[Update]: It's official, per Richard Obert on Twitter: Christian Westerman has de-committed from Texas and will sign with Auburn. --GoBR--
Strange. Disappointing. Those are two words that jump to mind when thinking about the announcement scheduled for likely soon-to-be-former Texas commit Christian Westerman, widely considered the second-ranked player in the 2011 class for the Longhorns. News about the announcement at Westerman's high school broke on Wednesday evening with an email sent by Westerman's father, Chris, to a media outlet in Arizona:
There has been a significant recruiting update... and we would like to set up an announcement date for this Friday, Jan. 21, at Hamilton High School to announce some breaking news on his college decision to the media.
On Thursday, it became public that the announcement will be made at 11 am CST.
Rumors of a possible de-commitment from Westerman have run rampant since he took a visit to Auburn in late December, telling Rivals ($):
With the coaches leaving, it's definitely a big change. It's different from what they told me, from what I expected to see when I got there. That changes up a lot of things.
Westerman did say at the Under Armour game that he planned on waiting to make a decision about his future until Texas hired an offensive line coach to replace Mac McWhorter, who recruited Westerman personally and would have been his position coach had he not retired. The Westerman family was seen decked out in Longhorn gear during the week of practices, helping put nervous Texas fans more at ease.
Then, in a stroke of poor luck for Mack Brown and company, the national championship game took place near the Westerman's home in Arizona, allowing them to attend an Auburn practice and receive an in-home visit from some of the staff while in town.
A little over a week ago, that culminated in Chris Westerman calling the relationship between his son and Auburn offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, who visited Austin and then turned down the Longhorns in a very public and high-profile miss for Mack Brown and made his own in-home visit with the family on Monday, a "very special relationship." When Grimes decided not to take his talents to Austin, the tide turned heavily against the Longhorns.
Still, there was no indication from the family that their plans had changed in regards to giving Texas the chance to get an offensive line coach in place before the official visit that was planned to begin Friday, the day of Westerman's announcement. And that's the reason why the news of his announcement at the high school is strange and disappointing.
Strange because it represents a major departure from the stated intentions of the family and disappointing because new offensive line coach Stacy Searels starts his tenure at Texas with what looks like a major de-commitment from one of the top prospects in the country. All without having a chance to even speak with the family. In fact, the entire Texas coaching staff has reportedly not received any communication from the family at all regarding the announcment. It may be that the Longhorns don't even receive a courtesy call from the Westermans after the announcement.
Why maintain all along that Texas would have a chance to make a hire and for that hire to have a chance to make a favorable impression and then bail on the Longhorns knowing very little about Searels? In his last comments to the Texas subscriptions services on Wednesday night, Chris Westerman acknowledged that he knew little about Searels except that he coached at Georgia and played at Auburn. Several hours later, the elder Westerman notified the media about the announcement.
There's something here that strikes a false note and what that false note truly is may never become public, but at least the public comments from Westerman and/or his family today may shed some light on the issue. The overwhelming odds are that the "breaking news" with regards to Westerman's future is that he will be committing to Auburn today and that the family will not make the official visit to Austin that was scheduled to begin some time Friday afternoon or evening.
As far as where Texas goes if Westerman does indeed de-commit as universally believed, recall that the Longhorns planned on taking five offensive line commitments in the class and ended up with six. In other words, based on the original numbers put together by a coaching staff that is no longer in place, Texas only wanted five and will get five even with a Westerman de-commit. That puts little pressure on the Longhorns to try to secure another commitment with only one weekend left for a potantial target to take an official visit.
If Texas does opt to target a lineman late, the two names mentioned most prominently are those of Daingerfield's Shayvion Hatten, Steve Edmond's teammate there and a former teammate of current Texas player Chris Jones, who is currently committed to Texas A&M, and La'Raven Clark from Rockdale, a Texas Tech commit. Both players are projects and it will likely be several before either contributes in college, so neither are the probably short-term solution that Westerman supposedly provided.