On Wednesday, Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong commended his players as being the best salesmen for the school during the 2016 recruiting cycle, with a core group of 2015 signees serving as the point men by forming a group message and establishing a comfort level with the younger players.
"They kind of formed a group message, and they had all the recruits inside this group message," Strong said. "We are talking about [LB] Malik [Jefferson], [DB DeShon] Elliott, [DB] P.J. [Locke III], all those guys. They were just so involved."
Throw defensive end Charles Omenihu in the mix, too. An early pledge in the 2015 class, Omenihu took it upon himself to do much of the early recruiting for the Longhorns last cycle. And he wasn't shy about it, either, according to Elliott and Jefferson, as the former Rowlett pass rusher was relentless and insistent, in contrast to the low-pressure approach adopted by Strong in his interactions with recruits.
The group message was so important that Jefferson and other players got worried when they saw that North Mesquite offensive tackle Jean Delance had left it recently. And so Strong's phone started blowing up. First it was Jefferson.
"Hey Coach, what's wrong with [Jean] Delance?"
Strong didn't know what he was talking about.
"He's out of our group message," Jefferson replied.
His coach didn't know what that meant, but the sophomore linebacker thought that something had to be wrong. The phone buzzed again. Another Texas player. Same concern.
Now a little bit more concerned, Strong brought recruiting coordinator Brian Jean-Mary into the loop. And then DeShon Elliott had a disturbing revelation -- Delance was going to A&M, he said. Strong vaulted into action, calling up the Delance family to figure out what was going on. When Jean's mother answered, Strong could hear the 2016 Under Armour All-American laughing in the background.
"Coach, I'm only kidding with those guys," Delance said. "They take this stuff way too seriously."
Strong wasn't amused -- his guys were taking it as seriously as necessary for such an important class and such a key target in Delance.
"You can't play like that right now." Strong said. "We're down the stretch."
Crisis averted, the Texas coach and player were back to the task at hand. And Delance as well, having had his fun. Then they finished, having built in those indelible bonds in that group message.