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Morning Coffee Fattens Up on Off-Season News!?!

Horns_bullet_mediumTwo in-state ballers on the radar. Judging from the article that Orangebloods ran yesterday ($), 6-9 DeSoto forward Keith Davis is a virtual lock to become a Longhorn in the next several weeks, saying that he recently received his offer over the phone from Chris Ogden and that he's "likely going to take it" after he returns from an adidas camp this week. However, Davis probably has not received his official offer yet.

That might be because Rick Barnes will watch Davis in person for the first time at the adidas camp as the July evaluation period winds down and 2010 recruiting hits the stretch run. Performing well at another adidas camp recently probably helped launch Davis onto the Texas recruiting radar, where he showed off his shotblocking prowess, rebounding ability, and overall athleticism.

The major issue with Davis is his inconsistency, both on the court and in the classroom. Ineligible for part of last season, Davis would present a major grade concern. Add in to that several disappointing high school seasons after strong summers and the concerns start adding up.

Given his talent, if Rick Barnes can receive assurances that Davis can stay eligible, he stands a chance of receiving an official Texas offer that may in great part depend on the developing recruitments of James Johnson and Palo Duro's Michael Cobbins. Though all three are known as players quickly rising in their class, Johnson probably possesses the best feel for the game, while Davis and Cobbins are both more raw. Combined with his motor, Johnson's more highly-developed skillset makes him the most appealing player of the three.

He doesn't have the athletic upside of the other two, but he should be the top Longhorn target (Scout now has him #21 in his class) and Davis taking up that scholarship with his grade question marks before Johnson even has a chance to visit Texas doesn't make sense for Rick Barnes and staff. With over 20 offers now in hand ($), UVA and Arizona currently lead for Johnson, but he believes that his father has set up a visit to Austin at some point, possibly for an official. A football game would be an excellent time for that in the fall, though Kansas (Colorado?) unfortunately ranks as the best home game of the season. If Barnes can get him on campus, I think Texas stands a strong chance and may want to hold off on Davis for the moment.

As for Cobbins, the other member of the triumvirate, he hurt his knee and won't be able to play during the end of the July evaluation period, a major blow in terms of limiting his ability to show more major programs that he's worthy of an offer. Home-state Texas may be foremost in that group given the Justin Mason connection and this comment from Cobbins, confirming the significance of the Palo Duro alum being at Texas:

It’s real tempting to go ahead and go there (Texas). They’ve got history with my school.

Texas may not be able to wait too long with him, as he possesses some solid offers: Virginia, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Indiana, and Florida, among others.

Of the three, I like Johnson the best, though Cobbins and Davis may fit better with Tristan Thompson as complimentary athletic defenders who can clean up the offensive and defensive glass. However, Thompson could well be in Austin for only one season, so taking the more refined player in Johnson (the biggest "if" of the three) makes more sense. I think the other factor that figures into the equation is that Daniel Bejarano may only play one or two seasons as well, so the 2010 class could use a "program player" who can spend some time in the system and develop, the same element Shawn Williams is supposed to provide to his star-studded class.

Since Davis says he could make a decision in the near future, this drama may not have long to play out. Though the Longhorns have plenty of depth in the frontcourt for 2010, as Alexis Wangmene, Clint Chapman, Matt Hill, and Gary Johnson all have a season of eligibility in that year (two for Wangmene). In that sense, Davis and Cobbins make sense as potential redshirt candidates who would factor into the 2011 rotation and essentially add themselves to the strong 2011 class that still doesn't have an interior player. With no players on the 2011 radar with the same complimentary skill sets of Davis and Cobbins, that could ultimately become the most important factor in Rick Barnes deciding not to wait on James Johnson.

Horns_bullet_mediumStephenson doesn't wait for Longhorn offer. Shortly after making a trip to Austin to meet with Duane Akina, Lancaster cornerback Tyler Stephenson decided not to wait for his coveted Longhorn offer that might never have arrived, instead opting to join the resurrection project in Waco with Art Briles. Considered one of the top cornerbacks in the state, Stephenson might have already received an offer from the Longhorns had he not been forced to miss the second Junior Day in February.

Instead, he became a Baylor Bear ($) after attending a weekend camp and the fans in Waco should be elated after pulling in another very strong recruit. In fact, Stephenson has everything that a coach wants in a cornerback: explosiveness, a fluid backpedal and transition, and strong ball skills. The only negative right now is that he needs to spend some time in the weight room to fill out his lanky frame before going against the physical receivers of the Big 12. Art Briles continues to revive the football program at Baylor.

Horns_bullet_mediumMatthews eliminates Longhorns. In a move that should come as little surprise to those who closely follow recruiting, Fort Bend Elkins tackle Jake Matthews officially eliminated the Longhorns ($) from consideration over the weekend after recently visiting USC. It's now down to the Trojans and the Aggies, as the various members of the Matthews family fight amongst themselves for the commitment.

The Trojans' corner features the cousin, former USC linebacker Clay, while the Aggies' corner features the older brother, Kevin. Conventional wisdom has long held that Jake wants to stay close to his Houston-area home, which firmly places the Aggies in the lead, meaning it might only be a matter of time before Texas A&M adds to their already-impressive recruiting class at the offensive line position and steals another recruit from the hated 'Horns.

However, Matthews did say that his recent visit to USC kept him from committing to the Aggies already, so the Trojans still have a fighting chance. According the Matthews, a decision will probably come before the end of the summer if he feels comfortable enough with his final choice.

Horns_bullet_mediumThree 2011 prospects recently on campus. Foremost among the recruits making the trip to visit campus ($) in the last week is Evangel Christian defensive end Jermauria Rasco (his second time on campus), perhaps the top Texas target in the class, with the possible exception of the talented running backs. In every interview, Rasco expresses his desire to attend a school that will support him academically, a major focus for the talented prospect who excels in the classroom as much as he does on the football field.

According to a close family friend who made the trip, the Longhorns impressed in that area, as Mack Brown and Ken Rucker both met with Rasco and his family, along with other members of the academic support staff and strength and conditioning program. In fact the presentation made such a strong impression that the friend termed it a "red carpet" treatment and said that it vaulted Texas firmly into contention with Rasco.

As mentioned previously in this space, LSU will be the other major player for Rasco and Les Miles and company have also impressed the young athlete. LSU has another aspect in their favor, as Rasco's defensive coordinator is Byron Dawson, a former defensive tackle for the Tigers.

Cibolo Steele running back Malcolm Brown is not too far behind Rasco in terms of recruiting cache. Thought to be an early OU lean (though he says he has no current favorite), Brown visited on Monday ($) for the third time, intending to discuss with the coaches how he would fit into the Texas system. He was able to do so, picking the brains of Major Applewhite, Ken Rucker, and Mack Brown.

Brown's teammate Marquise Anderson, one of the top defensive tackles in the 2011 class, also visited campus ($) and spoke with the coaching staff recently, along with a visit to Baylor for their camp. A conversation with Mack Brown was the highlight for Anderson, who spent several years early in his life in Austin but, like Brown, says he does not have an early favorite. He's most likely playing it a little bit coy early in the process, as he's known to like the Longhorns. For a young tackle, he uses his leverage ($) and plays well with his hands, two uncommon traits for young players at his position. If there's a concern, it's that he is already carrying some bad weight at a little over 260 pounds and may struggle to add 20-40 pounds of muscle. Despite those concerns, he's a strong candidate for an early offer next spring if he performs well as a junior.

Horns_bullet_mediumElements of miscellany. The THSCA All-Star game went down ($) on Tuesday night at DKR. Though Garrett Gilbert didn't play as originally planned, Chris Whaley and Greg Timmons saw a little action. Whaley reportedly had several nice runs, which means about as much as his work in the Army game or in high school. Relatedly, Timmons is now up to a ripped 209 pounds ($), definitely making him a split end and another year under Mad Dog from being as physically imposing as Malcolm Williams or Dan Buckner. Darius White who?...Aside: Mad Dog sure knows how to blow them up, doesn't he?...Shipley will definitely return punts this season, but may not return kicks, a conversation Mack Brown said did not go well with his sixth-year senior. Punts should be considerably less dangerous next year as Akina uses Aaron Williams and company to dial up some serious pressure -- the Longhorn passing game will give Shipley as many hits as he can take. More on this I'm sure as the season nears...