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Coulda/Woulda/Shoulda, Episode 56: Jameis Winston and Texas

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It doesn't matter if you are sick of this line of discussion.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Hey there, Texas Longhorns football fans. Are you tired of the second-guessing of Texas quarterback decisions in recruiting? Of course you're not!

So let's head on down this rabbit hole once again. You may have noticed that Florida State Seminoles redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston was rather awesome last night in his nationally-televised debut against Pitt.

And you know what has to happen -- it's now mandated by the Internet -- when a quarterback has some success, even if it's one game? Sure you do. It involves second-guessing Texas head coach Mack Brown's decisions in recruiting at the most important position on the field. You know, RGII, Andrew Luck, and Johnny Manziel and all.

Texas sources went into message control mode after Winston's performance and have been reaching out to journalists, including Bruce Feldman and Travis Haney, saying that Texas did contact Winston to gauge interest, but didn't think it was sincere.

Here's what Haney reported:

However, Winston's head coach in high school upset that narrative disseminated by the school pretty quickly.

Matt Scott said that he called Texas four or five times, according to Feldman, even receiving assurances that his message about Winston's talent and interest would be passed along. But Scott said he never heard back from the Longhorns.

Was the interest actually sincere from Winston's side? Scott believes that to be the case:

I'm telling you they'd have been in the top two or three for sure. He knew they had great programs in baseball and football. The baseball is just important as the football. He researched it. He's not a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants guy. He wants to be a podiatrist and when Miami recruited him, he'd look up all this stuff and show me about their medical program.

How'd he end up at Florida State? They had a great program in baseball and football, and because he knew that Jimbo Fisher and Mike Martin have a great relationship and there wouldn't be a problem playing both.

Bottom line, that (Texas) was the only school that he wanted to check out and they weren't interested in him.

Okay, then.

Of course, this conversation is even more stupid and annoying without some context and some lessons learned, so let's take a shot at this -- at the time when Texas should have gotten serious about recruiting Jameis Winston out of Hueytown (Ala.) in early 2011 (at the latest), the new staff was just in place and the Longhorns were only weeks away from securing a commitment from another highly-regarded quarterback, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral's Connor Brewer, who was essentially hand-picked by new offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin because Harsin had already recruited Brewer heavily while at Boise State.

Brewer ended up as a top-five pro-style passer nationally who held at least 11 offers at the time of his commitment, including invitations to play at Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Stanford, and Texas A&M. It wasn't until Connor Wood and Garrett Gilbert both transferred that fall that Texas needed to add another quarterback, at which point it wasn't feasible to begin recruiting Winston. The Horns eventually landed Tatum's Jalen Overstreet, who has now made the switch to running back.

Let's be clear here -- landing Brewer that early in the process was a significant coup and a vital one for the recruiting class, as Brewer became the leader of the group that would become known as Texas Gang Or Die, playing an instrumental role in landing prospects like wide receiver Cayleb Jones, who has now joined Brewer at Arizona after both transferred this summer.

As with David Ash and Johnny Manziel, the struggle for Texas is in identifying and recruiting players after their sophomore seasons, when Brewer first surfaced on the radar.  In the modern recruiting world, that's how it has to go down. It's not easy, and the Horns didn't necessarily have the manpower to make all those evaluations across the country. Or perhaps the interest.

Keep in mind that Brewer committed before the 2011 class signed, at a time when the coaches were working overtime just to hold that group together, all while getting adjusted to their new jobs. If Winston's coach was calling some time during that period, it's not altogether shocking that it fell through the cracks -- it was a time of chaos around the football offices, especially because Will Muschamp took George Wynn with him to Florida to become his assistant athletic director and head of football operations.

The potential lessons from this? There appears to have been a communication breakdown between the person who handled the calls and the Texas staff. Or something. At the least, the Horns need to identify the top quarterback prospects across the country and reach out to them to gauge their interest. As many as possible. All of them, in fact, which shouldn't be impossible with the personnel staff able to identify such prospects, if not evaluate them.

And if the high school coach of a talented passer like Winston calls several times, there's some failure in there, even when placed into context with the situation Texas was in at that point with the massive staff overhaul.

It's always silly season right now when talking about Mack Brown and quarterback decisions, but fortunately there has been some backlash on Monday night and Tuesday morning about this type of revisionist history, so maybe this discussion won't have to happen again when the Oklahoma State game comes up after JW Walsh takes control of the job in the coming weeks and likely experiences some considerable success. Or next week when Texas plays one-time target Bo Wallace and Ole Miss.


Let's revise that -- this discussion won't be happening again in regards to Walsh and Wallace.

As for Winston, Texas should have contacted him, but it's not like the staff punted on recruiting a 2012 quarterback like they did in 2008 in order to go all-in on Tyrone Swoopes.

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