Texas recruiting: 'Horns extend first 2015 offer

Erich Schlegel

Remember that whole Brave New World thing? Yeah, this is like that, but even more so.

Back in August, the Texas Longhorns entered a Brave New World of recruiting by deciding to extend offers to prospects entering their junior seasons, responding to a trend around the country of early offers, with many schools opting to extend offers during the spring evaluation period of their sophomore seasons.

Simply put, the Longhorns were behind the times.

On Thursday, the news broke from Hookem.com that the Brave New World is a going to be a little more brave and a little more new than anyone knew until recent days -- Texas has decided to begin extending offers to select 2015 prospects, with one out already.

Later in the afternoon, Horns Nation confirmed that the prospect in question is Gladewater defensive tackle Daylon Mack, a 6-2, 300-pound man-child who already has an offer from the Aggies and may be an early Texas A&M lean.

More important, though, is what the change means for Texas recruiting.

The news will obviously provide some consternation -- there is an incredible amount of time between right now and Signing Day 2015. About 27 months, in fact.

Thing is, the Longhorns had a clear choice to make. They could continue to be behind the times on early offers, even with the changes already made in the 2014 class, or they could truly try to catch up. And this isn't necessarily a desperation move from a head coach who may be on the way out.

There's a difference between desperation and necessity, though. This move was out of necessity. This is a simple recognition of the fact that other schools are starting to offer these players. Texas couldn't take the risk of falling behind again -- that's necessity at work.

Several other cases further prove the point here on why Texas couldn't afford to wait -- 2013 Lancaster safety Nick Harvey released a top five last summer prior to his junior year that did not include the Longhorns. Why not? Well, Texas hadn't offered him, while the other major programs that made up his list already had. The 'Horns never recovered and the Aggies recently landed one of the most elite defensive backs in a class full of them.

Or take 2014 Arlington Bowie safety/outside linebacker Edwin Freeman, who grew up a Texas fan, but has had the Longhorns between third and fourth in his list in recent days, behind the Aggies and the Sooners, the latter a school that he hated growing up. A big reason for A&M leading, besides the move to the SEC and all the recent success? The fact that they offered him first.

Texas fell behind on the 2014 class and is still trying to fully recover, an effort that has been fruitless with several major prospects.

With the Aggies surging based on their SEC and Johnny Football bumps and TCU having just managed the exceedingly rare feat of stealing a recruit from the Longhorns, Texas hegemony in the state is being seriously challenged for the first time in years.

However, in these situations, concerns about past recruiting issues once again surface, for understandable reasons -- Texas had a history of poor early evaluations. But what was the root cause of those issues? Was it merely that Texas was extending their offers too early?

The truth is that the coaches weren't working hard enough, were zeroing in on targets too early and then failing to continue to evaluate. Want the names of those coaches? Look at the ones that are no longer at Texas.

And Mack Brown liked to build momentum on Junior Days by offering questionable takes just to add to the class quickly and foster an atmosphere where committing on the spot was the norm.

It was successful in the way that Brown wanted it to be successful, but it also resulted in some players coming to Texas who had little chance of succeeding at a high level.

Texas also suffered from significant attrition due to injuries and players washing out of the program in the 2008, 2008, and 2009 classes, putting increased pressure on some of those players the staff reached on. Many of them failed to contribute. Poor development compounded all of the above issues.

Again, the problem wasn't recruiting too early because it was too early, it was recruiting early for the wrong reasons, a major one of which seems to have been pure laziness. The former Texas staff didn't love to recruit, to be out on the recruiting trail working to build the future of the program. The same is not true of the current staff.

The new group has made important changes in that respect and the finish to the 2012 class proves that this group is willing to keep searching for underrated prospects late in the cycle and has an ability to build and maintain those relationships.

If Texas doesn't reach for questionable takes early in the process simply to build the size of the class, there will always be room to identify those late-bloomers.

This year, there haven't been the same number of late-blooming prospects or guys coming back onto the radar in the high school ranks in Texas, so the 'Horns haven't moved on them.

All that to say that there is plenty of reason to have much more trust in the capabilities of this coaching staff to correctly identify the most elite players in the state for these early offers.

As always, more later on the names of players that Texas does or could offer.

For now, just take a step back and take try to take in this Brave New World, one borne of necessity.

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