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Texas staff trying to make up for lost time on the recruiting trail

The Big 12 Championship Game effectively cost the Horns a week of recruiting during the contact period.

NCAA Football: Texas at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Like every other program that participated in a conference championship game, the Texas Longhorns lost nearly a full week of recruiting during the contact period, so head coach Tom Herman and his staff are scrambling to make up for lost time.

After all, there are only two visit weekends remaining before Early Signing Day on December 19, when Herman expects all but one or two commits to sign.

So Herman quickly hit the road after Saturday’s loss, visiting with Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy running back Noah Cain and his family that evening in tandem with running backs coach Stan Drayton. Cain told Burnt Orange Nation that he had a “heart-to-heart conversation” with the two Texas coaches ahead of his decision on Early Signing Day.

By Sunday, Herman was in Waterloo, Iowa at a junior college game when he joined the Sugar Bowl teleconference. Herman was in Iowa to watch Iowa Central CC offensive tackle Myron Cunningham, a prospect Herman wants to get on campus before Cunningham signs on December 19. Cunningham took an official visit to Oklahoma in mid-November and plans on taking an official visit to Arkansas next weekend, leaving only one visit weekend before he makes his decision.

On Monday, co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Herb Hand was in California visiting with Grossmont College offensive tackle Jay Williams. so the Longhorns are clearly still looking for more junior college help beyond defensive end commit Jacoby Jones and key linebacker target Caleb Johnson, who was in Oregon over the weekend for his official visit.

The Texas players are off from Monday through Tuesday, so the staff will have plenty of time to devote to making school or in-home visits with key targets still left on the board and current commits.

On Friday night, the assistants will return from the road to host official visitors like Florida linebacker commit Marcus Tillman Jr.:

On Saturday morning, the team will practice in front of those visitors.

But has the delayed start hurt the Horns in recruiting?

“They understand,” Herman said last Thursday. “They get that, but we sent a couple guys out this morning — and they made it back for practice — but the kids understand that and the head coach only gets one visit anyway, so it’s not like they’re missing anything from that vantage point.”

With six or seven spots remaining, Texas is trying to close out strong in a class that already ranks No. 5 nationally in the 247Sports Composite team rankings. Just don’t expect the on-field success this season to make a big difference in how the Longhorns close, as Herman believes that with early recruiting such a priority now, the biggest impact from this season will be felt in the 2020 class.

“A lot of perceptions were already built by the class of 2019 — one way or the other — but it does help,” Herman said.

Selling that the Horns were one of just a handful of teams playing for a conference championship certainly doesn’t hurt.