -- and made a return trip for the Texas spring game.

(Read full post)

The Longhorns have offered yet another out of state recruit in 2014.


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Beck lands big junior day offer 

February, 23, 2013
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Andrew Beck (Tampa, Fla./Plant) continues to be one of the fast-rising linebacker prospects in the state of Florida.

This weekend, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound prospect traveled up to Florida State with some family and his high school coach, Robert Weiner.


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