It's not the offseason, it's recruiting season. It's true -- there will be no live football games for many, many months. The off season is often long and trying, particularly in the dry month of July, when there is little recruiting news and no Texas sports at all. Until then, the basketball team and the baseball team will both compete for national championships. On the football side, the team will go through spring practice and reports will trickle out during the spring and summer regarding the 7-on-7 work that Garrett Gilbert will lead for the first time.
For those die-hard football fans who can't find it in themselves to care about the winter/spring sport of basketball and the spring/summer sport of baseball, welcome to recruiting season. Just as they have been in past years, the Longhorns are in the mix for several top-rated players at the end of the process. The difference is that this year Texas has momentum with the commitments of Mike Davis, Darius White, and DeMarco Cobbs late in the process, as well as more than legitimate chances with both Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan HIcks. After long recruitments handled extraordinarily well by both young men, it may seem odd to finally conclude the process as each player makes his final decision in the coming days.
After the conclusion of all the official visits by the three schools still in the hunt for Hicks, a decision seemed imminent. Since then, Hicks has become quiet as he contemplates his decision and will not enroll early at either Florida or Texas, leaving Ohio State as the only option for a spring enrollment. The news broke on Wednesday morning that Hicks would announce at his high school on Friday morning at 11:30 CST.
After the Fox 4 sports producer tweeted that Jeffcoat would announce on the Dallas affiliate on January 31, some other outlets have questioned the veracity of that report, but nothing substantive enough to outright deny the report. In all likelihood Jeffcoat's commitment will happen on Fox 4 on Sunday. And contrary to some thoughts, it's not a surprise that Jeffcoat did not commit after Mack Brown's visit to Plano West or his official visit to Oklahoma or following his recent in-home visit with Bob Stoops. No word on whether Stoops popped in his well-worn copy of Barbershop, but if he did, the viewing hasn't yet sealed the deal.
After Hicks and Jeffcoat announce their decisions and the class sends in their Letters of Intent on February 3rd, the coaching staff will turn their whole focus to the upcoming Junior Days later in February.
The first Junior Day. Since most schools have already offered a handful or more of their top junior targets, the Longhorns are not going to begin that process until after the 2010 class signs on February 3. Of course, the coaches have been evaluating these players in most cases for well over a year and have seen most of them in a summer camp, so many of the Junior Day attendees will have already been approved for offers likely several months in the past. While they haven't received any firm promises of an offer, the coaching staff has made every indication to the top targets of their position on the Texas recruiting board. In other words, all promises except a verbal offer itself.
By the end of February, virtually all of the 2011 offers will be out and the Longhorns should have between 10 and 15 commitments -- in less than five weeks, more than half the class should be in place, with only a few late offers going out and the long wait for the national prospects to make their decisions.
With that in mind, here are the confirmed Junior Day attendees, with each player expected to attend the February 13th Junior Day unless otherwise noted:
- QB David Ash, Belton
- RB Malcom Brown, Cibolo Steele
- RB Aaron Green, San Antonio Madison
- RB Brandon Williams, Brookshire Royal
- WR Trey Metoyer, Whitehouse
- WR Jaxon Shipley, Brownwood
- TE MJ McFarland, El Paso El Dorado
- DT Desmond Jackson, Spring Westfield
- DT Marquise Anderson, Cibolo Steele
- DT Quincy Russell, San Antonio Sam Houston
- DE Cedric Reed, Cleveland
- DE Nathan Hughes, Klein Oak
- DE Jermauria Rasco, Shreveport Evangel Christian
- LB Steve Edmond, Daingerfield
- LB Chet Moss, Cedar Park
- LB Trevon Randle, League City Clear Springs
- LB Kendall Thompson, Carthage
- CB Leroy Scott, South Houston
- CB Kolby Griffin, Houston St. Pius X
- CB/S Nick Shepard, Houston Cy Ridge (second)
- S Sheroid Evans, Fort Bend Dulles
- A Mykkele Thompson, San Antonio Stevens
Holy cow, Brandon Williams! The hottest name on the 2011 Texas high school football scene ($) is Brookshire Royal's Brandon Williams, an ascent aided greatly by the recent release of his junior film ($), which is impressive, to say the least. In the last month or so, Williams has put his name in the conversation with the three elite backs in 2011 -- Herschel Sims, Aaron Green, and Malcolm Brown.
A relative unknown throughout most of his junior season, Williams currently has only one offer from Baylor, but that is sure to change in the very near future, as Williams has the size at 6-1 and 190 pounds to be a feature back at the collegiate level and reportedly has run sub-4.4 in the 40 and a 10.5 in the 100 meters. Neither of those times can be substantiated at this point, but it is safe to say that he is extremely fast, with a running style reminiscent of his favorite running back, Adrian Peterson.
In fact, Peterson's impact on Texas high school running backs looms as large over Williams' recruitment as it does over the other three elite running backs -- like Herschel Sims, Peterson is Williams' favorite running back, helping put Oklahoma among his favorites. Sims fits the Texas scheme well in terms of his running and pass-catching abilities, but Williams could be an even better fit because of his greater size -- he's a better match up against safeties and linebackers in blitz pick up and is also an excellent receiver out of the backfield.
The Longhorns will almost certainly offer Williams at the first Junior Day and because of the dearth of information available on him, it's hard to know where the Texas stands exactly, but the bottom line is that the worst-case scenario is that Texas now has four top running backs to choose from and it's a virtual certainty that at least one will end up in Austin and that is excellent news for those concerned about the state of the running game. Which is probably just about everyone.
OOS names to know. The 2010 class saw the Longhorns focus almost exclusively on Texas players, only offering two out-of-state prospects -- Jordan Hicks and Trovon Reed -- and making contact with Georgia wide receiver Tai-ler Jones, but never receiving a visit from him. (Update: Der. Of course DeMarco Cobbs is the third). This season, the early out-of-state players expressing early interest were:
- Tyson Coleman, Lake Oswego (OR) athlete -- HIs interest was reasonably serious, but an offer from Oregon was too much to pass up -- he committed last fall as a junior.
- Jermauria Rasco, Shreveport Evangel Christian defensive end -- One of the top prospects in the country, Rasco heavily favors Texas and LSU. Traveled from Louisiana to Dallas to watch the Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl.
- Christian Westerman, Chandler (AZ) offensive tackle -- Another top national prospect, Westerman's parents were impressed with the Texas coaches during the 2007 Holiday Bowl and were perhaps more impressed by a visit to Austin for a summer camp. Though Westerman's father raves about Austin and the Texas program, it's a little more difficult to determine how his son feels about Texas. The early leader and preference of Christian was probably USC, but it's hard to say if that has changed since the departure of Pete Carroll.
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Gig Harbor(WA) tight end -- A national recruit who expressed some interest in the Texas program by a visit, but is generally considered to favor West Coast schools. Would have to continue to show interest through a visit to receive an offer.
Coleman is now completely off the radar with his commitment, while Rasco and Westerman still look like major targets. As for Seferian-Jenkins, he could easily fall off the radar with an early commitment from an in-state tight end.
There are also some new names on the radar:
- Nick Waisome, Groveland (FL) cornerback Nick Waisome -- Contacted last week by Duane Akina ($), the Texas defensive backs coach apparently liked what he saw on film of the national prospect. To receive an offer and become a serious target, Waisome will have to make it to campus some time spring and indicated that his parents have the ability and willingness to travel to Austin. Time will tell.
- Matt Hegarty, Aztec (NM) offensive tackle -- A top performer at the Army combine and a highly-regarded regional -- possibly national -- recruit, Hegarty took an unofficial visit to campus last year ($) when his brother had his engagement party in Austin and has kept in contact with Mac McWhorter ever since. Likely to receive a Junior Day invitation, Hegarty would have to then work out the logistics of making it to campus.
Spotted: Muschamp on the recruiting trail. The Texas assistant coaches are making the rounds of Texas high schools, inviting targets to the February Junior Days, picking up film, and speaking with the recruits in person. So far, Muschamp has been focusing on the linebackers in the class, giving a better indication of where the Longhorns will go with the position:
- Daingerfield. Steve Edmond may have the most upside of any linebacker in the state and Muschamp was no doubt there after seeing his junior film and feeling the need to ratchet up the interest level -- Edmond has not heard as much from Texas as from Oklahoma.
- Carthage. Kendall Thompson is another top linebacker in the state and is a proven winner -- Carthage beat Case McCoy's Graham squad to win the 3A title this season.
- League City. Muschamp and Major Applewhite took in a basketball game featuring Trevon Randle, a slightly smaller, faster linebacker than Edmond or Anthony Wallace who could fit the mold of an Aaron Benson or Aaron Franklin with his sideline-to-sideline speed.
- Klein. Along with Oscar Giles, Muschamp stopped by Klein Collins to scout Charles Jackson, a physical cornerback who may be on the small side at 5-9, but who possesses excellent speed and a vertical reportedly close to 40 inches.
In addition, Mack Brown was in Cedar Park last week to visit with Spencer Drango and Chet Moss -- the invitation to the first Junior Day highly suggests an offer for Moss and Drango is one of the top two or three tackles in the state at a position of great need for the Longhorns in 2011. The only other school Brown is known to have visited in the last several weeks is Plano West on his trip to visit Jeffcoat and Oscar Giles and Bobby Kennedy visited Plano again on Tuesday to watch a Plano West basketball game in which Jeffcoat participated.
Programming notes. Last year, I got to know the strengths and weaknesses of most commits by releasing Recruiting Spotlights for each member of the recruiting class, a learning experience in the finals days before they officially became Longhorns. Much like Will Muschamp and his recruitment of Jordan Hicks, the 2010 class is the first that I've followed from start to finish. As a result, long-time BON readers should essentially have a sense of each player
However, I still plan on releasing Recruiting Spotlights for each player as a compendium of all the relevant thoughts from throughout the last year, as well as more overarching Signing Day thoughts about the Texas class and the small handful of players with offers who committed to other programs, as well as some national thoughts. After that, coverage of the first Junior Day will kick into high gear. Stay tuned, folks.