Don't look now, but the Texas coaching staff is still out scouring the state -- and entire country -- for top prospects. And not for the 2013 class, either. Instead, this new group is working hard evaluating or re-evaluating every prospect in the state, committed or uncommitted.
It's a major change in strategy after years of completing recruiting classes early and then sitting back and doing virtually nothing during the fall except evaluating the next group coming through the ranks.
Besides youthful energy and drive, part of the impetus is a result of a significant attrition during this football with loses at quarterback, wide receiver, and running back, opening up long-term scholarship spots, with more attrition still expected that could allow the staff to go to 25 in 2012 if necessary with 19 commitments already .
Here's a position-by-position look at the current state of affairs in the 2013 class.
Prompted by defections by Connor Wood and Garrett Gilbert, as well as the possibility that Case McCoy could also depart, the search for another 2012 quarterback to pair with Connor Brewer ended last week with the commitment of Tatum's Jalen Overstreet, a dual threat at the position who ran for 351 yards and five touchdowns on 26 carries Friday night in his first game as a Longhorn commit.
With Johnathan Gray already in the fold, the Longhorns are actively pursuing an all-purpose back in the 2012 class, with an offer out to Port Lavaca Calhoun athlete Daniel Brooks and serious interest in TCU commit and Plugerville Hendrickson athlete Daje Johnson, who has been in attendance for each of the last three Texas home games.
Brooks has fallen off the radar recently after maintaining the solidity of his commitment to Oklahoma and an official visit from him seems unlikely. In any case, Johnson may be a better athlete and projects better as a defender if necessary. The coaching staff has told him that they will consider offering him after the season after evaluating Johnson in person, he looks worthy of an offer. The odds are that he would flip his commitment to Texas if it happens.
The loss of redshirt freshman Chris Jones at this position, as well as the departure of redshirt sophomore Greg Timmons before the season, opens up a spot here the staff may get serious about filling. While there's still a chance that Copperas Cove athlete Orlando Thomas could get a look here upon arrival to the 40 Acres, the staff could get serious about offering another prospect at the position.
One current outstanding offer is to one of the top players in the country, Dorial Green-Beckham, who is a longshot for Texas, but is planning on taking an official visit for the Kansas State game that he may have to re-schedule if his team is still competing in the playoffs.
Florida product Nelson Agholor also has an offer and could see action on either side of the ball in college, with the openings at wide receiver giving him a better chance to land on the offensive side of the ball, but he has not yet scheduled an official visit and there has been little recent news about him regarding Texas. He is likely to stay in state, with Florida and Florida State thought to lead.
As part of the ongoing evaluation process by the Texas staff, Darrell Wyatt is continuing to evaluate several in-state players committed to other programs, including Baylor commit and Richardson Pearce athlete Corey Coleman, Oklahoma State commit and Athens athlete Kendall Sanders, and Texas Tech commit and League City Clear Springs wide receiver Marcus Johnson.
Of the three, the staff has had the most contact with Coleman, who could also play cornerback or safety and is one of the fastest players in the state. In fact, Coleman was told last week to be "ready for an offer" by Wyatt and it's not clear at this point whether one is imminent, but it certainly wouldn't be surprising at this point. Texas has a strong shot with Coleman if he does receive an offer.
As for Sanders, it's still a complete mystery as to why the staff has failed to offer him to this point, while Johnson is freshly onto the radar after an extremely productive junior season that has to have the Texas Tech coaches feeling a little bit nervous about keeping him in the fold. Conventional wisdom with Johnson at the moment has him switching his commitment if he receives a Texas offer.
Beaumont Westbrook defensive end Caleb Bluiett has seen some time at tight end in high school and worked out there at a Texas summer camp, clearly demonstrating the athleticism to play there for Texas if necessary.
However, with no true tight end in the class, the staff is evaluating an in-state prospect -- Vincent Hobbs of Mesquite Horn, a 6-3, 230-pounder who is a solid athlete and pass-catcher, but currently only reports one offer, from Louisiana-Monroe. On film, Hobbs doesn't have any particular skill that jumps out and is currently rated as a two-star prospect by ESPN, which projects him as a possible H-back. At this point, an offer for Hobbs seems rather unlikely.
Most of the developments here are taking place out of state, with two new prospects surfacing on the radar, both of whom have received offers -- offensive tackle Donald Hawkins from Northwest Mississippi Junior College and offensive tackle/defensive lineman Arik Armstead from California.
Hawkins represents a major departure from previous recruiting strategies by Mack Brown, who has been unwilling to recruit junior colleges for years. The difference now is that Texas needs players who can make an immediate impact along the line and new offensive line coach Stacy Searels has the connections to junior colleges that help get in the door of recruitments.
A soft verbal to Oklahoma State, Hawkins will take an official visit to Texas for the Kansas State game. At 6-5, 320 pounds, Hawkins has raised his stock with an impressive sophomore season and is ranked as one of the top 15 JUCO players in the country, earning interest from top programs across the country such as Georgia, Florida, and Arkansas.
Armstead has made it clear that he is considering taking a visit to Austin after recently de-committing from USC, but has not yet set up a date. One of the top prospects in the country regardless of position, the 6-8, 280-pounder is for some reason set on playing along the defensive line in college, despite having the necessary frame and athleticism to project as a potential NFL left tackle. He would also like the opportunity to play
Elsewhere on the out of state front, Arizona native Andrus Peat has yet to schedule an official visit to Texas and it's possible that it could still happen amidst rumors that the Peat family has been difficult for the coaching staff to get on the phone, but considering that an official visit has not yet been set, the Peat recruitment looks less and less likely by the day to end in favor of the Longhorns
The Longhorns have also continued evaluation Carthage offensive lineman Greg Brantley, a Junior Day invite way back in February, but he has maintained that he is solidly committed to Oklahoma State.
Along the defensive line, the Longhorns are not seriously pursuing any new names, but have resurrected the recruitment of a player who appeared to fall off the radar months ago.
San Antonio Sam Houston's Javante Magee could project either at defensive end or defensive tackle and his recruitment has been more than a little bit of a mystery, but it appears that the Longhorns are once again in the fold, though it's unclear the extent of Magee's interest, which could still depend on the eventual destinations of teammates Leo Thomas and Ralphael Green.
Meanwhile, despite some indications of interest, Florida State commit Mario Edwards does not have Texas in his top two of Oklahoma and Florida State and likely will not make a visit to Austin before finally coming to a decision.
Elsewhere at the defensive end position, that leaves Lousiana product and LSU commit Torshiro Davis, who made a visit to campus earlier in the fall, but still seems likely to decide between sticking with his commitment to LSU or switching to Alabama. If the Longhorns do have a shot, it will be because of the relationship defensive tackles coach Bo Davis has with Davis and the opportunity for early playing time at Texas as a dedicated edge rusher.
Lingering on the margins of the radar is Lufkin's Tomme Mark, an undersized defensive tackle with plenty of quickness for his position, but the Longhorns have not made direct contact with Mark at this time.
Texas has three commits already at the linebacker position and appears to be done recruiting there.
After finding another offensive lineman, this is probably the biggest remaining need in the class, especially with Nolan Brewster cutting short his career at Texas because of concussion-related issues. The most recent offer at the position is Mineral Wells safety Adrian Colbert, with the other outstanding offer belonging to Louisiana's Landon Collins.
Colbert received his offer a little more than a week ago and it will become official when he visits for the Kansas State game. He's a soft Baylor commit and one of the fastest-rising prospects in the state at 6-1 and 185 pounds. A top track athlete in Texas in the 400m, Colbert could also compete in that event in college and translates that speed onto the football field, as well as being one of the best strikers to emerge from the state in the last several seasons. It's quite possible that Colbert could switch his commitment to Texas following his visit.
Collins will take his official visit during the banquet weekend in early December, but Texas trails LSU and Alabama for the safety prospect who is one widely regarded as one of the top players in the country.
The Longhorns are also still evaluating players like Leo Thomas, Kevin Vaccaro, and LaDarrell McNeil.