Recruiting: Horns' haul official

Twenty-five LOIs rolled across the UT fax machine by 10:00 a.m. this morning, formalizing the unofficial verbal pledges of 25 high school prospects. Those 25 high schoolers, plus already enrolled freshmen <B>Bryan Pickryl</B> and <B>Chase Pittman</B>, represent what <B>Mack Brown</B> called the Horns' &quot;most balanced&quot; recruiting class of the five he has brought to Austin.

Only one Signing Day surprise for the Horns: juco transfer DT Sonny Davis is not part of the class. Davis' absence almost certainly relates to his ability to be accepted into UT as a transfer student, a daunting process for even the best of students. But even without Davis, one of the top junior college talents in the country, the Longhorn class is outstanding.

Landing top high school DLs Pickryl, Pittman, Larry Dibbles, Rodrique Wright, Tully Janszen, Marco Martin and Kasey Studdard substantially lessens the blow of losing Davis. Matter of fact, that sans-Davis group still ranks as the best DL haul in the country.

The Texas head coach identified DE, DT and LB as the Horns' biggest need areas going into this recruiting season, and this class addressed those positions in spades. Brown said Wright, Janszen and Martin will get a look at DT while Pickryl, who despite being on campus will miss spring ball after having off-season shoulder surgery, Pittman, who will participate in spring, and Dibbles will fight for PT at DE. Kasey Studdard has requested to get a look at both OL and DL and Lyle Sendlein, listed through most of the recruiting season as a DE, will play on the OL at center when he arrives in August. At LB, Aaron Harris and Brian Robison will start off inside while Garnet Smith, Marcus Myers and Mike Williams will get a first look on the outside.

"Continuing to build this program through depth is really important to us," Brown said. "This was a class that we feel is the most balanced between skill positions and linemen. This year, we got someone we really like at each position."

That depth building is evident at the positions where the Horns had less of an immediate need than on the D-line and at linebacker. From top national QB Vincent Young to RB Selvin Young to OL Jason Blalock to WR Marquis Johnson to TE David Thomas to DB Edorian McCullough, Texas bolstered its depth across the board. McCullough and Aaron Ross, who will be on campus in August rather than this spring as originally expected, will provide depth at corner for the Horns while Matthew Melton and Clint Haney will start out this fall at safety. Brown said Johnson, McCullough, Melton, Ross and even Thomas good get an early look as kick returners. But like last fall when just three recruited true freshman -- Cedric Benson, Derrick Johnson and Brian Carter -- stripped the 'shirt and played, look for the vast majority of this class to stay on the sidelines next fall.

"We're finally at the point where we can redshirt people and develop depth over time," the coach said. "We'll still be really thin this spring in some areas, but next year we should start to have the depth we need to be a top 10 program."

Brown credited his players for much of he and his staff's recruiting success, saying the great facilities, town and tradition would mean nothing without the family atmosphere that is evident when prospects visit the Forty Acres.

The last prospect to visit Austin, Flower Mound Marcus wide receiver Robert Timmons, faced a slightly different situation. Rather than selling Timmons on Texas, the UT coaches and players looked for Timmons to prove himself worthy of a scholarship offer.

"This has a chance to be a great story," Brown said Wednesday at Bellmont. "He's a young man that hasn't played much because of his transfer situation, but (WR coach) Darryl Drake really was impressed with Robert (both on and off the field). I went to see him at his school last week and I really believe in (Marcus) head coach Randy Mayes." The Texas head coach said the Marcus head coach, a noted disciplinarian, gave Timmons his endorsement as both a player and a person. Brown also had Timmons meet with every member of the UT coaching staff on his visit last weekend, and also with senior-to-be DE Cory Redding, a good barometer for the feelings of the entire Texas squad. "Everything came back with an overwhelming endorsement," Brown said.

The national recruiting pundits have given this Texas class its overwhelming endorsement, making it the unanimous No. 1 class in the nation. While Brown downplayed the difference between the No. 1 class and the No. 5 class, he readily admitted that he'd rather have the top class than one way down the line. And he said landing great players helps land other great players, despite the rival recruiters' scare tactics.

Obviously, those tactics failed. And Brown's again proved to be tough for any rival coach to beat.

Horns Digest Top Stories