Wood at work for the Horns. It doesn't take long for certain types of story lines with delicious appeal to spread. Remember a month ago? The '09 class just signed? No offers were out to anyone for 2010? One of the stories then was about the close-knit nature of the recruiting class, grown from Garrett Gilbert's early commitment that made him the leader -- an easy role to assume for a quarterback. As a corollary, the thinking went, Gilbert's early commitment made him the pied piper of the class, able to lure other players to Texas. Within several weeks of Gilbert's signing, the best quarterback in Texas in 2010 also made a decision to ply his services in Austin -- Connor Wood.
More than just the natural leadership inherent in the quarterback position, Wood has close personal connections to both wide receiver Trovon Reed and Reed's best friend, Lache Seastrunk. Perhaps even more important than keeping Wood away from the Sooners, the Houston Second Baptist quarterback now has 11 months to convince his friends to join him in Austin. Despite some reports that the conversations surrounding Reed's potential transfer to Houston to play with Wood were on hold, there is now word out that it may still be a possibility.
I wrote back in early February that I thought the Longhorns would be in good shape if they landed one of the three -- with Wood now in the fold, perhaps it's time to get a little bit greedy and hope that Wood's influence may make a difference in the eventual destination of the two other superstars.
The spring game as a recruiting tool. If DeMarco Cobbs makes it down to Austin, it will likely be to attend the spring game on April 5. It's not traditionally known as a big recruiting day, but the Longhorns coaches should use it as another unofficial Junior Day and an opportunity for the current class to bond and interact with the current players.
As a recruiting tool, get the current commits in and show the uncommitted players how much of a bond has developed already and for them to get a sense of who they could play with -- an advantage that no other school in the country possesses to the extent that Texas does. In addition to Connor Wood recruiting Seastrunk and Reed because they are his friends, get Wood and Garrett Gilbert in there to talk to DeMarco Cobbs about how they envision throwing to him. Darius White, as well, if he can make it down. The Longhorn coaches should try to get every non-committed player with an offer to the spring game.
As mentioned above, Garrett Gilbert's early commitment, as well as other early commitments, helped establish a bond between the 2009 recruits long before Signing Day or any of them stepped onto campus. Chemistry can certainly be overrated, but developing a rapport with your teammates can never start too early. Get as many of the current commitments onto campus for the spring game to let them spend more time with each and get used to the environment in which they will play in college.
Here's a hint Mack: you've got to score. In an attempt to understand the seemingly fickle computers that factor into the BCS, Mack Brown is trying to bring in some of the computer experts whose rankings are counted in the BCS. It's hard to criticize Brown for trying to understand the system better, but the problem is that he's got the whole thing by the tail right now. The computers weren't the problem last year -- the stupid human voters were. The human voters who couldn't remember what happened in October by the time December rolled around. The voters who got all starry-eyed when seeing the box scores of the Sooners scoring 60 points on everyone, but failing to understand that Bob Stoops was calling timeouts at the end of blowouts to score more points.
That's what you need to do, Mack. No more sportsmanship. No more putting in the back-ups early and then work hard to keep them from scoring. No, the offense needs to take on the same mentality that Muschamp instilled in the defense. Go hard for 60 minutes. I'm talking about 66-10 as the new 52-10.
Mack Brown should make it a goal of the team to break the Sooners' record for most consecutive games with 60 points or more at the start of the season and whenever else possible. Put up those gaudy scores so the fickle voters will know without any doubt when they see the box score that the Longhorns annihilated their opponent. Burn it into their soggy, muddled little minds.
Challenge Colt McCoy to give the offense the same killer instinct the defense possesses. He'll buy into it and help drive the first, second, and third teams.
Challenge Garrett Gilbert, who will likely be the second-string quarterback this season and needs to get quality playing time in 2009. When Gilbert goes into the game, the Longhorns should run their normal offense and keep trying to score points, particularly since he needs the experience to make the transition to starter less abrupt in 2010. He needs to learn to aggressively run the offense he will be running at Texas (yes, the actual plays) with some of the players he will be running it with. John Chiles' development at quarterback was significantly slowed by the team running a bullshit, time-killing version of the offense when he came into the game during 2008.
I've long been an advocate of sportsmanship and critical of Stoops, but if it becomes the difference between a chance at the national championship and an at-large bid, then sportsmanship has to go by the wayside.
Step on in, Major Applewhite. Greg Davis spends his games overlooking the field, as do many offensive coordinators -- they want to be the eye in the sky. That's where Major Applewhite comes in. Applewhite clearly spends his time on the sideline during games doing more than coaching the running backs -- he's the offensive coordinator on the sidelines, often talking with Colt McCoy about checking down to his backs and asking what the quarterback is seeing. With that established as his job during games in his first season back with the Longhorns, Applewhite must now become the cheerleader and chief provider of admonishment and correction on the sideline, demanding intensity from the offense in the same way Muschamp does for the defense.
First analysis of the elusive Ross Apo. As elusive and difficult to get on film as wide receiver John Harris has been, more recent commit Ross Apo is even more difficult to catch on some celluloid, as no film has yet surfaced on the Arlington Oakridge receiver. Presumably for that exact reason, Apo barely cracks the LSR 100 at 97, while Inside Texas has him much higher at 51, likely because they have seen some film that hasn't made it on the website yet.
Scipio Tex rightly questioned the strategy on the offensive side of the ball, particularly in taking receivers with redundant skill sets, as John Harris, Ross Apo, and Darius Terrell are all similar as big, not that fast, split-end types. While there isn't any one skill ($) that would make Apo a national prospect, he does a variety of things well. His size, at 6-3, is an advantage, aided by good hands and polished route-running ability, a skill that generally develops slowly with larger receivers, who generally have longer strides.
Perhaps the best indication for Apo is that he has excelled on the camp circuit, meaning he tests well in shorts one-on-one against other top prospects, drawing raves at the NIKE Camp ($) in Provo last summer as one of the top receivers at the event, narrowly missing wide receiver MVP honors. Barely days earlier, Apo was perhaps the best receiver ($) at the OU summer camp. Towards the end of the summer, Apo took home overall MVP honors ($) at the St. Louis National Underclassmen Combine, posting a 35.5-inch standing vertical and running a 4.32 shuttle.
Apo started out in high school at powerhouse Euless Trinity, but transferred because of the run-heavy nature of the offense. His current school, Arlington Oakridge, is a small private school that doesn't face stiff compettition -- in other words, the same concerns that surround running back commit Traylon Shead. The question, then, becomes one of transition -- can Apo learn the skills necessary to succeed in college that he hasn't had much of a chance to develop in high school?
Fortunately for Apo and Texas, the Longhorns won't ask him to contribute early, giving him as much time to develop as he will need. Expect Apo to shoot up the recruiting rankings when his film becomes available, as he has all the natural skills to impress observers -- exactly what he showed to Texas coaches, who aren't in the business of offering marginal players at this point.