Last month, four-star Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy defensive end Tunmise Adeleye committed to the Ohio State Buckeyes over the Texas Longhorns and a host of other national programs that pursued the nation’s No. 30 prospect, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Recently, the Texas native revealed why he’s headed to Columbus to play for the Buckeyes instead of back to the Lone Star State to play for the Longhorns.
Not only does the post reveal the extent to which the Ohio State coaching staff has weaponized poor development results to Texas targets, it also illustrates the continued issues facing head coach Tom Herman on the recruiting trail.
Remember the recruitment of Garrett Wilson, the consensus five-star wide receiver from Lake Travis?
The ability to return to Columbus after growing up there was certainly a factor in his recruitment, but Wilson also expressed similar feelings about the Longhorns program.
“They were close,” Wilson said of Texas, according to Rivals. “I’m not going to lie, the official visit made me think about them a little more. In the end, I’ve watched a lot of people go to Texas with a ton of ability and maybe not achieve what I thought they could. I didn’t want to be one of those guys.”
Wilson looks poised for a true breakout season in 2020 after recording 30 catches for 432 yards and five touchdowns.
Both recruits are correct — a study by Chris Hummer of 247Sports found that Texas ranked 31st among the 32 programs that Hummer studied in developing four-star and five-star recruits into NFL Draft over the last five drafts, likely the source of Adeleye’s statistic.
As for Ohio State, the Buckeyes ranked among the top three, along with Alabama and Clemson.
Is all of the criticism fair? Not particularly, especially since the date range covers recruiting classes from 2011 to 2015, so there are only a small number of players on that list that Herman actually coached.
The results under Herman have also been better than under previous coaches, too, as four of the 13 four-star and five-star prospects from the 2015 recruiting class — nearly 31 percent — were NFL draft picks.
Compare that to the 2013 class, the final group recruited by Mack Brown at Texas, in which all nine four-star or five-star prospects failed to develop into NFL prospects. Herman only coached one of those players, cornerback Antwuan Davis.
Consistent turnover in leadership positions ranging from athletics director to head coach significantly impacted NFL Draft results, too.
“Any time there’s instability for multiple years, that sets a program back quite a bit,” Herman said in a recent radio appearance. “We had four different AD’s I think in a five-year span, two presidents and three football coaches. And any time you lack stability, when you take over you’ve gotta generate that stability back. When we took this over it was quite literally the worst three-year stretch in terms of three straight losing seasons in the 120 years that Texas has been playing football. A lot of mistakes were made in recruiting.
“Trust me, nobody was more upset that of the 32 players taken in the (first round of the NFL Draft), seven of them played high school football in the state of Texas and none of them played at the University of Texas.”
The instability was particularly apparent in the 2014 recruiting class, Strong’s transition class, in which none of the eight four-star prospects were drafted, with half of them leaving Austin before exhausting their eligibility. The biggest success story from that group was Poona Ford, who quickly became a contributor for the Seattle Seahawks after going undrafted in 2018 and represents a major development success story in the Herman era.
It’s not Herman’s fault that NFL teams incorrectly valued Ford because of his 5’11 stature.
It’s not Herman’s fault that Brown and Strong mangled the program for years before his arrival in 2016.
However, Herman does deserve some of the blame — after all, he’s admitted publicly on multiple occasions that the failure to develop players was a major factor in hiring two new coordinators and five new assistants after the 2019 season.
And regardless of the context behind the numbers, it’s those numbers and how opposing programs can use them to negatively recruit against Texas that really matters, ultimately producing a negative feedback loop that will continue to reverberate over the coming years.
If Herman and the Longhorns can’t land top prospects like Wilson and Adeleye, it will be more difficult to send players to the NFL and Texas will have to settle for four-star prospects who are lower ranked and therefore less likely to develop into high draft picks.
The result is one of the biggest challenges facing Herman and his staff as they continue efforts to return Texas to the top tier of programs nationally.