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Texas Longhorns make impression on official visitors

Big visit weekends rarely go poorly, but the most important one in years went even better than expected.

Star safety Brandon Jones at Texas
Star safety Brandon Jones at Texas
via @BlessedJones33

After a monster official visit weekend that included 20 prospects, the Texas Longhorns came out of it with one new commitment, buzz about several possible silent commitments, and positive impressions made on everyone in attendance.

Oh yeah, and several unexpected visitors showed up, including TCU defensive end commit Isaiah Chambers, talented Duncanville defensive tackle Marcel Southall, and Waco cornerback Eric Cuffee, who followed up his December official visit with an unofficial visit over the weekend.

There's a new tagline -- Believe -- and plenty of momentum headed to National Signing Day with several more important visit weekends lined up, at least two key targets set to decide before the first Wednesday in February, and numerous prospects who will pledge and sign on the big day.

And, man, those four offensive linemen now committed? Line them all up for a picture and the impressive-looking group makes the future appear quite bright for new position coach Matt Mattox, who is already drawing rave reviews for his recruiting ability.

"I love coach Mattox," offensive guard commit Tope Imade told Horns Digest. "He recruited me at Tulsa, He's just an amazing guy. So when he moved to Texas, it was a perfect fit... Coach Mattox, I love this guy."

Effusive praise, no?

All in all, it will take some times for the ultimate returns to become apparent, but based on everything coming out of the event, it was an unqualified success for head coach Charlie Strong and his staff.

To recap, here's the visit list:

Texas Commits

  • Jean Delance: 4-star OT | 6-5, 291 | Mesquite, TX
  • Reggie Hemphill-Mapps: 4-star WR | 6-1, 172 | Manvel, TX
  • Andrew Fitzgerald: 3-star SDE | 6-5, 250 | Flower Mound, TX
  • Denzel Okafor: 3-star OG | 6-4, 295 | Lewisville, TX
  • Malcolm Roach: 3-star SDE | 6-3, 255 | Baton Rouge, LA
  • Gerald Wilbon: 3-star DT | 6-3, 311 | Destrehan, LA
  • Davion Curtis: 3-star WR | 5-11, 180 | Temple, TX
  • Tope Imade: 3-star OG | 6-4.5, 327 | Arlington, TX
  • Zach Shackelford: 3-star OL | 6'3, 290 pounds | Belton, TX

Recruits Committed Elsewhere

  • Erick Fowler: 4-star OLB | 6-1, 226 | Manor, TX | LSU commit
  • Chris Daniels: 4-star DT | 6-3.5, 299 | Euless, TX | Oklahoma commit
  • Mark Jackson Jr.: 4-star WDE | 6-2.25, 221 | Cibolo, TX | Texas A&M commit
  • Isaiah Chambers: 4-star SDE | 6'4, 258 | Houston, TX | TCU commit
  • Zach Shackelford: 3-star OG | 6-3, 290 | Belton, TX | Kansas State commit


  • Brandon Jones: 5-star S | 5-11.5, 193 | Nacogdoches, TX
  • Deontay Anderson: 4-star S | 6-1, 192 | Manvel, TX
  • Jeffrey McCulloch: 4-star OLB | 6-2.5, 230 | Houston, TX
  • Stephon Taylor: 4-star DT | 6-4, 292 | New Orleans, LA
  • Eric Cuffee: 4-star CB | 6'0, 188 | Waco, TX
  • Lil'Jordan Humphrey: 3-star ATH | 6-5, 199 | Southlake, TX
  • Marcel Southall: 3-star DT | 6'2, 280 | Duncanville, TX

And here are some reactions from recruits:

After offering Daniels so late in the process -- just before his commitment to Oklahoma -- Texas needed to bring some other factors in play to influence the four-star defensive tackle and Vahe's presence in Austin may have done just that.

The nasty offensive guard probably isn't on Malik Jefferson's level as a recruiter, but despite his mauling persona on the football field, off the field he's an easy-going guy with a big smile and a great ambassador for the school.

Throw in the potential for early playing time and the weekend resulted in three 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions for Daniels to Texas.

There were also several other important developments during that weekend that could impact the conclusion of the class.

One of the bigger moments of the weekend came when the three Texas Freshman All-Americans received their just recognition at the basketball game the recruits attended on Saturday. For a program selling the future and the ability to contribute early, Jefferson, Williams, and Vahe stood as shining examples of where the visitors could be next year at this time.

Nice move by Texas to make sure that happened with so many key targets there.

And how helpful is it for the school to have its own network? No other program in the country can take prospects into a studio created by ESPN that only serves that program. It's a truly unique opportunity for those recruits.

These visits are also the perfect opportunity for head coach Charlie Strong to shine. He discourages official visits during the season so that he can spend more time with recruits and sit down with their families during those key moments in December and January. Judging by the pictures coming out from the event, there were a lot of parents in attendance, the exact people who have trust that head coaches will take care of their children and it's no secret that Strong wins them over at a high rate.

And Strong's players love him, as evidenced by the celebrations after the wins against West Virginia in 2014 and Oklahoma in 2015, so all of those guys who were around this weekend, especially linebacker Malik Jefferson, can speak honestly and positively about how they feel about their head coach.

With president Greg Fenves in attendance, it seems that the Longhorns were able to present the type of unified front that the program so deeply needs at this time. So don't underestimate the impact of having him there.

When all the forces at Texas start to align and pull together? Well, that makes it a lot easier for everyone to believe.

Go get 'em, coach.

believe meme