January 25, 2012
Here we are, exactly one week from National Signing Day, and the road has taken some interesting twists and turns for the Longhorns over the last week.
--- Mario Edwards eliminated Texas from consideration last week and on Monday, after returning home from his LSU visit, he completely shut down the recruiting process and reaffirmed his long-standing commitment to Florida State. This one was fun for Longhorn fans to follow for a while, including Edwards telling some folks during the week of the Under Armour All-American Game that Texas was on top of his list, but Texas always seemed like a longshot.
Credit to the UT staff for getting Edwards on campus and making a very strong impression during his official visit, but if one steps back and looks at this one objectively, there was little chance that Edwards would pull the rug out from under FSU in the 11th hour. Edwards had been committed to Florida State since March, his dad's played there and it was hard to envision a scenario where he'd spurn the Seminoles down the stretch. The Texas coaches (and the current group of 2012 recruits) did a tremendous job of giving the 5-star DE something to think about, but the longstanding ties to FSU were just too much to overcome.
--- What to make of the Dorial Green-Bekcham sweepstakes with one week left? Here's a hint ... it's very similar to last week's update in that even those closest to this one do not know how it will turn out. Ask five different sources and you get five different answers.
Some notes of interest. DGB's visit to Arkansas last weekend is said to have gone well, but it is worth noting that neither of his parents accompanied him on the trip. Arkansas is expected to do an in-home visit with the Beckhams on Thursday (Head Coach Bobby Petrino won't be involved). Missouri is expected to send in a flurry of seven assistant coaches to Hillcrest High School throughout the day on Wednesday. As of this morning, Green-Beckham is still scheduled to take an official visit to Missouri this weekend. His entire family is expected to go with him, which is not at all insignificant.
People we've talked to close to the Missouri side of things feel the Tigers have some serious momentum, and there's some thought that Missouri will consider it an upset if it doesn't land him. That being said, people in Arkansas have also expressed confidence. As we've said all along, I'm not sure anyone would call Texas the leader at this point, but we continue to hear that the Longhorns are in the mix and if Austin was closer to Springfield, Texas would probably be the team to beat.
We've been leaning towards Arkansas winning this sweepstakes, but lately the buzz seems to be tilting toward Missouri. Truth be told, even those closely involved in this one are still wondering how it will turn out and this one will probably have people guessing all the way until his announcement on the morning of February 1.
--- Texas has been in contact with Plano West DE Bryce Cottrell the past couple days, and word we received this afternoon has Cottrell taking an official visit to Texas this weekend. Cottrell gas been committed to Oregon for three months. Talking to people who know him, we've heard nothing but rave reviews about Cottrell's character, and his commitment to the Oregon staff has him torn between the Ducks and the Longhorns before this weekend's visit.
Texas will have its chance to win Cottrell over, and the Horns don't lose out on many of these types of recruitments. With the understanding that we have not had direct communication with Cottrell, we'll give Texas the slight edge in this one.
--- Joining Cottrell in Austin will be Van linebacker Dalton Santos, who confirmed to us on Sunday that Texas had extended a verbal scholarship offer and he'd be taking an official visit to UT this coming weekend.
In talking to Santos on Sunday, he called the offer from UT "a huge honor." He's still committed to Tennessee and although he didn't come out and say it this week, it will be a major upset if the Longhorns don't win out on his commitment. Even people in Tennessee have all but conceded this one is over.
--- The on-again, off-again visit of Pflugerville Hendrickson speedster Daje Johnson is back on the table, with Johnson expected to be the third uncommitted player to take a visit this weekend. Here's what you need to know about Johnson ... he's a kid who has wanted to be at Texas for a while, but he's also been committed to TCU since March of last year so there is a sense of loyalty to the Horned Frog coaches.
One thing Texas will have to battle ... we've heard that TCU has all but guaranteed Johnson that he'll get playing time as a freshman. Texas probably can't (and doesn't) make that same promise but if the UT staff can convince Johnson that he'll have a chance to contribute early, Texas would seem to have the inside track on this one.
--- Random rumor - we're
hearing that a certain 2013 prospect will be given the Garrett Gilbert
treatment (get an official offer and commit the day after National Signing
Day). Stay tuned.
From the OB Mailbag:
If you had to
predict our first 5 commits for the 2013 class who would they be and when do
they go down?
Very good question. You have to know that Texas will come out of the first junior day weekend with more than five commitments, but it's hard to pinpoint which guys will be the first to receiver their offer and pull the trigger.
Shot in the dark, give me Jake Raulerson, Kent Perkins, Darius James, Naashon Hughes and ... throw in A'Shawn Robinson.
The last one's especially tricky because I think Texas is the clear leader for guys like Ricky Seals-Jones, Jake Oliver and Deon Hollins, but I'm not sure any of the three jump at an offer as soon as one's extended.
We'll have a better feel for this one as the Horns' first junior day on February 12 draws near.
As good as Justin Tucker was as a PK, he was below average as a punter. This was detrimental for field position; especially when pinned deep our own side. How can Texas not find anyone on campus that can regularly boot it 40+ yards in the air. This was a definite recruiting failure on the staff's part. What does Mack have planned to fix this? Do we need an open campus tryout ala Mike Leach?
Texas has certainly struggled in the punting department and yes, the Longhorns have lost key yardage in games where field position has been important. The problem with recruiting a punter is that, for whatever reason, it can be extremely difficult to predict how a player will perform when he gets to campus. Texas hasn't exactly hit a home run in that department in years past.
It looks like the Longhorns will go into the 2012 season content to work with the guys on campus. Will Russ is expected to get the first look, but people we've talked to said he has to improve on his consistency if he's going to win the job. He'll hit a bomb on one kick only to come back the next time with a lackluster kick. David Ash has a terrific leg and he can kick the ball out of the stadium in warm-ups, but he's never punted in a college game and the coaches want him to work on getting the ball off quicker.
As you mentioned, there is always the possibility of finding a walk-on to handle the job, and at some point it wouldn't be a horrible idea to look the way of a proven JUCO punter if Texas continues to struggle. The punting and place-kicking game will be one of the most interesting stories to follow in the spring.