Thursday, in a moment that can only be considered watershed for a Texas program that has offered juniors only on Junior Days in the February after their junior seasons, the Longhorn coaches extended a whopping 18 offers to juniors, including 16 in-state players.
"We are constantly reevaluating everything we do after 14 years on a daily basis," said Texas coach Mack Brown. "Somewhere said that there was a big change in our recruiting of younger recruits before the 2014 class the other day … you can't be afraid of change."
Brown talked to the media about making a change prior to the offer bonanza. At the time, he noted that offers were going out earlier and earlier from schools, and added that Texas needed to look at reevaluating its offer policy. Texas started putting out its first in-state offers on Junior Days in 2006, shortly after winning the BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl. And that process held true all the way through February 2012, when the Longhorn staff offered the class of 2013 juniors.
But a strong 2014 class that features a number of players getting early offers from around the country expedited that.
"2014 seems to be a great class," Brown said. "A number of those young men wanted to go ahead and commit, and all of the guys were worried that we had not offered them. And then you get into the approval, the offer, how long do you wait and it's six-month's difference, and we felt like we had a great hold on the evaluation process and we had about a two-week discussion."
That discussion led to the Longhorns taking their next leap forward. Texas is generally credited (or in some cases, chided) with speeding up the offer process thanks to the aforementioned Junior Days, with the Longhorns not only extending offers earlier than many schools put them out, but also filling up the majority of their recruiting classes, with top-recruited players, before the summer.
Now, the Longhorns won't be on the front-line of offering players — for instance, Brenham's Darrion Johnson has had an Oklahoma offer since shortly after his sophomore season — but they won't be too far behind, either. And if those offers become a regular habit, if Thursday and Friday — the Longhorns landed commitments from Abilene Cooper WR Lorenzo Joe, San Antonio Brennan DE Derick Roberson and Houston Eisenhower RB Donald Catalon — were any indication, Texas could again jump to the forefront of landing a bevy of earlier commitments than everybody else.
"Very honestly that was a pretty big change for us, and we felt like it was best for the time and moved forward and did it and feel good about where we are and moving forward with it," Brown said. "There are still requirements that have to be in place for young guys like that going into their junior year."
Those checks include a number of outs for the Longhorns if the players don't take care of business.
"If their academics drastically change to a negative, you wouldn't take them," Brown said. "If they got in trouble, you wouldn't take them. And obviously if they are not competing for their [high school] if they call and say the guy is not trying anymore and you shouldn't take him, and we have a right and we have explained that to the young men that we have offered at that time."