The Texas Longhorns received a late addition to the 2016 recruiting class on Wednesday when Sachse wide receiver Devin Duvernay committed to head coach Charlie Strong, as first reported by ESPN's Gerry Hamilton, providing new offensive coordinator Stelrin Gilbert with an elite option from the slot to threaten opposing defenses.
The decision by Duvernay completes an unusual recruitment that saw the 5'11, 195-pounder submit a National Letter of Intent to the Baylor Bears on National Signing Day, only to find out it was deemed invalid when it wasn't sent to the Big 12 office within the allotted 14 days. So when the Duvernay family went to file for a release following the termination of head coach Art Briles, the family discovered that the nation's No. 4 wide receiver was free to pursue other options without inhibition.
As a result, Duvernay visited Texas on June 11. In addition to the normal sight-seeing on a visit, Duvernay sat down with the Texas staff to review the Orange and White game, with the staff selling him on the team's need for a difference-maker in the slot and highlighting every throw made by freshman Shane Buechele. Current players Brandon Jones, Jeffrey McCulloch, Charles Omenihu, and DeShon Elliott have also been making their own pitch to Duvernay, including letting him know that head coach Charlie Strong's job is safe.
According to ESPN, Duvernay was down to Texas and TCU at that point, though he also considered Okahoma because the Sooners were his second option when he originally chose Baylor back in November of 2015. A cousin of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, the Texas A&M transfer, Duvernay never visited Norman during his second recruitment and a trip to Fort Worth on June 18.
However, it seems that the pitch from Strong, Gilbert, Buechele, and the rest of the Longhorns was enough to land a commitment from Duvernay that was completely impossible to foresee back on National Signing Day.
He will reportedly arrive for the second summer session that begins on July 11.
And it could be huge for Texas in 2016, as the consensus four-star prospect profiles as another instant-impact contributor at the wide receiver position, joining early enrollee Collin Johnson, Temple's Davion Curtis, and Reggie Hemphill in the class.
The services had good reason to rank him that highly. In Nike testing, Duvernay ran a 4.38 40-yard dash, posted a 4.24 shuttle time, and had a 37.7-inch vertical leap. On the track, he has a personal best of 10.27 in the 100m. By any and all accounts, Duvernay is extraordinarily fast.
At 195 pounds, he's also well built, drawing comparisons to running backs and former Baylor wide receiver Antwan Goodley, who is now 220 pounds. It's unlikely that Duvernay ever plays at that weight, but he does have some ability to get low and behind his pads to break tackles because of his sturdiness.
The interesting thing about Duvernay is that he has a rep as a guy who doesn't always display a lot of suddenness on the field -- somehow, he doesn't look quite as fast as he is. His stop/start ability doesn't look as awesome as it does for the most athletes in that category.
And yet, he's always running away from people because he can run a 10.27 100m. So maybe there's something about his running style that makes his speed a little bit deceptive to opponents, as often happens with taller players who can run in the 4.5 range.
Duvernay is much more than just a speed guy, however. The veer-and-shoot offense wouldn't ask him to know every route on the route tree -- mostly posts, go routes, hitches, and slants -- but Duvernay has a remarkable ability to set up defenders and change speeds on the routes that he does run.
Capable of adjusting his speed to move through zones with the proper timing for his quarterback on a rollout, Duvernay is also excellent on post routes and go routes giving little fakes and making small adjustments in speed and direction that make him even more difficult to defend.
Then defenders have to deal with his pure speed and it doesn't work particularly well.
And while Duvernay isn't a guy who will juke defenders out of their cleats in a phone booth, the beautiful little subtleties of his route-running ability on his best routes translate to his efforts with the ball in his hands, as he can also set up defenders and exploit small seams with unorthodox cuts.
One thing that Daje Johnson did incredibly well was maintain his speed while taking the edge. At times, Duvernay doesn't do that quite as well, but he can make up for it by chopping his feet to stay in bounds just when it looks like he won't be able to turn the corner.
But if Johnson was just a guy with track speed on the football, Duvernay can also help out his quarterback. Jalen Mayden is the prospective quarterback target for the 'Horns in 2018, but Duvernay spent a lot of time making him look good last year adjusting to and coming back to make difficult catches on underthrown balls. And there were certainly a number of them.
Physically, the closest analog to Duvernay currently on the roster for the Longhorns is junior Armanti Foreman, with Curtis also a guy who could occupy a role similar to Duvernay.
Foreman, however, isn't the same type of receiver, as he seems more comfortable playing outside, meaning that senior Jacorey Warrick and sophomore Ryan Newsome are the only two guys who have that prototypical slot receiver skill set of Duvernay, who is faster than Newsome. Likely the team's punt returner this year, the lack of reps for Newsome during the Orange and White game indicates that he's not a strong contender to crack a deep rotation this year.
So Duvernay is a guy who fits well into the Texas offense because his best attributes fit what Gilbert wants to do in the way that Duvernay once fit how former Baylor head coach Art Briles wanted to employ his skills in Waco.
The next question now is what happens with Devin's twin brother Donovan, who was a package deal with Devin. However, Donovan is still tied to Baylor because his National Letter of Intent was submitted to the league office, so he will have to receive a release from Baylor or the NCAA or lose a season of eligibility. It's expected that he will join Devin at Texas after going through that process.