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Texas Longhorns recruiting: Jerrod Heard could help close in 2016

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Having a dynamic quarterback in place for the next three seasons could give the Horns a bump in a competitive in-state recruiting environment.

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In Heard We Trust.

Senior linebacker Peter Jinkens coined the phrase, but didn't want to seem like a groupie by printing up T-shirts.

Getting students to stop confusing quarterback Jerrod Heard with junior point guard Isiaah Taylor might be a good start. So maybe those T-shirts are necessary.

If Jinkens doesn't want to capitalize on the phrase and momentum created by the Texas Longhorns seemingly finding a quarterback in the redshirt freshman after mismanagement, injuries, and attrition at the position since 2009, the staff and the program could certainly take advantage on the recruiting trail.

After the blowout loss to Notre Dame in the opener, talking to recruits wasn't exactly an easy task for head coach Charlie Strong. Ever since his arrival, he'd been selling hope for the future, even though there weren't much in the way of on-field resuilts to help his cause.

The surge to bowl eligibility provided a spark last year during the West Virginia game with those Florida recruits that the last two games extinguished. Playing time was the major pitch, along with the type of offseason improvement narrative that fizzled in South Bend within minutes.

The phrase almost seems overdone now after almost two weeks of talking about Heard -- everything is different now. Heard's emergence truly changed that much.

And he's got some help in a major personality and talent.

"Well, the guys just see a bright future," Strong said on Monday. "You look on defense, right now Malik is a pressure. On offense, Jerrod is a pressure. They see so many young players. It's not hard because they see so many young players, they just see them playing. That's what a lot of guys do, they want to play their freshman year. That's what's exciting."

The Longhorns already have three talented wide receivers in place, but closing with an offensive tackle like North Mesquite's Jean Delance is key. There's less pressure at the running back position and a little bit more at tight end, where a pass-catching threat would complement blocking tight end Peyton Aucoin quite well.

With Strong opting to take a the long-term approach to recruiting in the 2016 class despite its importance to his overall cause, having something to feel good about during the season was always going to be crucial. Now Strong and company are going all-in by pushing back official visits until after the season, clearly relying on having even more hope to communicate at that point for another late surge.

There's some serious risk inherent in that strategy as top prospects have come off the board along the defensive line, offensive line, and tight end. There's still the looming specter of the SEC West and that cachet that the Horns just can't match until the wins really start rolling in on every fall Saturday.

But even though there's not a compelling personality in the 2016 class who can re-create some Malikmentum, having charismatic leaders on offense and defense may be exactly what the staff needs to ensure that the key recruits are ready to ride by National Signing Day 2016.

On December 19, 2014, Jefferson made it to cool to become a Longhorn again. Now Heard just needs to continue working some magic on the field so he can do so off the field when those key official visits start.