For the Texas Longhorns, the first-ever Sophomore Day held on Saturday marked another significant change in recruiting tactics.
Sure, head coach Mack Brown and company had invited sophomores to the spring game in the past to watch the scrimmage on that day, but those prospects were never even close to offers. In fact, in the past (say, in 2011) they were still 10 months away from receiving offers, though that all changed with the August offers to members of the 2014 class.
The Sophomore Day changed the game for Texas because the coaching staff has decided to extend early offers to the class of 2015 with commitments coming earlier and earlier -- visitor Jordan Davis, the tight end from Clear Lake, has already committed to Florida State, for instance.
So the Longhorns responded by extending those eight offers and accepting a commitment from one player who felt he was ready to "end" his recruitment, to the extent that a sophomore can truly shut things down this early in the game -- Sherman offensive lineman Aaron Garza, currently the second-ranked lineman in the state based on the first edition of the 2015 LSR.
Chris Warren, Rockwall running back: The 6-2, 215-pound Warren is a big-back offer for the 'Horns after Texas had seemingly moved away from players with the size to end up at other positions following Traylon Shead's move to H-back and subsequent transfer. As such, the offer to Warren represents an interesting decision for the 'Horns, as Warren is mostly certainly a large back:
Baylor had previously offered Warren.
Jordan Davis, Houston Clear Lake tight end (Florida State): The big prospect is shaping up as the best tight end in the class and impressed at a Florida State camp enough last summer to earn an offer. Apparently Florida State impressed Davis enough for him to commit, though he was willing to make the trip to Austin after making his pledge. As with any prospect who commits this early, his recruitment is far from over and the offer by Texas was a smart one in that regard -- any further waiting would have hindered their ability to make a serious dent in that pledge to Jimbo Fisher.
Maea Teuhema, Keller offensive lineman: A massive prospect at 6-4 and 330 pounds, the pure mass of Teuhema suggests that he's a likely interior prospect at the next level. He's also ranked as the top offensive lineman in the LSR and holds offers from Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Washington State. The first two suggest that he's a legitimate prospect worthy of an offer because the Bears and Cowboys evaluate offensive line talent better than anyone else in the Big 12.
Malik Jefferson, Mesquite Poteet linebacker: Currently holding offers from Oklahoma and Ole Miss, Texas added their name to the mix on Saturday in a meeting with Mack Brown in his office and moved up his list as a result of the offer and the visit, significant news since Jefferson is 6-3, 215 pounds and an incredible athlete ranked fourth on the initial LSR.
Cameron Townsend, Fort Bend Ridge Point linebacker: The 6-1, 195-pounder is built more like a pure spread linebacker at this point and is on the small side for the position, but will certainly benefit in terms of perception by the early success experienced by Peter Jinkens at Texas. If Townsend has half of the want-to, intensity, and athleticism of Jinkens, he should be okay in the long run. The offer from Texas is the first for the prospect ranked 15th on the LSR.
Jalen Campbell, Corpus Christi Flour Bluff cornerback: The eighth-best prospect in Texas according to the LSR, Campbell revealed his offer via Twitter, which is the first for the 5-10, 170-pounder who impressed at a recent Rivals camp, taking home the Defensive Skills MVP.
Kendall Sheffield, Fort Bend Marshall cornerback: A player in early consideration for top prospect status nationally, Sheffield is a track star who was already offered by Baylor, LSU, and Texas A&M before coming to campus. After he picked up the offers from the Tigers and Aggies, it seemed like only a matter of time before the 'Horns did the same. Third on the LSR, Sheffield and Jefferson are probably the top two targets on this list.
While some may still be squeamish about extending offers so early, the simple fact is that the Texas coaching staff didn't really have much choice in that regard, because most of the eventual top players in the state have excellent sophomore film -- Nick Harvey had great sophomore film and looked just as good as a junior, as did Hoza Scott, despite some of his off-field troubles that impacted his season -- and the Longhorns couldn't afford to fall behind with yet another class.
With the Aggies now posing such a serious threat in so many head-to-head recruitments, the Longhorns couldn't afford to sit back, continue to evaluate, and offer late in the spring, summer, or fall. It needed to happen now.
There is perhaps some danger still in extending these offers before the developing personnel department can evaluate and vet these players to the extent that they will be able to do so when all the hires are in place, but it doesn't take much vetting to know that Malik Jefferson and
In any case, by the time most of these prospects end up making decisions, the staff will have had plenty more time to perform spring evaluations, look at transcripts, talk to coaches, and interact with these players enough to know whether they want to take a commitment from them when they decide to make their respective decisions.
So to all of those who might be inclined to complain and worry and all that, simply consider that the current reality is much better than the alternative, which is Texas once again having to work from behind in these important recruitments.