First year Texas coach Charlie Strong and his staff have been busy on the recruiting trail, with the Longhorns already extending a whopping 60-plus offers to the 2015 class. And since Strong won the head job, most of those offers have gone out to out-of-staters. It's been an eye opener for many … for instance, on the offensive line Strong has given out seven offers, with five of those going to out-of-state players.
That of course, leads to questions about whether Strong is ignoring Texas's outstanding proximity to fertile recruiting grounds early in the process.
I don't think so, and here's three reasons you shouldn't sweat Strong going out-of-state so much early.
1) Texas has already offered the top guys in-state
Why in the world is Charlie Strong offering three guys from Florida rather than three guys in his own state? Because, for the most part, the in-state offers that have needed to go out have already gone out. The previous staff did a great job of getting on top of the 2015 in-state player crop, and getting offers out to so many of the state's top prospects. Remember the offensive line scenario listed above? Well, the previous staff had put out six offers to offensive linemen, five to in-state players (one offer was somewhat pulled by the new staff). So all-told, Texas has six in-state offers and six out-of-state offers on the table right now. So it's not nearly as unbalanced as it appears.
Now, there are a few in-state players out there who merit offers, and Strong should get to those guys in upcoming weeks. Running back Ronald Jones II might have gotten an offer if he attended Junior Day 1, to which he was invited. Ryan Newsome *is* coming to JD1, and he's expected to pickup an offer. John Humphrey could be another in-state offer at wide receiver. Just know that Strong isn't ignoring the in-staters, it's just that so many have already received offers.
2) At some positions, out-of-staters are needed … badly
By my count, Texas has offered 10 defensive ends in the Class of 2015. How many come from the state? Just one: Ennis end James Lockhart. That's not because Strong is ignoring a strong in-state crop as the position. While there are certainly some guys who could emerge later in the process — defensive end is one of the latest blooming groups — right now, there just aren't a ton of defensive ends in the state who are "Texas good," or at least not "Texas first-choice good." It's the same thing at tight end, where Texas missed early on Jordan Davis, the tight end from Clear Lake. With the exception of jumbo athletes like Louis Brown of Burton and DeAndre McNeal at Mesquite Poteet, there just aren't many tight end prospects in the state. So it's not shocking to see Texas go out early to look for tight ends in other states. The bottom line here is that every year, there are going to be some positions that are thin enough to merit
3) Your "cast rate" is different for out-of-staters
Occasionally, the clouds part, the stars align and you nab an out-of-state target who has previous ties to your school or area for one reason or another (like Jordan Hicks). But other than that, the offer-to-commitment rate for out-of-staters falls way, way behind what Texas can do in-state. While so many want to point out that Texas isn't the major recruiting power in the state anymore, the truth is that Texas can offer pretty much any in-stater and wind up on his final five list. Just about anybody.
It's not like that out-of-state, where the players typically have more high-level options (if Texas is recruiting you, and you're an out-of-stater, you're usually a national recruit), but also where they didn't grow up thinking of Texas as THE PLACE TO BE. Extend an offer to an in-state kid who has offers from Alabama and LSU, and that Texas offer really, really means something. Extend it to a Florida kid with Alabama and Florida State offers, and Texas is just another major offer in the player's pocket. That's not to say Texas can't get said kid. It's just that the Longhorns are going to have to work harder and, in all likelihood, offer several more out-of-state players to find the right fit with legitimate interest in Texas.