Longhorns regain momentum in recruiting. Remember just a few months ago when it seemed like nothing could go right in the world of Texas football recruiting? Ahmad Dixon de-committed and the Longhorns lost out on another extremely talented safety a year after missing out on both Kevin Brent and Craig Loston. Then Ross Apo de-committed as well and suddenly all the momentum generated by the Junior Day commitments and the decisions that trickled in afterward vanished amidst message board meltdowns. Darius White was reportedly stewing over the disrespect to his buddies and appeared like a virtual OU lock. Jake Matthews committed to Texas A&M, as did Corey Nelson, marking major losses to a rival that desperately needed the infusion of talent. Any news was seemingly bad news as Texas recruitniks found themselves nonplussed by an already stellar class.
Well, momentum is squarely back in the corner of Texas. DeMarco Cobbs committed virtually out of nowhere, marking the first addition to the class since Reggie Wilson months before, strengthening an already strong class and providing versatility with his ability to play multiple positions. Mike Davis committed over the weekend after never really being on the Texas radar when he didn't receive an offer at the first Junior Day. Darius White re-established contact with the coaching staff virtually out of nowhere as well.
Jordan Hicks spoke glowingly all fall about his relationship with Will Muschamp and then Charlie Strong left for Louisville in advance of Hicks' official visit this weekend. Corey Nelson, long relatively lukewarm about Texas and the self-proclaimed "Mr. A&M," also decided to look into a visit to Texas, though he has not yet scheduled a trip. Jackson Jeffcoat still has Texas on his short list. Eric Humphrey surfaced on the radar and though it appears he won't make an official trip to Austin, an unofficial visit is in the works and even though Texas has been a latecomer to his recruitment, so has virtually every other school.
Notice a trend in all this? The interest is clearly genuine from many of these players, as Hicks took it upon himself to travel down to Austin for a camp after his junior year of high school, proving his affinity for the program. White, Davis, Nelson, and Cobbs all contacted the staff after periods of relatively little or no contact. After a lull, the Texas recruiting machine is once again headed forward at full steam and the odds say that the Longhorns will add at least one or two of these blue-chip prospects and if that happens, then this class has the potential to go down as one of the best in the modern history of the program.
The momentum that had seemingly left during the hot summer months was there all along, just hiding out in the background as the Texas team rolled towards a berth in the national championship game. It was just waiting to emerge, self perpetuating itself as victory piled onto victory before stepping once again into the bright spotlight of national recruiting, providing more reason for optimism at the end of the recruiting cycle than there has been in years.
A huge weekend for commits. Hicks traveled to Florida. White traveled to Stillwater. But more important than those visits, 17 of the 21 Texas commits, including Mike Davis, were in town for the football banquet on Friday evening, staying until Sunday morning, when they were entertained at Mack Brown's house for breakfast.
While it's certainly unfortunate for most of the early commits that they don't have the opportunity to enjoy traveling around the country on official visits, the major advantage for the Longhorns is that each recruit can make it down to Austin for the football banquet. Many of the commits stayed in contact with each other through the spring, summer, and fall, and had chances to establish relationships during the spring football game and during the summer camps at Texas, but the banquet gave them a chance to spend more time together as a group and begin forming the bonds that will serve them well as future teammates.
The value is that while most programs have recruits taking their official visits at different times and receive most commitments during the summer and fall, these players have already had months for pockets of them to get to know each other, then meet in Austin to establish chemistry as a group. As a result, the Texas classes come onto campus with friendships already formed, providing a better support system and meaning the players can integrate themselves into the rest of the team without having to go through the process of feeling each other out first.
Cobbs bonds with future teammates. Getting DeMarco Cobbs into town for a visit was an extremely difficult proposition. Three times Cobbs indicated his intentions to visit Austin and three times he failed to show. His ride fell through once. Then again. He didn't have the proper identification to board the airplane, yet managed to make it to Tennessee shortly thereafter, eventually committing to the Volunteers.
After Cobbs indicated his intentions to switch his commitment from one UT to the other, the major question was if he would actually make it down to Austin to meet with Mack Brown and finalize his commitment. He did. It was an unofficial visit for Cobbs, so he took advantage of his ability to make an official visit by attending the football banquet ($) last weekend with all the other 2010 commits who were not participating in the playoffs. It was an opportunity to meet and bond with his future teammates and Cobbs said that he began to establish relationships with Dominic Espinosa and some of the other skill position players, as well as indicating that he does not plan on taking others, re-affirming the strength of his commitment to Texas.
Cobbs also spoke about his eventual position in college, indicating his willingness to put the team first:
I can play so many positions, I talked to coach Applewhite, he said maybe running back, receiver, free safety or outside linebacker. I'd like to play on the off side of the ball, but whatever gets me on the field quickly, I'm fine with. If I have to play defense, I'll play defense. I'll do whatever gets me on the field.
There's a lot of speculation about where Cobbs will play, though the addition of Mike Davis will probably not influence the eventual decision too much, as the coaching staff puts a great deal of emphasis on allowing players their choice of position. There are differing opinions about how naturally Cobbs catches the football, with observers falling on both sides of the debate, but the bottom line is that Cobbs has such an ability to make plays with the football using his elite change-of-direction ability and running back-like vision that it will be hard to keep the football out of his hands.
From the Land of Miscellany. Darius White will not visit Oklahoma this weekend ($) and will announce his decision at the Under Armous game January 2nd...Shreveport Evangel Christian defensive end finished his season on a high note ($) by helping his team win the state championship. Rasco tallied 86 tackles, 9.5 sacks, and five fumble recoveries on the season. LSU and Texas are still the major factors in his recruitment, but the resignation of DJ McCarthy, who was recruiting Rasco, has led to a dearth of communication other than mail since Week 3 of the high school season. While Rasco says it won't effect his ultimate decision, which Rasco expects to come late in the process, the lack of communication seems like a major mistake for LSU and a sign of the current chaos going on with their recruiting coordinator now the head coach at Memphis and the resignation of McCarthy amidst allegations of NCAA violations...Dallas Episcopal defensive lineman Eric Humphrey was extremely positive about his official visit to Oklahoma ($), but his head coach said he has not heard from Texas in several days and speculated that the numbers may be getting tight for the Longhorns. Humphrey plans on taking officials visits deep into January and the Longhorns may not know if they have an available spot for him until then...Jordan Hicks did not have his weekly teleconference following his visit to Florida and indicated that he will not be speaking with the media until his decision, expected to come some time around Christmas...Lancaster cornerback Tyler Stephenson, a one-time possibility for an offer, confirmed that though he is committed to Baylor, he did contact the Texas coaching staff recently and that Duane Akina informed him that the numbers were tight, but that if something changed, he would be in contact...Cayuga running back Traylon Shead was named AP Class A Player of the Year for the second straight season...DeMarco Cobbs will participate in the Under Armour All-American game as a member of the White team, while Aaron Benson, Mike Davis, Darius White, Adrian White, Jordan Hicks, Taylor Bible, and Ashton Dorsey will participate on the Black team...Connor Wood, Dominic Espinosa, Jackson Jeffcoat, Trey Hopkins, Traylon Shead, and Reggie Wilson will all participate as members of the West team in the US Army All-American Bowl.