Texas First Junior Day Recap: Black Christmas the New Reality

Dallas Skyline WR Ra'Shaad Samples (left) and DeSoto APB Dontre Wilson threw their Horns up at the first Texas Junior Day. However, neither committed (via @10justscored).

Horns_bullet_mediumBlack Christmas, version 2.0. In 2011, the Longhorns emerged from the first Junior Day with only five commitments in the 2012 class, including two pledges on the day of the event itself, a number down drastically from the year before, when nine players made gave their verbal commitments to Mack Brown on the day. At the time, I called it Black Christmas, as the day had generally been known in Longhorn recruiting circles as something of a holiday for recruitniks, who could count on a significant portion of the class being in place only days after the previous class signed.

It may be time to officially declare those days gone. Whether it's a result of kids taking more time to make their decisions, taking more visits to become more sure of their eventual pledge, or the result of three strong recruiting classes in previous years leaving a stacked depth chart in front of most 201, the end result is the same. It's even possible that after years of being accused of pressuring kids into early pledges, that Mack Brown is telling recruits to go home and talk over the decision with their family before committing.

Belton TE Durham Smythe supported that claim ($) by telling Horns Nation that during his 30-minute conversation with Brown in his office, he was never pressured to make a pledge. The same sentiments were espoused by Dallas Skyline WR Ra'Shaad Samples, who also told Horns Nation that the Texas coaches wanted him to go home and discuss his decision ($) with his father, who is the coach at Skyline.

So even though the fireworks from previous years weren't present on Sunday, it's hardly cause for concern. The prediction here is that Texas lands two or three commitments before the next Junior Day and has roughly half the class in place by the middle of March, at the latest.

The fact is, even though Mack Brown didn't land any pledges on Sunday, Texas is still in outstanding shape with virtually every target who made it to campus on Sunday.Things definitely aren't the same as they were just two years ago, but it's probably not a bad thing. Just different.

Horns_bullet_mediumThe attendees.
  • Tyrone Swoopes, Whitewright QB -- Swoopes made it down for the Junior Day and received his Texas offer, but was not giving interviews during the afternoon or early evening.
  • Kyle Hicks, Arlington Martin RB -- It wasn't a given that he would receive an offer, but he did and it sounds like a decision could be coming soon from the talented back, who will discuss his options with his family and may have had to exercise some restraint in not becoming a Longhorn while talking with Mack Brown.
  • Dontre Wilson, DeSoto RB -- Coming in to the visit, receiving an offer wasn't a question mark for the talented back, who did in fact get his official offer. The question was whether co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin could sell him on the Texas scheme. Harsin reportedly told Wilson that he is a better version of DJ Monroe, which could certainly give him something to think about. The Longhorns needed to make up some ground with Wilson this weekend and it may be premature to say that they did, but it's probably not a stretch to say that Harsin gave Wilson something to think about, at least.
  • Jake Oliver, Dallas Jesuit WR -- The buzz right before the Junior Day had the odds of Texas landing Oliver on Sunday increasing, but he left town without pledging, though the Longhorns may be the leader at this point.
  • Ra'Shaad Samples, Dallas Skyline WR -- The speedy, playmaking wide receiver picked up a Texas offer on the day and sounded like he might be close to making a decision and committing to the Longhorns. It's too early to call him a lock, but Texas would seem to be a favorite at this time and could land a pledge from him this week.
  • Ricky Seals-Jones, Sealy WR/TE -- Another prospect who may be close to a decision, RSJ's father told OB that his son could make a decision this week ($) and though LSU is still in mix, if a pledge happens in the coming day, it would be a major upset if he doesn't choose Texas.
  • Durham Smythe, Belton TE -- As expected, the athletic tight end received an offer, but didn't commit. The question now is whether he will take his planned trip to Stanford in early March or if he will opt to become a Longhorn before that. The thought here is that his father wants him to explore his options fully, but Texas still seems like the favorite.
  • Darius James, Harker Heights OL -- One of the early favorites to commit on the spot as soon as he received his offer, James left Austin without becoming a Longhorn and still plans to take some visits, as he indicated in the week leading up to the event. Texas still remains the heavy favorite.
  • A'Shawn Robinson, Fort Worth Arlington Heights OT -- Another prospect who was considered a possibility for an early pledge over the last several months was the most quiet prospect in attendance, as his offer wasn't even confirmed as of Sunday evening. The silence could be a bad sign, or it could just be that the kid wants some privacy. Stay tuned on this one.
  • Justin Manning, Dallas Kimball DT -- It seems as if the coaches made it clear that Manning is the top target at defensive tackle and one of the top targets on the defensive side of the ball, but his recruitment still seems pretty wide open. The Longhorns will likely need to get Manning on campus several more times to have a strong shot.
  • Naashon Hughes, Harker Heights OLB/DE -- With only one linebacker spot available in the class, the coaches opted to hold off on an offer for Hughes, who was the only recruit in attendance who did not receive one on Sunday (assuming that Robinson did, as expected). An offer for Hughes down the road remains a strong possibility, but at this point he is simply a victim of numbers.

Horns_bullet_mediumDid not attend. As usual, there were several prospects who did not make it to campus. Here's the skinny on why:

  • James White, Pearland Dawson RB -- Unlike the other prospects who didn't make it to Austin, there wasn't an emergency that kept White from attending. A visit for JD2 is also in jeopardy and he seems like a guy who could quickly fall off the radar, especially with the offer now out to Hicks, who could soon become the only running back Texas takes in the class -- that is, if Wilson is viewed as an APB, as he is here.
  • Keith Ford, Cypress Ranch RB -- As expected, the Florida native did not attend and does not appear to be interested in Texas. At all. Of the current schools listed by him, there are no schools in Texas.
  • Kent Perkins, Lake Highlands OT -- The big tackle had a family emergency that kept him from making his visit. Though there was some initial concern based on the fact that Perkins told OB last week that A&M was his leader, the indications from his camp are that he will try to make the second Junior Day.
  • Ishmael Wilson, Dallas Bishop Dunne OT -- Due to a desire to see the Longhorns practice, Wilson pushed back his visit to the second Texas Junior Day last week.
  • Vincent Taylor, SA Madison DL -- One of the least likely planned attendees to receive an offer, the Taylors experienced car troubles coming back from the Texas Tech Junior Day on Saturday and were not able to attend. The plan is to make it in for JD2.
  • DJ Ward, Lawton (OK) DE -- The out-of-state defensive end was not expected to make it in and was in fact not able to do so. He'll need to make a visit at some point this spring for Texas to continue pursuing him.
  • Marcell Harris, Groveland (FL) S -- After a visit during the weekend of the Army Junior Combine, the Texas coaches told Harris and his family that he didn't need to make it in for a Junior Day. The 'Horns remain in strong position to have a shot at Harris down the stretch.
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