Don't look now, but it's early March and the Texas Longhorns are virtually finished with recruiting on the offensive side of the ball in the 2013 class following the Monday commitment of Harker Heights offensive lineman Darius James, who made the trip to Austin to take in practice and personally the deliver the news to Mack Brown, according to multiple reports.
The 12th commit in the 2013 class, James had maintained in recent days that he was planning on taking other visits before making a decision, but he cancelled his planned trip to Oklahoma, considered one of the few serious competitors for his services, before informing the Texas coaching staff of his decision, which he told ESPN-Central Texas radio host David Smoak he had made last week.
Always a strong Texas lean, the writing was on the wall last week when current teammate Naashon Hughes accepted his greyshirt offer, giving James the opportunity to play with two former Harker Heights stars at Texas, joining Naashon's big brother Camrhon, the 2012 early enrollee. Add in another 2012 early enrollee, Duke Thomas, and the 'Horns have dipped into the Killeen area for four players in the 2012 and 2013 classes.
James' verbal may close up shop for the 'Horns along the offensive line, as the possible future Texas center joins Lake Highlands OT Kent Perkins as sure-fire offensive line prospects, with Fort Worth Arlington Heights offensive lineman/defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson and Celina offensive lineman/defensive lineman Jake Raulerson also strong possibilities to eventually end up on the line.
It appeared that Texas was originally going to target current A&M commit Ishmael Wilson, the offensive tackle from Dallas Bishop Dunne, but it remains to be seen if the Longhorns will continue to pursue any other offensive line prospects in the class. It is likely, however, that Stacy Searels will still be working hard this spring to evaluate players like Fort Bend Marshall's Maurice Porter, a recent addition to an unusually strong in-state group this year.
As for what James will bring to the table at Texas, there's been some talk emerging from the staff that Searels and company believe he's good enough to contribute for the 'Horns right now, as a prepster not even ready yet for his senior year in high school. That may be a little bit of hyperbole, but there's no question that James is as good as it gets as an interior line prospect who could play center or guard at Texas at 6-5, 320 pounds.
Interior line prospects normally tend to be the shorter, more squatty guys, but James is an exception to that rule. If there are concerns about his pad level and ability to get low, his ankle flexibility is strong and his experience playing defensive tackle should help him in that regard.
James also has the agility to play in space pulling from his center position (which is relatively unusual), using his quick feet to engage smaller players and explosiveness out of his hips through his hips to deliver some serious blows.Additionally, James can work off combo blocks and get to the second level, necessary in any scheme.
Ranked as the top center prospect in the country by 247Sports, James is a fantastic get for the Longhorns, who have now landed the top four targets along the offensive line, even if two of them may not start out there when they get on campus.
As Dustin McComas of Orangebloods said on Twitter following the news breaking, this may be the best early recruiting job that Mack Brown has done at Texas.
Not an easy task, but the thought here is that McComas is right and the result is that Texas is wrecking shop with this class, only one month into the process.