Let's go behind the scenes and talk recruiting. We bet you don't know just how some of these recruitments went down.
How close was Texas to losing Harker Heights teammates Darius James and Naashon Hughes?
Here's how the Frank Herron visit came about.
Texas assistant coach Larry Porter was beating the bushes in Memphis late last week trying to find a player the Longhorns might be able to go back in on and sway from another school at the last minute.
Porter was visiting with Memphis Central receiver Latevious Rayford when another Central player contacted Porter following him putting out feelers. That player was Herron.
Herron then went to Rayford's house and Texas had a two-on-one home visit.
While Rayford never made the official visit, Herron obviously did.
I’m told by sources that Mack Brown’s trips to the high schools of juniors was somewhat of an eye opener for the head coach.
Not because of the positive reception he received at almost every stop, but from some of the information he gathered.
Apparently, college coaches – both head coaches and assistant coaches – are playing very loose with the rules of contact with underclassmen.
I’m told of at least one junior that the Horns like who had a sit down with a Big 12 head coach already, not on the college campus but in the hometown of the player. That’s a serious violation if true and it’s not an allegation we can prove.
I’m also told of another assistant coach in the state who has had an underclass prospect over to his house.
Long story short, not everybody is playing by the rules. That’s not surprising, but I’m told it makes Mack ever aware of just what the Longhorns are up against, especially when Brown is maniacally dedicated to doing things above board.
Even though he didn’t sign with Texas, one of the biggest advocates for the Longhorns with the defensive tackle out of Waco was a church friend of Andrew Billings’ mom.
The advocate was the mother of former Texas linebacker and current All-Pro Derrick Johnson, who still lives in Waco and is considered a pillar of the community.
Eventually the Horns lost out, even though Billings had committed to Texas during his official visit to Austin.
In the end, the pull to stay in Waco, which is what his mom and dad wanted, was just too strong, not to mention the Bears did an excellent recruiting job.
Ra’Shaad Samples committed to Texas on his junior day visit but per Mack Brown's policy - he likes the parents of recruits to also be on board with the decision - Samples returned home to discuss things with his family.
Samples' dad, of course, is Dallas Skyline head coach Reggie Samples.
Once he got back home, the younger Samples didn't necessarily get cold feet about Texas but he had promised other teams that he would give them a shot, too. And his dad wanted him to keep his word.
With his dad's position at a talent-producing school like Skyline, the thought process makes total sense, politically if for no other reason, on behalf of the multitude of other prospects he has every year.
But as Ra’Shaad began listening to other schools and started taking other unofficial visits, his closeness to Texas waned.
And Texas' interest waned somewhat, too.
Samples didn't really follow up with Texas about a commitment, then he broke his ankle, and meanwhile Texas had secured a commitment from a similarly styled receiver in Jacorey Warrick.
Texas also became enamored with Fort Worth Southwest receiver Robbie Rhodes.
At the end of the day, it didn't work out for the Longhorns and Samples. But it was a case of a mutually amicable parting of the ways if there ever was one.
Samples signed with Oklahoma State.
Darius James and Naashon Hughes
Do you remember when we reported that Oklahoma was making a serious run at Darius James?
Well, the Sooners tried any way possible to get in on the blue chip lineman.
We’re told the Oklahoma staff went behind the backs of the Harker Heights coaching staff to recruit James late in the fall.
We’re told a faculty member at Harker Heights, who happens to be an Oklahoma alum, placed a call to OU assistant coach Bruce Kittle.
Kittle then showed up at Harker Heights without informing the Harker Heights staff. Before the Heights staff really knew what was happening, Kittle had pulled James and Naashon Hughes into a meeting.
While James declined to visit, the Oklahoma staff gave a full offer to Hughes for the class of 2013, who at the time was a gray shirt offer for the Horns.
While the Sooners weren't necessarily going to flip James and Hughes, the push to get the duo to visit Norman made it an even easier decision for the Texas coaches to offer Hughes a full-ride.
I’m told it was an offer the Longhorn staff would have made anyway given Hughes’ play as a senior.
Torrodney Prevot and who?
Texas fans were somewhat concerned that the Longhorns didn’t land Alief Taylor defensive end Torrodney Prevot early in the recruiting campaign.
But the truth is, the Texas staff did not fall in love with Prevot as a player. They liked him, even enough to offer, but they didn’t love him.
However, the Horns’ staff kept tabs on Prevot and a couple of his teammates at Taylor as seniors.
At the end of the season, the Horns started liking Obo Okoronkwo, the other defensive end at Taylor.
In fact, I’m told Texas graded Okoronkwo higher than Prevot, which is not how any recruiting service anywhere had the players ranked (it just shows you that coaches and recruiting analysts don’t necessarily agree).
Okoronkwo committed to Oklahoma. Texas thinks the Sooners got themselves a player.
Why didn’t Texas take a flyer on junior college quarterback Nick Marshall?
It wasn’t the high INT-to-TD ratio. I’m told the academics just weren’t there – his mid-term grades came in below expectations.
And while Marshall would have been recruited as a QB, the Texas staff liked the idea that he could easily move to receiver or safety.
Texas looked long and hard at New Boston running back Damien Haskins, who had an outstanding senior year.
Texas first made contact with Haskins, who signed with Oregon State, and his coach in mid-November.
At that point, Texas started looking for more outright speed at the running back position, because the staff knew they would be altering the offense in the spring.
Don’t get me wrong. Haskins is plenty fast. But he’s more of a prototypical hard-nosed East Texas running back as opposed to the type of guy who beats people in space and can get vertical in a hurry.
Texas really liked Haskins a lot. Don’t be surprised if he’s the next big thing at Oregon State for Mike Riley.
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