The recruitment of Austin Seferian-Jenkins hasn't exactly been a normal one in regards to the Texas Longhorns. On the radar after a visit early in the process, the Longhorns looked like they were on the outside looking in the first time that I wrote about him late last fall.
Sure, the visit was important, but what connection did the national recruit, arguably the top player at his position in the country, have with Texas? In the 2010 class, it was all about that connection for both Jordan Hicks (his mother's prior relationship with Jeff Madden) and Demarco Cobbs (his mother's Texas roots) -- that connection is the single most important factor for an out-of-state recruit.
Even at this point, after Seferian-Jenkins basically recruited himself with Texas, it's hard to pinpoint the connection besides a comment that he's "always been a fan ($)" of the Longhorns. Without that strong connection, the case for Texas becomes substantially weaker.
The case for Texas
Several factors weigh heavily in the favor of the 'Horns. Perhaps none is as important as the ability to win and win quickly. Given the strength of the 2010 and 2011 classes and the quality depth at the quarterback position, the narrative is that Texas will be competing for national championships as these groups mature together on the field.The rebuilding Huskies cannot offer that assurance, only a chance to be a part of the program as it attempts to return to national prominence.
The big tight end also has a strong relationship with several members of the 2010 class, staying in touch with them on Facebook. One of those players is reportedly Garrett Greenlea, who has sought to reassure AS-J that the Texas coaching staff wouldn't offer him if they felt sure he would end up as an offensive lineman, especially with six commitments along the line already.
Seferian-Jenkins said last week that he is currently around 255 pounds, although Recruitocosm reported his weight as over 270 pounds. It's important to note, however, that Seferian-Jenkins denied being weighed while he was in Austin.
At no point was that more apparent than at the Gridiron Kings 7-on-7 event in Florida in late July. It was an event attended by a host of Texas commits and Seferian-Jenkins made the decision to step into a picture with his potential future teammates, throwing his horns up and starting a firestorm of speculation on the Longhorn interwebs that he was a virtual lock for a commitment to the 'Horns.
Here's what Seferian-Jenkins said about Texas in his final interview before his announcement ($):
It came down to Texas and Washington because Texas has one of best programs in the country. They have a great coaching staff and have good players. They have great quarterbacks. The people around there love the game. They treat it like religion. It's something I have never really had yet. It's just the ultimate state to play in.
The case for Washington
Most recently, Washington has seemingly experienced a resurgence in the recruitment of the local product, possibly because AS-J and his mother are concerned about the cost of plane tickets for her to travel to games with him, the type of practical consideration that makes it difficult to land out-of-state prospects. Three trips to UW practices recently only added fuel to the speculative fire that the Huskies are now a serious contender.
A talented basketball player as well, Seferian-Jenkins will have the opportunity to play basketball in college if he decides to stay at home in Seattle, but has said that he wants to focus on football, knowing that his future lies on the gridiron. However, as his announcement approaches, if AS-J is having second thoughts about giving up the sport, the appeal of being able to play may help the home-town team.
Without knowing more about Steve Sarkisian and how he operates, it would be imprudent to suggest that the head coach is telling Seferian-Jenkins what he wants to hear about remaining at tight end, but it does seeem likely that the former USC offensive coordinator is using all the tricks at his disposal to land such a major commitment.
Here's what Seferian-Jenkins said about Washington in his final interview before his announcement:
Washington is close to home and I have grown up here all my life. It's a state that has given me a lot and it would be nice to give back if I was to go there . Plus, they have a great coaching staff. All the players up there are great
Down the stretch
For about two months, it looked like Seferian-Jenkins was a virtual lock to commit to Texas on his trip in August, a trip delayed by difficulties making travel arrangements. He did receive the long-awaited offer when he finally made it to town, but had already planned his announcement date and while he spoke glowingly about the trip, the commitment did not come.
His comments to Orangebloods in July were representative of his public statements about Texas ($):
Texas still out in front. Texas is still my leader. Unless something drastic happens (emphasis mine), I don't see that changing.
The question, obviously, in the hours leading up to his announcement is whether something drastic did change. A case of realizing just how far away Austin is from Seattle, exemplified by the concerns about the cost of travel, perhaps. Honest statements from Texas coaches concerned about him keeping his weight down enough to stay at tight end, perhaps. A strong connection with the Washington coaching staff, perhaps. His mom wanting to him to stay close to home, perhaps.
Seferian-Jenkins has maintained that he has not made that decision yet and it could well come down to the final minutes before his press conference at the Gig Harbor Yacht Club on Monday evening at 6:30 pm PST. However, all the reports coming from sources close to AS-J indicate that Washington will be the choice, with the new Horns 247 site reporting on Facebook and Twitter that UCLA could even be back in the mix, despite his public statements about Texas and Washington being the final two.
My Take: Besides the endless discussions about why Christine Michael didn't land a Texas offer and Major Applewhite's competency as a running back coach, few things have become more tiresome than the repetitive conversations about whether Seferian-Jenkins will be able to stay at tight end in college. At least if he commits to Washington, all that can stop.
The bottom line is that the Texas coaching staff has the same concerns about it that everyone else does, but decided to offer him anyway, even with six offensive linemen already committed. In the end though, the decision probably comes down to whether his family can afford to come down to see him play, despite how much he obviously loves the coaches and the environment in Austin. And that is probably the deciding factor.
Prediction: The drastic change went down. AS-J will be a Husky.