While the summer camp for the Texas Longhorns was an important recruiting event for head coach Charlie Strong and his staff, three pre-camp visitors may have been the most significant of the weekend, at least in terms of 2015 recruiting.
On Friday, Ennis defensive end James Lockhart made his way to campus for the first time in months to spend his first extended time with members of the new staff:
Other than Cedar Hill wide receiver Damarkus Lodge, who has basically eliminated the Horns at this point, Lockhart was the last top target in the state to visit Austin and get acquainted with the staff.
The potential problem moving forward is that the staff hasn't been particularly active in recruiting Lockhart, a fact that has left the state's top defensive end somewhat perplexed. Meanwhile, the Aggies offered Lockhart recently and immediately moved up to the top of his list, at least according to the industry projections, as Texas A&M is now the favorite in the 247Sports Crystal Ball, having quickly displaced longtime perceived leader Baylor.
Fortunately for the Aggies and perhaps unfortunately for the Horns is the fact that the late offer from Texas A&M wasn't perceived as hurting the recruitment of the consensus four-star prospect
On Saturday, it was Many (La.) offensive lineman Garrett Thomas who made the drive from the Boot to receive some personalized attention from the staff. It was his first trip to Austin since receiving his offer from Texas in the middle of May.
Thought to be an LSU lean despite the lack of an offer from the home-state Tigers, Thomas is a high three-star prospect who could end up playing outside or inside in college at 6'6 and 305 pounds, though Wickline apparently believes that he could play tackle.
Thomas told Scout following his visit that the experience was a good one for him:
"I really enjoyed it," Garrett Thomas said. "It ended up being a pretty good day. We left pretty early to get up there and meet all of the coaches and had a big introduction with all of them. Coach Wickline was with us just about all day on the tour and saw all of the facilities, weight room and everything. The tour of the school and stadium was real good. It was just a real good day."
And as it has for many prospectives, the genuine emphasis on academics from Strong played well with the mother of Thomas, who was surprised to hear that doing well int he classroom takes precedence over football.
Texas should now be in the mix for Thomas and could have a shot at landing him as long as LSU doesn't decide to jump in with a late offer. Another important little tidbit though? Thomas plans on majoring in petroleum engineering and Texas ranks No. 2 in the country in that field.
The third visitor was Arlington Bowie offensive tackle Madison Akamnonu, a high-upside prospect whose stock has taken off this spring. Now a four-star prospect by Scout, the 6'5, 280-pounder was on his first visit to Austin since picking up his offer a month ago.
He also described his visit experience to Scout:
"He talked to me about playing left tackle," Akamnonu said. "He showed me a few offensive line tips and the run and pass blocking. I felt comfortable around him, which was a bonus. Speaking with coach [Charlie] Strong and the coaching staff was a big part also. Me and my family really liked him and he seemed fun and serious when the time called for it."
Lean and with good flexibility, Akamnonu looks like a player with the potential to man the left tackle position for multiple years as long as he can continue to adding good weight.
Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Texas currently make up his top group and the Horns have raced into the lead in his 247Sports Crystal Ball projections.
The Longhorns have already assembled an impressive offensive line group with the addition of Huntsville offensive tackle Ronnie Major and Houston Westfield offensive tackle Toby Weathersby joining Mack Brown holdover Patrick Vahe of Euless Trinity, an offensive guard who has earned an invitation to The Opening.
But as the visitor list this weekend indicated, the offensive line remains a position group of emphasis on recruiting and it looks like Texas has a reasonable chance of landing at least one of Thomas and Akamnonu, with the latter probably more important because he's a pure tackle.
As for Lockhart? Well, the coaching staff should probably make him more of a priority.