The Texas Longhorns hosted the first Junior Day of the Charlie Strong era for members of the 2015 and 2016 classes on Saturday.
And while the event didn't feature numerous commitments as Junior Days often did a few years ago under former head coach Mack Brown, Strong and offensive coordinator Joe Wickline did pick up a significant pledge, as Huntsville offensive tackle Ronnie Major switched his pledge from the Baylor Bears.
A consensus three-star prospect, there's some divergence of opinion on the 6'6, 290-pounder. 247Sports has him ranked as a four-star prospect and the No. 24 offensive tackle nationally, the No. 27 player in the state of Texas, and the No. 204 player nationally, while the industry composite has him as the No. 60 offensive tackle and the No. 61 player in the state.
Major had been committed to Baylor since August, but took little time to make his decision to flip, no doubt aided by the fact that his older sister, Ronisha, played basketball at Texas.
The addition was major for numerous reasons -- Major plays a position of need, Texas has struggled some recruiting offensive prospects against Baylor, and the Baylor offensive line coaches evaluates as well as Wickline.
Unfortunately, the film on Major is extremely limited, which may explain the large divergence in opinion on him. He is regarded as a pure offensive tackle prospect because of his size and frame, but the current thought is that he excels in run blocking more than pass blocking and doesn't have elite athleticism.
Horns now lead for Burt?
Texas may have some serious ground to make up with top in-state wide receiver target Damarkus Lodge, but the Horns made a big move for Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln wide receiver John Burt over the weekend.
Elite #Top247 WR John Burt is enjoying his time in Austin #HookEm #UT pic.twitter.com/xurWcOEl9T— Jeff Howe (@JeffHowe247) February 22, 2014
The 6'3, 170-pounder is a consensus four-star prospect rated No. 6 wide receiver nationally and the No. 76 player overall. And while it may still be a tough task to pull Burt away from the hometown Seminoles, Saturday was a step in the right direction:
This day is getting rave reviews. Florida WR John Burt on how he would rate the Texas experience, "10/10".— EricInsideTexas (@EricNahlin) February 22, 2014
In fact, Burt told Horns247 that Texas is atop his list following his time in Austin, a statement that hardly makes the Horns the favorite or move any predictions off of the Seminoles, but was encouraging for future of Burt's recruitment by Texas.
Making moves at defensive back
The Longhorns already have two defensive backs committed in the 2015 class and entered the weekend with only five more outstanding offers, two of which belong to current Texas A&M commits.
So it was hardly a surprise to see three offers extended to defensive backs over the weekend, though one of the names is quite fresh on the radar.
A teammate of 2014 signee John Bonney, Houston Lamar cornerback Holton Hill's name should not be an unfamiliar one to Texas recruitniks, as he has been on the radar for some time. The 6'2, 190-pounder is a consensus four-star prospect who also holds offers from the likes of Baylor, LSU, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and TCU. HIs 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions still have him headed to the Aggies, though the Horns should now have a fighting chance.
#Top247 CB Holton Hill of Houston Lamar RT @Hollywood__5: How I look? pic.twitter.com/JaXjmUquM1— Jeff Howe (@JeffHowe247) February 24, 2014
One other offer went out to a visitor who was known to be attending -- Rockwall-Heath safety DeShon Elliott, a player some believe is destined to eventually play linebacker. The 6'1, 200-pounder has seen his stock increase quickly in the last several weeks. It started in early February with offers from Baylor and Texas Tech, with Elliott declaring the Bears his leader at that time. Then he picked up offers from Oklahoma, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M, among others.
#Longhorns offered Rockwall-Heath safety DeShon Elliott this morning at Junior Day #HookEm #UT pic.twitter.com/5dJ873uhCX— Jeff Howe (@JeffHowe247) February 22, 2014
A consensus four-star prospect, Elliott's Crystal Ball predictions currently have him headed to Texas A&M, in part because two former teammates were freshmen in College Station last season and current teammate Trevor Elbert just committed several weeks ago.
The prospect from under the radar to receive an offer was Fort Bend Ridge Point cornerback Jordan Tolbert, the teammate of Texas target Cameron Townsend, a linebacker thought to be favoriting Texas. Tolbert is a current Houston commit and consensus three-star prospect and looks like the most likely of the three to end up committing to the Horns in the near future. The country's No. 51 cornerback also has offers from Baylor and Colorado.
Two other offers out
The only other defensive offer that went out on Saturday was to Rowlett defensive end Charles Omenihu, a prospect who should continue to see his stock rise during the spring evaluation period. The 6'5, 220-pounder has four-star upside and could be the next recruit to join the 2015 staff -- he told the Statesman that he has Texas in his No. 1 spot and could make his decision soon. Several Crystal Ball predictions have come in for the Horns since his offer.
Aledo wide receiver Ryan Newsome was the other prospect to receive his Texas offer on Saturday. The 5-9, 163-pounder is very much on the short side for a high-level prospect, but is a dynamic punt and kick returner who projects as a potential difference-maker on special teams in college and could fill the all-purpose back role that the Horns needy to add in the 2015 class. Texas has been trending in his Crystal Ball for some time and several more predictions came in for the burnt orange and white following the offer.
As on the visits throughout the month of January, the first Junior Day was important for Strong and his staff to solidify several potentially wavering commits.
Three prospects fit that description entering the weekend -- South Oak Cliff running back Jordan Stevenson, Hays offensive tackle Connor Lanfear, and Euless Trinity offensive guard Patrick Vahe.
The news was positive leaving the event with Stevenson and Vahe, as the former now says that he may not visit Alabama after receiving an offer from the Crimson Tide and Vahe says that he is still fully committed, reducing speculation that he will follow his cousins, the Teuhema brothers, to LSU.
As for Lanfear, the news isn't quite as positive there, as he is still in danger of decommitting and ending up with the Aggies. HIs recruitment will be one to continue to monitor throughout the spring and Wickline will have to continue building his relationships with the local product. In that regard, proximity should aid the Horns with the consensus four-star prospect who has seen his stock soar in recent weeks.
2016 prospect offered
The coveted offer for 2016 Port Arthur Memorial running back Kameron Martin didn't come on Saturday, but the staff did take the opportunity to extend an offer to Flower Mound Marcus tight end Kaden Smith. While it might still seem incredibly early to start talking in earnest about the 2016 group, the 6'6, 235-pounder has already received offers from schools like Alabama, Clemson, Michingan, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M, so it was certainly a good time to jump into his recruitment.
At a position where prospects are few and far between, getting an early start on recruiting, albeit one that is a bit more slow than some rivals, remains extremely important -- the plan for 2016 recruiting at the position is already more apparent than the plan with the 2015 class was several weeks ago.