Great players want to play with other great players, and A&M has the momentum right now, there's no doubt about it. They landed some big-time recruits in the 2014 class on both sides of the ball and have some highly rated talent currently committed for 2015.
Texas appears to be catching up when it comes to developing relationships with the class of 2016. But Charlie Strong is probably going to have to look out of state or maybe even the JUCO route to make sure the Longhorns land some difference makers at corner in the 2015 class after getting shut out by the top corners in-state in 2014.
Whatever it takes to fill the gap until Strong and Co. can show what Texas is going to look like on the field this fall.
The issue? That's a great question and it likely stems from the 5-7 season a few years back. Plenty of lost momentum. That is the belief as to why it could be tough to land high in DBs, even though there is documented proof as to the success the Texas program for close to a decade with assistant coach Duane Akina in Austin sending guys to the NFL.
So perhaps an overall decline, which killed momentum and forms a perception (fair or not), which can turn players off. Also, look at the fact that other programs can claim that nickname (DBU) as well in LSU and Alabama, both of which have snatched a solid DB or two from Texas in the past few years.
As for where to look going forward, that will be tough seeing that high-end secondary guys are rare. But, every year a kid or two develops late and ends up being a great player.
A few who come to mind whom I like are Jameel Cook (Ridge Point), Darrell Stewart (Aldine Nimitz) or Darious Mouton (North Shore). Then of course, staying in constant contact with Lamar's Holton Hill and maybe even revisiting a player who committed elsewhere in Ridge Point's Jordan Tolbert.
I don't know if there's necessarily a clear-cut "issue," so to speak, except for not winning as much as some of the other schools that are competing with Texas for the same players. As the old cliche says, winning cures all ills.
Now, if the top targets such as Sheffield, Boyd, Elam, and Holton Hill remain uncommitted deep into the fall, and Texas has a strong season, that may start to turn the tide for a couple of those guys.But if the majority make solid commitments before then, you're looking at the wins moreso impacting the 2016 class.
If they can't get the aforementioned targets, there are other quality in-state defensive backs. Like the running back position, this is a good year for corners. Four-star prospects Jaylon Lane (Oklahoma State) and P.J. Mbanasor (Oklahoma) have already committed, but James Locke, Josh Butler, and Darrell Miller are all rated in Scout.com's Texas Hot 100. Locke and Butler have combined for about 60 offers and Miller is in double digits. None of these guys has a Texas offer. Locke named his top 10 on Monday evening, but who's to say what a Texas offer would do for somebody like him.
I think most of the top players are taking a wait and see approach with Texas. Many of the top players have a great deal of interest in the Longhorns. Kendall Sheffield, Roney Elam, Holton Hill and Kris Boyd all have Texas as one of their top schools heading into July. The important thing to remember for Texas fans is National Signing Day is not June 17th but the first Wednesday in February. We are talking about eight months away, and a lot can happen over that time span. Most of these players appear to have Texas and Texas A&M as the top schools on their list that is going to be very interesting.
Texas has two defensive backs at this time with Keivon Ramsey and DeShon Elliott, and both are safety type players. A&M, on the other hand, has commitments from four defensive backs with Justin Evans, Deshawn Capers-Smith, Larry Pryor and Justin Dunning. All four of these players are in the 6-foot-1 to 6-foot-3 range and 185 to 200-pounds. Any or all of them could play the corner position. Texas A&M is clearly not going to take eight defensive backs in one class and once one of these top corners announces it will impact the rest. Texas is not out of the race for any of those highly ranked players.
Recruiting decisions for the most part come down to relationships, relationships that the Texas staff are behind the eight ball a bit based on their time of arrival in Austin. These players need time to get to know the staff and learn their coaching style. The top players want to see what kind of product Texas puts on the field this season. A little bit of the unknown is what is working against the Texas staff at this time.
What does Texas do if the unthinkable happens and they miss out on Sheffield, Elam, Hill and Boyd? I think you will see numerous names mentioned such as Josh Butler form West Mesquite, John Humphrey from Clear Falls, Darrell Miller from Cedar Hill and maybe a player like Jordan Tolbert from Ridge Point or even James Locke from Central Senior.
These things have a way of working themselves out, and I think Texas will be just fine at the end of the day. Recruiting is not a sprint but a marathon, and usually steady and slow wins the race.>
I think the reason we are seeing less DBs choosing to attend DBU is because of the lackluster performance that Texas has had on the field over the past few seasons.
The issues in Austin, combined with the recent success of programs like Texas A&M and Baylor, has these top in-state prospects looking elsewhere. How does the new staff fix this problem? Well, for starters...win. A winning season is one of the BEST recruiting tools. You can talk the talk, but if you aren't getting results on the field, then recruits will be looking elsewhere.
Getting in early with the 2016 class is also key. If Texas isn't able to land any of the top defensive backs for the 2015 class, then it will be up to Strong's staff to continue what they have done in the past at other programs: find talent, and develop it. There are guys like Holton Hill, Darrell Miller, etc., that will still end up at big D1 programs. Also keep in mind that even though a lot of guys have committed early, a big season could surprise - and sway- a lot of recruits.
It was a real kick to Texas' ego last recruiting cycle when it didn't land any of the truly elite DBs in this state in guys like Tony Brown (Alabama), Jamal Adams (LSU), or Arrion Springs (Oregon). You figured the Longhorns of old would have landed at least one of those players.
Unless things change, that could be the case in 2015 as well.
In order for this to change the Longhorns have got to put a product on the field that these recruits want to be a part of. In short, they must win. No longer is Texas just having to worry about competing against other Texas programs for these schools, or even scattered SEC schools. The entire country is setting up shop in UT trying to provide this state's top talent with other options.
Texas is going to be in good shape with Chris Vaughn because of his energy on the field and his ability to relate so easily with recruits. He's probably been the most impressive recruiter so far for UT. He's doing one heck of a job keeping Texas in the hunt with several prospects from Louisiana, which is one of his primary areas.
If I'm Texas I'm offered James Locke and Darrell Miller soon and keeping a close eye on Ashton Preston and even the JUCO ranks.