With Signing Day come and gone, this February had a very unfamiliar feel to it. The vibe was different. Not bad, just different.
For the first time in over a decade, Mack Brown was not the king of Texas high school recruiting. There are plenty of factors for this reasoning. I mean really, there are tons.
Some self-inflicted, some out of Dodds and company’s control.
Some from an old neighbor’s sudden rise and momentum in College Station.
Some from the sudden, and relevant boys down in Waco.
Nevertheless, its different.
I’m not about to compose a diatribe on how to fix things. I’m not sure where to begin.
But I was stunned to hear comments coach Brown made at the signing day press conference on Wednesday.
Basically, he said that recruits, which are committed to the University of Texas football program, can no longer take official visits to other schools while still being pledged to the Forty Acres.
Kids can no longer get free trips (Official visits), or join teammates for a vacation they wouldn’t otherwise have. Kids already virtually don’t have rights in the eyes of the NCAA. Just seems like one more thing Mack is taking away. And they’re 18 years old. Don’t take away one of their final few liberties before the clutches of the NCAA grab and consume them.
If you remember, Mack did something similar to this in his early years in Austin. Florida’s No. 1 rated athlete in 2003, Jimmie Sutton III comes to mind.
The Boca Raton, FL wide receiver-turned-cornerback prospect came to Texas in the spring of 2002 on a visit and pledged to Mack Brown and the Horns. Former Florida State defensive-coordinator and head coach at North Carolina State at the time, Chuck Amato, continued to pursue Sutton III, and convinced him to take an official visit to Wolfpack headquarters in Raleigh, NC.
Mack wasn’t having it.
After solidifying his choice to Texas during the football banquet in 2002, Sutton III decided to take another visit after all. He de-committed from UT and pledged to Amato and NC State a few days later. Mack still says he pulled the scholarship, but after that recruiting soap-opera, he became more loose and less strict with those rules.
And his true success coincided with the next 6-8 years. Just another reason I’m surprised by this sudden urge to cut off player’s visits after said commitment. I realize he’s hurt by the five Texas early pledges that didn’t sign with the Horns on Wednesday.
But he has to realize the program doesn’t have the same prestige it did three years ago. Brown’s success the last 36 months should also be a wake-up call. You can’t have a worse win-loss record than Texas A&M, Baylor and TCU in that span, and expect to walk into a kid’s living room, and feel untouchable.
That arrogance won’t fly. Not anymore.
And don’t forget ‘these times, they are a changing’. Social Media, the hype-machines (ESPN, Fox, CBS, etc) and recruiting websites/publications just like us, are part of the new culture of college football and the recruiting landscape. The interaction with prospects is real with Facebook and Twitter. It’s a new age, folks.
Mack has to change with the times. I think he’s a little reluctant to change his stripes after all. That’s incredibly disappointing.
The Texas Longhorns’ players, students and fans deserve better. Just another reason I feel that 2013 will be his last as head football coach at Texas. He wants to go out with some backbone. So we’ll see.
But about the 2013 studs. And there are some.
Going into Wednesday, Texas had little momentum after Baylor snagged Waco High’s Andrew Billings. The D-Tackle that squats 750+ lbs, chose the hometown Bears over Texas and seemed to put a dent in the good vibes UT had flipping Amarillo athlete, Montrel Meander on Monday from Washington State. But a closer look gives promise.
The totals: 15 signees, Rated #13 ESPN, #20 Rivals, #23 Scout/Fox. #1 rated Center, #2 Guard, #1 JUCO OL, a Raulerson (yes, he gets his own category), the #2 CB in Texas, a Top 10 QB with tremendous upside, and I could on….
I honestly feel like when it’s all said and done, this will be one of Mack’s home run groups. The last time Texas brought in a class this small, it was 2005, when 15 kids inked. NFL All-Pro’s like Jamal Charles, Jermichael Finley, and Henry Melton were in that class. As was the second all-time winningest QB in college football history, Daniel Colt McCoy. And 10 became starters/All-conference caliber players. That’s a batting average rivaled by no one.
So, let’s remember Hall of Fame coach Lou Holtz’s patented saying on Signing Day.
“Don’t worry about the 20-30 kids you didn’t get. Worry about the 25 you did get,” as Holtz used to say.
Also a note, since Texas didn’t ink one interior defensive lineman, there’s been some shuffling on the roster. Defensive end Hassan Ridgeway has been moved inside, to defensive tackle. Tight End Caleb Blueit moves to the defensive side of the ball at end, where he excelled in high school. Both moves are for depth reasons, and I feel like both will produce positive results.
With the 2013 class wrapped up, 2014 kids…. come on down (Rod Roddy voice).
Texas held it’s first of two Junior Days on Sunday. 20+ recruits made their way to Austin, for a lot of them, their first visit throughout the facilities and inside the program. The seven commits of ’14 were in attendance. I’m getting the notion that No. 1 QB on HornSports 50 for ’14, Jerrod Heard and No. 1 O-lineman, Demetrius Knox are more important than just being the best at their positions on the field in 2014.
They’re recruiting just like the coaches. In this day and age, that’s huge. Kids want to play with stars, and Heard and Knox are stars. At the high school level, at least.
Word trickled out shortly after lunch that Texas had added commit #8 for the ’14 class.
Dallas Skyline linebacker Cameron Hampton made it official he was going to be a Longhorn. The 6-foot-2, 215 lb beast is a tackling machine, with athletic ability in spades. Their was interest from Texas A&M and Oklahoma, but Hampton becomes the first key part of the 2014 defensive players.
And there should be plenty. Offers went out to defenders John Bonney, safety from Houston Lamar, and Katy Seven Lakes D-End Jerrett Johnson. Dillon Bates, all 6-foot-3, 220 lbs of him, and son of former Dallas Cowboys great Bill Bates, received an offer from the staff via telephone on Saturday. The Ponte Vedra, FL linebacker was excited to hear from the Texas staff and program. I anticipate much more of this.
This 2014 class has the makings of a top 5-10 national ranked class. The second Junior Day will be on February 24th and should be more fruitful, when standout safety Jamal Adams and Jasper, Texas center Terrell Cuney arrive. The Lewisville Hebron product Adams is a ‘must get”, Longhorn fans. Heard and he have bonded. And i’ll leave it at that.
I have to say something about basketball, right ???
Rick Barnes and the basketball team had an eventful week. If you count losing to an awful team (West Virginia), and a up-and-coming squad (Oklahoma State) eventful.
The Horns lost, 60-58 on the road to West Virginia on Monday night. This group actually put together nice stretches of play, but their final seven possessions were dreadful, as they produced zero points. Zero. Sheldon McClellan was one of four Longhorns in double figures, finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds. Javan Felix was a bright spot, pouring in 12 second-half points. But they left Morgantown with a loss. No moral victory either.
A 72-59 defeat at the hands of Oklahoma State ensued on Saturday in Austin. Texas’ Demarcus Holland notched a career-high 13 points, but I was constantly reminded of the little effort Barnes put forth in recruiting Cowboy’s star, Marcus Smart. Infuriating really. After winning two state championships at the Drum, Smart remarked,” I have a lot of great memories in this gym.”
Really, Marcus. Kill me now.
The only positive from the game was the fact Myck Kabongo, the sophomore point-guard from Toronto serving a 23-game suspension, will be back for the Iowa State contest on Wednesday. So there’s that.
Small forward Ioannis Papaetrou summed it up the Longhorns’ disaster of a season the best. “We’re embarrassed for the fans. More than frustrated, we’re embarrassed.”
You’re not alone in that sentiment, Ioannis.
Thanks for spending your Monday morning with me. Hope you have a great day and even better week. Hook Em Horns !!