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Texas Longhorns salvage big recruiting weekend

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A seemingly disastrous start gave way to a productive several days for the Horns on the recruiting trail.

From left to right: Peyton Aucoin, Shane Buechele, Collin Johnson, and Demarco Boyd
From left to right: Peyton Aucoin, Shane Buechele, Collin Johnson, and Demarco Boyd
via @BGShaneBuechele

The arrival of Texas Longhorns quarterback commit Shane Buechele in Austin on Friday for a big recruiting weekend had an auspicious beginning with the news that Tulsa Golden Hurricane co-offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert declined the job, but Buechele tried to put on a brave face:

By the end of the weekend, Texas had officially landed Gilbert and his close friend and offensive line coach, Matt Mattox, and Buechele had been able to help with the recruiting efforts of several important targets.

Unfortunately for the Horns, LSU Tigers tight end commit Jamal Pettigrew and fellow Louisiana product Kristian Fulton, a highly-rated defensive back, were not able to make the trip, but Texas did host Waco cornerback Eric Cuffee on an important visit. He's still a top target for the Longhorns at his position, but his recruitment has trended towards the Aggies all fall. The good news for Texas is that Cuffee was a staple on campus during the spring and sophomore linebacker Malik Jefferson was his player host.

So the hope is that Jefferson didn't lose his closing ability from the 2015 class he helped finish so strong. (Jefferson almost certainly did not lose his closing ability from the 2015 class he helped finish so strong.)

Perhaps the biggest post-visit news was the decommitment of New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine defensive tackle D'Andre Christmas-Giles from the Tennessee Volunteers on Sunday after his time in Austin. However, whether the decommitment was the result of an offer from LSU before his visit or because of the visit itself is still up for debate.

Texas also received an official visit from Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) safety Devin Studstill, a player who hasn't really been heavily on the radar since picking up his offer. Set to decide on Tuesday evening, Studstill still has the Horns in the mix, but is considered a heavy lean to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Another key uncommitted target on an official visit was Farmington (Mich.) linebacker David Reese, who backed off his long-time pledge to the home-state Michigan Wolverines on December 9, just days before arriving in Austin. As expected, the trip was a success.

"I had a great time, coach (Charlie) Strong is an unbelievable person and I feel like the relationship we built is going to be very strong," Reese told the Detroit Free Press. "He opened up with his arms and welcomed me to his family."

Reese also confirmed previous reports that he decommitted in part because Texas could offer him the ability to enroll early, which Michigan could not because of the school's scholarship situation.

The 6'1, 235-pounder is seriously considering Florida and Nebraska in addition to Texas, but the Longhorns currently lead in his 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions:

In news from the committed prospects in town, California product Collin Johnson is now fully healthy and ready to participate in spring practice after he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury early in his senior campaign. Since the new Gilbert offense requires vertical threats and effective blockers on the perimeter, he stands out as an impact player if he can adjust quickly to the new scheme in the coming months.

As evidenced by the picture above, New Orleans (La.) Brother Martin tight end commit Peyton Aucoin was on campus and brought teammate Irvin Smith, a Texas A&M Aggies tight end pledge, with him on the trip. Gilmer athlete Demarco Boyd was also in town.

Other interesting news to emerge from the weekend was the renewed pursuit of Baylor offensive tackle commit JP Urquidez, who grew up a Texas fan and looked like a Longhorns lean early in the process before previous offensive line coach Joe Wickline seemingly backed off in his recruitment.

The new offensive line coach, Mike Mattox, was in the Fort Hood area on Sunday and met with Urquidez and Kansas State offensive line commit Zach Shackelford, who also holds an offer from the Longhorns:

So, is Urquidez interested? He told The Football Brainiacs that his interest is "serious" and that he plans on taking an official visit some time in January.

In other words, all the news was good news from an official visit weekend that had the potential to go in a vastly different direction. And seemed headed that way in its early hours.