So the narrative is alive and well. Of the 370 or so FBS-quality football players in the state of Texas, only 30 or so will receive Texas offers in 2011, with another small handful approved. A generous estimate, then, is that 15% of those players are Texas good, with less than half of those, the top 8-10%, actually receiving offers. Taking into account the fact that the first Junior Day represents both of the top talent in the state and it's no stretch to say that there is no better collection of talent anywhere in the country than the elite group that congregated in Austin on Valentine's Day weekend, 2011.
Following the historic 2010 recruiting class, the decision is apparently pretty simple for many of the top handful of prospects in arguably the greatest state in the union for producing top-tier football talent -- you can be with Texas, yes, Texas, as in the University of Texas, the school based in the state capital, the flagship university of the great state of Texas, or you can be against Texas. For some kids, the depth chart and early playing time and, in certain circumstances, the egotistic desire to resurrect a program are of more importance than winning.
But for a lot of them, the great majority of those top athletes, those elite few, the decision comes down to the ability to win a national championship, a family atmosphere, and the ability to get an education at one of the top public instituations in the entire world. That's why Texas is Texas. It's a matter of state pride, something deeply engrained in the hearts and minds of high school football players across the state and the University of Texas is the very embodiment of that pride. For some opposing schools, that simple fact creates a deep-seated inferiority complex and, for Texas fans, that's fine -- there's a reason for that inferiority complex. The feeling of inferiority exists for a reason.
Apologies for the digression building to the main point -- when the top players in the state sit down in Mack Brown's office with their family on a Saturday in early February, when the Godfather of recruiting makes them an offer, it's extraordinarily difficult to turn down. After all, how many of those players can say no to a first-class education, to play for a first-class coaching staff in a first-class city and have the opportunity to compete for a national chamionship? With us or against us, and against us doesn't look so promising these days. It's why players like DeMarco Cobbs, Mike Davis, and Darius White all took the initiatve to make contact with the Texas coaching staff, to make clear their deep desire to become Longhorns.
Faced with the decision of being with or against Texas, 13 of the top players in the state decided that they are with Texas.
One poster today asked if such a recruiting haul on one day is normal. The answer -- no, this isn't normal, this is Texas.
- David Ash, Belton quarterback
- Joe Bergeron, North Mesquite running back/fullback/H-back
- Miles Onyegbule, Arlington wide receiver
- Jaxon Shipley, Brownwood wide receiver
- MJ McFarland, El Paso El Dorado tight end
- Josh Cochran, Hallsville offensive tackle
- Taylor Doyle, Lake Travis offensive tackle
- Marcus Hutchins, DeSoto offensive tackle
- Desmond Jackson, Spring Westfield defensive tackle
- Chet Moss, Cedar Park linebacker
- Leroy Scott, South Houston cornerback
- Sheroid Evans, Sugarland Dulles safety
- Mykkele Thompson, San Antonio Stevens athlete
Pending. Of course, as easy as it is for some players to make the decision to immediately commit to becoming Texas Longhorns in the office of the Godfather, some recruits need more time to make the best decision for themselves and their family. These players received offers and did not commit:
- Malcolm Brown, Cibolo Steele running back
- Aaron Green, San Antonio Madison running back
- Christian Westerman, Chandler (AZ) offensive tackle
- Sedrick Flowers, Galena Park North Shore offensive guard
- Marquis Anderson, Cibolo Steele defensive tackle
- Jermauria Rasco, Shreveport Evangel defensive end
- Cedric Reed, Cleveland defensive end
- Steve Edmond, Daingerfeld linebacker
- Anthony Wallace, Dallas Skyline linebacker
The only recruit who did not receive an offer was Nathan Hughes, the defensive end from Klein Oak, reportedly due to tight numbres in the class overall, but also at that particular position. Though the Longhorns did a better job this year of not inviting recruits they weren't going to offer, it's almost certainly a tough day for Hughes, a kid who would appear to want nothing more than to become a Longhorn -- it must have been a long drive home for him. However, that's not to say that he won't receive an offer, as Brown reportedly indicated to Hughes that the coaching staff would have to sit down and re-evaluate where the class stands overall and whether or not there is room for the talented defensive end.
(Note: It does not appear that Devon Hocutt was in town this weekend)
Biggest surprises -- Sheroid Evans, Desmond Jackson (tie)
Neither one of these top talents were expected to make a decision on Saturday and early in the process it looked like Evans wasn't heavily favoring Texas at all.
Biggest gets -- Evans, Jackson, and Leroy Scott (tie)
The first two players win this award not only because they were the two biggest surprises, but because Evans fills a major need at safety and Jackson is one of the top several players in the state overall and one of the best in the country at his position. Scott rounds out the threesome because he is an elite talent, while also filling a major need at cornerback.
Fastest -- Sheroid Evans
Not even close. As mentioned in his commitment thread, Evans has a pesonal best of 21.38 in the 200m.
Most explosive -- Desmond Jackson
Like Ashton Dorsey and (pre-weight gain) Taylor Bible, few defensive tackles have Jackson's explosion off the ball.
Best playmaker -- Chet Moss
This is a little bit of a sleeper pick, but Moss apparently knows how to force some fumbles, as he stripped Westwood's Princeton Collins, an FBS recruit, multiple times -- in the same game. The most impressive aspect of the performance? The fact that he didn't jeopardize any yardage by only trying to rip the ball out.
Most upside -- Marcus Hutchins
Widely considered as a better athlete than 2010 DeSoto product Evan Washington, another talented basketball player, only 30-40 pounds of bulk separate Hutchins from being one of the top offensive linemen in the country -- all the athleticism is there and reports out of DeSoto indicate that Hutchins is not only working hard to add bulk, but working hard to add good weight, not simply gaining weight for the sake of adding mass.
Most want to see film on -- Mykkele Thompson
Haven't been able to find anything out there on him, as he flew under the radar for much of the process, but an invite to the first Junior Day and subsequent offer indicate there must be something there that's pretty special.
Biggest reach -- Not applicable
Come on now, this is a day to celebrate these recruits and the recruiting juggernaut that is Texas football under Mack Brown. All these kids are Texas good.
- Running back -- Despite the commitment from Joe Bergeron, who fits as the big back in the class, the Longhorns still need to land one of the top four backs in the state. Of those four, Malcolm Brown and Aaron Green were the confirmed visitors for the first Junior Day and appear to be the top targets. However, it's also possible that one or both of the other two were invited to the first Junior Day and simply could not attend because of scheduling issues.
- Christian Westerman -- The three commitments on the offensive line go a long way towards assuaging some of the incredible angst felt by Texas fans, but the major prize remains Westerman, perhaps the best in the country at his position.
- Steve Edmond -- Linebacker is not a position of need in the class, but Edmond ranks so highly on this list simple because of covetousness and greed -- Edmond's stock is on the rise, quickly.
- Depth at defensive back -- With the top two targets at defensive back already committed (and another possible defensive back in Mykkele Thompson, as well), the next task for the coaching staff is securing some depth in the class, most likely by adding a cornerback and a safety. The most likely candidates are Franklin Shannon, Eric Agbaroji, and Kolby Griffin
- Sedrick Flowers -- Like linebacker, finding a guard is not a major need, but Flowers is so talented that he's an obvious take as long as there is room.
- Jermauria Rasco -- Another luxury pick, just because he is that talented.