When the current dead period ends on Thursday, recruiting will once again pick up for the Texas Longhorns in the 2015 class with only weeks left until National Signing Day on February 4.
Currently sitting with 26 pledges, the Longhorns can take six more pledges, as Irving Cistercian quarterback Matthew Merrick is expected to take a grayshirt, effectively leaving Texas with 25 pledges in the class.
The 2014 class had 23 members and four early enrollees, allowing Texas to count six of the seven 2015 early enrollees in that recruiting cycle, leaving the six spots in the 2015 class.
Here's a timeline of important dates heading up to NSD, as well as a breakdown of the remaining targets.
The first of three big visit weekends is coming up, with two commits and several important official visitors slated to come to Austin. Here's the current list:
San Jose (Calif.) Valley Christian running back Kirk Johnson -- The son of Texas legend Johnnie Johnson has been committed for almost nine months and hasn't wavered, so the value in his visit for the Longhorns is the possible impact that he could have on other visitors.
Burton athlete Louis Brown -- The former Baylor commit has been solid with his Texas pledge, as well, so there aren't any worries about him either. The 6'5, 215-pounder who will likely play the Fox end position at Texas also tweeted that he's gotten his tests out of the way and is "college ready now."
Rockwall-Heath safety DeShon Elliott [9:20 p.m. 1/15] -- At times, it seemed as if Elliott might be wavering, as he took a visit to College Station and another to TCU. A trip to Norman was reported as happening, but never come to fruition. In Orlando for Under Armour week, Elliott claimed that his commitment was solid and is backing that up with his official visit.
On Wednesday evening, he revealed via Twitter that he will be in Austin this weekend.
Baton Rouge (La.) University Lab running back Nicholas Brossette -- It's not easy to pull a local product away from LSU, the school to which the 6'0, 207-pounder has been committed since August of 2013, but that's exactly what Texas will try to accomplish with the consensus four-star running back:
Leaving for my Texas visit on Friday!! I can't wait!! ✨— Nicholas Brossette (@NBrossette) January 11, 2015
Brossette visited for a camp last summer, so he's been on campus before and his 247Sports Crystal Ball is actually split evenly between the Tigers and Longhorns, though it doesn't represent much of an industry consensus since there are only six predictions.
With the departure of Malcolm Brown, there's early playing time to be had and if Brossette decides to flip his commitment before National Signing Day, it could leave Chris Warren without a spot in the class.
Gilmer cornerback Kris Boyd -- The list for Boyd has changed three times since he released his top five on January 1, with the current iteration now sitting at four schools. The Longhorns have been a constant on it and remain the perceived favorite even though he tried to play off throwing up the "hook 'em Horns" hand sign after Gilmer's state championship win. Though Texas looks like the heavy favorite, watch out for Baylor.
Houston Lamar CB Holton Hill -- Baylor seems to be the most serious contender for Hill, too -- he has a visit scheduled to Waco for the second weekend before Signing Day, but he's been tweeting back and forth with Boyd this week and could be enticed to play his college football with Boyd after spending the weekend together in Austin:
I don't think Austin is ready @KrisBoyd21— HOLLYWOOD (@Hollywood__5) January 12, 2015
Texas safety commit Jamile Johnson also said that Hill told him the Horns are his leader while in Los Angeles for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.
The second big recruiting weekend will unofficially begin with the announcement from Aledo wide receiver Ryan Newsome at his high school. The dynamic slot receiver prospect and return man will choose between his three finalists -- Tennessee, Texas, and UCLA.
A UCLA recruiting analyst posted the following picture on Sunday:
Newsome has gone silent on Twitter until his commitment, so it's not clear where the picture came from. If it was from Newsome, the hat brim analysis looks favorable for Texas. The Crystal Ball has remained heavily in favor of the Horns, as well, as there isn't a single prediction for either the Bruins or the Volunteers.
If the coming weekend is all about closing with the two important in-state prospects who will be on campus, the second visit weekend is about providing an opportunity to impress some out-of-state visitors.
Houston Cypress Falls defensive tackle Du'Vonta Lampkin [1:14 p.m. 1/14] -- The former Oklahoma commit took an official visit to see the Sooners back in early December, but a subsequent trip to Austin reduced the momentum and he has now confirmed his official visit date:
This Texas OV about to be too live on the 23rd #HookEm— Call Me Deebs‼️ (@DeeChilllin) January 14, 2015
Though Lampkin is a consensus three-star prospect, he's a hugely important piece of the class because he's the only defensive tackle committed and will almost certainly be the only defensive tackle to sign with Texas.
Irving Cistercian quarterback Matthew Merrick [1:19 p.m. 1/14] -- The consensus three-star prospect will almost certainly grayshirt, so he won't be counted against the numbers in the 2015 class, but he is important because of his connections to a top prospect in the Metroplex. More on that below.
Westlake linebacker Breckyn Hager [1:30 p.m. 1/14] -- There's been some speculation that Hager could find himself without an offer because of all the other linebackers in the class and the fact that he's the lowest-rated commit in the class, but that would send a bad message to Texas high school coaches and to the Hager family, so it's hard to believe that Charlie Strong would risk the fallout from such a move.
In any case, Hager was one of the last prospects to confirm his visit date.
Cornelius (N.C.) Hough cornerback Mark Fields -- Can Texas pull the former South Carolina pledge away from Clemson, the perceived favorite? It could be difficult and Fields might not even have a spot if Hill and Boyd decide to end their respective recruitments while in Austin. It's unlikely to happen, but it's possible, and Fields remains likely to stay closer to home.
Miami (Fla.) Northwestern cornerback Deandre Baker -- Pledged to Georgia since last summer, Baker seems like something of a back-up plan since he's smaller (listed at 5'10) and not rated as highly as most of the other cornerback targets still on the board.
Baltimore (Mary.) Gilmore athlete Kai Locksley -- The Longhorns were legitimately a contender until Locksley pledged to the Seminoles late last summer, but a more appealing depth chart could help Texas pull off the late flip. It won't be the first time that Locksley has been on campus, as he visited for the Under the Lights camp last summer, but it will be the first time that he'll have a chance to get the full tour.
Plano West running back Soso Jamabo [1:15 p.m. 1/14] -- News broke on Wednesday that the nation's No. 1 running back will take an official visit to Texas. It's a trip that had been discussed when Jamabo surfaced on the radar again back in late November, but had seemingly fallen by the wayside. Now it's scheduled, likely thanks in no small part to the presence of Merrick in the recruiting class, though UCLA remains the perceived runaway leader in Jamabo's recruitment.
January 30-February 1
Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln wide receiver commit John Burt -- The former longtime commit says that Texas is still his leader despite his decommitment last week. Auburn is the other contender here and has Burt's father in their corner. Meanwhile, Burt's mother wants him in Austin.
Other than Burt declaring the Horns his leader, the fact that he's even taking this visit is a good sign as he prepares for a decision that will likely come on National Signing Day -- the big wide receiver didn't announce his intentions to take that visit until after his decommitment.
Miami (Fla.) Killian cornerback Sheldrick Redwine -- Perhaps even more of a back-up plan than Baker, it wouldn't be surprising to see Redwine cancel this visit if either Boyd or Hill end up committing before then. Compounding that belief is the fact that he recently committed to Louisville. If Texas ends up missing out on either Boyd or Hill, then the staff could ratchet up the pursuit of Redwine once again.
Memphis (Tenn.) University offensive tackle Drew Richmond -- Originally scheduled to come in this weekend, it's unclear at this time if the Ole Miss pledge will actually make it to campus. He's set to trip to Alabama and Ole Miss before that time and the Rebels coaching staff may be able to convince him not to come to Austin. Even if he does, he remains a longshot to replace decommitted offensive tackle Toby Weathersby in the class.
There may well be other targets who decide to announce on this date, but right now the only confirmed pledge will come from Rockwall running back Chris Warren, who will choose between Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas, and Washington. Since he has official visits remaining to each of his finalists other than the Longhorns, there could be some movement in the next several weeks, but he's still considered a major Texas lean.
As mentioned earlier, the recruitment that could impact what happens with Warren is that of Nick Brossette -- with numbers tight, there's only room for one of them.
Other potential visitors
-- Another cornerback target who has talked about visiting is Reserve (La.) East St. John's Xavier Lewis, who has been committed to LSU since last July. Though Lewis talked about visiting while he was at the US Army All-American Bowl, it's not clear that he has set a date or will make it in.
-- Cedar Hill wide receiver Damarkus Lodge said that he would take an official visit to Texas in the Malikmas aftermath, but currently has visits set up to Texas A&M and Ole Miss on the two coming weekends, leaving only one opportunity to make it to Texas. The prediction here is that Lodge doesn't set foot on the Texas campus before making his decision.
-- There's also a chance that Dallas Skyline wide receiver Carlos Strickland uses his final official visit to trip to Austin after decommitting from Texas Tech last week. Whether or not he does could depend on if Newsome picks Texas and how the staff feels about Burt.
Merrick's close friend, Plano West running back Soso Jamabo, talked about taking a visit to Austin after Merrick's pledge back in November, but that visit always seemed unlikely after the current staff showed little interest in the tall running back since arriving in Austin. With two other running backs on the board and two currently committed, Jamabo is likely headed to Notre Dame or UCLA.
Off the board
-- Five-star Gladewater defensive tackle Daylon Mack has eliminated Texas from consideration by choosing to take a visit to Auburn instead of Austin. So much for the Malik Jefferson connection there.
-- Miami (Fla.) Westminster safety Tim Irvin was supposed to arrive on campus on Monday, but that didn't happen as planned as he has gone into Twitter silence. Auburn is trying to get him to visit this coming weekend, while Texas tries to ensure that he arrives in Austin in time for the start of classes next week. What happens is anyone's guess at this point.
[1:32 p.m. 1/14]: New broke on Wednesday morning that Irvin is expected to take an official visit to Auburn this weekend. If he does, he gone.
-- Two in-state official visits are coming up for Miami (Fla.) Booker T Washington cornerback Davante Davis, as he's scheduled to head to Gainesville and Coral Gables before NSD. Right now there's less concern about Davis than there is about Irvin, but the Longhorns need cornerbacks, so losing Davis would be a significant blow.