A Historic National Signing Day for Texas

Reports of Charlie Strong’s recruiting demise were greatly exaggerated.

Texas fans aren’t used to having much to look forward on National Signing Day, that now-national holiday in which fax machines in athletics offices across the country are plugged back in and dusted off. Historically, Mack Brown’s recruiting classes were locked in before students left for winter break, guaranteeing Texas high-profile players but leaving little wiggle room for late flips and surging senior players. Not anymore.

Coach Charlie Strong, once a wizard recruiter under Urban Meyer at Florida, has a different ethos. As of Tuesday morning, Strong’s recruiting class was ranked 32nd nationally, according to rankings on 24/7 sports. With Katy RB Kyle Porter’s surprise flip from TCU yesterday, that number improved to 25. When #NSD kicked into full gear on Wednesday at 7:30 a.m., high school seniors donned Longhorn caps, the faxes flooded Strong’s UT athletics office, and that ranking number inched closer to the top 10.

By 10 a.m., Strong had grabbed five new members of ESPN’s top 300: safety Brandon Jones, defensive tackles Chris Daniels and Marcel Southall, linebacker Erick Fowler, and guard Denzel Okafor joining Porter, early enrollees QB Shane Buechele and WR Collin Johnson, last-week’s DB commit Eric Cuffee, and New Year’s present OT Jean Delance. At 10:30, No. 26 ESPN prospect Aldine Davis HS linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch committed to Texas, both becoming the head of Strong’s recruiting class, and nudging that class closer to top-10 nationally. At 1 p.m., DT Jordan Elliott, committed to Michigan as late as last Wednesday, became the cherry on top. As it stands, Texas is No. 11 on 247sports.com and Rivals.com.

As ESPN senior writer Jeremy Crabtree noted, with Jordan Elliott’s commitment, Texas signed 10 four-star recruits in one week, nine of those in the last 24 hours. Always be closing.

Across ESPN networks and social media, Longhorn presence increased as well. Freshmen All-Americans Connor Williams and Malik Jefferson graced the Longhorn Network set to discuss the future of the program. Jefferson also documented his morning via Periscope, and the TexFB Snapchat account featured videos of class of 2016 signees Cuffee, TE Peyton Aucoin, and OL Zach Shackelford excitedly discussing Longhorn football, plus a live shot inside Strong’s office erupting as the coaching staff watched Jones don a burnt-orange cap.

In grabbing numerous heralded defensive players, Strong filled a bunch of need positions from last season. With Hassan Ridgeway leaving for the NFL, run stoppers like Daniels, Southall, and Elliott might be playing sooner than later, and at the very least, will provide needed depth on the line. With last year’s secondary play leaving something to be desired, Cuffee and Jones provide new blood as Dylan Haines and Kevin Vaccaro reach their senior seasons and Duke Thomas graduates. Bookending stud middle linebacker Jefferson are highly touted outside linebackers Fowler and McCulloch.

On offense, Buechele will immediately compete at QB, all-purpose back Porter will spell D’Onta Foreman and Chris Warren, Hemphill-Mapps and Johnson provide even more depth at the WR position, and the offensive line is strengthened immensely with the additions of Delance, Okafor, and Shackelford. Of course, this presupposes none of these players redshirt their freshman seasons. Regardless, the Longhorns just patched up some holes caused by outgoing players, got deeper at other positions, and upgraded talent at a whole bunch more.

And furthering the recruiting charge for the future, smack in the middle of Texas pulling numerous defensive tackles this morning, Westlake junior QB Sam Ehlinger declared he’d be enrolling early for the 2017 season.

That’s momentum.

Above video via WVWilkerson on Vine.


Tags: , ,


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment