The wild finish to the 2015 Texas Longhorns recruiting class was just a warm up -- the final two and a half weeks in the 2016 cycle promise even more drama as important news breaks seemingly by the second.
So, without further ado, let's jump into the latest on coaches hitting the recruiting trail, targets setting up other visits, and a Texas commit vaulting up the rankings.
Texas coaches on the road
Ace recruiter Jeff Traylor had himself on early morning as he prepared to head out to Louisiana:
Jumping on a plane early this morning in my "boots" to go get "Bash" and "Dash"! Hook'Em #Believe— Jeff Traylor (@CoachTraylor) January 20, 2016
The likely targets? New Orleans Brother Martin tight ends Peyton Aucoin and Irvin Smith. Both players visited Austin just before the dead period began in December and while Aucoin has been solidly committed for some time now, Smith has been reconsidering his pledge to Texas A&M.
His latest visit was to Memphis last weekend and Alabama will receive a visit this weekend. With his Texas visit starting to recede into the distant past and a new offensive coordinator able to sell his vision in College Station, this is an important trip for Traylor to get the Longhorns back into the forefront of Smith's mind as he gets set to make a final decision.
Some other Louisiana targets were also set to get visits today:
#Texas & #TCU in NOLA today visiting, among others, Stephon Taylor (@lah_bama) & Sci Martin (@lilsci49). Taylor will visit #FSU this weekend— Super K (@SuperK_TFB) January 20, 2016
Taylor visited Austin last weekend and Martin is back on the recruiting radar, but he seems unlikely to flip from his pledge to TCU at this time.
Wide receivers coach Jay Norvell is still on staff and also made an important stop on Tuesday:
Great meeting with @UT_CoachNorvell and @Bannyrooster28 #HookEm— Obi Eboh (@Obi_Eboh3) January 20, 2016
Eboh, of course, is the lone cornerback pledge in the class at this time who took an official visit to Stanford last weekend. Since then, there hasn't really been any news to emerge about how that went, but he's still expected on campus in Austin this weekend. In the efforts to keep him in the fold, Norvell's visit on Thursday and his upcoming visit in a few days will be crucial.
The good news is that he offered this tweet on Wednesday evening and has not removed "University of Texas commit" from his Twitter bio, often a precursor to a more public decision:
January 20, 2016
Texas targets set important visits
Important recruits for the Longhorns are busy finalizing their plans as National Signing Day approaches and some of those plans tend to change at the last minute.
Aldine Davis linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch was supposed to visit Alabama this weekend, but decided to stay in state:
Changing Alabama visit to Texas A&M this weekend #Gigem— The Shark (@jmcculloch17) January 19, 2016
While this is far from cause to panic, Alabama wasn't considered a serious contender for McCulloch after failing to make his top five in December, but this could provide a chance for Texas A&M to make up some ground after the Aggies seemingly faded down the stretch. McCulloch last visited College Station on an unofficial trip in November.
The Aggies will also host another key Longhorns target at some point before National Signing Day:
Texas A&M official Visit ⚪️⚪️— Christmas-Giles (@_DChristmas) January 20, 2016
D'Andre Christmas-Giles visited LSU last weekend and took his Texas official visit back in December.
Andrew Fitzgerald vaults up the rankings
When the Flower Mound defensive end pledged back in November, he looked like a high-value three-star prospect after recording four sacks and 14 quarterback hurries through his first four games. After showing out during the week of the Semper Fi All-American game, 247Sports took notice.
"[Fitzgerald] checks every box," said 247Sports National Director of Scouting Barton Simmons. "He's got great size, combine athleticism, strength at the point of attack and he's got a big-time motor. He makes his move up after dominating the Semper Fi practices."
Now Fitzgerald is a newly-minted four-star prospect by the service, a top-10 strongside defensive end, a top-100 player nationally, and nearly a top-15 player in the state. The Composite rankings haven't yet updated, but now 247Sports knows what Texas fans and head coach Charlie Strong already knew -- the Horns are getting a stud defensive end in Andrew Fitzgerald who could make some noise on the depth chart as soon as he arrives.