UT QB RECRUITING DRAMA: ALL OR NOTHING?

Four-star QB Zach Gentry, committed to Texas since last May, huddled in his hometown of Albuquerque, N.M., Monday with Jim Harbaugh and now has committed to the Wolverines after taking a visit to Ann Arbor this weekend.

Three-star QB Kai Locksley, currently committed to Florida State, meanwhile, spent the weekend in Austin and tweeted this on his way back to Maryland: "...really enjoyed my time in ATX. Time to get home and think things through."

And then there are the visits that rocked the college football recruiting landscape on Wednesday, when 5-star QB Kyler Murray and 5-star WR DaMarkus Lodge popped into Austin to meet with Charlie Strong.

Those visits might have gone totally undetected except that the two tweeted photos of white Texas jerseys featuring their numbers, so everyone would know to freak out.

On the surface, the Longhorns appear to be scrambling in a zero-sum recruiting battle involving the position that will most impact Charlie Strong's fate at Texas - less than two weeks from National Signing Day.

Either Texas' quarterback recruiting is coming together in a way most would consider unimaginable. Or Texas' quarterback recruiting is coming apart in a way that most UT faithful might consider unlivable. (More on that in a minute.) 

On Wednesday, it was just a visit to Austin by Kyler Murray and DaMarkus Lodge.

A visit.

But it felt so much bigger, because it put two fan bases that happen to hate each other on tilt. And there's a good chance no one had to know about it. A mid-week visit, when no one was looking.  It could have been kept under the radar. Probably never to be confirmed.

Especially when you consider the two visitors:

#1 … The son of A&M legend QB Kevin Murray, Kyler is the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat QB who has been committed to the Aggies since last May 28.

#2 … And Lodge, who hadn’t given Texas a second thought since his Cedar Hill coach was quoted by ESPN.com last summer saying Charlie Strong had an in-state recruiting problem (right after Lodge committed to A&M. He’s since de-committed).

But both players wanted you to know they were in Austin on Wednesday.

Murray tweeted at 3:17 pm the photo of an icy white Texas jersey with his No. 1 on it. Three minutes later, Lodge tweeted an icy white UT jersey with his No. 18 on it.

And the Big Surprise of HD's Jason Higdon was on.

Wednesday, Jan. 21, in the college football recruiting world, will ultimately go down among the fan bases of both schools as either:

1) The ultimate troll/leverage job if Murray sticks with his A&M commitment – a hero to Aggies everywhere for raising the hopes of the QB-needy Longhorns (especially with Jim Harbaugh trying to get cozy with Zach Gentry) … only to crush those burnt-orange hopes.

2) Or it will go down as a seismic step in Charlie Strong solving his QB problem with a 5-foot-10, laser-armed, A&M legacy with 4.5 speed in the 40 who never lost a high school game as a starter at Allen (43-0), including three straight state championships.

A QB likely to bring friends (Lodge? 5-star DT Daylon Mack? Scout No. 1 RB Sotonye Jamabo? ...).

And did I mention Kyler's an A&M legacy?

Kevin Murray left A&M after the 1986 season as the winningest QB in school history (25-6-1) and the Southwest Conference’s all-time TD leader.

In 2012, he was inducted in the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame, in large part, for breaking Joe Montana’s Cotton Bowl passing record with 292 yards through the air in a 36-16 win over Auburn and Bo Jackson, capping the 1985 season.

A 1985 season at A&M that included a graduate assistant coach for the Aggies named Charlie Strong.

But even with the prior connection to Strong, there's no way Kevin Murray could really watch his son in burnt orange … at Texas? Right? Sacrilege, right?

Or could it be that Kevin Murray sees in Texas, a place that deified Vince Young, as a place that would appreciate his son in a way that A&M has never fully appreciated Kevin?

Kevin was never offered a job at his alma mater the way Texas reached out to Young.

Many suspect it was because Murray was part of the Jackie Sherrill era and not the R.C. Slocum era. Who cares? Murray was easily A&M’s biggest baller at QB before Johnny Manziel showed up.

If you're looking for any sign that Kevin Murray might not be as devoted to A&M as everyone thinks,  there was that tweet he quickly deleted right after 5-star OLB Malik Jefferson and 4-star WR/LB DeAndre McNeal both committed to Texas in December.


RT @air14football: “Easy to win at the HS level w/o a Defense----that's where it ends!!


Just as everyone was picking up their jaws off the floor from what seemed like a direct shot at Kevin Sumlin for porous defense, the tweet disappeared.

Since then, former LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, an Aggie-killer, was hired by Sumlin to run A&M’s defense. And all seemed right in Kyler’s world as it pertained to College Station, including his official visit to Aggieland with Lodge and Daylon Mack last weekend.

But then Wednesday happened. And 24 hours after they were posted, the tweets by Murray and Lodge were still standing.

And we’ve gotten word Kyler Murray, a second baseman likely to be selected high in this year’s MLB draft, has spent some time talking with Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido.
(Kyler's uncle/Kevin's younger brother, Calvin, played center field for the Longhorns in the early 1990s before going on to an MLB career.)

Texas QBs Bobby Layne and James Street became dual-sport legends in baseball for the Longhorns. And it sounds like Charlie Strong is willing to let Murray pursue that dual-sport status at UT.

At A&M, Murray would have to displace QB Kyle Allen, a five-star QB coming out of high school in Scottsdale, Arizona, who played a role in A&M landing 5-star WR Christian Kirk of Scottsdale, Arizona, a youth football teammate.

At Texas, Murray could very well be the walk-in starter at QB simply because - as a 10,000-yard passer at Allen HS - his ceiling is so high as a passer (which is the biggest question mark about Texas redshirt freshman QB Jerrod Heard, who helped Denton-Guyer win two Texas State 4A titles).

Kyler is not an early enrollee, but he’d undoubtedly be working on the Texas offense all off-season with father, Kevin, a QB coach who counts Longhorns' QB commit Matthew Merrick among his pupils.

And Kyler would have a chance to play college football with friends Malik Jefferson and DT Daylon Mack at the same school – just as they pledged to do as sophomores in high school.

Before Jefferson committed and enrolled at Texas, everyone thought that school would be Texas A&M.

Could the unthinkable happen … and that school be Texas?

For one ground-shaking day in the college football recruiting world, Kyler Murray and DaMarkus Lodge seemed to want everyone to think that was, at least, possible.

With less than two weeks to National Signing Day, Gentry's suddenly spending quality time with Harbaugh. Locksley, committed to FSU since last July, is taking an official visit to Texas. And Murray and Lodge have rival fan bases on the ledge.

Texas' QB recruiting picture right now appears to be feast or famine.

And after a 6-7 season in which Texas' offense produced just 59 yards in a 31-7 loss to Arkansas in the Texas Bowl, Strong can't afford famine.

The 2015 season for Strong needs to be about landing and developing his quarterback of the future, so that 2016 is about getting back into title chases.

A swing and a miss at the QB position in the 2015 class, and Strong could be coaching for his job in 2016.

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With less than two weeks to go until signing day, check out the daily "Recruiting News Updates" thread - only at HornsDigest.com.

No one is more plugged into Texas recruiting than HD's Jason Higdon, who has covered Charlie Strong for the Scout network since Strong was the defensive coordinator at Florida.

Scout's network of analysts in and around Texas are also focused in on the Longhorns' recruiting efforts to give you the latest.

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