Originally, this was an attempt to set the stage for Signing Day and the Narrative, but somehow wandered inexorably in the direction of the Narrative. Couldn't help it. Oh well. -- GoBR --
Dizzying. Staggering. Yet exhilarating. There are a lot of ways to describe the late morning events of Friday. January 29th, 2010, the day the recruiting world brilliantly flashed burnt orange. The flashing comet of William Russ also recently illuminated the Burnt Orange Nation, taking a place amongst the stars.
The recruitments of Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks are no longer pending. Ironically, it was supposed to be the end of 2010 recruiting for the Longhorns, but late-flashing Russ has changed all that. The Narrative is now reaching full force -- faced with the choice, the decision of being with the Longhorns or against them, six players now have made the decision to become Longhorns, stretching back to the commitment of DeMarco Cobbs back in October. The Momentum Six.
That's a complete 180 from the previous narrative of the Longhorns always losing the late recruiting battles or questions about "not having enough swagger." Swagger's on now, Dre. Big time. But hey, congratulations kid, you've got a ring and you're close to your own child and family. That's important and the best of luck to you despite your ill-considered comment. This is about the growing Texas family.
Kirkpatrick made his decision last year, long before the current clarity so obvious to Cobbs and Darius White and Mike Davis and now Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks and Will Russ -- Texas is Texas, after all. Words of the Shreveport Evangel coach, not mine. Same guy who coaches top 2011 prospect Jermauria Rasco. But that's all for later. Next Thursday, as the page turns forward to the Junior Days. For now, Five-star Friday is enough. Texas is Texas and that's a blinding realization. And hey, it's hard not to notice blinding flashes of light.
Know this -- the meme is alive and well.
Faced with the decision of being with or against the Longhorns, DeMarco Cobbs chose to become a Longhorn, bolting Oklahoma for Austin, the type of movement between the states that actually makes sense.
Faced with the decision of being with or against the Longhorns, Mike Davis chose to become a Longhorn, reversing course about playing in the almighty SEC.
Faced with the decision of being with or against the Longhorns, Darius White made the easy choice -- he chose to become a Longhorn and attend the school he'd always wanted to attend, to follow in the footsteps of the wide receiver whose #4 he wore in high school.
Faced with the decision of being with or against the Longhorns, Jackson Jeffcoat chose to become a Longhorn, turning down an opportunity to be coached by his father, turning down an opportunity to attend the same school as his sister, citing his desire to emulate his father and win some championships.
Faced with the decision of being with or against the Longhorns, Jordan Hicks chose to become a Longhorn, bolting the slate-gray winter sky of Ohio. Vitamin D in the winter is a beautiful thing, brother.
Faced with the decision of being with or against the Longhorns, William Russ chose to become a Longhorn, bolting Arkansas in favor of a slightly more enlightened town, even if it didn't have his preferred major as an undergraduate -- there were bigger objectives afoot.
All six players being recruited by Texas towards the end of the process decided to become Longhorns. The meme is alive and well -- the momentum began with Cobbs and gathered steam and by the time that Darius White made his decision, it was truly a decision of being with or against the Longhorns.
It was a classic snowball effect, a positive feedback loop -- the more players who committed to Texas, the easier decision to head to Austin became because these kids weren't concerned about the depth chart, about guaranteed early playing time, about being the savior of a program as did Ahmad Dixon and Corey Nelson. Or winning a Heisman trophy as a freshman and whatever else like the running back from Temple. It's not even that there's anything wrong with the decision made by Dixon and Nelson. But they wanted something different. Personal glory by resurrecting a program in their own image. These six, these six for Texas, they were, they are, concerned about rings. About standing in confetti like Vince. Not even alone like Vince, together as a team -- Gilbert, Jeffcoat, Okafor, Hicks, White, Jackson, Davis, Cobbs. Mack and Coach Boom. That's why they're with us, all six, hungry, desirous of a crystal football. Maybe more than one.
The Crown Jewels of the Crown Jewel?
Let's head back to a question raised earlier:
Now, the next question is which recruit is the crown jewel of this class -- Hicks or Jeffcoat? But wait, Reggie Wilson, Tevin Jackson, Mike Davis, and Darius White all have strong claims to that title as well. Hell, why even debate something like that? They are all the crown jewels of the class. The class is the crown jewel.
Two statements that upon further inspection seem rather, well, something. Not quite contradictory, but convoluted, at the least. Those six, though, those Crowning Six of Hicks and Jeffcoat and Wilson and Jackson and Davis and White, are the crown jewels of what might be the crown jewel of all Texas recruiting classes. Ever. But that's for the Narrative as well.
This is setting the stage after all and those six will be the focus of the first Recruiting Spotlights leading up to National Signing on Wednesday. The class is complete and it's time for perspective, the definition of what monster recruting momentum really means. When the top players in Texas and two other states realize that they want to be with the Longhorns, not against them.
The Crowning Commitment
He may not be the crown jewel, but Shreveport Evangel kicker William Russ may end up being directly responsible for winning more games during his collegiate career than some of the other touted members of the class. He's the final piece, the last of 25. Directly responsible for winning games because kickers win games -- the three field goals from Hunter Lawrence were the scoring difference in the Oklahoma game this season and all from distance. His last-second kick against Nebraska (literally, there was one second left) will always resonate, even if it was slightly diminished by the loss to Alabama.
Until the news that Russ was visiting Austin broke, the need for a kicker in the class was probably the most underrated aspect of the 2010 class. In fact, there's probably a strong case to be made that Russ was more important to completing the class than either Jeffcoat or Hicks. Not to say that the two five-star commits aren't integral parts of the class or destined to be super stars -- they are, but the Longhorns have some depth at those two positions, other players with the potential to be stars, but could have ended up going into the 2010 season completely reliant on Justin Tucker kicking field goals, with competition from sophomores Travis Smith and Michael Summerville, both walk ons. There is no information on Smith on MB-TF other than his basic biographical information and Summerville's page indicates that he only lettered one year in high school -- suggesting that he did not win a job earlier in high school or came to placekicking later in his high school career after having played soccer for three years.
Kickers win games, remember? One of Smith or Summerville could turn out to be valuable contributors, but it's not something worth relying upon. They're small insurance policies. Russ provides the major insurance in the case that Tucker doesn't work out kicking field goals, with major upside as a punter because of his hang time -- when the Longhorns want to make sure their punt coverage team has a chance to get down the field to make a play, they should be able to turn to Russ at any point in his Longhorn career. And that's not even mentioning the strong possibility that he could actually boom some kicks into the end zone more often than Tucker.
Mack Brown has been placing a higher value on offering kickers scholarships in recent years and Russ is a perfect example of why Brown's adjustment makes sense. If Texas plays in the national championship game in 2012 and needs to make a field goal to win the game late, the ball will in all likelihood be coming off the foot of William Russ. Maybe Jaxon Shipley will even recite him a Bible passage another holder once shared with his kicker.