THE REASONS BEHIND TEXAS' SIGNING DAY SUCCESS

Charlie Strong has always been one of the best - if not the best - recruiter as an assistant coach on whatever staff he was on ... whether it was with Urban Meyer at Florida or Lou Holtz at Notre Dame and South Carolina.

 Here are a few of the little things Strong does that helped Texas close with a Top 10 recruiting class in 2016, including picking up seven members of the class on National Signing Day:

RB Kyle Porter - Strong noticed that Porter wasn't really feeling going out to lunch with the other players on his official visit and asked Porter if he wanted to hang out at Moncrief with him and watch the Texas-Kansas basketball game (Jan. 23) with Strong. Porter was surprised by the offer, but took Strong up on it. And it may have paid dividends, because it provided the two some important bonding time.

Still, Porter is so low-key (as most know by now - he doesn't even have a Twitter account) that Strong couldn't read Porter. And after Porter asked to meet with Chris Warren III and D'Onta Foreman, the thought was Porter wouldn't want to come to Texas with those two on the depth chart ahead of him. So the thought was he was headed to TCU (even those at TCU thought Porter was headed to TCU).

So, Strong said he told Porter at the end of the visit not to call him unless he was calling to commit. So when Strong saw Porter's name pop up in his phone on Tuesday, Strong said he was surprised - because Porter was indeed calling to commit.

Strong made sure when Porter committed that Strong could call him back and Face Time and pass the phone around to the other Texas assistant coaches so they could express to Porter how excited they were to have him coming to Austin.

Porter was a back Texas coveted, and his commitment continued a string of 11 commits from Thursday to signing day that made Texas one of the top headlines on Wednesday.

 

Speaking of Face Time - Brian Jean-Mary told me the Texas coaches make sure to set up times to call recruits when most or all of the staff is available to jump into the football conference room outside Charlie's office.

So when they call a recruit, whether he's an offensive or defensive player, they Face Time and pass the phone around the room so the recruit becomes comfortable with everyone on the staff.

Strong feels it's important A) for the whole staff to feel comfortable about a recruit, and B) vice versa. 

It pays big dividends when a recruit comes on campus for a visit as well, because the recruit feels comfortable with several coaches on staff and not just the primary coach recruiting him.

 

Determine the person with influence - When I asked Strong about his approach to recruiting (because he's always been the ace recruiter on the staffs he was on under Urban Meyer and Lou Holtz), Strong said he makes sure to not only recruit the prospect - but to also find the person who may have the most influence with the prospect.

A lot of times it's the mother, an uncle or a sibling. Sometimes it's the high school coach. Sometimes it's a handler.

In the case of DT Jordan Elliott, it was his great grandmother.

And when she started talking about the fact that she loved Westerns, Strong is a fan of Westerns, too, and started ticking off some of his favorites. And Elliott's great grandmother was floored.

I'm told that moment during Elliott's in-home visit (with a kid who had been previously committed to Baylor, Houston and Michigan) was a key moment in winning over Elliott's family in the days leading up to signing day.

 

* Give 'em a week - Strong said Wednesday that when a prospect Texas is recruiting commits to another school, a lot of times, he'll tell the coaches not to call that prospect for a week after. 

Sometimes, the prospect will truly move on. But Strong said a lot of times that recruit will call Strong or a Texas assistant - even after committing elsewhere - and ask why they had stopped calling? Strong said that's when he KNOWS they need to continue committing resources to keep recruiting that prospect.

 

Strong has tentacles everywhere - Dontavious Jackson came to Texas on an unofficial visit the weekend before signing day and came with a handler. Strong knew after that visit Texas wasn't getting Jackson based on other conversations Strong had providing him information about the handler.

Strong also knew two days before signing day Stephon Taylor would be going to South Carolina because of information Strong had gotten from ties he had in the SEC, including ties from when Strong coached under Holtz at South Carolina.

 

* Waiting in the recruiting game - Strong has always believed in not using weekends during Texas' football season for official visits A) because he likes to focus all of his energies on his current team and getting his players ready for the game that weekend, and B) because he likes to evaluate tape of recruits during their senior season.

Chris Daniels and Zach Shackelford are two prime examples of guys who didn't jump off the film during their junior seasons.

Daniels needed to lose some weight. He had gotten well over 300 pounds as a junior and didn't play that well. Shackelford also was still developing. (Texas also needed to see that Daniels was on course academically in his senior year.)

Both had very good senior seasons, and Texas moved in on both. Shackelford also had some reservations about Joe Wickline after Wickline addressed him for the very first time at a Texas camp as, "Hey, fat ass."

So Wickline moving on certainly helped Texas' chances with Shackelford, who told me he would have gone to K-State if Wickline was still the O-line coach.

In the end, Daniels said, if you don't want to go to Texas, don't let Strong on your couch.

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