Mack Brown said Wednesday that the Horns hosted 32 prospects on official visits and, of course, signed 27. The five who didn't sign with Texas? The Woodlands DE Travis Leitko (Notre Dame), North Carolina LB A.J. Nicholson (Florida State), Midland Lee TE Eric Winston (Miami), Louisiana LB Rufus Alexander (Oklahoma) and San Francisco juco LB Lance Mitchell (Oklahoma via Florida). . . .
The Texas coaches showed the current Texas players a highlight tape of all of the newest members of the team Wednesday afternoon. Brown said there was a lot of hooting and hollering, particularly when Bryan Pickryl and Chase Pittman graced the screen. Both Pickryl and Pittman, who are in school this semester and participating in off-season work with the team, took a lot of good-natured ribbing from their teammates, particularly about their purported speed, according to Brown. The head coach, laughing, said he had to remind some of the former players of their own speed claims coming out of high school. He also said he warned the current players to "get your job (during the spring)" because the newcomers will get a chance for those jobs in the fall if the veterans don't prove worthy of the start during February and March. . . .
Brown said he originally backed off of recruiting Pittman because he simply did not know if the situation would be a good one for Chase given the daily reminders of Cole he and his family would face in Austin. Chase, though, wanted to come to Austin, as his family fully supported that decision. Chase's dad Marc Pittman also told Brown that he didn't want to live by the calendar, mourning Cole's loss every Jan. 26th (Cole's birthday) or Feb. 26 (the day of Cole's accident). Chase in Austin appears to be part of the healing process for the entire Pittman family. . . .
Pittman could play at DE, DT or TE, according to Brown. Larry Dibbles also could play either inside or outside on the DL, but he'll start off at DE. . . .
"I think we probably get too much credit for recruiting and not enough credit for coaching," Brown said. He added that, although it's a tougher time to win at Texas because of the strength of the Big 12, it's an easier time to recruit to UT. The coach cited the fact that the Horns are back on the national scene and have been consistent over the last four years (nine-plus wins in each season, something only four other teams have accomplished during that same span), plus the sellout crowds at DKR, the Horns' huge TV exposure, the continuity on the coaching staff, the school's academics and the city of Austin as factors that make selling kids on spending four years on the Forty Acres not a hard sell at all. "Right now, Texas is a popular place to look at when choosing a school," Brown said. "Our product is really good. It's one of the best in recruiting when you add it all together." The head coach also said the events of Sept. 11 probably had an effect on some prospects, keeping them closer to home (and keeping them and their families off airplanes as often) when in the pre-9/11 days they may have been more inclined to venture to a school across the country. Texas, though, still landed five out-of-staters, the same number it hauled in in '99 and '00 and far more than the two non-Texans UT signed last February. . . .
"Is our staff the best recruiting staff in the country," Brown asked rhetorically at one point during his Wednesday comments. "If you look at all the teams in the top 10, they have great recruiting staffs." The head coach reiterated the fact that the "biggest reason" for he and his staff's recruiting success are "our players." . . .
The inevitable 'Will Vincent Young redshirt' question came about halfway through Brown's Wednesday press conference. The coach repeated his staff's policy that redshirt decisions are not made until midway through the season, although he did say QBs are generally redshirted. Chris Simms is the only true freshman QB to play in Brown's four seasons at the Longhorn helm. Whether he eventually redshirts or not, Young received high praise from his future head coach. "He's 6-5 and runs a 4.4," Brown said. "He has a great arm, he's a super leader, he's a great basketball player -- he plays above the rim -- and he has a chance to be a great quarterback at this level." The head coach also said a QB like Young who can run "adds a lot of things offensively that a guy that can't run couldn't." Asked to compare Young and North Carolina QB Ronald Curry, Brown said Young is "more polished" as a quarterback than Curry and "has a chance to be as good or better" than Curry. . . .
Brown said an area that the staff will focus on improving this spring and fall will be the pass rush out of the front four. With senior Cory Redding and junior Kalen Thornton returning as starters on the outside, newcomers at DE Pickryl, Dibbles and Pittman may not push for the start, but if any of them can provide quality pass rush snaps off the bench, they will get a shot at PT. Brown said all three are "really fast with a real quick first step," although Pickryl, listed at just 210 pounds, may not be as physically ready for the task as the 280-pound Dibbles and the 265-pound Pittman. . . .
Clint Haney is listed as an athlete, and Brown said he could play receiver, corner or safety in the Orange and White. Because of his 5-11, 190-pound size, Haney probably will not get a look at running back, the head coach added. . . .
Brown compared TE David Thomas athletically to Bo Scaife. . . .
Edorian McCullough and Brian Robison are expected to compete in track for the Horns, McCullough as a sprinter and Robison in the discus and shot. . . .
"This recruiting class to me is exciting because it allows us to maintain," Brown said. "It's not a step up." From a talent perspective, that should be a scary thought for opposing coaches. . . .
Seventeen of the Horns' 27 signees have GPAs above 3.0, Brown said. "And their character is really good." . . .
Brown said there were another 25 prospects in the state that the Horns would have liked to have recruited. But for those pesky scholarship limits, who doubts that the Horns would have landed most of those 25?