Receiver Ra'Shaad Samples (left) is thought to favor Texas (via @10justscored).
In a class currently expected to fall in the range of 18-20 commits, the Longhorns have already filled about 75% of the available spots in 2013 only a month and a half out from Signing Day for the previous group. It's a star-studded group with intentions of winning a national championship -- one that Celina lineman Jake Raulerson is now calling "Dream Team 2013." Considering the talent assembled, such a characterization is hardly a stretch.
With a few as five spots left (ATTRITION CAVEAT!), scholarships are starting to get tight and that's increasing the pressure on some of the prospects with outstanding offers to make a decision in the near future or risk not having a place in the class -- this isn't pressure from the coaching staff, but rather the realization that it's getting to be time or get on board or risk being left behind.
There are currently four outstanding offers to in-state players -- Dallas Skyline wide receiver Ra'Shaad Samples, DeSoto all-purpose back Dontre Wilson, Dallas Kimball defensive tackle Justin Manning, and Alief Taylor defensive end Torrodney Prevot. Georgia safety Vonn Bell also either has an offer or would upon visiting as one of several out-of-state defensive backs in whom the Longhorns are expressing some interest.
Of the in-state offers, Texas is in extremely strong shape with Samples, Wilson, and Prevot. The first two nearly committed at the first Junior Day and Prevot is a longtime Texas fan. While Samples has declined to name a leader recently, the 'Horns are still thought to be in extremely strong shape with him -- after all, his Twitter avatar has been a picture of he and Jake Oliver at JD1 throwing their horns up for about a month now.
Wilson is in the midst of one of the most important weeks in his recruitment, as he is currently out in Eugene visiting Oregon, the school thought to be the leader prior to the strong Texas surge following JD1. If the Ducks can't edge ahead at this point, the 'Horns probably emerge as the resounding leader for the speedy and versatile running back -- as long as a spot remains open for him.
Prevot, on the other hand, is yet to embark on a telling stretch in his own recruitment, with a visit planned to LSU this weekend and a trip to College Station the next. There's no word that a decision will be imminent afterwards, but things should start becoming much more clear for him at that point about where he's going to end up.
The longshot is Manning, who isn't saying much publicly about any leaders and plans on taking his official visits in the fall, pushing a timetable for him past the high school season and towards National Signing Day. Since there aren't any other true defensive tackle prospects currently on the radar for Texas, Manny Diaz will probably wait for Manning longer than the staff may with some guys at other positions.
In a recent interview with Scout, Manning cited the TCU and Texas Junior Days as events that stood out to him ($), with Oklahoma a notable absence from that small list. Manning finally received his offer at a recent Junior Day in Norman, but the Sooner slow-play of the younger brother of former defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger is a bit perplexing and there's a chance it's not playing overly well with Manning.
Samples, Wilson, and Manning are all currently expected to be on campus for the Texas spring game in less than three weeks, which is the next big recruiting event and the last big one until the summer camps in early June. Texas could well emerge from the weekend with commitments from Samples and/or Wilson, but the odds probably aren't higher than even on that front.
The position that bears watching more than any other at this point is defensive back, as there are some rumblings that Texas could be close to offering either or both of West Mesquite safety Kameron Miles and Fort Bend Dulles defensive back Maurice Smith, perhaps the top two targets at this time in the state. However, since defensive backs coach Duane Akina has said he will keep evaluating players, it would make sense to hold off on those offers until after he can see them work out in person this spring.
And, of course, there's still the interest in guys like Bell, California safety Su'a Cravens, who remarked on Twitter recently that he's not sure if he has a Texas offer or not, Arizona's Cole Luke, and Oklahoma's Stanvon Taylor, who was invited to JD2, but could not attend.
Looking at the initial 2014 LSR, it's apparent that defensive back may be the strongest position in the state for the class, which could reduce some of the pressure in the 2013 class, especially given the depth currently on the roster.