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.

Talk about it in our forum and, if there's a recruit out there you'd like to hear more from, let us know.

Read The Heard after the jump:

No QB in 2015?

Texas a serious contender for 4-star TE

Newsome making the rounds

Hall filling out

UT keeping up with four-star RB Jones

Houston lineman quietly blowing up

Siverand setting up visits

No QB in 2015?

So here's a theory that could gain steam and be potentially big news regarding Texas' 2015 class and a key position the Longhorns might not take a commitment from if things play out a certain way.

If USC quarterback transfer Max Wittek ends up in Austin like popular opinion believes then Texas could forego signing a quarterback in this class.

The Longhorns have six offers out to quarterbacks in this class to J.W. Ketchum (Fort Bend, Texas/Marshall), Kyler Murray (Allen, Texas/Allen), Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), Jarrett Stidham (Stephenville, Texas/Stephenville), Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) and Chason Virgil (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite).

Stidham is committed to Texas Tech, Town is committed to USC, Murray is all but a lock to Texas A&M (sources say UT and Murray are drifting apart) and Rosen figures to stay on the West Coast.

That leaves Ketchum and Virgil as the only options as far as quarterbacks with Texas offers go. And a source close to Virgil told me Thursday that he thought Virgil would end up at Arizona State or Nebraska. So that just leaves Ketchum for now with prospects like Ryan Agnew, Kevin Dillman and Quentin Dormady waiting in the wings.

But the Longhorns could decide to pass on them if Wittek transfers in because of the logjam it would create.

Wittek will have two years of eligibility remaining after he graduates this spring, which will allow him to play immediately instead of having to sit out a season.

David Ash has applied for a medical redshirt after missing most of the 2013-14 season with concussion-like symptoms. Should he receive the redshirt he'd have two years left.

Then there's Tyrone Swoopes, who still has three years of eligibility remaining, and incoming five-star freshman Jerrod Heard, who rushed and passed for over 2,000 yards last season while leading his high school, Denton Guyer, to its second straight state championship.

That's four quarterbacks with what could potentially be a combined 11 years of eligibility remaining. It makes sense not to take a QB in 2015 if Wittek transfers in. (Wilkerson)

Texas a serious contender for 4-star TE

As four-star tight end Will Gragg (Pine Bluff, Ark./Pine Bluff) spoke on the phone with LonghornDigest on Wednesday, he did so looking up at a Vince Young jersey hanging on his wall.

So when Charlie Strong made him one of his first offers upon accepting the Texas head coaching job, it wasn't just any other offer in a long list of them for the No. 7 TE in the country. This one held a little extra meaning.

"That was the biggest offer," Gragg said. "That is my childhood dream. It was a blessing."

Remember, this is a recruit with offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida State, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Auburn, Louisville, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt and Arkansas State. But the appeal of playing for the same school as Vince Young might be too hard to pass up.

"I grew up a Texas Longhorn fan," Gragg said. "Vince Young was my favorite player. He had a great supporting cast in Jamaal Charles and all those other guys. He just had that charisma and that swagger. You want to be a part of that.

"The whole Texas tradition is great. They are one of the most prestigious programs in America. It's just an honor."

Texas tight ends coach Bruce Chambers was the one who called Gragg to offer. He had actually called Gragg's principal, who went to Central Arkansas with Charlie Strong.

"So Chambers gave me a call and told me that they wanted me bad," he said.

That was the first time Gragg and Chambers had spoken but Gragg said their relationship has really blossomed since.

"He said once he gets the type of tight ends that he wants that they will take off down there," he said. "I believe him when he says that."

The two actually spoke on Tuesday.

"We are building a good relationship," he said. "Things are just taking its course."

Gragg told LonghornDigest that he'll be taking an official visit to Texas on Sept. 6 for its home game against BYU. He's also got official visits set up for Ole Miss (Oct. 4), Alabama (Oct. 18), LSU (Nov. 8) and Florida State (Sept. 20).

He told our Chad Simmons that he'd make his announcement on Nov. 18.

Gragg credits his versatility for why so many top notch schools want him.

"Just all the things I can do with beating the linebackers and go over the top of safeties," Gragg said. "I am also a good blocker. My high school runs the ball a lot so I get good practice blocking and taking out linebackers." (Wilkerson)

UT keeping up with four-star RB Jones

Longhorns fans from across the country breathed a collective sigh of relief on March 6 when Texas head coach Charlie Strong finally extended an offer to four-star running back Ronald Jones (McKinney, Texas/Morth), which LonghornDigest first reported.

Since then, Strong has let Jones know that he means business and wants the No. 10 RB in the country to be a part of the program.

The latest showing of Strong's efforts came on Monday when the two spoke over the phone.

"It was good," Jones said. "He let me know that I'm a priority in their recruiting class. He said he wants me to come down in the spring."

Jones said he would definitely be visiting and believes it will take place sometime in April.

Jones said he is getting a good vibe from Strong and appreciates the head coach's efforts over the past few weeks.

"He's strong, literally," Jones laughed. "He's a man you can tell will get the most out of his players."

As a junior in 2013, Jones ran for 2,406 yards and 39 touchdowns as he led McKinney North to the second round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs.

Those numbers have earned him offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, and USC among others.

Though the Longhorns jumped into the picture later than most would have figured, Jones isn't holding them to that. He understands that Strong needed to figure things out for himself.

"Yeah UT is up there among others," Jones said. "I don't know who my favorites are though. I'm going to make a list soon."

The Longhorns have also put running backs coach Tommie Robinson in touch with Jones.

"He said he was going to get me ready for the next level and help me reach my full potential," Jones said.

Full potential that many believe could mirror that of what former Longhorns running back Jamaal Charles has shown the NFL. Jones has often been compared to Charles because of their track speed and multi-dimensional game.

"Yeah I love the comparison," Jones said. "Not going to argue with it. I think our build and style is similar." (Wilkerson)

Newsome making the rounds

A lot was made this week about Aledo slot receiver Ryan Newsome heading up to Oklahoma. And when asked if Oklahoma was coming on strong, Newsome replied "Oh yes." It was the first trip to Norman for Newsome's parents, and the Sooners appear to be a legitimate option for the speedster.

But Newsome is also slated to travel around to see other schools on his list, including a trip to Baylor on March 22, Oregon on April 12 and UCLA on June 9. And while he doesn't have a specific visit set up for Texas, Newsome said he plans to get back out to Austin sometime this spring to catch a practice.

That's also big news, as Newsome already visited Texas for its Junior Days, and should be taken as a sign of Newsome's interest in the Longhorns. The Texas staff has made Newsome a top priority, telling him that they believe he's the No. 1 slot receiver in the country. And while it could be a heated battle for his services, don't expect the 'Horns to back down. (Flaherty)

Hall filling out

I've said all along that the sleeper prospect I liked most in Texas's 2014 class was South Grand Prairie's Jason Hall. At 6-foot-3 and with long arms, Hall had a great frame, excellent feet and smooth hips for a taller player, meaning that the Longhorns could play him at multiple spots in the secondary.

That's especially important in Vance Bedford and Charlie Strong's defense, where the safety — see Calvin Pryor a year ago — is asked to do a lot of different things.

Well, the slender Hall really hit the weights after committing to the Longhorns, and when he tested earlier this month, he put up some monster numbers. Hall now checks in at 210 pounds, and he had a 325-pound bench press, a 435-pound squat and a 315-pound power clean, all while clocking the fastest 40 of his career at 4.48 (hand time).

According to Hall's trainer, Clay Mack with Quick Twitch, Hall has approached the offseason like he doesn't want to sit at Texas, and with the Longhorns looking for at least one new safety, maybe two, he's doing the necessary things to stand out. (Flaherty)

Houston lineman quietly blowing up

One of the attendees that showed up to Texas' second junior day that didn't draw a lot of buzz, but probably should, is three-star offensive lineman Tyler Higby (Houston/Kinkaid).

Highby showed up with offers from LSU, TCU, Texas State, and Illinois. Since he's left he's picked up offers from Miami, Wake Forest and Oklahoma State.

Got your attention now?

Well he certainly has that of Texas' coaching staff.

"I talked to a couple of the coaches and they said they loved my film," said Higby, who stands 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds. "I talked to Coach [Tommie] Robinson last night and he said that Coach [Joe] Wickline wants to see me one more time before they offer me."

Higby anticipates that he'll be able to come down for one of Texas' spring practices and is hopeful that the staff will watch him at his own spring practice.

"I think they would be high on my list if they offered," he said. "Texas is on its own level of greatness. With the new coaching staff, I liked all of them. It would be awesome."

One of the main drawing points to Texas is Wickline, one of the most well-respected offensive line coaches in the country, who will also serve as UT's offensive coordinator.

"He seems like a really good coach," Higby said. "There were about six of us in the room and he really spoke to us. He sounded like a really good coach. He gets excited for games, which I like. He really gets fired up."

But what is it about himself that Higby thinks has these schools offering, and Texas at least interested?

"I think I have abnormally quick feet for a lineman," he said. "I've played several different sports my whole life, and I have naturally quick feet. I think it's unusual to see someone my size with that footwork.

"I may not be the fastest in the 40 or the shuttle but I can cover a lot of ground quickly when we do 1-on-1s and pass rushes."

Higby attributes his quick feet to growing up playing basketball and baseball. But recently it's been shot put and discus.

"They have really helped out a lot," he said. "It was the first time I've done those since sixth grade but they have really helped my footwork a lot." (Wilkerson)

Siverand setting up visits

One player that Texas wanted to get to its junior days was Cypress Ridge wide receiver Kemah Siverand. But that didn't happen, leaving Longhorn fans wondering whether Siverand would make it to Austin. The good news? It sounds like that visit will happen, likely this spring. The bad news? It looks like he'll also visit Texas A&M, where Siverand also has an offer.

Siverand told me that he's in the process of setting up visits to the "flagship programs in the state."

Siverand was highly interested in Texas under the previous staff, and there are those who feel like he would have committed to play on the 40 Acres had Texas retained its wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt. And while Siverand isn't on Texas commitment watch at this point, it's important to note that he still has a high level of interest in Texas and is letting the process play out. (Flaherty)


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