The Heard

Welcome to The Heard, LonghornDigest's weekly in-depth look inside the never-ending world of Longhorns recruiting with news, notes and interesting tidbits on the latest happenings around the program. We'll release this every Friday.

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Read The Heard after the jump:

Lockhart looking at visits

North Carolina DE will visit Texas

English firms up commitment

UT high on 2015 QB's list

McKinney's focus shifts from one sport to another

Lockhart looking at visits

Ennis defensive end James Lockhart is the consensus top defensive end in the state of Texas — ranked as the No. 11 end in the country, per His play has drawn 18 offers so far, including several from SEC country, and Lockhart had plans to make it to Auburn two weeks ago.

Unfortunately for Lockhart, the airport lost his mother's luggage on the flight to Atlanta, so he and his mother wound up sticking in Atlanta and not making the drive to Auburn.

Lockhart said he'd like to try and get back out there, but he also added that it's difficult to make so many trips unofficially.

"I get invited to so many Junior Days, visits and games, and its' hard for me to make it to these schools from where I'm at," Lockhart said. "Some of these schools are eight, 10, 24 hours away, and plane tickets aren't cheap to go by."

Lockhart said that could limit the number of trips he makes, while also potentially pushing his recruiting process later so that he can take advantage of official visits, when he's able to travel on the school's dime. That's not to say that he won't make any other trips — he's planning to try and make Arkansas here soon, and would like to make the Florida schools, Alabama, Oregon and others — but he admitted that some of those trips probably wouldn't happen.

What could happen, Lockhart said, is that he would use all five official visits to see out-of-state schools, while using unofficial visits to see the local schools.

"That's not a problem," Lockhart said. "Waco is 60 miles down the road. Austin's about three hours, so that's not too bad."

Lockhart, who met Charlie Strong on Strong's whirlwind tour of the state back in January, said he wants to visit Texas soon to start developing a relationship with the new staff.

"Before Coach Mack Brown left, I had a pretty good relationship with him and with the defensive ends coach (Oscar Giles)," Lockhart said. "Since Coach Strong has brought his staff over, I haven't met my defensive ends coach yet."

Lockhart said he wanted to visit Texas on his own time, rather than on a Junior Day, so he could get more one-on-one time and work on building those relationships.

"I may just come whenever is good for me and try and set something up," Lockhart said. "That way I can get to know the whole staff and spend more time, instead of 30 or 50 guys all trying to do that. That's something I'll end up doing."

Lockhart said he's looking to go to a school where he can get a "proper education," and a school that is "well-known," basically a traditional football powerhouse. He also wants a chance to play early on in his career.

"I know that chances to start as a freshman are slim," Lockhart said. "But I want to be in the rotation as a freshman, and go somewhere where I can maybe start as a sophomore."

Lockhart said he doesn't have a favorite, but that he would like to have a top five by the end of the spring. (Flaherty)

North Carolina DE will visit Texas

Getting players like four-star defensive tackle Sterling Johnson (Clayton, NC/Cleveland) on board would go a long way toward helping Charlie Strong put the "T" back in Texas.

Trouble is, seemingly every other program in the country wants Johnson to help with their team's toughness too.

The good news for Texas is it has already built a rapport with the No. 19 DT in the country. Defensive line coach Chris Rumph opened the lines of communication roughly three weeks ago.

"He told me that they need a guy like me to get back to the way they were when they won the championship with Vince Young," Johnson said. "He said that he liked the type of player I was and that it should show because Texas doesn't recruit out-of-state a lot."

Johnson was offered shortly after that conversation on Feb. 12. The Longhorns put Strong in touch with him on March 25.

"I spoke with Coach Strong on and that was the first time I spoke with him," he said. "I've been talking to Coach Rumph the whole time. I started talking to him about two weeks ago. I've known him for about three weeks."

Johnson already holds offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Miami, Ole Miss, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Penn State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and West Virginia.

But he wasn't shy in saying there was something different about that Longhorns offer.

"It kind of solidifies where my ranking should be," he said. "Texas just doesn't offer anyone. They offer tremendous playmakers. That being said, I really feel like this offer solidifies me as a player. It's a blessing because not a lot of people are offered from a program like Texas."

Johnson is so intrigued by what Texas has to offer that he'll visit at some point this spring.

What is it that has so many top-level programs seeking his services?

"They say that I run pretty well and come off the ball fast," he said. "I can flip my hips and turn to the ball. Just my overall playmaking ability I guess."

Johnson visited Alabama over the weekend. He has also visited Clemson, NC State, Florida State, North Carolina and East Carolina.

He grew up a Tar Heels fan and said they will definitely factor into his decision.

"I wouldn't say UNC is receiving special attention but I can see myself committing there," he said. (Wilkerson)

English firms up commitment

One of the more underrated commitments in the Texas class, at least by perception, is DeSoto defensive tackle Bryce English. At a squat 5-foot-11 and 315 pounds, English was a handful for Dallas-area offensive linemen a year ago, showing an improved ability to deal with double teams, a quicker-than-expected burst and a just-as-expected ability to make himself squat and hard to move.

One of the more impressive things that he did on tape was to drop back in coverage at times on different fire zone calls, and he said after Texas's Junior Day that the staff talked about doing some of the same things in Austin.

"Basically move around (the line) and drop in coverage," English said. "That's what I'm used to at DeSoto, so same here, same there. I like moving up and down the line."

DeSoto deploys English at defensive end at times to take advantage of his quickness and strength on the edges. But while he moves up and down the line, don't expect his recruitment to be so shifty. English acknowledged that Texas showed what it had to to firm up his commitment, previously given to the Mack Brown staff.

"I had a good connection with the coaches," English said. "It was a family atmosphere, basically.

"They all had the same mindset, education first, football second," English said. "That's what I really came to school for."

Of course, he also mentioned that "Texas is Texas, different coaching staff or not." That should help the Longhorns fend off his interest from other schools, which English admitted was "a lot."

English appeared to have grown a bit taller when I stood next to him. I'm just under 6-1 in bare feet, and English was closer to eye level than he had been in the past. He might not be 6-foot, but he's also not that far off. I asked him afterward if he had grown any taller.

"Ah, I think so," English said, laughing. (Flaherty)

UT high on 2015 QB's list

Texas' previous coaching staff wasted little time targeting its top 2015 quarterback prospects and handed out six offers before Charlie Strong's staff took over.

Those offers still stand for now, and we don't see that changing. But that begs the question as to where recruits like Ryan Agnew (Southlake, Texas/Carroll) fit in the equation.

Agnew (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) had a stellar junior season completing 236-of-316 passes (74.68 percent) for 3,148 yards, 31 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He was also the team's leader in rushing attempts (175) and yards (1,252), and one shy of the team lead with 20 rushing touchdowns.

He doesn't have any offers to date but got a good feeling there could be one in the works if he can build off of what he learned at Texas' junior day on Feb. 22.

"I was definitely blown away by what Texas has to offer," he said. "Being the program that they are and meeting the coaches was very valuable to me. Talking to each of them for 15 minutes, I have a lot of respect for each of them."

Agnew spent most of his time with new quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson, who told him Texas' offense was going to look just like the one he runs at Carroll.

"He said he wants to play fast and play to our abilities, and not to the defense," Agnew said. "He wants the defense to react to us."

The Carroll coaching staff has a history with Watson, which calmed Agnew's nerves.

"My coach has known him for a long time," he said. "He loves a lot of things about me. He loves my feet, my eyes, and my playmaking ability. He just said some good things about me and I really value that."

Even though it was Agnew's first time visiting Texas as a recruit he could tell that things were changing for the better under Strong.

"Things are definitely changing down there as the media can see," he said. "I think it is changing for the better. Texas, as a whole, is going to become one of the elite programs again. I mean, who wouldn't want to play for them?"

The Longhorns are one of four programs that Agnew has yearned to play for, for a very long time. The others are Notre Dame, Tennessee (several family members graduated from there) and Vanderbilt.

Agnew said he didn't sale himself to the program but thinks the staff came away with a good impression of who he was as a player and person, and would like to see him in action this spring.

"I will also go down there for another visit and get a chance to look at the academic side of things," he said. (Wilkerson)

McKinney's focus shifts from one sport to another

Excuse three-star safety Prentice McKinney (Dallas/South Oak Cliff) if football hasn't been on the forefront of his mind right now. No, basketball has been and with good reason.

South Oak Cliff made it all the way to the Class 4A Region II regional semifinals (a lot of words for "one game away from state championship tournament") where it lost to Lancaster.

That said, McKinney took time out of his basketball schedule to attend Texas' first junior day and came away impressed with what the new coaching staff has to offer.

"They have a lot of pride," he said. "This coaching staff really wants it. They will compete against anybody, anywhere no matter what it is."

McKinney made the trip with teammates Jordan Stevenson, a Texas running back commitment, and three-star safety Jamile Johnson.

"We met Coach [Charlie] Strong, Coach [Chris] Vaughn, and Coach [Vance] Bedford," he said. "I already knew Coach [Bruce] Chambers. They were just talking to me and Jamile telling us that we were good athletes, with good size, and good GPAs. They showed us around the campus. It was really nice."

Texas did not extend an offer to McKinney like he'd hoped but he's still got the Longhorns in his top five along with Notre Dame, Michigan, Oklahoma and Boise State.

The Longhorns have already garnered a commitment from safety Johnny Shaw (Center, Texas/Center) and offered Texas A&M pledge Justin Dunning (Whitehouse, Texas/Whitehouse), Alabama commitment Deionte Thompson (Orange, Texas/West Orange-Stark), and Larry Pryor (Sulphur Springs, Texas/Sulphur Springs).

McKinney (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) reports offers from Arkansas, Arkansas State, Colorado State, Maryland, Nebraska, Notre Dame and SMU. (Wilkerson)

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