Are the Texas Longhorns one of the handful of teams standing out to Houston Episcopal defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, the state's top prospect in 2017?
In an interview with Bleacher Report, Wilson said that every school still has a chance and that he's "not closing anything off," but listed LSU, Michigan, Texas A&M, UCLA, and USC are the programs currently at the top of his list. However, in an interview with 247Sports that posted on Tuesday, Wilson did name the Longhorns when asked the same question and declined to name the Wolverines and Trojans.
Why is the news that the Longhorns may not be in that mix such a surprising admission? Early in Wilson's recruitment, Texas was considered the leader after the 6'4, 300-pounder attended two summer camps in Austin last year. By August, there were six predictions to Texas in Wilson's 247Sports Crystal Ball. Then, Wilson visited again in early April and officially picked up the offer that was long in the works.
Wilson is such an important target for Texas because the Horns haven't land a top-rated defensive tackle since Malcom Brown in the 2012 class, missing entirely in 2013 and likely 2015 with the news that Du'Vonta Lampkin no longer plans on enrolling at Texas. Throw in the fact that the top three in-state defensive tackles are currently committed to other schools and Wilson becomes an even greater need -- he may currently be the most important target in the 2017 class, which is not an insignificant statement given the incredible talent of Denton Guyer quarterback Shawn Robinson.
What's happened? It's hard to say exactly, though Wilson was able to travel to College Station twice in 2015 and also traveled to Baton Rouge recently, so seeing more colleges perhaps made a difference.
One factor is that Texas A&M is simply impressing Wilson more than the other in-state schools.
"Texas A&M is not that far from home, about an hour off [U.S. Highway] 290," he told Bleacher Report. "[Defensive line] Coach [Terry] Price and [defensive coordinator] Coach [John] Chavis are doing a great job. I went to Friday Night Lights, and the defense looks tremendously different from last year. They're getting players and making them better. That's something I like."
Of course, Texas head coach Charlie Strong can tout that type of developmental ability as well, as can defensive line coach Brick Haley, who sent so many players to the NFL while coaching at LSU. And since Wilson wants to find a school that will help develop him as a person, it's possible that he could have a moment late in his recruitment like linebacker Malik Jefferson did in which he realizes that the Longhorns are his best option academically, athletically, and personally.
The best news for the Horns is that Wilson doesn't plan on making a decision until National Signing Day in 2017, still more than a year and a half away. And his recruitment is still fluid.
"Everything can change at the snap of a finger," Wilson said. "But these are the ones that have my attention right now."
Since things seemingly change from interview to interview, it's much easier to disregard the omission to Bleacher Report, but it does seem clear that Wilson is more open to the process and not as high on the Longhorns as previously thought.