Though many fans don't want Texas Longhorns head coach to return for the 2013 season, it was business as usual on Friday night for the annual football banquet with many of the 2013 commits and several important targets in town.
First, some good news for a longtime pledge -- Harker Heights linebacker Naashon Hughes has been committed to Texas since February, but finally received word that he will have a full scholarship at Texas as soon as he arrives on campus after being offered a grayshirt when he initially pledged. Naashon is the younger brother of redshirting tackle Camrhon, who missed the season after suffering an ACL tear during the summer.
Less surprising was the news emerging from the banquet that Celina lineman Jake Raulerson will start his career at Texas at defensive end in an effort to get him on the field as soon as possible. With Alex Okafor graduating and Jackson Jeffcoat attempting to recover from another pectoral tear, the 'Horns will need some immediate help at the position and are hoping to get some from the class leader.
The only high school target in attendance was Waco lineman Andrew Billings, who will announce his decision on Thursday on local Waco radio. Besides the fact that his announcement has finally been set, the big news is that after telling Billings for months that Texas only wanted him as an offensive lineman, the staff informed the two-way high school player that they would allow him to play defensive tackle at Texas.
Regardless of whether that indicates that the 'Horns are concerned they could lose top-rated commit A'following his weekend visit to USC, the decision by the coaching staff could be a big one in the recruitment of Billings, who has stated a preference to play defensive tackle in the past and is being recruited as a defensive lineman by each of his other two finalists Baylor and TCU.
Though Billings hasn't said much publicly to tip his hand, the sense is that Texas is in good shape after last weekend's visit, especially given that he wasn't expected to make his announcement until 2013 after taking more visits.
The most important target in attendance may have been Contra Costa CC offensive tackle Desmond Harrison, the former Texas resident who just visited Oklahoma and may be down to the Sooners and Longhorns with the USC Trojans making a late push.
However, Harrison has declined to name any favorites publicly and has said that the visits to Norman and Austin were similar. He did say that Austin "felt like home ($)" and that he was "treated like family ($)" while around the Texas program.
With a trip home to North Carolina pending over the winter break, the 6-8, 300-pounder hopes to make a decision in the coming weeks.
The other JUCO visitors were East Mississippi CC defensive end Za'Darius Smith and Hutchinson CC linebacker De'Vondre Campbell. Neither one does many interviews, so there likely won't be any comments made publicly about the visit. The information emerging from behind the scenes indicates that the visit went well for both prospects, but that's not particularly newsworthy, even with all the turmoil currently surrounding the program.
Texas may have put themselves in a position to compete with Mississippi State and Texas A&M with Smith, while Campbell remains committed to Tennessee, though it remains to be seen how much the hiring of former Cincinnati coach Butch Jones will help as the Volunteers try to keep the rangy linebacker in the fold.
For the Longhorns, it's all about trying to create some good news at a time when there hasn't been much of it.