OU comfort -- that simple. Belated thoughts on Aaron Franklin. The Marshall linebacker went to Oklahoma because he built a larger level of comfort with the coaches by developing relationships over the course of nearly a year. He had less than two months with Texas. The important women in his life made it up to Norman but never to Austin. When Franklin doubted a return visit to the Texas campus after receiving his offer, he cited his family's general tiredness after doing a lot of traveling during the summer -- traveling for the purpose of his mother and grandmother developing a comfort level with OU. Those several disadvantages were ultimately enough to keep Franklin from attending his lifelong favorite school. It's hard to see it as being much more complicated than that. Frustrating? Yes. Inexplicable? Far from it.
Microcosm? Epic Fail? Over at Barking Carnival, closetojumping, typically acerbic and more than slightly bombastic, sees Franklin's recruitment and ultimate decision as being a microcosm of the staff's current program-wide failures in recruiting. The chief culprit in this instance is supposedly offensive line coach Mac Macwhorter, the recruiter for Franklin's East Texas area. As CTJ argues, Macwhorter's assignment in east Texas doesn't make much sense considering the demographics and probably merits review for the staff, with the whole Franklin recruitment highlighting what CTJ sees as a lack of a closer on the current staff. (More on Macwhorter in a moment.)
Defensively, Muschamp should take over that closer's role once he gets established as a recruiter, but the Longhorns would benefit to have a coach like Jim Jeffcoat or Ken Norton on their staff -- former NFL guys who have the cache currently missing. Jackie Shipp seems to have some of that, too, as he and Norton landed on the list of best recruiters ($) by Rivals last year, an article that recognized Macwhorter for his work securing offensive linemen, ironically (which he can do recruiting any other area). Macwhorter also headed the recruitment of Marcus Davis, the top-rated defensive back in the class.
CTJ sees it as dangerous to continue to allow other schools to offer players earlier. I'm not so sure about to adjust and offer kids in September of their senior season. Doing so would involve so much of a change in philosophy for Mack that it would almost sound hypocritical. Let the top kids know that they are in great shape for an invitation to the first Junior Day and those kids will know that they are going to be in the first group offered. Make it actually mean something to receive that offer, like it does now. Maintain the prestige of a Texas offer by maintaining the same timing of offering players no earlier than the first Junior Day.
How about this as a plan -- nearly every kid who received an invitation to the first Junior Day received an offer, so on September 1, the first day that 2011 offers can go out, the coaches sent out invitations to that first Junior Day. It walks the fine line of keeping in place Brown's philosophy of not offering players until the previous class signs, while still letting the top players know that they are in line for an offer. The coaching staff doesn't even really need a high school season to evaluate some of the 2011 players like Aaron Brown, Leroy Scott, Nathan Hughes, Jermauria Rasco, etc. because they alreayd evaluated almost all of those guys at camp this summer. There aren't any secrets about who the top 10 or so players are in the class.
Back to any current recruiting problems. The major issue revolves around dealing with the top players who prolong the process, the guys who seem to always go somewhere else after a long recruitment, and better identifying some guys like Franklin who fall through the cracks. But CTJ is overreacting here about early analysis because two important players in the class -- Greg Daniels and Chris Jones -- were both guys the staff identified before OU could even get into the mix of their respective recruitments, or any other major programs for that matter.
For a player like Tevin Mims last year, a long-held desire to play at Texas assured the coaches of an easy recruitment as Singing Day approached rapidly. In fact, Mims illustrates the problem that closetojumping identifies -- the coaching staff can't simply rely on players wanting to play at Texas beyond any other desire to play at any other school. It's part of the arrogance that opposing fans love to hate. The bigger problem is that it isn't a particularly sound way to recruit, even at Texas. It's too early to say that there are major philosophical or systemic problems with recruiting at this point, especially coming off a small but extremely talented class and in the midst of another exceptional class that I'm not sure if there are systemic evaluation problems here. Texas is a gigantic state and some guys fall through the cracks when they have injuries.
Under the radar: Dayton's Chris Young. CTJ's post refers to Dayton defensive end/linebacker Chris Young as a possibility to receive a late scholarship offer. Though CTJ compares him to Aaron Franklin as a guy "with eerily similar lines." Except, of course, for the fact that Young is several inches taller, about 10-15 pounds heavier and could project as a defensive end in college.
The similarities lie in the fact that Young missed his junior season and that both of them impressed at summer camps with their talent and potential. However, a Houston Chronicle article says that Young played last year and recorded 83 tackles and forced two fumbles -- Rivals and Scout disagree. Young, unlike Franklin, has a frame that can add a significant amount of weight to his reported 4.7 speed -- probably borderline for a Big 12 linebacker, but excellent for a defensive end.
The biggest question is if Young can develop into a position on the college level and not end up receiving the dreaded 'tweener tag -- too slow for a linebacker, but too small for a defensive end. The antithesis to that argument is that the Big 12 is creating hybrid players at not only safety/linebacker, but also linebacker/defensive end. Hybrid good, tweener bad. Or something like that -- it's semantics really. Muschamp may well see Young as another Buck package candidate and, in that case, Young could well end up being "Texas good."
Young does not yet report an offer, but programs like Texas and Oklahoma are beginning to take notice of the talented Dayton player as he prepares for his all-important senior season. The coaching staff may wait to evaluate him during the season, but may want to offer him sooner than later if they like him, as the second-tier programs like TCU, Arkansas, and Houston begin to send out their own offers. As the Franklin recruitment indicated, sometimes having an opportunity to develop a comfort level with the coaching staff simply takes time.
The White mistake becomes the wrong mistake. So here's what went down at the spring game with Darius White -- after showing up with his high school teammates Rashod Favors and Dominique Sanders, Favors received a handwritten nametag that identified him as White's guest rather than a "prospect," as the namategs identified nearly every other potential recruit. Epic fail on the part of the coaching staff -- failing to print out a nametag for Favors and listing him as a guest of White makes little sense. An invitation to the spring game isn't exactly the same as receiving a Longhorn offer, so why wouldn't Texas take more time to at least respect White's friend and teammates and friends as the solid football players that they are? Not having name tags for them and generally acting like they're second-rate guests is inexplicable and inexcusable. White is and has been one of the most important targets in the whole class -- treat him like it.
For a program known for supposedly getting the little details right, Texas clearly didn't in an extremely important recruitment. It's fine not to give White a great deal more attention than the other targeted players, but it wasn't exactly a secret that his teammates matter to him and wasn't exactly surprising that they came down with him. The coaches should spoken with him before the spring game and explicitly asked about his friends. Acknowledging them is a long way from actually offering them just to make a good impression on White. Acknowledgement should be the absolute minimum. No wonder White doesn't feel comfortable with the Texas program right now -- the coaches preach about "family" all the time and creating that homey atmosphere, something that didn't happen with White because of the disrespect of White's Dunbar family.
And that isn't to say that such treatment is a larger problem plaguing the program -- just an unfortunate, isolated incident that may cost Texas one of the top players in the country.