Whatever inroads Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong made into the in-state dominance by the Texas A&M Aggies in March has now withered away like the bluebonnets that once lined Texas roadways this spring.
More on the recruiting battles
More on the recruiting battles
Commitments from safety/outside linebacker DeShon Elliott from a supposed Texas A&M stronghold of Rockwall-Heath that had produced three commits and signees combined in the 2013 and 2015 classes was a major step forward and so was landing Houston Westfield offensive tackle Toby Weathersby, a high-upside target of both schools.
Add in the decommitment of Katy running back Rodney Anderson and suddenly there was some positive Texas momentum in battles that hardly seem like they are hotly contested at this time with the Aggie dominance rendering Horns resistance nearly obsolete.
In the last week, three prospects with offers from Texas committed to A&M -- five-star quarterback Kyler Murray from Allen, four-star wide receiver Kemah Siverand from Cypress Ridge, and three-star defensive tackle Kingsley Keke from George Ranch.
In all, that runs the head-to-head battle between the two schools to 10-to-2 in favor of the Aggies. As A&M fans and recruits are fond of saying right now, that's not just winning, that's dominating. Count former offensive tackle commit Connor Lanfear among those:
There's a difference between winning and dominating, and we're definitely DOMINATING. #WRTS #gigem— connor #74 (@connorlanfear74) June 4, 2014
The following graphic is a little bit of a misrepresentation because it includes losses incurred under Mack Brown against Charlie Strong, but the overall A&M vs. Texas point stands:
Oh. MT @TamuHighlights: Texas A&M vs Texas recruiting battles. There’s winning & then there’s DOMINATING! #WRTS pic.twitter.com/u4Iwph5ybL— Good Bull Hunting (@GBHunting) June 4, 2014
And it's hard to argue with the assessment of the Aggies ruling the state, because while the commitment of the Aggie legacy Murray was hardly a surprise, the loss of Siverand was a significant blow because the expected Texas-Texas A&M battle for his services never really happened, as the list that he released early on the day that Murray committed had the Horns sitting in fifth place.
Having a quarterback committed in the class helped A&M secure Siverand and it could help land a number of other players. Not to mention the fact that five-star Gladewater defensive tackle Daylon Mack canceled his summer visits at that time, as well.
The most recent pledge, Keke, was considered a Texas lean after receiving his offer in April. In fact, he told GigEm247 that he always envisioned himself as a Longhorn, but thought the Aggies were a better fit. Not only that, but his commitment came the day after two A&M players were dismissed from the team after being charged with three counts each of aggravated robbery -- if there were any concerns about the discipline in the program, it wasn't enough to keep Keke from drawing a "#YESSIR" tweet from head coach Kevin Sumlin.
Texas now has only two in-state defensive tackle offers out at what continues to be a need position having lost two players to the Aggies. And the Horns haven't been considered one of the favorites for Dallas Bishop Dunne's Darrion Daniels at any point in his recruitment, though the news is better with former Sooners commit Du'Vonta Lampkin, a Cypress Falls product.
Ultimately, what happens during the fall will have a tremendous impact on whether the Horns can catch up in recruitments like those of five-star Mesquite Poteet linebacker Malik Jefferson and five-star Fort Bend Marshall cornerback Kendall Sheffield. The problem is that short of a successful season or some type of massive continued implosion with the A&M football program, Texas will likely have another lost class bereft of many of the state's top players.
There's also former perceived Longhorn lean Damarkus Lodge, the breakout Cedar Hill star who looks destined to commit to A&M later this month and follow Murray.
No matter how well Strong develops the talent currently on hand and the talent that he does end up landing in the 2015 class, failing to secure signatures from the top players in the state will have a significant impact on the program's future upside -- it's hard to underestimate how much of a problem this is and what a massive shift has happened in the state since Sumlin was hired and the Aggies made the move to the SEC.
On other fronts, things haven't been especially positive either -- Pflugerville Hendrickson cornerback PJ Mbanasor committed to Oklahoma on Tuesday despite holding a Texas offer. One of the top prospects at the position in the state, the local product saw his recruitment take off this spring, but never seemed to seriously consider Texas after the Horns waited too long to offer him.
Perhaps it wouldn't have made a difference with former high school teammate Samaje Perine signed with the Sooners, but it's hard to feel like the staff didn't somewhat botch his recruitment by waiting so long on the evaluation.
Flower Mound Marcus offensive tackle Keaton Sutherland also released his list of top schools on Thursday, one that failed to include the Horns:
Final 4 pic.twitter.com/znrCB4q5lc— TweetinKeaton (@keatonsuds) June 5, 2014
It's not clear how much of a target he has been for the staff since receiving his offer with the commitment of Houston Westfield's Toby Weathersby and the continued pursuit of Arlington Bowie's Madison Akamnonu, which seems to be going much better than it ever went with Sutherland, but at this point it's hard to simply say that the staff didn't want a player as an excuse for missing on them -- it's happening too much across the board to say that.
In the 2016 class, meanwhile, the recruitment of Manvel wide receiver Reggie Hemphill increasingly appears as if it was completely and totally botched. A solid commitment for months after his pledge last summer, Hemphill had his offer pulled only for the staff to decide that they wanted to offer him again without seeing him work out in person.
As a result of that particular boondoggle, Hemphill now has Texas listed No. 5 on his top 10, though he seems to have deleted that tweet in the days since he sent it. In all likelihood, had the Horns not pulled his offer, he would still be committed.
Of course, not all the news has been bad, as Texas managed to make the top
75 15 schools for Woodbridge (Virg.) Hylton star offensive tackle Matthew Burrell:
Top 15! pic.twitter.com/nAKVFWzUE9— Matthew Burr€ll Jr!! (@__Triumphant) June 5, 2014
So, that's a thing, at least, even though it's a longshot to even get him on campus, much less secure a commitment.
In the same vein is the list from Baltimore (Mary.) Giman quarterback Kai Locksley:
#top6 pic.twitter.com/dgxt4NEnX5— Kai Locksley (@LOCKSnLOADED_3) June 5, 2014
The son of the Maryland offensive coordinator has actually talked about visiting this summer, but it's unclear whether the Horns are still recruiting him at all following the commitment of New Mexico quarterback Zach Gentry. There has been some talk about only taking one quarterback in the class, but the staff would likely take a commitment from Locksley if he wanted to come to Texas. It would be silly not to take it.
However, that's unlikely to happen, as Florida State is seen as the school with the most legitimate chance of landing his services other than Maryland.
Basically, the good news here is essentially meaningless as Sumlin continues to kick Strong's butt up and down the state and then back again.
At this point, a day in which a Texas target doesn't commit to Texas A&M counts as a good day. So it looks like Thursday was a good day! Yup, a good day.