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Texas Junior Day 2012: Recruiting Primer

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Levitation. Brought to you by JD1 attendee Cayleb Jones, Austin High WR (photo by the author).
Levitation. Brought to you by JD1 attendee Cayleb Jones, Austin High WR (photo by the author).

Horns_bullet_mediumLonghorns start 2012 class strong. As prospective future leaders on at least the offensive side of the ball, early commitments from quarterbacks can often generate early recruiting momentum for schools. One recent case comes quickly to mind -- the commitment of Garrett Gilbert three years ago. For the 2012 class, that commitment may well be Chaparral (AZ) quarterback Connor Brewer, who gave his verbal pledge to the Longhorns on Monday.

Then, on Saturday, the Longhorns received two more commitments before the first Junior Day, ostensibly the start of major recruiting efforts for Mack Brown and company every year. In the afternoon, news of Denton Ryan linebacker Alex De La Torre's commitment broke, followed by Bishop Dunne DT Alex Norman several hours later.

It is a common tactic for Brown to bring in several prospects who are locks to commit the day before the Junior Day officially begins. In 2010, Texas brought in Jaxon Shipley, Chet Moss, and Taylor Doyle, all three of whom committed. In 2009, it was Case McCoy who was brought in early.

Bringing in prospects early gives them a sense of their importance to the class, important for two Saturday visitors mentioned below, and also gives Texas the opportunity to build recruiting momentum when the rest of the Junior Day visitors arrive with several commits already in the fold, generally lifelong Texas fans who can help sell the program to the rest of the attendees. Like Chet Moss.

With three commitments heading into the Junior Day, that momentum that Mack Brown clearly believes in has been established, without a doubt, a question mark heading into the Junior Days after all the coaching changes. The question for later is, will that momentum continue on Sunday? On that question hinges a great deal of the early narrative for the 2012 class.

Horns_bullet_mediumDLT and Norman weren't only Saturday visitors. In fact, as important as the commitment of Norman is to the class, he might have been the third most important Texas target in Austin on Saturday. After having said publicly that he would not attend any Junior Days this spring, Denton Ryan DE Mario Edwards, generally considered the top player in the state for 2012, unexpectedly showed up in Austin on Saturday and visited with Oscar Giles.

Though Edwards is probably still a Florida State lean at this point, getting him on campus was going to be a major part of the battle moving forward and Texas accomplished that much earlier than expected. With Edwards expected to announce at a post-season All-Star game, his recruitment is going to be a long one and his visit on Saturday is a seriously positive step as Texas tries to make up ground on his father's alma mater.

The other Saturday visitor was Aledo RB Johnathan Gray, also in contention for the honor of top player in the state. After all, he was named the top high school player in the entire country by ESPN. As a junior. Not bad. Gray took in the Texas basketball game against Baylor, reportedly sitting with Major Applewhite. When asked by Orangebloods if his son planned to commit soon, Gray's father indicated that his son will likely take his time in deciding.

On Twitter, Chris Level, the publisher for RedRaiderSports, indicated that his sources have pegged Gray for a late summer commitment, at the earliest. Regardless of how long Gray takes to make his decision, the serious face time with the Texas coaches and, frankly, most other signs, point towards the Longhorns being in good shape to land the talented back.

Horns_bullet_mediumJunior Day visitors. As of Saturday night, these are the confirmed visitors for Sunday's Junior Day:

  • Trevor Knight, SA Reagan QB (not attending)*
  • Johnathan Gray, Aledo RB
  • Cayleb Jones, Austin High WR
  • Dominique Wheeler, Crockett WR
  • Thomas Johnson, Dallas Skyline WR
  • Kennedy Estelle, Pearland Dawson OL
  • Curtis Riser, DeSoto OL
  • Michael Starts, Waco La Vega OL
  • Ralphael Green, SA Sam Houston OL*
  • Malcolm Brown, Brenham DT
  • Javonte Magee, SA Sam Houston DT/DE
  • Hassan Ridgeway, Mansfield DE
  • Tim Cole, Brenham LB
  • LaDarrell McNeil, A. Maceo Smith S
  • Leo Thomas, SA Sam Houston S*
  • Damien Lawry, A. Maceo Smith ATH
  • Will Hines, Waco CB (not attending, ride fell through)
  • Orlando Thomas, Copperas Cove ATH (late addition)
  • Nick Coleman, SA East Central CB (late switch from Feb. 26 to Feb 13.)

* Low chance of receiving an offer Sunday

Will not visit Sunday:

  • Trey Williams, Spring Dekaney RB
  • Peter Jinkens, Dallas Skyline LB

If you want the scoop on what's going on with Williams, head over to Recruitocosm. Not good for the future of his recruitment by Texas, especially if he doesn't visit for JD2. As for Jinkens, he simply wasn't able to find a ride, as he planned to come down with teammate Thomas Johnson, but Johnson apparently left Dallas on Saturday. It would also be a mild surprise for Trevor Knight to come to town, as he is unlikely to receive an offer after the commitment of Connor Brewer.

There was some talk from Rivals' Brian Perroni that the defensive backs might re-schedule their visits following the departure of Jerry Gray, but it looks like all of them will make it in. As for commitments from any of them, that seems unlikely given that they don't have a position coach in place. Ahem.

Horns_bullet_mediumBig Board refresher. Here's a list of the Big Boards posted this week, although some of the information has obviously changed. Look for updates to the pertinent positions and additions to the board as second Junior Day attendees are confirmed.

Horns_bullet_mediumPlaying the prediction game. With the two only true locks having already committed on Saturday in Norman and DLT, this little game becomes a lot more difficult. Reprising the 10 commitments from the first Junior Day exactly one year ago seems out of the realm of possibility. It would at the least register as a major surprise. Still, it would also be an upset if the Longhorns don't land at least a couple commitments.

So instead of predicting the guys that will commit, how about a scattershot look at some possibilities here:

  • Positive position 1 -- Not being on board with thoughts of a commitment from Cayleb Jones precludes putting him on a list of probable pledges. And no one out there really believes that Thomas Johnson will pull the trigger. The third attendee, Dominique Wheeler, hasn't sounded like a lock. Looked at together, though, the odds of one of them committing tomorrow pushes into probable territory at a little above 50%, with Wheeler the likelist.
  • Positive position 2 -- Poor weather probably precluded Curtis Riser from making the LSU Junior Day last weekend, meaning he didn't exactly spurn the Tigers through his failure to attend. Instead of making him more likely to commit, it could actually force him to wait longer to select his college of choice. With Kennedy Estelle more recently emerging on the radar, it's hard to get a read on his recruitment. Michael Starts sounds like he will wait to make a decision. Once again, however, the odds are strong that Texas could emerge from the Junior Day with the commitment of one of them.
  • Most likely to commit if offered -- Hassan Ridgeway. Texas has been in on Ridgeway for some time -- he's a Chambers guy -- so if he's coming in, he's probably going to get an offer, regardless of whether the Texas recruitnik punditry he's worthy. And if he gets on offer, he's probably the biggest lock of the day to leave Austin a Longhorn.
  • Will Hines -- Even with the departure of Jerry Gray, it wouldn't be a surprise for Mack Brown to have brought in a defensive back likely to commit on the spot. Hines was a late guy to come onto the radar and not much is known about him, so it's tough to get a read on his feelings for Texas. The other defensive backs aren't likely to commit on the spot, so if there's one who is, Hines is likely the guy.
  • Surprise attendee -- Two years ago, St. Pius X defensive end Greg Daniels showed up unexpectedly at the first Texas Junior Day, received an offer, and committed. With the new coaching staff, there could well be another surprise visitor on Sunday. The type of visitor that could top a surprise visit with a surprise commitment.
  • Lower numbers, fewer offers -- In 2010, only one Junior Day attendee failed to receive an offer -- Nathan Hughes. Looking back, it appears that 20 prospects attended in 2010, in comparison to 17 confirmed at this point this year. In 2009, the only attendee it was Mike Davis. This year, the number will probably be higher, particularly because of the presence of some teammates of targets. Ralphael Green, Leo Thomas, and Damien Lawry are all strong prospects in their own respects, but they weren't on the radar until teammates (Javonte Magee for the first two and LaDarrell McNeil the second) confirmed that they were coming to JD1. In other words, they might be the rides. Of the three, Lawry may be the most likely to receive an offer simply based on his offer list alone. 

Horns_bullet_mediumProgramming notes. To keep the clutter down in the Fanposts and Fanshots, if contributors could hold off on putting anything up in the first five or so minutes after the commitment breaks. I'll be covering any commitments as they happen through the great majority of the day and if I'm not around, I'll make sure that another author can throw something up quickly.

If you're on Twitter, follow me @GhostofBigRoy for instant updates and analysis throughout the day a little faster than they can end up here at BON. If you aren't on Twitter and don't have some strange perhaps justified antipathy towards such social networking, create an account and follow all the fine BON contributors on Twitter: @PB_at_BON, @TXStampede, @awiggo, @dimecoverage, @mrwritemedia (ElongatedHorn), and yours truly. Sadly 54b doesn't have an active twitter account. Travesty, no? Just do it, your life will be better. Money back guarantee.

So, look for updates to the Big Boards soon, as well as a look at the 2012 narrative as it stands at the end of Sunday. And, if you aren't reading or following Recruiticosm, please relieve your ignorance as quickly as possible.

Oh yeah, and welcome to recruiting season. It's on.