The Texas Longhorns missed out on a key tight end target from Aurora (Colo.) Jesuit's Jack Stoll announced his commitment to the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Wednesday:
Excited and proud to announce that I have committed to the University of Nebraska!#GBR pic.twitter.com/i9gcFMuFrg— Jack Stoll (@StollJack) June 24, 2015
The consensus three-star prospect had originally planned on committing last Friday, but opted to put off his decision to put some space between his pledge and a June 13 visit to Lincoln. Ultimately, taking the extra time didn't result in positive news for the Horns, as the Huskers won out even though Stoll visited Austin twice since receiving his offer back in April.
According to Stoll, his experience at the Nebraska spring game made a huge impression:
"Nebraska was really the first major school that I had visited and when I went up there for the spring game there were 76,000 people just going nuts," Stoll said. "I remember just being on the field before the game and just getting goosebumps. It was just this feeling of, 'Oh my gosh, I could see myself playing here for four or five years.' I just absolutely fell in love with the place as soon as I went to the spring game.
"It was just really one of the first places I had visited and I didn't realize how special of a place it was at the time. I didn't really know what that feeling about Nebraska was until I visited a couple of other schools, it was just something special for me."
Unfortunately, Texas fans struggle to muster that level of excitement for an actual home game, much less a spring game.
The frustrating aspect of Stoll's recruitment is that Nebraska is no longer the recruiting power it once was, ranking outside the top 30 temas nationally the last two years in the 247Sports Composite team ranings, and Texas was the first major program to offer -- this wasn't a case of new tight ends coach Jeff Traylor getting in on his recruitment too late.
Underrated tight ends with good athletic ability and upside as dual threats in college are tough to find, so losing the head-to-head battle with Nebraska for Stoll is a stinging loss for the Texas recruiting class, especially since it's a need position and Traylor ideally wants to land two prospects there.
And, as at several other positions, recruiting hasn't been going especially well at tight end -- of the eight prospects offered by the Horns, six of them are committed to other schools after the recent pledge of New Orleans (La.) Brother Martin's Irvin Smith to recruiting rival Texas A&M. So Smith's teammate Peyton Aucoin and Fort Lauderdale American Heritage's Nick Eubanks are the only two remaining uncommitted targets.
Texas managed to get in on Aucoin pretty early, so that's a potential positive with the blocking specialist of the two Brother Martin products. However, he's now up to 21 offers, including Florida, Michigan, and Ole Miss, so his recruitment is no longer lightly contested. Recent visits for Aucoin include trips to Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Texas in late April. Right now, he's the target the Horns really need to land unless head coach Charlie Strong and defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn can pull off some more Florida magic with Eubanks or a currently committed prospect.
There was some positive news on Wednesday, however, as New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine tight end Jamal Pettigrew confirmed his planned visit date for July 18, which could be for the Under the Lights camp. Pledged to home-state LSU since January, the athletic receiving specialist didn't pick up his Texas offer until late February. Perhaps he could become the next Shiro Davis as the only prospect to flip to the Horns from the Tigers since 2012, but the recent trend has been in the other direction -- Texas commits flipping to LSU, which happened three times in the 2014 and 2015 classes combined.
Of the three in-state prospects offered, the only one that seems like a remote possibility to flip to Texas at this time in West Mesquite's Donte Coleman, a Texas Tech commit who also picked up his Horns offer after his pledge. Coleman hasn't visited since receiving that offer, but he's been in contact with Traylor and could visit this summer.
Ultimately, Traylor has the profile of a successful recruiter, but he's still building relationships with prospects and learning how to recruit at the college level, so hopefully the transition period doesn't keep the Horns from landing the two needed tight ends in the 2016 class.