After losing Will Muschamp during the banquet last season, getting through the night without losing any highly-considered assistants has to count as a success. At least stability is a good feeling, right?
As always, everyone got an award, tough the tenor was perhaps slightly more sincere this season with the final opportunity for the team for honor injured running back Fozzy Whittaker, who won five awards and received a standing ovation from this teammates and those otherwise in attendance. A well-deserved moment that shows the type of love you can get back from the Texas football family with hard work, dedication, and by representing yourself with the utmost class.
Recruiting update. As always, the banquet is the last major recruiting event before the class signs in February, with whatever commits aren't still participating in the state playoffs coming in for their official visits and a few prospects still being recruited, as well. Of the latter, there were three important visitors for the Longhorns -- five-star defensive end and Florida State commit Mario Edwards, four-star defensive end and LSU commit Torshiro Davis, and fast-rising safety and Baylor commit Adrian Colbert, now ranked third in the country at the position by 247Sports.
The most likely to commit was Colbert, who did not pull the trigger for the Longhorns Saturday afternoon despite simply tweeting "24" on his account, leading some to believe it meant that he had just become the 24th commitment of the 2012 class. Colbert quickly notified the services that he had not made the call for Texas, but it doesn't seem out of line to be optimistic that it will happen, possibly as soon as the next few days. Colbert was hosted on his trip by Marquise Goodwin, apparently exciting enough to earn a #TooKrunk designation from the hard-hitting safety.
Edwards and Davis are harder ciphers. There's as much optimism about Edwards as there has been in about a year or so and Manny Diaz has some stuff on film that he can sell to the freakishly athletic 280-pound Edwards and his former Dallas Cowboy father. For Davis, it feels a lot like Jermauria Rasco last year in that even if the kid really likes Texas, the pressure to stay in Louisiana is incredible. I mean, it's LSU fans we're talking about. Still have to think that wins out. The report from Hookem's Dave Behr that Davis looked the least engaged ($) of the three doesn't spark too many positive feelings either. Still, maybe a miracle happened for Texas. Just don't count on it.
Mack sunshine pumping about Okafor and Vaccaro. The talk will turn really serious after the bowl game, but it's never too early to start serious speculation about the early entrance candidates at this time of the season. This year, it's defensive end Alex Okafor and safety Kenny Vaccaro in the spotlight days after both received recognition from the coaches as 1st-team All-Big 12.
Predictably, Brown was chipper about the prospects of both returning, because, really, what else would he say?
You have to think they are two guys who could look around, but right now I'm not feeling like either one of them will even sniff it. I think they're ready to win a bowl game, go back to spring practice and try to have a great year next year.
Okay, so right now they're focused on the bowl game, despite Vaccaro wondering out loud on Twitter about the decision facing him. Sure, Mack, whatever you say. And that's not even passing judgment on coach or player either because that's how this dance plays out.
Realistically, Okafor is more likely to stick around given that he needs further refinement to his mostly raw pass-rushing skills. What happens with Machete may mostly depend on the draft evaluation that he gets after the bowl game and how much he thinks he can improve that grade he gets with another season. If he gets a third-round grade -- which seems possible if not likely -- does he decide that he could sneak up into the second round with a strong senior season? And does he want to wait to take care of his family, particularly his mother?
One more time: It's. About. The. Process. Considering that the talk in this space and the words on the lips of Mack Brown throughout the spring and fall have been about the process, it was a bit disappointing that so many still missed the point as recently as this week:
Texas fans want to talk about wins -- and rightly so -- but your level of satisfaction with this season probably depends on your ability to distinguish output and process. Our output this season was in many ways dissatisfying: five losses including a blowout in Dallas, uneven offensive line play from a hodge-podge collection of bodies, miserable quarterback play, etc. But that output was in many ways determined by mistakes made long before this season, under a coaching regime that has been thoroughly overhauled.
It's the same type of theme that Brown himself built on when asked to asses the season ($) Friday night:
After looking at it, you always want to win as many games as you can. But the purpose of this year was to get out of the funk we were in last year and get headed back in the right direction, and we did that.
We had chance after chance. We had a chance to win against Kansas State. We didn't play very well at Missouri. We had a chance to beat Oklahoma State. I wanted to see our work ethic get better and see our toughness get back.
And I was talking to our coaches today. There was so much change last year. Everything will be better in the spring. The coaches will know each other better. It will be easier to make adjustments. We may not have coaching changes, unlike last year when we had six.
I think this recruiting class may be better than last year's, and last year's was unbelievable. So I think we are headed on our way back in the right direction.
After giving up on a handful of games in 2010 or flat-out not showing up at all, the worst comment about the effort of the 2011 team was the poor mental response to not having Brown, Bergeron, and Shipley and then having the heart of soul of the team ripped out when Faurot Field shredded Fozzy Whittaker's knee. The defense especially took responsibility for the need to do almost everything instead of pointing fingers at the ineptitude of the offense.
The bricks aren't all in place yet, but the wall is in progress.
All quarterback options on the table. The question on the mind of every Texas fan over the last week or so has been the possibility of Texas looking at a JUCO or graduate transfer quarterback. At the banquet, the question was posed to Brown:
We're looking at it right now because our quarterbacks are still young. It's funny. Right after the Baylor game, everyone scattered. Everyone goes recruiting. We didn't have our first staff meeting until this morning.
Today, we were just talking about the possibilities of what would be out there or what we'd look at. Or do we just continue in the light we're in now? We'll have another staff meeting Sunday and pull together some more thoughts than we have right now.
Everyone's favorite option may essentially be off the table by the time that Brown and the Texas staff sit down to talk about it -- that would be former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist, currently taking in the Kansas-Ohio State basketball game with new Jayhawk coach Charlie Weiss, the man who recruited him to South Bend in the first place. For all intents and purposes, that looks like a done deal.
Right now, one of the names that seems to be gaining the most traction is Jacob Karam, the Texas Tech transfer who has already graduated after 2 and a half years in school, therefore becoming eligible to play immediately. Karam was a three-star recruit by Rivals out of Friendswood. The major concern with Karam would be his size at about 6-0. In high school, he made up for it with a quick release and good footwork, as well as by making plays with his feet.
The other name floating around is former Tennessee prep star Bo Wallace, now considered one of the junior college quarterbacks after a season that saw him guide East Mississippi CC to the JUCO national championship. Jason Suchomel of Orangebloods has reported that Wallace has expressed interest in Texas. The two-star recruit by Rivals was Tennessee's Mr. Football as a senior and spent a season at Arkansas State before leaving. His only other offer out of high school was Tennessee Tech.
As a runner, the 6-4, 200 pounder can make some plays with solid straight-line speed -- close in overall speed to David Ash, though Wallace has a slimmer build. As a passer, Wallace could get the ball there in high school, but he has one of the slowest deliveries in the world, dropping the football and then pausing before the top of his motion, an arrest in his mechanics that essentially kills whatever energy he built up with his long windup. It gets there, it just looks ugly as all heck. At least in high school -- it's possible that he's cleaned things up, but won't really be known until some film of this season comes out.
D$ could be on his way out. Evaluating the future of Darius White at Texas over the last half of the season was mostly an exercise in hoping for some sign that he could make the type of impact that would decrease his odds of ending up as a major attrition candidate.
A Daily Texan Sports tweet early Saturday afternoon cited multiple sources close to the program saying White is on his way out, with A&M as a possible destination. Whether that would play with the coaching staff remains to be seen, but it looks like the moment everyone worried about might be close -- the official end to White's time at Texas.
The thought here was that strong bowl practices might have been enough to save White, but it seems pretty clear at this point that the coaches don't trust the enigmatic prep star. And right now, if the staff doesn't trust a player, the message right now seems to be a strong recommendation for a kid to look at other options. Like a reminder that scholarships are one-year deals.