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Longhorns Recruiting Road Trip: Playoffs Round 6

Last weekend, I made my way to Arlington to cover the final games of the Texas High School football season. On Saturday, there were plenty of Longhorns pledges and targets in action, such as 2023 wide receiver Johntay Cook and 2024 five-star EDGE Colin Simmons, who were looking to win a state championship and be etched in history.
State Championships:
College Station vs Aledo
In the final day of action at AT&T Stadium, the Aledo Bearcats were featured in the opening game against the College Station Cougars. Namely for Texas's interests, Texas pledge 2024 four-star cornerback Jaden Allen looked to earn Aledo its eleventh UIL state football title. Additionally, the Longhorns have offered Aledo's freshman tight end Kaydon Finley, whose name may sound familiar because he is the son of former Longhorn great Jermichael Finley.
While Aledo was certainly the favorite heading into Saturday's action, they certainly did not hesitate to take care of business. In fact, Bearcats 2024 three-star athlete Davhon Keys was making plays all over the field on both defense and offense, rushing for two touchdowns and recovering a fumble on defense.
However, the key for Aledo offensively was 2024 quarterback Hauss Hejny who threw for 175 yards and two touchdowns, and added an additional 143 yards and two scores on the ground. Prior to Nebraska hiring new head coach Matt Rhule, Hejny had received an offer from Scott Frost's Cornhuskers staff.
Hejny's favorite target on the night, 2023 wide receiver Jalen Pope, absolutely had himself a day - scorching the Cougars defense on his way to 228 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Currently, the senior wideout is committed to playing for Air Force once he graduates.
Along with Pope's receiving production, Kaydon Finley also came away with a few receptions, tallying four for 21 yards. The freshman will certainly be one to keep an eye on in the future, especially considering the fact that state championships run their way through Aledo.
On defense, Jaden Allen kept things silent in the Bearcats secondary, finishing the game with six tackles and a pass breakup. Overall, things were very quiet for College Station on offense, as they were not able to crack the scoreboard until there was under two minutes remaining in the game.
Ultimately, Aledo ran away to a 52-14 victory over College Station in the UIL 5A D1 state championship game.
Vandegrift vs DeSoto
The second game on Saturday represented an important one for the Longhorns as two of their pledges, 2023 five-star wide receiver Johntay Cook and 2023 three-star running back Tre Wisner, looked to lead the DeSoto Eagles to a state title.
While Vandegrift has been a well-coached team which has been able to come up with a couple of solid playoff victories on their way to AT&T Stadium, the Vipers had not faced a team like DeSoto all season. As a result, the Eagles were able to dominate their way to a state title thanks to big performances from Cook, Wisner and Deondrae Riden.
To begin, Tre Wisner had a heck of a performance, accounting for 210 yards of total offense (primarily coming in the passing game) and two touchdown receptions. While Wisner will certainly have to fight his way up the Longhorns depth chart at the running back position, he certainly has great hands for a halfback and Steve Sarkisian will definitely have something to work with.
Along with his fellow Texas pledge Tre Wisner, Johntay Cook also soared his way to 103 receiving yards and a touchdown on offense as well. The Longhorns will undoubtedly welcome Cook to their the team with open arms, considering their desperate need for help at the wide receiver position. In high school, Cook has showcased an elite ability to scorch defenses on big receiving touchdowns, however we will see if he is able to translate this ability to the collegiate level.
Credit must also go to Eagles 2024 quarterback Darius Bailey who was putting the football on the money throughout the game, ending up with 297 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
On the ground, DeSoto 2025 running back Deondrae Riden rushed for 187 yards and three touchdowns on a whopping 32 carries. Evidence of the sophomore's talent, the young halfback has already amassed 15 scholarship offers from notable programs such as Oregon, Texas A&M and USC.
Unfortunately for Vandegrift, the contest was never particularly close as DeSoto sailed to an easy 42-17 victory in the UIL 6A D2 state championship game.
North Shore vs Duncanville
Yes, it happened again - the North Shore Mustangs squared off against Duncanville, looking to extend their state championship winning streak to four games over the Panthers. However, would things change for Duncanville this time around?
Leading Duncanville on defense, 2024 five-star EDGE Colin Simmons looked to prove why he is one of the most highly-touted recruits in the nation. Simmons did just that on Saturday, producing two sacks in a nerve-racking title bout between two teams at the top of their game.
The star for North Shore this season has been no other than David Amador, the three-star wide receiver who has been filling in at quarterback following an injury to typical starter Kaleb Bailey earlier in the season. On Saturday, Amador continued to dive deep into his bag of tricks to give the Mustangs a shot against the Panthers. The UTSA commit rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns, and also threw for a touchdown as well.
While Amador kept North Shore in the game, Duncanville 2024 four-star running back Caden Durham worked to do otherwise, finding the end zone on three different occasions and rushing for 104 yards.
When it was all said and done, Durham's production was just enough for the Panthers, who were able to beat North Shore 28-21 in the UIL 6A D1 state championship game, following a final defensive stand.
Extra Point:
Let's keep an eye on the recruitment of Caden Durham, who has quickly seen his recruitment flourish with 18 scholarship offers despite not being the opening day starter at running back for Duncanville. Furthermore, Alabama has already shown interest in the junior running back, extending an offer back in July. I will be curious to see if the Longhorns opt to join in on the race for Durham's services as well.
Miles Logged:

Bijan Robinson declares for NFL draft, will skip Alamo Bowl

(Photo: USA Today)
Texas RB Bijan Robinson met with the Texas media Monday morning to officially announce he would be foregoing his senior season and entering the 2023 NFL draft. Robinson also said he would not be playing in the Alamo Bowl against Washington.
Robinson will finish his Texas career with 3,410 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns. The Arizona native was one of the top running backs in the country in the 2020 recruiting class. Earlier this month, he became the 4th Texas player to win the Doak Walker award. Robinson is widely expected to be a first-round pick and would the first offensive selection for Texas in the first round since Vince Young in 2006.

Texas Volleyball Sweeps Their Way to 2022 NCAA National Championship

From the moment Texas (28-1) took the court in Omaha for the NCAA National Championship, it was evident why they have been the favorite to beat this year. This Longhorn team dominated from the outset and swept the first time ACC team, Louisville Cardinals (31-3), in the title match.
Texas racked up 48 kills and limited their errors to nine while Louisville earned 36 kills and succumb to 16 errors. NCAA Most Outstanding Player and AVCA National Player of the Year, Logan Eggleston (OH), led the Longhorns against the Cardinals with 19 kills, followed by AVCA All American, Madisen Skinner (OH), with nine. This unstoppable team effort was rounded out by two AVCA All Americans, Zoe Fleck, who also earned All Big 12 Libero of the Year, defending the back line and All Big 12 Setter of the Year, Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres, cranking out flawless opportunities to her hitters.
This season proved to cultivate the most cohesive and consistent team Texas has produced in recent memory. Relentless and only losing 14 sets out of 100 played this fall, it is Head Coach, Jerritt Elliott, who led this team to secure the programs third NCAA National Champion title.

Tonight: Will Texas Volleyball secure the National Championship title?

Dec 16, 2022; Omaha, Nebraska, US; Texas Longhorns Molly Phillips (15) and Logan Eggleston (33) answers questions during the press conference the day before the championship match at the CHI Health Center. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
The enduring strength of the Texas Volleyball program (27-1) will be tested tonight as they play for the championship a tenth time against a first time ACC program within reach of their first national title. Louisville (31-2), eager to break the ceiling in a new era for who can occupy prowess of the sport.
The historic game doesn’t end there. If Louisville were victorious, it would mark the first time a women head coach led a team to the national title. The Cardinal’s Dani Busboon Kelly, a former Nebraska volleyball player who was on the 2006 championship team, leads the team tonight and is no stranger to the big stage. She and Longhorn Head Coach, Jerritt Elliott, have met many times on the court. Kelly has faced the All-Big 12 Coach of the Year not only as player but as a coach at both Nebraska and Louisville. On the latter, her Louisville team sent Texas packing in the 2019 NCAA Regional Semifinal.
Statistically, the two teams hold the best winning percentage in DI volleyball over the past two seasons with the Longhorns at .947 (54-3) and Cardinals at .955 (63-3). Offensively, the Longhorn attack squad is impossible to dismiss. Led by recently named AVCA National Player of the Year, and three time AVCA First Team All American and All Big 12 Player of the Year, outside hitter Logan Eggleston, she is among a cluster of stars at the net including 2022 AVCA All Americans Madisen Skinner (OH), Asjia O’Neal (MB) and Molly Phillips (OH). But they are only as good as their quarterback, All Big 12 Setter of the Year and AVCA All American, Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres, who effectively manages the offensive strategy on the court as the catalyst to the team earning the nation’s top hitting percentage .335 by producing an average 11.31 assists per set.
Louisville’s offense is led by AVCA First Team All American outside hitter, Claire Chaussee, and is in good company with Elena Scott, libero and AVCA Second Team All American, as well as AVCA All American’s middle blocker, Amaya Tillman, and setter, Raquel Lazaro.
However, the crown may come down to the most error-free team and who is best defending the back court and dominating the service line. While Texas started the postseason with a fierce service game (38 aces in first four matches), that was elusive against San Diego in the semifinal with only three. Moreover, they had a postseason high 23 errors, tying their previous season high against Minnesota. For Louisville, their service game all but secured their win over Pitt with 10 aces, including eight consecutive points in the vital fifth game against the Panthers to advance to the championship round. Longhorn Zoe Fleck, twice named First Team AVCA All American and the 2022 All-Big 12 Libero of the Year, will no doubt be Texas’ defensive weapon but tested on this crucial front. But, the Cardinals have battled postseason errors, too, with 23 and 20 in their last two postseason matches, respectively.
At 7PM CST tonight, either the #1 ranked and seeded Texas Longhorns or the #1 seeded and #4 ranked Louisville Cardinals will leave Omaha as the 2022 National Champions.

#1 Texas Longhorn Volleyball one match away from National Champions

Photo credit: Mikala Compton/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK
A rocky start that led to multiple set points didn’t prevent the #1 ranked and seeded Texas Longhorns from settling into play after the initial set loss and winning the match 3-1 against the San Diego Toreros.  The intense, competitive play brought by the underdog followed their upset win against Stanford and one-loss season record that landed them in Omaha against the Longhorns.  
Texas, who has only lost three sets of 18 in the postseason,  found themselves mired in errors in the first set and uncharacteristically many were assigned to the senior and highly-talented, Logan Eggleston (OH), who seemed to be plagued until finding her groove and earning a total 16 kills and a personal season high five blocks.  But the Longhorns wouldn’t be one match away from a national title if they didn’t have a battle-tested team of star players that burn on even when one is a little dim.  
Madisen Skinner, a transfer from Kentucky, led the team with 17 kills and Molly Philips earned 14.  In combination, the Longhorns racked up 59 kills to the Toreros 45. Credit to the offensive orchestrator, Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres, whose 46 assists far outpaced San Diego setter, Gabby Blossom.  While the Texas service game wasn’t as strong as it has been in the postseason, the team’s defense was comprised of 12 blocks and 58 digs, 21 of which were secured by All-Big 12 Libero of the Year and First Team AVCA All American, Zoe Fleck.  
Texas advances to the National Championship game on Saturday, December 17, at 7PM to play the winner of Pitt-Louisville. The Longhorns haven’t won a title since 2012 but have made it to the final three times since, only to leave the tournament as runner up.  

Boom! Texas lands 5-star LB Anthony Hill

(Photo/Twitter: @horbopicz)
National signing day is 6 days away, and the Longhorns made a huge splash Thursday night securing the commitment of 2023 5-star LB Anthony Hill.
Hill, who is a standout for powerhouse Denton Ryan High School, was previously committed to Texas A&M before backing off his pledge in November. He is ranked #19 overall in the 247sports composite rankings. Hill joins a stout LB class of S'Maje Burrell, Liona Lefau and Derion Gullette.
The Longhorns moved up to #3 in the 247sports team rankings with Hill's commitment. 

Title Quest: Longhorns Face Toreros Tonight in NCAA Women’s Volleyball Semifinal

Photo: Mikala Compton/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK
Tonight at 6PM the #1 ranked and seeded Texas Longhorns are two matches away from being the next National Champion.  They will first have to defeat the #2 seeded San Diego Toreros who are making their first Final Four appearance.  Not since 2012 has Texas earned the national title and it remains program superstar, Logan Eggleston’s, one unmet goal for her storied career at the University.   
Like Texas, San Diego has only one loss this season.  Iowa State upset the Longhorns during conference play and the Toreros fell to another final four team, the Louisville Cardinals.  Both teams have defeated powerhouse programs throughout the fall campaign to arrive at tonight’s competition.   
The Longhorns boast a stellar lineup led by the third time named All-Big 12 Player of the Year and three-time First Team All-American outside hitter Logan Eggleston, and her equally lethal teammates who have also earned AVCA All-American and All-Big 12 accolades this season: Asjia O’Neal (MB), Zoe Fleck (L), Madisen Skinner (OH), Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres (S) and Molly Phillips (OPP).   
The Toreros come off an upset of a perennial, solid program and recent title holder (2016, 2018 and 2019), Stanford, and a flawless conference record (18-0).  In pre-conference play, they took out top ranked programs like then #6 Pitt and then #8 Ohio State.  A win tonight would mark an historic opportunity for a first-time female head coach to become a national title holder and a first for the West Coast Conference.   
Head-to-head, the last time these programs met was in August 2021 and Texas took down San Diego in three sets.  The 2022 season shows the teams nearly statistically matched.   
2022 Cumulative 
Texas Longhorns 
San Diego Toreros 
Kills per set 
Assists per set 
Blocks per set 
Aces per set 
Digs per set 
Errors per set 

The veteran Texas program is no stranger of the final rounds.  Since their 2012 title, they have played for the national championship three times, most recently in 2020 where they lost to Kentucky.  Tonight, they are one match away from reclaiming an opportunity to write a different ending. 

From Player to Coach: The Journey of UT Men's Basketball Interim Head Coach Rodney Terry

Photo credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Texas Longhorns Head Basketball Coach Chris Beard was arrested Monday morning on felony assault charges after an incident at his home in Tarrytown. It is believed that Beard assaulted his fiancé and is now suspended by the university without pay until further notice. 
While things continue to be sorted out, Rodney Terry (Associate Head Coach) has been tabbed to fill the role of Head Coach. Let’s take a look at Terry and his basketball journey and career up to this point. 
Terry was born in Angleton, Texas and attended St. Edward’s University in Austin to play basketball. After graduating in 1990, Terry joined the coaching staff at St. Edward’s as an assistant coach for the 1990-1991 season. After bouncing around different high schools including James Bowie and Somerville, he returned to his old high school of Angleton High and was the head coach there for the 1995-96 season. 
Next came bigger collegiate opportunities. In 1996, Terry became an assistant at Baylor under coach Harry Miller (Baylor HC from 1994-1999). After 2 seasons in Waco, he left to become an assistant coach at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). The Seahawks went on to make the NCAA Tournament in 2 of his 4 seasons at UNCW (2000 and 2002) and beat #4 seed USC in 2002 to give the program their first tournament win ever. 
Terry then moved back to Texas to join Rick Barnes and the Longhorns in the spring of 2002 as an assistant coach. He played an important role in the recruiting process and helped bring in players such as Kevin Durant, who's currently playing for the Brooklyn Nets, and Tristan Thompson, who is currently an NBA free agent. Next he became the head coach at Fresno State in 2011 and led the Bulldogs to an NCAA Tournament appearance in the 2015-16 season. They ended up losing in the first round to #3 Utah 80 to 69.
In 2018, Terry packed his bags and became the head coach at the University of Texas at El Paso. After 3 shaky seasons, he left in April of 2022 to return to Texas and become an assistant coach under Chris Beard. 
Terry’s best record as a head coach came in the 2015-16 season with the Bulldogs as they went 25-10, finished 2nd in the Mountain West and participated in “March Madness.”  Record wise, Terry seems to be somewhat inconsistent as he has been a head coach of a team for 10 total seasons and only has a winning record in 5 of those 10. 
Terry started off his interim head coach role with the Longhorns by notching a tough-fought OT victory over Rice on Monday night as the Longhorns defeated the Owls 87 to 81.  While the situation regarding Chris Beard plays out, all eyes are on coach Terry.  Can he continue the same success the Horns displayed to start the season?  Big 12 play starts soon and we will find out.

NCAA Division 1 Women’s Volleyball Final Four Preview

Photo credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Tomorrow night the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball National Semifinals will kick off in Omaha with only two teams advancing to compete for the national title on Saturday, December 17.  This year’s final four teams demonstrate the sports growing and powerful reach across the country that has moved beyond the limited powerhouse programs that have dominated since the 1980s.  
From their respective seedings in the regional playoffs that includes, #2 San Diego, #2 Pittsburgh and #1 Louisville.  It is only #1 seeded and overall ranked, #1 Texas, who has earned the title three times and will join these teams for what promises to be a thrilling and intense competition.  
Their first final four appearance, San Diego (31-1) upset #1 Stanford in the Regional after five sets following a season marked with beating top ranked teams like Ohio State and another NCAA semifinalist #2 Pitt.  The Toreros one season loss is to another finalist, the Cardinals.  However, this California team will first have to get through the one-loss Texas Longhorns (26-1) who today, had six players named ACVA All-Americans.  The last time the teams played was August 2021 in which Texas beat them in three sets.  Their match is tomorrow at 6PM CST with the winner playing the victor of Pitt and Louisville in the final.    
The other side of the bracket offers an ACC conference rematch where the teams split 1-1 during regular season play.  Both Pitt (31-3) and Louisville (30-2) were defeated in the National Semifinals last year making this the ACC’s first opportunity to take home the crown. The Panthers enter the final stretch knocking off defending champion, Wisconsin, and showed they are a real contender for the title.  While the Cardinals beat the Oregon Ducks to make the final rounds at Chi Health Center Omaha.   

Longhorns Recruiting Road Trip: Playoffs Round 5

Photo: John Gutierrez / Special to American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK
On Friday, I hopped on I-35 to travel down to San Antonio to watch the Wimberley Texans square off against the Cuero Gobblers at the Alamodome. Needless to say, the stakes were high as the winner of the contest would advance to the UIL 4A Division 2 state championship game.
Playoffs Round 5:
Wimberley, the sixth-ranked team in the state of Texas, entered their semifinal matchup against Cuero as the underdog, which is surprising considering the fact that the Texans have an undefeated record. However, of course, the Cuero Gobblers were not a team to scoff at either, possessing a 13-1 record with their only loss to a notoriously tough-minded Calallen team.
Leading the Texans on offense, sophomore quarterback Cody Stoever had an impressive performance, tallying a total of three touchdowns, two of which were rushing. Additionally, Stoever's 110 rushing yards proved to be vital in the flow of the Texans offense.
Along with Stoever's contributions on the ground, Texans senior running back Johnny Ball chewed up the Gobblers defense with an additional 193 rushing yards on 14 carries.
While Ball also found the end zone on one occasion, the real turning point in the game came later on, in the fourth quarter when Johnny Ball actually fumbled the football on a carry which was recovered by teammate Cayden Heatly for a touchdown. Heatly's miraculous touchdown extended Wimberley's lead to 42-30 with 9:36 left in the game. Ultimately, the Texans were able to hang on to a victory over the Gobblers with a final score of 42-36.
While Cuero was out dueled in the end, they had several playmakers that certainly put forth a heck of an effort. For example, junior quarterback Mason Notaro accounted for three touchdowns on the night, two of which were passing. Additionally, senior running back Tycen Williams and junior running back Daylon Gibbs both accounted for two touchdowns apiece.  
Extra Point:
On Friday, Wimberley will be tasked with achieving the near impossible, beating Carthage in a state title game. In fact, Carthage's head coach Scott Surratt has recorded a record amount of state championships with one program, eight to be exact. However, the Texans have been on a roll all season long and will look to be on the winning side of history on Friday at AT&T Stadium.
Miles Logged:

Longhorns survive scare from Owls, notch 87-81 win in OT

Dec 12, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns acting head coach Rodney Terry watches during the first half against the Rice Owls at Moody Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
It wasn't pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but the #7 Texas Longhorns (8-1, 0-0 Big 12) managed a much-needed win on Monday evening against the Rice Owls (6-3, 0-1 C-USA).  Rice matched the Longhorns shot-for-shot for the duration of regulation minutes, before forcing overtime with both teams knotted at 72 points.
Texas pulled away in the overtime period, with Sir Jabari Rice scoring seven of his eleven points on the night in the five-minute frame.  The Longhorns held on en route to an 87-81 OT win to improve to 8-1 on the season.
With the program facing adversity in light of the arrest and pending felony charge against suspended head coach Chris Beard, the Longhorns answered with a hard-fought win over the Owls.
Graduate student guard Marcus Carr led Texas in scoring with 28 points, shooting 9-16 from the field including 4-7 from three-point range.  Senior forward Timmy Allen contributed 15 points and freshman guard Dillon Mitchell added 12 points which included a perfect 6-6 from the free throw stripe.
Junior guard Quincy Olivari shot 45% from the floor and led the Owls in scoring with 28 points.  Guard Travis Evee, also a junior, fouled out in in OT but not before scoring 19 points in 41 minutes played.
As a team Texas shot 50% from the floor and 22.7% from beyond the arc.  Rice shot 43.5% from the floor and 32.1% from three point range.
Associate Head Coach Rodney Terry, who served as head coach in the game against the Owls, won his first game in the role for the Longhorns. 
Up next for Texas is a neutral-court game against Stanford on Sunday.  The Longhorns will play the Cardinal at American Airlines Arena in Dallas as part of the Pac-12 US LBM Coast-to-Coast Challenge.

Chris Beard Suspended without Pay by University

Photo: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Following his early morning arrest on charges of assault on a family member, Men's Basketball Coach Chris Beard was suspended without pay, the University of Texas announced late Monday afternoon.
Beard posted a $10,000 bond early Monday afternoon and made no comments when questioned by reporters as he left the Travis County jail with his attorney, Perry Minton.  Minton's lone statement on the matter maintains Beard's innocence related to the charges.
The arrest affidavit, obtained by the Austin American Statesman, sheds light on the female complainant's version of the events that led to Chris Beard's arrest.
The Longhorns, ranked #7 in the country, are facing the Rice Owls at Moody Center tonight.  With Beard's suspension, Associate Head Coach Rodney Terry will assume head coaching duties for the Rice game.

Chris Beard arrested Monday morning

Head basketball coach Chris Beard was arrested Monday morning on felony assault charges stemming from an incident at a home in Tarrytown.
The University of Texas released this statement following Beard's arrest.
The Longhorns, who are 7-1 on the season and were ranked #2 in the country this past week, are scheduled to play Rice tonight at the Moody Center. We will update the situation as more information becomes available.

Closer to their fourth National Championship, Texas Volleyball is Omaha-Bound

After near-dominance on the Forty Acres for the first three rounds of the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship, the #1 Texas Longhorns (26-1) advance to the National Semi-Final match in Omaha on December 15th.  On Saturday night, Texas faced their strongest opponent in the tournament thus far.  A rematch against #3 Ohio State (22-10), who they defeated twice in their season opener, lasted only four sets (25-18, 21-25, 25-13, 25-21) but this encounter consisted of multiple lead changes and more intense play between the teams unlike previous Longhorn matches in the postseason. 
The defense was led by All-Big 12 First Team Asjia O’Neal (MB) with eight blocks and a team season high of 16.  All-Big 12 Libero of Year, Zoe Fleck, was clutch on the back line with 18 digs.  Offensively, the team produced 51 kills 20 of which came from the third time named All-Big 12 Player of the Year, Logan Eggleston (OH). The Longhorn’s quarterback and All-Big 12 Setter of the Year, Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres, earned 40 assists.  
Texas will arrive in Omaha for the Final Four marking their 14th appearance. The Longhorns will play the winner of tonight’s Palo Alto Regional Final match between #1 seeded Stanford and #2 seeded San Diego.  #1 Louisville secured its spot in finals earlier today and the winner of #2 Pittsburgh- #1Wisconsin match will take the fourth slot. 

Longhorns Recruiting Road Trip: Playoffs Rounds 3 & 4

So far during the holiday season, I have ventured around the Central Texas area to cover several Austin-area high school football powerhouses, including: Lake Travis, Dripping Springs, and Vandegrift. With the lights of the playoffs shining bright, the pressure to stay alive was turned up a notch as the chance at a state championship appearance grew larger.
Round 3:
For the first time in a long time, the Lake Travis Cavaliers entered the third round of the playoffs as an underdog against a team from San Antonio. This time, it was the San Antonio Brennan Bears who stood in their way, led by senior quarterback Ashton Dubose, who has five scholarship offers, including one from UTSA.
In the regional semifinals matchup, Dubose continued to do what he's done all season long - score touchdowns. Against Lake Travis, Dubose scored a total of five touchdowns, four of them passing, including one touchdown pass to his twin brother Aaron. Furthermore, Ashton looked comfortable in the pocket all night and connected on some difficult throws, involving multiple receivers. As previously mentioned, senior wide receiver Aaron Dubose was one of the wideouts involved in the scoring action, and he used his 6'3" frame to his advantage - making a few sizable catches on the night.
For Lake Travis, the offensive line did a solid job of creating a push in the running game, resulting in a 300-yard rushing night. Moreover, junior running back Nico Hamilton led the Cavaliers in rushing with 158 yards on 23 carries. Junior offensive linemen Adrian-Izic Oratokhai and Legend Cabello have created a sizable push on the left side of Lake Travis's offensive line this year. As a result, do not be surprised if you hear their recruitment picking up before next season.
However, the Cavaliers offense has been plagued by a lack of playmakers all season and this problem came back to haunt them in the third round of the playoffs.
Despite of a close game going into halftime, with Brennan leading Lake Travis 13-10, the second half was all about the Bears who pulled away in a dominant 34-17 victory.
Round 4: 
In the regional finals round of the playoffs last weekend, I travelled to Cedar Park's Gupton Stadium to watch the Vandegrift Vipers play the Dripping Springs Tigers. Last Friday, after trailing for a good portion of the matchup, Vandegrift somehow managed to find themselves with the lead late in the contest. Led by senior quarterback Austin Novosad, the Tigers marched their way to the Vipers 1-yard line before failing to convert on a devastating fourth-and-goal situation on their final drive.
Despite of an uncharacteristic off-night by Vandegrift senior quarterback Brayden Buchanan, who threw two interceptions, the Vipers were able to produce yards on the ground via senior running back Alex Witt, who rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Led by Vipers offensive linemen Blake Frazier and Ian Reed, both of whom are future Division 1 athletes, Vandegrift has had no problem creating space for their playmakers this season.
For Dripping Springs, Friday's matchup unfortunately marked the end of Austin Novosad's high school football career. The four-star senior quarterback is committed to joining the Baylor Bears once he graduates, and will graduate holding most of his school's passing records.
Extra Point:
Following Hudson Card's graduation from Lake Travis, the Cavaliers have been stuck in a little bit of a predicament. During Card's senior season, the Austin-native practically willed the Cavaliers into tough wins after the team was suffering from the graduation of wide receiver Garrett Wilson. However, thanks to inconsistencies at the quarterback position, Lake Travis's need for talent at the skill position has been on display. As a result, I will be curious to see who will lead the charge for the Cavaliers next position on offense.
Miles Logged:

Texas Longhorns Volleyball advances to next round of NCAA tournament play

Photo Credit: @TexasVolleyball
On Thursday the #1 Texas Longhorns defeated the #16 Marquette Golden Eagles after four sets during the Regional Semifinals in Austin. The one set loss represents the first for Texas since the tournament began. Led by the All Big 12, third time, player of the year,Logan Eggleston, Longhorns earned a total 50 kills, and the team earned 10 aces, 15 blocks, 48 assists and 46 digs. 
On Saturday at 5PM, Texas will advance to play #10 Ohio State who beat #8 ranked Minnesota in four sets earlier today. The Buckeyes lost twice to the Longhorns in Columbus at the beginning of the season making the rematch significant, launching one of the teams to Omaha for the NCAA Semifinal.   

Hoops and Highlights: Recap of Texas Men's Basketball Strong Start to Season

Photo: Mikala Compton/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK
The Texas Men's Basketball team started the year undefeated (6-0) through the first 6 games for the first time since the 2014-2015 team started 7-0 under former head coach Rick Barnes. While the 6-0 start is obviously impressive, the Longhorns move to 6-1 now following their overtime loss to Illinois at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. Let’s do a quick recap of each game so far. 
The Horns started off the year with a 57-72 victory over the UTEP Miners a month ago. Leading scorer for the Longhorns in that game? Well, if you have been following along this season, you probably have the right guy in mind. Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter led the way with 18 points and played the most minutes with 31. The Longhorns in this game had 9 different players play 10+ minutes, and 11 players touched the floor at some point. 
Next came Houston Baptist University (HBU). I won’t spend too much time on this one, as the Horns were firing on all cylinders, and won soundly by a score of 31 to 82. 
Then came the Gonzaga Bulldogs. In a highly anticipated top-12 matchup, the Horns pulled away in a ferocious, dunk-heavy second half and ended up beating the then 2nd-ranked Bulldogs by 19 points. Drew Timme, as most would expect, led Gonzaga with 18 points and also had the most rebounds for the Bulldogs with 9. Looking at Texas, Tyrese Hunter put the nation on notice with 26 (!) points in only 26 minutes, and the Horns had 4 total players score in double-digits. The Longhorns got their revenge on the Bulldogs from their 2021 matchup when they lost 74 to 86. Not only did they get their revenge; they seemed to have get their swagger. 
Northern Arizona then faced off against the Longhorns in Edinberg, Texas, a few days before Thanksgiving at Bert Ogden Arena. Similar to the HBU game, Texas dominated for a majority of the night and ended up beating the Lumberjacks by a score of 48 to 73. Returning senior Marcus Carr led the Horns with 17 points and continued to flash his improvement in his overall game and scoring ability. 
Texas-Rio Grande Valley then traveled to Austin to play in one of the most unique environments in college basketball: Gregory Gym. “The Greg”, as some students call it, is the former home to the Longhorn basketball and swimming teams and holds roughly 4,000 people. The basketball teams moved out in 1977 to the Erwin Center and “The Greg” is now home to the Texas Women’s Volleyball Team. The gym is obviously small and man, does it get loud. That noise and atmosphere may have had an impact, as the Longhorns soundly defeated the Vaqueros 54 to 91. Sir’Jabari Rice, the transfer senior from New Mexico State, led the way with 19 points and started to really establish himself as a potential key player for Texas moving forward. 
Now to the Creighton Bluejays. Texas came into this game ranked 2nd in the nation… and lived up to the hype. The 7th ranked Bluejays were led by center Ryan Kalkbrenner, who had 20 points along with 13 rebounds (both team highs), and had all 5 of their starters play 30 or more minutes. Marcus Carr had yet another big game for the Horns with 19 points and 5 boards. While the 67 to 72 final score may be slightly deceiving, both teams shot poorly from the 3-point line, with Creighton going 4/27 and Texas shooting 4/19. Nonetheless, the Longhorns grinded out a nail biter and took down the Bluejays to remain unbeaten. 
Lastly, the 16th ranked Illinois Fighting Illini met Texas at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night to kickoff the Jimmy V Classic. Illinois, coming off a hard fought loss to 13th-ranked Maryland last Friday, showed off the moves in the first half with some swift isolation combos and led the Horns by 3 at the half. Star player Terrence Shannon Jr. struggled throughout regulation yet turned it around in a big way late in the game. Texas started off strong as well as they led a majority of the first half, yet let the Illini come back late in the game and eventually forced OT. Forward Timmy Allen played his best game of the season for the Horns with a 21-7-8 stat line and was one of only 2 scorers to have double digit points for Texas. In OT, Marcus Carr struggled offensively… and it was Shannon Jr.’s takeover time. The 6’6 senior scored 12 of his 16 total points in overtime and led the Illini to an 85 to 78 victory. 
Overall, the Longhorns 6-1 start has included some unique playing environments and 3 top-20 matchups. Even though it’s early in the season, this Longhorn team seems to have all the talent and leadership that 2nd year head coach Chris Beard desires. Now, in what appears to be an easier stretch of the season coming up for the Horns, will Beard and co. continue this early season success?

Texas Longhorns’ Sweep of Georgia Bulldogs lands them in Regional Semifinals

Photo: Annie Rice/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Fresh off their first win and upset in the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Tournament in 27 years against #8 Towson, the Georgia Bulldogs (23-7) came out strong as the first set started during the second round. Their lead quickly evaporated, and they never regained momentum in their three set loss (14-25, 16-25, 15-25) to the #1 Texas Longhorn (23-1). The win increases the Big 12 Texas’ all-time winning streak over SEC Georgia to 7-0.
The Longhorns racked up a total of 37 kills and nine aces in one game – a notable 22 aces in the first two rounds of tournament play.
All-Big 12 First Team winners, outside hitters Madisen Skinner and Logan Eggleston led the team in kills (9 each), with Eggleston marking 200 career aces and tying her career game high of five. The third-time All-Big 12 Player of the Year has only lost four games of 75 played on The Forty Acres.
Texas will return to the regional semifinals for 17th straight year, playing #4 seed Marquette on Thursday, December 8.

#1 Texas Longhorns Volleyball start their journey to Omaha with a decisive win over Fairleigh Dickinson

The #1 seeded Texas Longhorns (22-1) team kicked off their play against Fairleigh Dickinson University (17-15) in the 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship bracket Thursday evening in Gregory Gym as host of the first and second rounds. Lasting just over an hour, Texas dominated FDU from the outset taking the game in three sets. This is only the second time in program history the Big 12 Championship team has entered the tournament as a #1 seed after a near perfect season falling only once to Iowa State in five sets.
The Longhorn’s successful season has rode on the shoulders of six All-Big 12 First Team members Logan Eggleston (Big 12 Player of the Year), Zoe Fleck (Big 12 Libero of the Year), Saige Ka’aha’aina (Setter of the Year), Asjia O’Neal, Molly Phillips and Madisen Skinner and at the helm, Big 12 Coach of the Year, Jerritt Elliott.  It has been a decade since Texas won a national championship and find themselves among perineal powerhouses like Wisconsin and Nebraska that round out the 32 seeded teams hoping to land in Omaha for the National Championship on December 17.  Wisconsin looking for back-to-back titles and a Nebraska program that ousted Texas at home during the Austin regional of the tournament last year.
Texas will first have to beat a Georgia team tomorrow night that hasn’t played in the tournament since 1995 and upset Towson in Gregory earlier today.  The Longhorns and Bulldogs will faceoff at 8PM at Gregory, the winner moving onto Regionals December 8-10.

Fate and Future: Key Takeaways from Sarkisian's 11/28 Presser

Today was a special and unique press conference for Texas HC Steve Sarkisian as he and his team just finished their 2022 regular season. With an 8-4 record, Sarkisian noted that it's only the "2nd time in the past 9 years that Texas has won 8 games" or more. He started off with his usual game recap, but this presser was anything other than "usual." There's a lot to break down, so let's start with the Baylor win. 
Sarkisian opened up his game recap by stating that Friday "was exactly what they were hoping for" in regards to their seniors and getting the win to have a chance at making the Big 12 Championship. He thought that "resiliency was the key to the drill" and stated that they played "really good defense and ran the ball well." The Longhorns defeated the Bears 27-38 to finish the regular season. 
Now to the good stuff.
Sarkisian was asked multiple questions regarding the transfer portal, NIL deals, recruiting etc. Starting with NIL, Sarkisian made his opinion very clear: "If you're choosing to come here [Texas] because of NIL, then you are coming here for the wrong reasons." Sark made it known throughout the presser that NIL is a part of the game and "is not going anywhere" but emphasized how he and the University of Texas "take pride in what this university stands for" while stating how they "have to make sure we are doing it in the right way." With the transfer portal, Sarkisian mentioned how it's an area that they "have to adapt to" and even compared the portal and recruiting to the NFL in its similarity to "free agency" as it "gives you a little bit of that NFL feel." Sticking with the recruiting topic, Sarkisian noted how his squad is "still going to recruit hard in the month of December" and used the quote "sometimes the grass appears greener on the other side..." when referencing new players coming to Texas and having to compete with the guys already here who may be more talented than the newcomer. 
Moving over to conversations regarding the bowl game and specifics of UT players, the second year head coach stated that their "first five or so practices of bowl prep will be like spring ball mentality" and how the "second half of the practices... will be dedicated to more game planning." When asked about potential players sitting out of the bowl game, Sarkisian expressed how he "hate(s) it for them [the players] that they have to make that choice." He mentions that the "reality is all of them deep down want to play... for some guys, they should play... for other guys, maybe it is in their best interest not to play". He also highlighted how for some players it could be used to get more reps and things for that matter.
Moving to individual players, Sarkisian was asked about WR Xavier Worthy's status with Texas, as the star wideout deleted all things Texas from his Instagram a few days ago: "he is a highly competitive young man... his best days are ahead of him" and mentions how he understands Worthy's frustration at times this year, stating "I would much rather have a receiver that's frustrated that he didn't contribute more to a win than a guy who's content of going on the field and playing and the ball not coming his way because I think he values his ability to get open. I do too." Also asked about RB Bijan Robinson and LB Jaylan Ford, Sark believes that "If we [Texas] were 10-2 right now and playing for a Big 12 Championship and maybe on the cusp of the College Football Playoff, I think there'd be no question this guy would be in New York for the Heisman" referring to Bijan. With Ford, Sark highlighted how he has created a turnover in 6 straight games and says he performs "at critical moments in the game." 
Lastly, Sarkisian was asked on his thoughts regarding the games the Longhorns lost this season, the conversations regarding penalty calls, and the enormity of his job. Sark mentioned how he wishes his team "just played better" against TCU and declares himself as his "biggest critic." He also touched on the importance of the run game and how that affected the ability of the defense to stay "fresh" in some games this year. Regarding what seems like a lack of penalties called against his opponents this season, Sarkisian said "at the end of the day, you play the hands you're dealt" and thought his team handled the calls a lot better on Friday against Baylor. Regarding his job as the head coach, Sarkisian expressed his passion: "I love what I get to do everyday... I am so fortunate and blessed to have this opportunity... I eat this up... I get to do what I love, and I love what I do." 
Texas now awaits to see who they will play in their bowl game and final game of their 2022 season. 
-Twitter: @RSwantkowski 

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