TIME FOR UT FANS TO PANIC ABOUT RECRUITING?

Is it time for Texas fans to start panicking about the Longhorns' 2016 recruiting?

There seems to be more and more concern in Texas circles about if the Longhorns are lost in recruiting because they don't have as many 2016 commitments (5) as TCU (13), Texas A&M (11) or Baylor (9).

There's growing hysteria because those schools all have commitments from higher-rated offensive linemen than UT.

Where are UT's defensive line commits? Why haven't more kids visited or been offered? Does Charlie Strong have a plan? Or is he playing the dizzy bat game in recruiting this year?

Panic time? 

Oh heck no.

What did we see last year?

Texas moving very carefully in evaluations, often moving more slowly than the competition and then making a furious push with guys they had always maintained contact with after a good chunk of senior football seasons had been played and a final evaluation had been made.

This year, Vance Bedford announced on Twitter, as the contact period started in the spring, not to expect a bunch of offers to go out right away.

Remember this ESPN story from exactly one year ago? About Charlie Strong having an in-state recruiting problem? 

http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/colleges/post/_/id/4689699/texas-has-a-state-recruiting-problem

After the story went viral, everyone in Longhorn Nation was panicking!! 

Everyone except Charlie Strong and his staff.

But how did last year's recruiting class finish up? More on that in a second.

HD's Jason Higdon always preaches patience. He's watched Strong recruit at Florida, Louisville and now Texas.

And I totally get that there is no patience in the Texas fan base right now. Not after 5 years of substandard football and 7 years of bad Marches in basketball as well as endless ticket increases under Steve Patterson.

But the track record is there for Strong, who doesn't rush. He finds "his" guys.

Right now, "his" guys are stud QB Shane Buechele ... future star 6-5 WR Collin Johnson ... blazing WR Reggie Hemphill ... hard-nosed LB Demarco Boyd  ... and aggressive, fleet-footed OL Tope Imade. The glass half empty sees only 5 commitments while others have twice that many. The patient observer of Strong's past sees 5 junkyard dogs who are about team.

That's the track record. Will it all come together for the 2016 class? We have to wait and see - emphasis on "wait."

 

But NFL scouts believe in Strong. They love his players. They just drafted 15 of them (10 from UL and 5 from UT). 

Did people go nuts over 3-star LB Preston Brown when he signed at Louisville in 2010? No. The Cards had the 45th ranked class in the country. Brown was a third-round NFL draft pick last year and led the Bills in tackles as a rookie.

Strong's 21-member, 2011 recruiting class was ranked No. 33 nationally. How would that sit with the Texas fan base?

PANIC!!!!!! EJECT!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!

Right?

We now know 10 recruits from that 21-member 2011 Louisville class have been drafted into the NFL. (There were three 4-stars in that entire class - QB Teddy Bridgewater, WR DeVante Parker and S Gerrod Holliman.)

Anyone still panicking over the 2011 Louisville recruiting class? 

Is that enough to give Strong the benefit of the doubt?

Even me, a jaded, cynical media member is going to give Strong the benefit of the doubt until he gives me a reason to think he can't find junkyard dogs and develop them into NFL players.

Strong's recruiting pattern of being careful and selective - knowing some players make "reservations" when they make a commitment - has played out time and again at Louisville and last year at Texas.

Higs says all the time that following recruiting is not for the faint of heart. It requires patience. Strong expects kids to commit elsewhere at times. And he may not think as highly of some 5-star as you do. There are times Strong wants to watch the 5-star who has made a commitment to another school during his senior season and see if he gets complacent, cocky or loses focus.

Strong isn't illegally contacting sophomores the way a lot big-time schools are. So some schools get off to a better start than Texas. But Strong believes in his recruiting methods and in his ability to size up a junkyard dog.

Let's go back to this time a year ago. Last June, Texas couldn't get Anthony Wheeler to come to a June camp. Then, Wheeler was leaning OU. Now, he's out of his mind excited about being a Longhorn as part of maybe the best haul of linebackers in the 2015 recruiting class.

Wheeler came around.

Nine others in UT's 2015 recruiting class flipped from a previous commitment - when players canceled their "reservations" elsewhere and signed with Texas.

The Longhorns are still talking to 5-star DT Kendell Jones and to 5-star OT Greg Little. Those players may not end up at Texas. Who knows? But Texas fans didn't think Anthony Wheeler was coming to Texas at this time last year.

And they were probably smoking mad about it and saying Charlie Strong didn't have a clue.

If there's one thing Strong and Co. should have taught Texas fans by now - eight months from signing day - is to avoid the sky-is-falling stuff and to put away the panic buttons.

"Charlie Strong has a Texas-sized recruiting problem on his hands." That was the opening line of Jeremy Crabtree's story on ESPN.com last June 19.

"Charlie Strong's poor first impression," was the headline of Travis Henry's story on ESPN.com last June 25.

Eight months later, Texas had a top 10 recruiting class.

Will it happen again? Who knows? But history shows since Strong has become a head coach - at Louisville and now UT - he may take his time, but he ultimately gets it right in recruiting. And he knows some kids are going to make "reservations" elsewhere before ending up playing for him.

 


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