NCF On The Trail: Jake Oliver

Only three days after Texas coaches first contacted a Washington State commit, he has flipped his verbal pledge and will sign with the Longhorns.

Three-star Amarillo (Texas) Palo Duro receiver Montrel Meander confirmed to HornsNation in a text message that he's committed to Texas.

Meander originally committed to playing safety at Washington State on Jan. 20, but Texas receivers coach Darrell Wyatt stunned him by showing up at Palo Duro on Friday to inqure about his interest in visiting Texas.

After initially saying he was sticking with Washington State, Meander flew to Austin on Saturday for an official visit. Now he's the 15th member of Texas' 2013 recruiting class and its third receiver pledge, joining Jake Oliver (Dallas/Jesuit) and Jacorey Warrick (Houston/Cypress Falls).

As a senior at Palo Duro, Meander played safety and running back. He rushed for 572 yards and eight touchdowns this fall. Prior to committing to Washington State, Meander took official visits to San Diego State, UTSA and Colorado State.

Signing day primer: Texas

January, 23, 2013
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Team needs: Texas hit the recruiting trail this year seeking improved depth on the offensive line and at linebacker. Its line got almost no production from backups in 2012, and an inexperienced linebacker group started six players last season and endured struggles throughout. With only nine seniors in 2012, the Longhorns don’t have many other holes that need to be filled by this class of recruits. The most irreplaceable cogs are safety Kenny Vaccaro and defensive end Alex Okafor. Both are potential first-round NFL draft picks whose production will be tough to match.

Help is on the way: The offensive line questions have been answered. Texas is set to sign one of the nation’s best classes up front with five commits, including No. 1 center Darius James (Killeen, Texas/Harker Heights) and No. 4 tackle Kent Perkins (Dallas/Lake Highlands). Contra Costa (Calif.) College tackle Desmond Harrison joined the class this week. Texas also landed ESPN 300 outside linebacker Deoundrei Davis (Cypress, Texas/Cypress Woods), who enrolled early and should contribute as a freshman.

Other key commits: Two more early enrollees, ESPN 150 lineman Jake Raulerson (Celina, Texas/Celina) and Butte (Calif.) College tight end Geoff Swaim, should play right away. Texas also has pledges from ESPN 150 defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson (Fort Worth, Texas/Arlington Heights), receiver Jacorey Warrick (Houston/Cypress Falls) and cornerback Antwuan Davis (Bastrop, Texas/Bastrop). The Longhorns will pair Warrick with Jake Oliver (Dallas/Jesuit), who broke the Texas state record for career receptions.

Other key targets: Holding on to Robinson is crucial. He has taken official visits to USC and Alabama and could make a late-second flip on signing day. With a pledge from Harrison, the biggest remaining priorities are finding another running back and wide receiver. ESPN 150 receiver Sebastian LaRue (Santa Monica, Calif./Santa Monica) and Ole Miss running back commit Peyton Barber (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton) could visit in January.

SAN ANTONIO -- Despite carrying the nickname “Shaq,” versatile athlete Tre’Davious White (Shreveport, La./Green Oaks) is listed at 5-11 and 175 pounds -- and even he thinks that’s generous.

For a player of his size and stature, covering the oak trees that are the U.S. Army All-American Bowl West team wide receivers might have seemed to be mission impossible at first. As White continues practices, the task has proven not to be the ridiculous challenge he once thought.
Wide receiver Jacorey Warrick made the biggest jump of any Longhorns commitment in the ESPN 150, which was updated today. Warrick, who has been out since tearing the meniscus in his right knee on Oct. 4, moved up from No. 114 to No. 59. He is now the No. 8 wide receiver.

Darius James remains the Longhorns’ top-ranked player at No. 17 overall, which also makes him the No. 1 center. Jake Raulerson dropped a spot to No. 56 and remains the No. 3 offensive tackle.

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Oklahoma State commit Ra’Shaad Samples (Dallas/Skyline) is considered one of the top wide receivers in Texas. Last Friday was a chance for fans to see Samples’ versatility as he lined up as a defensive back in Skyline’s 56-24 win against Dallas Jesuit.

As a receiver, Samples caught three passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns, one of those a 90-yard play. As a defender, however, Samples was asked to be an extra defensive back in an effort to slow down Jesuit’s passing offense. Samples was on watch when 2014 Texas A&M commit and ESPN Watch List cornerback Cedric Collins left the game because of illness, and he was given the task to defend Jesuit’s Jake Oliver, an ESPN 300 receiver and Texas commit.

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For most Oklahoma football commits this weekend is the start of their senior seasons. Most early season matchups feature some of the biggest rivalries within their state, and that’s certainly the case in Oklahoma.

The annual Backyard Bowl between Jenks, Okla., and No. 20 Tulsa (Okla.) Union is Friday at the University of Tulsa. OU has a commit from each school, with three-star wide receiver Jordan Smallwood (Jenks) and three-star athlete Dalton Rodriguez (Union).


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AUSTIN, Texas -- It appears the Longhorns are finally coming around to ESPN 150 wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. (Prosper, Texas/Prosper).

The son of Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, who dazzled at The Opening in July, said that he and the Texas coaches have been in contact this month. It’s the first time the two sides have talked since May.

[+] EnlargeTorii Hunter
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comTorii Hunter Jr. is rated as the nation's No. 8 receiver.
“Well they contacted my coach at the beginning of this month and my coach told me to give Coach [Darrell] Wyatt a call," Hunter Jr. said. "When I finally got a hold of Coach Wyatt he really just told me to attend their first game against Wyoming.”

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Longhorns shine at The Opening 

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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The Opening has come to a conclusion, and Texas fans learned a couple of things.

First, Jake Raulerson (Celina, Texas/Celina) is pretty versatile. Second, and perhaps the bigger story, A’Shawn Robinson (Fort Worth, Texas/Arlington Heights) is a lot better than advertised.

While Raulerson showed his worth among the best as an offensive lineman, even he had to yield to the play of Robinson, particularly during the lineman drills on Sunday. Raulerson watched Robinson shred through offensive linemen and said Robinson is highly underrated on a national level.

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Ricky Seals-Jones, the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver recruit, has de-committed from Texas.

The five-star recruit from Sealy, Texas, confirmed his decision to back out of his pledge in a text message to HornsNation.

A 6-foot-5, 220-pound receiver ranked No. 7 in the ESPN 150, Seals-Jones originally picked Texas over LSU on Feb. 22.

Prior to his decision to decommit, there were no signs Seals-Jones was wavering in his decision. He joined the rest of UT’s 2013 recruiting class in attending Texas’ first summer camp on Sunday.

With the loss of Seals-Jones, Texas now has 14 verbal commits for its 2013 class, including pledges from receivers Jacorey Warrick (Houston/Cypress Falls) and Jake Oliver (Dallas/Jesuit).

Read the rest of the story from Max Olson and William Wilkerson.

Oklahoma is going to get one more shot at the stellar group of 2013 recruits at Dallas Jesuit. Inside linebacker Jordan Mastrogiovanni confirmed he is the latest to receive an offer from the Sooners.

Mastrogiovanni, 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, is a four-star prospect ranked No. 6 in the nation at inside linebacker.

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Texas teammates high on Sooners 

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IRVING, Texas -- Tight end Christian Morgan (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) has a slew of offers, but he still doesn’t have one from Oklahoma.

He has said repeatedly in the past that even without the offer, he is still pretty high on Sooners. If you don’t believe him, ask his teammate, linebacker Mike Mitchell.

[+] EnlargeMichael Mitchell
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comLinebacker Mike Mitchell received an invitation to The Opening after an impressive day at the Nike camp.
Mitchell said part of the reason he is interested in the Sooners is because of Morgan's praise.

“Christian talks so highly of OU, of the coaches, the family-like atmosphere. Everything. He says it’s a great place to be,” Mitchell said. “I feel that way, too, but it’s great to hear it from somebody else.”

And if Mitchell can have the same type of relationship with OU’s current defensive staff as he did with the previous one, the Sooners are back in business.

Mitchell, 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, said he received an OU offer from former defensive coordinator Brent Venables and that he hasn’t had a chance to talk with new linebackers coach Tim Kish or defensive coordinator Mike Stoops yet.

Both Morgan and Mitchell were invited to OU’s junior days but neither were able to attend.

After Mitchell’s performance Sunday at the Nike Football Training Camp event at the Dallas Cowboys practice facility, he now has everybody’s attention.

Mitchell was named the Most Valuable Player for linebackers and earned an invite to The Opening, the Nike all-star event featuring 150 of the top recruits in the nation in Oregon in July.

“Today was a lot of fun and a big learning experience,” Mitchell said. “There were a lot of great guys out here, and it was great to compete and see what I could do.”

He earned praised from practically every NFTC coach during the four-hour event. And for someone who had never participated in an elite camp-like atmosphere, Mitchell felt right at home.

“This really was what I expected. Great coaches, great competition. You couldn’t ask for more than this,” Mitchell said.


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DT Robinson commits to Horns 

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Texas picked up commit No. 3 on Thursday morning, and it wasn't one most were expecting. Lineman A'Shawn Robinson (Fort Worth, Texas/Arlington Heights) confirmed in a text message to HornsNation he has committed to Texas.

"He committed this morning and called coach Mack Brown," Robinson's mother, Abigail, told HornsNation. "We talked about it last night. I didn't know if he was going to do it today."

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Before athlete LaQuvionte Gonzalez (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill) could even leave school Wednesday, he knew it would be a busy rest of the day.

Because while in class, the junior picked up offers from Oklahoma and Illinois, his head coach Joey McGuire told him.

Gonzalez, 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, is an amazing athlete and can play several positions, according to McGuire.


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Go ahead and exhale.

It’s OK. Three days is a long time to hold it all in. So breathe deep. And sigh in relief because finally, 72 hours after Texas’ first junior day, the Longhorns have received a commitment. Like they all are, this is a big one.

[+] EnlargeJake Oliver
Travis L. Brown/ESPN.comReceiver Jake Oliver had 23 touchdowns during his junior season at Dallas Jesuit.
Jake Oliver (Dallas/Jesuit) is considered one of the better playmakers at the wide receiver position in the state. But for Texas he is more than that.

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