2012 Austin High WR Cayleb Jones now has Texas second on his list, behind the Miami Hurricanes (photo by the author).
Morbid jokes aside, Cibolo Steele RB Malcolm Brown announced this week that this two finalists are Alabama and Texas, the very same teams that met at the Rose Bowl last January. For diehard Texas recruitniks, the stakes are probably equally as high as they were in the national championship game and the ability of the Tide to run the football and inability to do the same on the Texas side could potentially swing the battle for Brown's services in favor of the team from Tuscaloosa once again. Brown must choose between the known running game of Alabama and an offense that already successfully features two backs with similar skill sets and a running game based entirely on the promise of a change in scheme as the remedy for several years of failure.
The good news is that Brown made his way to Austin this week to take in the Texas campus one last time and get a better view of the academic situation, and, according to a report, meet with some of the current players to get their take on the program. In the past, pairings like Keenan Robinson and Jordan Hicks, Christian Scott and MIke Davis, and Demarco Cobbs and Josh Turner, have all helped seal the deal.
Conventional wisdom still favors the Longhorns, but the sense here is that the recent visit to Alabama, Brown's first, helped close the gap and that the uncertainty around the running game could hurt Texas. Most rumors have Brown's mother favoring Texas, no doubt in an effort to keep her baby close to home and within easy traveling distance to games, while his father prefers the certainty of Alabama success on the ground.
Brown should announce his decision within the next two or three weeks, finally ending what has seemed like endless speculation about his destination and if Brown chooses the Tide, then a serious discussion can take place about the back-up plan for Texas. Until then, the odds still favor the bruising back ending up in Burnt Orange, though it no longer feels like a foregone conclusion, despite positive rumblings like this one.
Longhorns lose pole position with Jones to Da U. The last we heard from Cayleb Jones, the Austin High star receiver had Texas firmly atop his leader board. However, a seismic shift has taken place, resulting in the Longhorns dropping from the top spot ($) in favor of the Miami Hurricanes.
Taken out of context, it might seem strange that a kid who seemingly didn't have Miami on his radar at the time of the Maroon spring game now has them as his leader. Taken in context, it makes much more sense -- after starring for the champion Cowboy teams of the mid-90s, Robert Jones played several seasons for the Miami Dolphins for Jimmy Johnson, the former head coach of the Hurricanes. During his last season with the Fins, the linebackers coach was none other than Randy Shannon, now the head man in Coral Gables.
As much as anything, then, the trip to Florida for Cayleb Jones and his family was arguably a trip home, to a place where Cayleb grew up before moving to Austin. And despite the former connection, Jones sounded as if it were a surprise to him how much he liked Miami, particularly the the attention he could receive from professors at the private school, the scenery, and the reputation for putting players in the NFL.
While one report dismissed Jones as having little connection to Austin, the fact that he has spent his formative years here and still has the Longhorns second on his list (with A&M third) remains a positive for Texas moving forward. The question now is just how much of an impact those years have had on him. Was he deeply moved to become a Longhorn fan when Vince Young found the end zone in Pasadena, when Jones was in the impressionable age range between 10 and 11? Would his family be willing to move back to South Florida to see him play in college or does the hometown appeal of staying in Austin and watching their son play weigh on the minds of Mr. and Mrs. Jones?
The last major factor in all of this is that Jones is considering making an early commitment some time in the fall to avoid the hassles that accompany a recruitment of his magnitude. Though Jones has not discussed the possibility with the Texas coaches, the obvious consideration is that the Longhorns have not in the past been willing to offer recruits before the first Junior Day and declined to take a commitment from Demarco Cobbs when he visited during the fall of the junior year. Would Brown be willing to make an exception for Jones and takes an early commitment from him if he decides to head in that direction? It would seem that with such a major talent, it would be virtually impossible to keep such a pledge secret until the first Junior Day.
The Longhorns certainly aren't out of it with Jones, but now have some ground to make up and potentially a major decision to make regarding early offers.
What exactly is going on with David Jenkins? Over the course of the Texas 7-on-7 State Championship, Lewisville Hebron CB David Jenkins did numerous interviews with a variety of recruiting analysts and confirmed that he does in fact have an offer from Texas, as the Longhorns sent his written offer in the mail to him shortly after extending a verbal offer through his head coach.
It is still not clear though whether that offer is committable and Jenkins himself seems unsure ($). The lack of communication in this situation seems odd -- it was less surprising when Jenkins was essentially unavailable visiting his family back in Louisiana, but now it makes little sense. If Jenkins is serious about the Longhorns, he needs to take the initiative to call the Texas coaches to determine the current if he still has an offer, which seems doubtful given the overall numbers and Josh Turner's recent commitment.
The Recruitocosm post linked above mentions that the coaching staff will watch Jenkins this season to determine if they want to close with him, but that is extremely unlikely to happen, as the talented defensive back plans on making his decision in August and all signs point to LSU, his home state. In fact, Jenkins has only spent the last year in Texas, part of the reason it took him so long to crack the starting lineup last year -- he had to convince his new coaches that he could play first. Ultimately, whether Jenkins still has a committable offer from Texas or not may not matter because he looks destined to become a Tiger.