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Firing former WR coach Darrell Wyatt cost Texas chance at Damarkus Lodge

The five-star receiver was nearly a Horns pledge last fall.

Damarkus Lodge at the Dallas NFTC in 2014
Damarkus Lodge at the Dallas NFTC in 2014
Student Sports

It was no secret throughout the spring and fall of 2013 that star Cedar Hill wide receiver Damarkus Lodge was a Texas Longhorns lean.

What many didn't know at the time is just how close to got to committing to the Longhorns.

Just as the consensus five-star prospect was finishing up a 72-catch, 1,255-receiving yard, 25-touchdown season that fulfilled all the faith shown in him by the numerous colleges that offered before he played much on varsity, he was considering making a commitment to the Horns, according to ESPN.

The reason? A close relationship with former wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt, who had coached Lodge's trainer, former Oklahoma wide receiver David Robinson, when both were Sooners some years back. The resounding win over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl had momentarily convinced the 6'3, 190-pounder that the Horns were headed in the right direction.

Then, perhaps stemming from a feeling of impending doom, Lodge decided not to go through his pledge and opted to wait. Weeks later, Brown was gone. Not long after that, Wyatt was as well, as Strong picked the wrong lone assistant coach to retain from Brown's staff.

Now, Lodge is set to make his decision on June 20, along with high school teammate Richard Moore, an undersized linebacker with a skill set belied by his size. Both are expected to choose Texas A&M, with Lodge essentially eliminating Texas as soon as the staff changes were made.

Combined with the loss of potentially elite deep threat Emanuel Porter in the 2014 class, the decision not to retain Wyatt was a costly one for new head coach Charlie Strong. While Wyatt had missed on several important wide receiver targets to Baylor, his work on the recruiting trail and in practice was excellent on the whole -- there was a strong case to keep him on his own merits, as strong as any other coach on the staff, in fact.

Instead, the Horns have letter winner Les Koenning coaching the wide receivers now and no pledges in the 2015 class, with a major miss on Cy Ridge's Kemah Siverand and the looming miss on Lodge standing as the most defining aspects of recruiting at the position so far.

Whatever Koenning's value to the program that may manifest itself eventually because of his father's ties to coaches around the state as a longtime high school coach himself, it hasn't yet borne fruit.

This is not necessarily a case for Strong to have retained Wyatt for short-term recruiting reasons, but merely an exploration of the significant costs of not doing so. Those costs, spelled out? A pledge from a receiver with the type of game-changing potential that Texas hasn't landed in years, the wide receiver in the 2015 class with the most physical upside, and some positioning with the state's No. 3 receiver, who is now committed to the biggest in-state recruiting rival.