The Heard

Welcome to The Heard, HornsDigest'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:

2016 four-star ready for UT visit

Interest picking up

Rice commitment on UT's radar

UT checks in on 2016 QB

2016 four-star ready for UT visit

Five-star defensive back Kendall Sheffield won't be the only big name to visit Texas this weekend.

Four-star 2016 safety Brandon Jones (Nacogdoches, Texas) will also visit the Longhorns at some point when he travels to Austin to participate in the UIL State Track and Field Championships.

Texas offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Joe Wickline stopped by to see Jones (6-foot, 190 pounds) earlier this week to set up the particulars for the visit.

"This will be a great time for the Longhorns to make inroads on a player that, when I last saw him at the Texas Relays, was wearing a Texas A&M necklace."

This will be a great time for the Longhorns to make inroads on a player that, when I last saw him at the Texas Relays, was wearing a Texas A&M necklace.

Asked if the Aggies were still high on his list, Jones said, "they are still top five. I don't have one but I know that out of all the schools A&M is still one of my top ones."

Texas is up there, too, though and hope to inch closer to the top after this weekend. It shouldn't come as a surprise if he leaves Austin with an offer, which would make him only the second defensive back to hold a UT offer in 2016 (Jared Mayden).

Jones, who visited Texas during the Texas Relays, has offers from Arizona State, Baylor, Florida State, Houston, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, LSU, Michigan State, Mississippi, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Purdue, TCU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Washington State.

Schools have flocked to see he and 2015 defensive back Jaylon Lane over the past few weeks. Those programs include UT, Notre Dame, Nebraska, TCU, LSU, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Miami, Florida State, Texas A&M, Houston, Penn State and Baylor.

"It's crazy. It's like a dream come true just to come out every day and play the game I love," he said. "To see another coach every single day just gives me the opportunity to show them what I got and live up to all the hype they've heard about us [Jaylon Lane]."

In addition to Texas, Jones said Penn State and Auburn were coming after him really hard. He said he'd visit Florida State with his mom this summer, and then stop by Penn State and Notre Dame with Lane too.

As a sophomore in 2013, Jones racked up 95 tackles and five interceptions earning District Newcomer of the Year and Midlands Co-Sophomore of the Year honors.

Interest picking up

Three-star cornerback James Locke (Beaumont, Texas/Central) has his priorities straight.

He's one of the most sought-after defensive backs in the state, if not the country, with the likes of Texas, Indiana, Michigan State, Arkansas State, Utah, Arizona State, Washington State, Wake Forest, and Stanford already stopping by to see him this spring.

But he's taking his time with the process and isn't rushing to a decision.

"It's been something I've been waiting for since I was a little kid," he said. "Now it's all starting to pay off. I was always told once you get the attention work even harder, and that's what I'm doing. I'm blessed to have all these opportunities."

Locke, the No. 47 CB in the class, has one of the most extensive offers lists in the state at over 20 from the likes of Arizona State, Baylor, Georgia, Michigan State, Mississippi, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Stanford, TCU, UCLA, and Utah.

The Longhorns aren't on that list yet but are definitely interested. Defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn stopped by his school last week.

"He talked to Coach [Vance] Bedford and I'm just waiting on a response," Locke said. "We were doing one-on-ones with Coach Vaughn watching and he said he liked my hips and aggressiveness. I'm really just waiting on feedback from that performance."

What would a Texas offer do for the 5-foot-11, 180-pound DB?

"When I went up there for junior day, I could see it in the atmosphere. It was really enthusiastic."

"Right now, since I haven't narrowed down anything, it would just be another opportunity," he said. "When I went up there for junior day, I could see it in the atmosphere. It was really enthusiastic. I like the new coaching staff and what they have to offer."

Locke would like to begin to narrow things down to a more manageable number of programs "around the end of school to the start of June."

Whoever ends up getting him, he'll tell you, will be getting a player they can rely on both on and off the field.

"First, I bring academics. You never have to worry about me failing a class or slacking off," he said. "I also bring physicality to the table, speed, just a wise person. I am a hard working person. I will never let someone outwork me.

"I can cover like a corner and hit like a linebacker. I can play in the box, play zone, play the slot receiver. I can play safety if they need me to play a Cover 3 kind of guy. I just bring a lot of value with my skillset."

Rice commitment on UT's radar

The Longhorns have their sights set on a handful of tight ends for 2015 as they look to strengthen the talent pool at a position that figures to be a key part of their offense moving forward.

But five of those recruits they've offered reside out of Texas and the one in state prospect they've offered is committed to Texas A&M.

So the Longhorns are keeping their eyes on a few others just in case and one of those includes Rice commitment Hunter Herndon (Forney, Texas/North Forney).

Texas visited the 6-foot-4, 238-pound athlete last week and Herndon admits that the more serious talks get with UT, the harder it's going to be to hang on to that commitment.

"It would be tough to decline that offer."

"Coach [Bruce] Chambers was at our school last Monday for our first spring practice," he said. "We've talked about attending some camps this summer. He wants to keep hearing from me and wants to stay in touch. I've been a life-long fan of Texas. It would be tough to decline that offer. I'd have to talk with my parents and see what's best for me."

Herndon's name has began to pick up some momentum over the past couple of months when he picked up offers from North Texas and Rice, to which he committed on March 17.

"It's a blessing and really cool that all of these schools are taking their time and money to come visit me," he said. "It's definitely a lot more than I expected. It seemed like it happened overnight. I got a couple of offers and next thing you know I'm on all of these school's recruiting board that I wouldn't have even dreamed of talking to me."

Herndon credits those two offers for getting things rolling in his favor.

"It was a way for people to really start paying attention to me," he said. "It is a great marketing tool because they think ‘well if you are good enough to play here then [why not offer]."

Herndon said he's still firm on his commitment to Rice in large part because of what the Owls have to offer academically. He also thinks he'll be able to play early at a position yet to be determined.

"They tell me they are looking at me as a defensive end, tight end and quarterback," he said. "If it were up to me it would definitely be tight end because of all the tight ends they've had success with over the past few years."

Herndon accounted for more than 1,100 total yards of offense and 11 total touchdowns as a junior in 2013, his first year starting at quarterback for North Forney after playing H-back as a sophomore.

UT checks in on 2016 QB

Positivity reigns with 2016 quarterback Bladrick Veal (Baton Rouge, La./University Lab).

It did throughout last season, which included an 0-6 start, and has continued throughout the recruiting process, which is really starting to heat up for player with a ceiling even out of reach for his 6-foot-5 frame.

Veal (6-foot-5, 205), who is also a standout basketball player, has offers from Hawaii, Howard, Louisiana Tech, Nebraska, and Ole Miss.

The Longhorns are a ways off from offering a 2016 quarterback but they let Veal know he was on their radar by stopping to see him on Monday.

"They just came to the school today and talked to a few other players that go to my school," he said.

Veal's interest in Texas is high, especially with Charlie Strong now manning the ship.

"With the history they have, and the type of coach they say he is and I know he is, I think they are building a new program," he said. "I like what they are doing over there at Texas."

Veal said it's no secret that teams are intrigued with him because of his size, but that there are plenty of other facets to his makeup that make him a worthy offer applicant.

"Plus I think fast and do a lot with the ball," he said. "They name me as a dual-threat quarterback because when the game is on the line I want the ball in my hands and will make a play happen. That's the type of quarterback I think coaches and schools want. They want a leader on the campus and in the class, just a prideful person and a hard worker too."

Veal, who patterns his game after Cam Newton, loves the way Jameis Winston plays at Florida State and is hoping the Seminoles will come by to see the similarities in their games. He'd also like to hear from Oregon because of the style of offense the Ducks run.

As for those that have already been by to see him this spring, they include Ole Miss, LSU, Louisiana Tech, Iowa, Houston, Nebraska, Arizona State.

"It's been a really busy spring. I'm blessed," he said. "If it wasn't for my positive attitude and staying on the right path, I wouldn't be where I'm at now."

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