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February 23, 2012

Southwest whispers: New trend in Austin

MORE SOUTHWEST: Around the region

Following Texas' recruiting is always an interesting process. Head coach Mack Brown and staff do not offer any juniors until after National Signing Day and the Longhorns always host two junior days in February. The first one is usually quite a bit more exclusive and nearly every prospect that attends is expected to receive an offer.

This year is no different in that regard. Texas hosted its first junior day on Feb. 12 with a select group of prospects in attendance. All except one - Killeen (Texas) Harker Heights linebacker Naashon Hughes - were offered while on campus. However, that's when something odd happened: Nobody committed.

In years past, the Longhorns have always ended up with at least close to double-digit pledges on that day. This year, Rivals100 offensive lineman Jake Raulerson came into the weekend pledged to Texas and left as still the lone member of the commit list. So what happened?

After years of taking chances on guys too early and then being full by the summer, it seems Brown liked the results of last year's class that saw the Horns receive commits from seven prospects very late in the game. Adrian Colbert and Marcus Johnson were not names that Texas was in on in February. Now it seems Brown has made a concerted effort to slow things down a bit.

Make no mistake, though, Texas does want every player it offered that weekend. However, it seems like the coaches really wanted the prospects to go home and think about it.

And what happened?

First, Rivals100 wide receiver Jake Oliver decided to commit to Texas last Wednesday. It was a big blow to both Oklahoma and Texas A&M. It was tough for A&M fans especially as Oliver's dad played for the Aggies. The next day, Rivals100 defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson decided to follow suit and join the fold.

On Friday, Texas landed the top prospect in the region in five-star quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and followed it the next day when four-star athlete Kyle Hicks committed. The run continued this week as the nation's No. 13 overall prospect, wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones, joined the fold.

It is still somewhat surprising that Texas has not landed commits yet from running back Dontre Wilson or tight end Durham Smythe, as both have admitted they are high on the Longhorns and come from schools that have been good to Texas in the past. In years past, those players would have seemingly jumped on a Texas offer immediately.

Texas is hosting another junior day this weekend and should pick up a few more pledges but several planned attendees have since committed to other programs and have decided not to make the trip, something unheard of in the past. Offensive linemen Ishmael Wilson and J.J. Gustafson and running back James White had been scheduled before all three committed to Texas A&M this past week. All have said they no longer plan to be in Austin. Though none would have been assured of receiving Longhorn offers, it is definitely a win for the fellow in-state school to lock up those players before the Longhorns even had the chance to recruit them. The same goes for Rivals100 defensive tackle Isaiah Golden, who committed to the Aggies before the first Texas junior day.

After a couple subpar seasons on the field, this shows that Brown will be in for a bit more of a dogfight than usual but landing five Rivals100 pledges already also shows that he has not lost his recruiting luster.

Show-Me improvement

The state of Missouri was home to an unreal amount of talent in the class of 2012. In addition to the nation's No. 1 overall prospect in Dorial Green-Beckham, the Show-Me State also produced five-star defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins, Rivals100 wide receiver Durron Neal and Rivals250 offensive guard Evan Boehm.

Though a crop quite like that will likely never be seen again in the state, the class of 2013 looked as if it was shaping up to be quite disappointing. One prospect - linebacker Nick Ramirez - made the initial Rivals250 and, even then, only came in at No. 241. Since signing day, though, all kinds of players have come out of the woodwork in the state.

Athlete Chase Abbington is probably the most impressive as the 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior has an incredible combination of size and speed and has seen his stock soar as of late. The same goes for running back Ezekiel Elliott. Both players were given four-star status and will receive serious consideration for inclusion in the next Rivals250 update.

The talent does not stop there, though. Quarterback/athlete Trent Hosick has seen a half-dozen offers come his way while many regard offensive tackle Zach Hannon to be up there in the same conversation with the four-star prospects.

Defensive tackle Antar Thompson, athlete Anthony Sherrils, linebacker Joe Burkett, athlete Aarion Penton, defensive end Jamone Boyd, linebacker Eric Beisel, linebacker Brandon Minor and defensive end Jordan Willis are all seeing their stock rising as well. Though the class may not be as top-heavy as a year ago, it actually looks to be deeper.

Settle down, Sooner fans

A couple of programs in the region have been a bit slow out of the gate.

Oklahoma fans seem to be the most upset as they have seen several of their targets commit to rivals schools while the Sooners have yet to receive their first commit for the class. However, it seems to be a carefully crafted approach by the Sooner staff.

After Oklahoma's recent junior day almost every prospect says they were never pressured to make a decision, something that usually happens at events like this. Though they have extended close to 70 offers, the Sooner coaches seem to be taking a cautious approach to who they actually add to the class.

It does not seem to be too concerning at this point, though. Several other traditional recruiting powers have started slowly as well. If Oklahoma is still without a pledge a month from now, though, it could definitely be cause for some concern as its main recruiting rivals seem to be filling up fast and top prospects from its primary recruiting territory are coming off the board rather quickly.

News and notes

Waco (Texas) Midway quarterback Jordan Darling, who moved from Ohio last offseason, is on the move again. Darling recently received a Kansas offer and now looks to be headed to play ball relatively close at Shawnee Mission (Kan.) East in the Kansas City suburbs.

New Orleans Edna Karr cornerback Noel Ellis has finally started to see some more offers come his way. In the past week the Rivals250 defender has been offered by Auburn, Florida State and Texas A&M.

Four-star Houston Cypress Woods linebacker Deoundrei Davis has one of the most impressive highlight reels of anybody in the class and colleges are starting to notice. He received his latest offer from Texas A&M and could see another one come this weekend at the Texas junior day.

Katy (Texas) is a powerhouse program that does not normally produce a ton of top recruits. That could change with this class, though. Running back Adam Taylor is in the Rivals250 while defensive end Matt Dimon had picked up recent offers from Baylor, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Mesquite (Texas) West Mesquite has a ton of talent in its junior class. Rivals100 safety Kameron Miles and Rivals250 wide receiver Eldridge Massington are well-known but cornerback Will Earley has been offered by Ole Miss and North Texas, while defensive end Dimarya Mixon has had a productive week, picking up his first offers from Arizona State, Ole Miss and North Texas. Linebacker Nick Akins should see some offers come his way this spring as well.

According to the coaches at Lancaster (Texas), defensive end Daeshon Hall is another prospect seeing his stock soar. They say he has offers from Baylor, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Washington. Hall has been invited to this weekend's Texas junior day as well.

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