Texas recruiting 2013: Pursuit of JUCO targets increases

Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

After finding success in the last cycle with the additions of defensive tackle Brandon Moore and left tackle Donald Hawkins, the Longhorns are once again pursuing JUCO prospects.

If there's one thing that the 2012 Texas Longhorns football season has proven, it's that the Longhorns need to add some immediate-impact players in the 2013 class, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

Holding on to Fort Worth Arlington Heights defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson would be the first step in the right direction, but it's always hard to count on high school prospects to contribute early.

To that end, Texas took California junior college prospect Greg Swaim to come in and play early at H-back and extended an offer to another Cali player -- big Contra Costa CC offensive tackle Desmond Harrison, who will be making a trip to Austin for the upcoming banquet on December 7th.

There are also a handful of players who just emerged on the Texas recruiting radar, including Tennessee commit De'Vondre Campbell, who may attend the banquet as well.

Other recent additions include two East Mississippi CC prospects -- safety Shaquille Fluker and defensive end Za'Darius Smith. Texas recruitniks may recall that EMCC was the same school that produced Moore and is a school at which defensive tackles coach Bo Davis and offensive line coach Stacy Searels have ties from their time in the SEC.

The Texas coaches are efforting to get Fluker and Smith to join Harrison at the banquet, though it is not yet clear whether they will make it. Smith's profile on 247Sports does list an official visit for the big defensive end on that day.

A Georgia commit, the 6-1, 200-pound Fluker gave his pledge when the Bulldogs were the only school to have extended an offer. Since then, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, and South Alabama have all entered the mix. Fluker wants to play in the SEC, so that fact could be a bigger impediment to Texas than the fact he is currently committed.

The other potential factor is that Fluker will not be able to enroll at Georgia for the spring semester due to issues transferring his credits from EMCC. Would he be able to get into Texas instead at that time? It's not clear at the moment, but could impact his decision.

With five interceptions this season, Fluker has been a playmaker in the secondary, which probably endeared him to a coaching staff that will need to replace the departing Kenny Vaccaro for the 2013 season with little proven talent behind him, though Adrian Phillips has at least improved upon his abysmal play from earlier this year.

The 6-6, 250-pound Smith is a strongside defensive end prospect with listed sub-4.8 speed. Rated as a consesus four-star prospect and one of the 15 best JUCO players in the country, he has offers from Florida State, Miami, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss, with the Aggies in hot pursuit, as it appears that the Seminoles have backed off a bit.

Smith has taken recent visits to Texas A&M, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State.

Back in early October, the Longhorns reached out to LSU commit Quantavius Leslie, a 6-3, 190-pound wide receiver from Hinds CC in Raymond, MS. The talks didn't really seem to go anywhere or result in an offer reported by the services. Leslie is a longshot, but he has taken multiple visits since his spring commitment to the Tigers.

The LSU pledge also has a committed teammate, Quadarias Mireles (Ole Miss), who may have received a look from the Longhorns when Davis went by the school.

Keep in mind as well that JUCO prospects are a bit more mercenary than those coming out of high school -- they are more willing to decommit and move somewhere far from home to play football, placing an increased emphasis on opportunity, understandable since most only have two seasons of eligibility when they arrive at their four-year college of choice.

There have also been rumblings that Texas could pursue another quarterback in the class, either out of high school, like under-the-radar Cleburne prospect Quade Coward, or a junior-college player if the coaches feel like the quarterback situation needs an injection of instant-impact.

The top prospect there, according to 247Sports, is Arizona Western dual threat Tanner McEvoy, a four-star prospect who is currently uncommitted. Originally from the class of 2011, McEvoy left South Carolina to go the junior college route in hopes of landing at another major program after an arrest for driving while under the influence of alcohol and underage. It does not appear that the 6-6, 200-pounder has any current offers.

McEvoy is the only quarterback in the 247Sports JUCO top 50.

At this point, despite the struggles, it doesn't seem as if there's a major need there unless there's a transfer, which is not outside the realm of possibility given that there are rumors circulating about redshirting freshman Jalen Overstreet being unhappy.

Texas could also pursue a junior college defensive tackle.

Amid all the disappointments of the 2012 season, the Texas coaching staff is still scouring the country for potential impact players.

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