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Flipping ain’t easy: Examining the rare recruiting switch between Texas and Texas A&M

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The Longhorns and Aggies square off regularly on the recruiting trail, but Troy Omeire’s flip last month was highly unusual.

NCAA Football: Texas at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

If you have followed recruiting for any amount of time, you have come to realize how commonplace it is for recruits decommit from schools after pledges lasting a significant amount of time or almost no time at all. It is also not uncommon for recruits to flip to a school’s rival by conference, region, or even an in-state rival.

If you ever want to see the dark side of the recruiting process, let a kid from somewhere like Auburn to Alabama decommit so you can see all the grown men who get way too invested in the decisions of teenagers come out of the woodwork to tell them how much of a mistake they are making and while they will regret it.

Texas and Texas A&M are no strangers when it comes to the recruiting game. While they may not play each other on the field (for now), they are quite familiar with each other on the recruiting trail. It goes without saying that there is plenty of overlap between the two programs given their proximity to each other, which of course has brought about many showdowns for signatures of blue chip recruits over the years.

In the 2020 cycle alone, the Longhorns and the Aggies have squared off for guys like Vernon Broughton, Princely Umanmielen, Alfred Collins, Xavion Alford, Joshua Eaton, and Troy Omeire, but Omeire has sided with both sides of the rivalry.

Omeire initially committed to A&M back in June, which was accordingly celebrated as a head-to-head victory by the Aggies, but he proceeded to surprise everyone by flipping to the Longhorns last month out of the blue. Both fan bases went into a bit of a frenzy for very different reasons given that things had been relatively quiet between Omerie and Texas since his initial commitment.

Both programs have won their fair share of head-to-head battles over the years, but recruits flipping from one side of the rivalry to other has been a pretty rare occurrence, which is what made Omeire’s decision so interesting.

Before Omeire, you have to go all the way back to 2014 before finding the last flip between the two in-state rivals. With as much overlap there is between the two programs and given what has transpired since then that is a very long time.

For the sake of this exercise I only focused on actual public commitments, since silent commitments are an entirely different story all together.

So let’s take a look at some of the most recent recruiting flips between Texas and Texas A&M.

Connor Lanfear

Lanfear is the last flip between the Longhorns and the Aggies prior to Omeire’s decision and this round went A&M’s way. After initially committing early to Texas in the summer of 2013, Lanfear ended up flipping to A&M in February of the following year. Lanfear said that the small-town atmosphere of College Station was more his speed despite growing up just up the road from Austin and that ultimately led him to making the switch to the Aggies.

Otaro Alaka

Alaka’s recruitment is an interesting one because it was ultimately impacted by Mack Brown’s departure as head coach of Texas. Alaka visited both schools early on in the process in 2013 before deciding to commit to Texas over A&M, but the plot thickened in December. Alaka took an official visit Texas in mid-December for the football banquet, a tradition under Brown during his tenure, but things immediately escalated when Brown announced his resignation the following day. Brown dropping this bombshell while Texas had several official visitors in town put Charlie Strong’s staff in a difficult situation when it came to salvaging the transition class, and that was certainly the case with Alaka. He took an January official to A&M and then announced his intentions to play in College Station.

Zaycoven Henderson

The Longview defensive tackle’s story was similar to that of Alaka, as he was also a member of the 2014 recruiting class. The major difference is that Henderson didn’t pledge to Texas until December, just days before Brown stepped down. In early January, he announced his decision to end his brief pledge to the Horns and then committed to the Aggies the following day.

Marcus Johnson

Johnson’s recruitment was probably one of the more fascinating ones of the bunch, as he was able to pull off the very rare in-state commitment trifecta. Johnson was always fond of the Longhorns, but the interest was not reciprocated early on, which how he initially ended up committing to Texas Tech, his first pledged. Johnson’s recruitment then began to pick up and the Aggies stepped up their efforts to flip him and were able to pull him away from the Red Raiders. Two commitments, two in-state programs. Texas entered the picture next — initially it appeared that the Horns would not have room for Johnson, but the offer finally came in late November and the next move for Johnson quickly became obvious. He de-committed from the Aggies in early December with the termination of head coach Mike Sherman and just two days later made the flip to the Longhorns. Trifecta complete.

Dravannti Johnson

Johnson’s recruitment goes a little further back than the previous three. Johnson was a part of the 2008 recruiting class out of Nederland High School, and was another case of Texas not showing a ton of interest early, which resulted in A&M being able to get the upper hand early in the recruitment and get his commitment. Much like with Marcus Johnson’s recruitment, Dravannti Johnson’s recruitment changed quickly once the Longhorns entered the picture. The Longhorns let Johnson know if he re-opened his recruitment that they were ready to jump in with both feet and the feeling ultimately ended up being mutual. Once Johnson opened things back up he quickly arranged a visit to Austin and then announced his intentions to be a Longhorn. Johnson was born in Austin and visited every summer despite playing his high school ball down in the golden triangle, a fact that ended up having a significant influence on his recruitment.

Conclusion

While these instances are a pretty small sample size in the grand scheme of things, it does give you an idea of how often a flips happen between the Longhorns and the Aggies — mostly as a result of coaching changes. Otherwise, once Texas or Texas A&M is able to secure the commitment of a particular recruit, the odds are extremely low that he will flip to the other. While each recruitment is different has different dynamics and variables, this is certainly something to keep in mind when you are watching these two schools trying to steal recruits from each other.

But that’s why Omeire’s recruitment stands out and why his decision was so unusual — Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher is only in his second year and has plenty of job security with eight more years guaranteed on his contract following this season. He isn’t going anywhere any time soon. And yet Omeire still decided that he liked the Longhorns offense better after watching both in action early this season and opted to flip to Texas head coach Tom Herman instead.

Ultimately, Omeire’s choice may just be a random occurrence, but given the recent recruiting history between the two schools, it’s probably not a good sign for Fisher and the Aggies.