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5-star Texas target: Practices under Charlie Strong were ‘kind of dead’

As evidenced by recent success on the recruiting trail, Tom Herman has fused new excitement into the program.

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Texas Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Pool parties and updated facilities aren’t the only big changes around the Texas Longhorns program under old head coach Charlie Strong, as there’s also an entirely different feel around practice, according to Houston Lamar cornerback Anthony Cook, the consensus No. 1 prospect in the state.

“Nothing against the past staff, but when Coach (Charlie) Strong was there, it’s like a hard feeling to explain,” Cook told ESPN. “When they were there it was cool, but it was kind of dead, there was no energy and no one was laying a hat and hitting at practice. When I went to a practice (with Herman’s staff), it was up and competitive and the coaches were all talking trash.”

For some evidence of what Cook is talking about, just watch safeties coach Craig Naivar in action working with his players on tackling technique.

“It’s more high energy,” Cook added.

Naivar’s approach stands in contrast to former defensive backs coach Clay Jennings, who struggled to connect with recruits and players, which likely helped cause the unexpectedly poor sophomore seasons by cornerbacks Davante Davis and Holton Hill.

There’s certainly no need for DJs at practice, but just as the social media team designs graphics to allow players to see themselves as members of the Longhorns program, the energy level of coaches at practice helps show recruits that the staff can create a positive environment to encourage growth.

And while this type of narrative isn’t particularly uncommon after a coaching change, it normally comes from those already connected to the program, not an uncommitted recruit with no particular vested interest in selling a specific perspective.

Perhaps it doesn’t ultimately amount to anything on the field, but it’s another sign that things are changing around the Texas program under Herman and his staff.