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Texas hosted big-time 2017 visitors at Under the Lights camp

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Five important targets were among the attendees on Saturday.

Anthony Hines and his family with Charlie Strong
via @TheAntHines_Era

When the Texas Longhorns hosted a number of top prospects in the 2017 and 2018 classes on Saturday evening for the Under the Lights camp, head coach Charlie Strong and his staff didn’t pick up any commitments at the biggest recruiting event of the summer, but that wasn’t his objective.

As always, Strong is playing the long game, preferring to build towards a big finish leading up to and on National Signing Day. In that context, the lack of commitments doesn’t matter and getting several key 2017 targets on campus was a much bigger success story.

Let’s take a look at the five top recruits in this cycle who made their way to Austin.

Lancaster WR Omar Manning

Now the top target left on the board at wide receiver for Texas, Manning is a consensus four-star prospect and the player that the coaches would like to close on eventually to finish out a class that currently includes Damion Miller at the position.

Manning wasn’t active on social media while in Austin and the ‘Horns are one school in the mix for him along with the Horned Frogs, Crimson Tide, and Aggies, but getting him on campus over the weekend was a positive step in a recruitment that will take some time to play out.

Kennedale LB Baron Browning

Recruiting at the linebacker position under Strong has been exception over the last two classes, starting with sophomore Malik Jefferson in the critical moment for the 2015 class.

The momentum could continue in 2017 with Browning, the nation’s No. 10 prospect and No. 2 outside linebacker, who is building a relationship with Jefferson after the Big 12’s preseason Defensive Player of the Year was Browning’s 7on7 coach at The Opening Finals two weeks ago.

Jefferson quickly made an impression and the two had a chance to continue building their relationship this weekend in Austin.

Browning also arrived early for a tour of the campus and spent time with quarterback commit Sam Ehlinger, who has emerged as the lead recruiter among the pledges in the current class.

Browning didn’t even have to walk into the event, either, as he and Plano East linebacker Anthony Hines rolled around in style:

Plano East linebacker Anthony Hines

Hines and Browning are close, so getting them both on campus for the big even was also a success story for Strong and his staff, who have long since made a positive impression on Hines.

In fact, even though the Sooners were considered the early leader for the top inside linebacker in the country, the Longhorns are in excellent position with Hines and may even be the leader behind the scenes.

Temple defensive end Taquon Graham

The Fox end prospect was close to committing to Texas during the spring, but opted to delay his decision. While that appeared on the surface to be bad news for the ‘Horns, as time has passed, nothing has changed in regards to Graham’s continued preference for Texas.

On Saturday, he looked the part after gaining some good weight during the offseason:

Unless Oklahoma or TCU can make a move with Graham, that someone is likely to be Strong, as Texas remains the unanimous favorite with all 14 of the predictions in Graham’s 247Sports Crystal Ball.

Hutto DE Ondario Robinson

Of the five top 2017 targets in attendance, Robinson is still the least likely to end up in burnt orange, as he said that Texas A&M is still in his top spot following the event:

So Texas doesn’t have a lot of time to make up ground with the local product, but did have a chance to sell him on the program, something that he wanted to hear following a June visit.

“They need to tell me and let me know in detail where I would stand in their defense and explain their defense to me,” Robinson said. “They need to explain their program’s stability. Impress me.”

Clearly, the consensus three-star prospect didn’t hear enough, and a subsequent visit to College Station probably didn’t help the Longhorns too much, but Texas is still in his top four and could get him on campus again before he decides since Hutto is only 25 miles from campus.

Other visitors

Those four mentioned above weren’t the only important attendees. Here’s the rest of the list for 2017:

  • Austin Westlake quarterback Sam Ehlinger (Texas commit)
  • Tyler John Tyler wide receiver Damion Miller (Texas commit)
  • Bishop Dunne defensive tackle Damion Daniels
  • Montgomery (Ala.) Jefferson Davis defensive tackle Alec Jackson
  • Lake Dallas cornerback Kobe Boyce (Texas commit)
  • Hooks safety Montrell Estell (Texas commit)