How quickly things change in recruiting.
Thought to be all but committed to Texas A&M only weeks ago, the star Brenham duo of linebacker Tim Cole and defensive tackle Malcom Brown ended a week of rumors by giving their commitments to head coachon Sunday before the Texas spring game.
Cole and Brown will not be joining 2011 A&M commit Brandon Alexander and 2012 commits Troy Green and Adrian Bellard in College Station and their commitments put to rest any lingering notions that Alexander's guardian, David Barham, has been working behind the scenes to turn Brenham into a bona fide Aggie pipeline.
Their commitments also help reverse the early recruiting narrative. After Texas landed only four commitments during the weekend of the first Junior Day and only two commitments on JD1 itself, the Longhorns still trail behind the torrid pace set last year in recruiting, but have recovered from the relatively slow start to land 15 commitments by the beginning of April.
Just as importantly, the hot start by the Aggies in recruiting no longer looks so threatening to the Longhorns landing most of the targeted players in state, as well as the school's overall dominance of the Texas recruiting landscape. So even though most recruits are now keeping their true feelings under the radar and declining to name favorites, the decisions by Cole and Brown serve notice once again that when Mack Brown wants a sandwich, he gets the sandwich.
And the Cole/Brown combination makes for an extremely important sandwich. Brown has been ranked as the top defensive tackle in the state for more than a year now and that isn't likely to change at any point in the recruiting process. In a deep class at linebacker, Cole is in the conversation with Rockdale's Derek David and Euless Trinity's Brian Nance as the top player in the state at that position.
Cole appeared to be the leader of the duo and his three visits to Austin in a month seemed to help put the Longhorns in serious contention for his services as he did his due diligence in recruiting. After failing to attend JD1, things looked desperate with Brown, but Cole seemed to convince him to attend JD2 and the news out of Brenham was mostly positive since that time, reaching a crescendo late last week when rumors began swirling that both of them could commit to Texas this weekend. Looks like those rumors have had some merit, no?
Besides their importance to the 2012 class and the overall recruiting narrative for the year, what did Texas land in Tim Cole and Malcom Brown?
Possessing elite quickness and first step off the ball, the 6-2, 290-pound Brown is a gap-penetrating defensive tackle who makes his living in the defensive backfield. With the motor to pursue plays not only down the line of scrimmage, but also well down the field, Brown could give his highest level of effort more consistently and needs to work some on his leverage. However, when Brown does fire off the ball low, he's too much of a load for all but the most elite high school guards to handle and he has the physical tools to be a star at Texas.
The 3-4 defense employed by Tim DeRuyter at A&M didn't do the Aggies any favors in his recruitment, as Brown's talents move well beyond playing the run-stuffing nose guard position and taking on two blockers every play. Whether Brown's uncle was the major influence in convincing his nephew of that fact probably will remain an unknown, but suffice it to say that the Aggie scheme may have gone a long way towards pushing Brown in the direction of Texas.
Malcom Brown Highlights (via 247SportsStudio)
At between 6-1 and 6-2 and around 215 pounds, Cole isn't a big-bodied linebacker like 2012 commits Steve Edmond and Kendall Thompson and is more in the mold of a player like Aaron Benson. At Texas, Cole projects as a SAM linebacker who will have some coverage responsibilities in the defense, as well as blitzing at times. His sideline-to-sideline range and reputation as a heady player should help him adjust quickly to the college game.
In addition, Cole has the lateral quickness to give himself the tackling radius of a taller, longer player and shows the ability on film to sink, uncoil his hips to strike ballcarriers with some legitimate force. Faster as a junior than as a senior, Cole will need to add some strength to take on blockers at the point of attack, though he does show good overall physicality as a player and some ability to strike with his hands to win battles against opposing offensive linemen.
Tim Cole Highlights (via 247SportsStudio)
In terms of the overall impact on the recruiting class, Cole's commitment gives the Longhorns three linebackers in the 2012 class and will shut down recruiting at that position, with Manny Diaz having landed all three of his top targets in Cole, Peter Jinkens, and Alex De La Torre.
At defensive tackle, Brown joins Alex Norman and Paul Boyette in the fold. Texas may continue to recruit Javonte Magee, a guy who may end up at defensive tackle, but at the least projects as a swing man between the defensive end and defensive tackle positions.
As Texas works to wrap up remaining targets along the offensive line, at running back, and continues to evaluate defensive back prospects, the success that the commitments of Brown and Cole provide to their respective positions ensures that the Longhorns will have another top-10 recruiting class nationally, despite the 5-7 season and massive turnover on the coaching staff.
So if you see Mack eying down your sandwich, you might as well just give it to him and save him the trouble of asking for it.