July 10, 2010

The Ticket City Locker Room Report

Q: (MickFoley) -One week later: do you wish you could take back the Aaron Green to Texas comment?

A: Not really. I probably was shooting from the hip a little too much with the one-word answer last week, but you live and learn, right? The truth is that I think there a couple of important factors in play with my prediction last week that need to be completely explained, so that a proper roadmap for his recruitment can be followed. Therefore, let's lay it all out there.

First of all (and please pay attention to this point because it is really important), I've never been one of those guys that has ever believed or hinted that Green is anywhere near a decision. There had been rampant speculation in the last week from various outposts (mostly of the non-credible format) that a decision could be imminent and that simply doesn't jive with anything I've ever heard in regards to the Green recruitment.

Of the top four or five uncommitted players in the state, I'd guess that Green, Waxahachie's LaDarius Brown and Dallas Skyline's Anthony Wallace are my picks to take their recruitments the closest to National Signing Day.

With you look specifically at Green's recruitment, I believe a big reason for his extended recruitment is directly related to the presence of his brother, who is a member of the Nebraska team. Nine times out of 10, the school with the family tie is going to get some special treatment, if for no other reason than most prospects are terrified of the potential backlash that might be projected towards their relative. Also, the possibility that a mother/father can see both of her sons in the same locale can be a pretty heavy weight on these types of situations and it takes more time to sort through exactly what is best for the individual recruit and family. Never forget that Cory Redding was in a similar situation back in 1999 and it can be a decision that splits a family.

If nothing else, Nebraska is/was always going to get an official visit from Green and those aren't possible until the fall, which would make any commitment to another school before September 1st almost impossible.

Also, it's important to take into consideration some of the pending conditions that helped create my own perspective on Green's recruitment, which I commented on last week. One of those conditions is that Cibolo Steele's Malcolm Brown ends up at Texas, which I think would serve as a major coup for the Longhorns down the stretch in Green's recruitment. The 2010 football season will be a celebration of San Antonio football, not only because of the presence of the two of two nationally elite running backs, but because of the sheer boom of talent flowing through the city.

Everyone knows that the Longhorns have sold both players on the idea of a "thunder and lightening" combo and it's a sales pitch that has interested both. If the Longhorns can add Brown to the commitment cupboard, it would give the Longhorns their third commitment from the San Antonio area. Translation - in the greatest year of talent production in the city's history, the Longhorns are making a terrific haul with Brown, Quincy Russell and Mykelle Thompson.

Eventually, Green will have a choice to make - do you go to Texas with all of your San Antonio boys and play in front of your family and friends each week or do you go to Nebraska by yourself (the Huskers have zero commitments from San Antonio and only two from Texas in their 2011 class) with the understanding that your friends and family will have to travel thousands of miles each week if they want to see you play.

According to one of my sources from the San Antonio area, his comments about Texas gaining strength in Green's recruitment center squarely on Nebraska's decision to join the Big 10. Whether or not Green and his family have sorted through the ramifications of the decision over the announced move, my source (who has personal knowledge of the recruitment) feels like the change in conferences is possibly the biggest game-breaker possible.

"That's not what any kid that signed from Texas previous to this year signed up for," the source said this week. "It's the difference between your games being closer to Canada than Madison High School. He's not going to talk about this stuff publicly, but it's something he'll think about quite a bit from now until he makes a decision. It does complicate his recruitment."

Also, I can't help but ask myself this question - if Green's brother weren't at Nebraska, would they even be under consideration. Based on the fact Nebraska is mostly an afterthought among Texas' elite-level prospects, I say no and I'm basing that remark based on two decades in the business.

When you consider the cache of the Texas football program, the academics, proximity and other factors, the Longhorn shadow looms large and that's why I've felt like they are better positioned to close the deal on Green near signing day when it's time for Green to sort through everything. Also, I expect Green to have a huge season this year after a disappointing junior campaign and if there's any indecision on Texas' end in July about how hard they should pursue Green, I don't expect it to exist by mid-October.

I could continue to write a thesis on this subject matter, but I'll keep it just short of 1,000 words. Moral of the story: just write the 1,000 words and don't be cute with a one-word answer.

Q: (mikefan) -With Nebraska leaving the Big 12 soon, most will view the Big 12 as a weaker conference, like the Pac 10 is now. Do you know if the people who are responsible for making our schedule understand this and will make sure we have one strong out of conference game each year? Or do you think they believe we are Texas so nothing else matters?

A: I'm not sure you will convince anyone at Texas that they'll ever be left out of the mix of a national championship with an undefeated record. Losing Colorado is no real loss and Nebraska hasn't been nationally relevant since Texas became nationally relevant. If you gave anyone from Texas a couple of beers, I bet they'd tell you that they could schedule nothing in non-conference but ex-SWC teams and as long as they beat Oklahoma, Tech, Oklahoma State, Missouri and A&M, all will be just fine. They'll then point to Boise State in 2010 as possible proof.

The dirty little secret is that playing in a league like the new Big 12 doesn't hurt you at all if you win all your games because it's rare that there are more than two undefeated teams remaining in any given year (it usually occurs once every four years or so). However, if you lose one game and it turns into a beauty pageant, all bets will be off. It's a risk I think the decision-makers are comfortable with.

Don't look for an Ohio State-level opponent any time soon.

Q: (msuhorn) - I noticed something interesting about the recent commit of the 3-star LB from Florida to the Aggies. He has never visited the A&M campus. I know that Mack won't officially offer before a meeting and visit, but what about our other conference foes? Do they offer without a visit? Do they 'accept' commits without a visit? Do any of them actually get February signatures without a campus visit?

A: The Texas way in recruiting is so different than any other school in the country that it's not even apples to apples. A&M's way in recruiting is probably much more consistent with the rest of the world.

Q: (lsampson) - With the recent news of Aaron Green stating that Texas hasn't really been recruiting him, it got me thinking about last year's big summer news regarding Darius White and the circus that surrounded his recruiting roller coaster ride. If I recall correctly, news broke that White had almost written off Texas because of some issues with a trip to Texas and nametags. Once the story got out, there was a wide range of emotion on the boards including pictures of Curly Bill from Tombstone and the statement "Bye" underneath, along with posters stating that he wasn't that good anyways and his stats have dropped off in a big way. There were some level-headed folks telling us to be patient, but the outcry was big. I have a couple of questions in regards to this parallel:

1.) How close is the parallel between the Darius White summer recruitment story and this Aaron Green one? Is the issue with Aaron Green right now like the one with Darius White where it seems as if the coaching staff has made a serious FUBAR that desperately needs fixing? Or is there some patience here that needs to take place with us fans?

2.) Looking back at all of the stories that you broke over your career, what is the biggest story that ended up being a non-story (like the Darius White one)?

3.) Give me your biggest recruiting scoop that you've ever had both negative and positive for the horns.

A: 1. I think the biggest similarity is simply the overreaction. It's the middle of the summer and everyone is starving for information and so it's only natural for everyone to act like a thirsty man in the desert who stumbles across a plastic bottle with three drops of water inside of it. In this current news age where everything is reported in real time, it's easy to forget that when you get on a roller coaster there are going to be some dips. There's usually an ebb and flow in recruiting that Longhorn faithful don't always see because of the current landscape that Texas deals with. It's how the other half who don't have kids jumping into the commitment cupboard like fish jumping in water live each year. As I explained earlier, the Green recruitment is going to be a lengthy process and the Texas staff knows this. It's pretty standard for them to give kids some space in the summer. The comments from Green probably alerted the UT staff that they need to touch base with him in order to make sure everyone is on the same page, but it wasn't a huge development in my mind.

2. I wouldn't describe the Darius White story as a non-story. It was a major piece of his recruitment last spring and had the Texas coaches not learned of the hard feelings that had been created, then they never would have been able soothe them later on. On the other hand, there have been a lot of overreactions over the years to total non-stories. The reaction to Sergio Kindle's remarks in his first Orangebloods interview, which included remarks from him that he favored Oregon and Missouri stand out as being pretty memorable. Of course, the reaction to every single step of Christian Scott's recruitment was complete overkill for almost six months.

3. My biggest recruiting scoop? Oh gosh, off the top of my head I don't remember us missing very many that are related to the Longhorns. If you go all the way back to 1999, one of my first major scoops was breaking Cory Redding's commitment about 15 minutes before he announced for Texas because we (KEYE-TV in Austin) had a wireless microphone on him and I was able to listen in as he informed his mom of the decision. It was probably my coverage of Redding/Chris Simms/Rod Babers and the entire 1999 class that put me on the map.

Perhaps the worst news I've ever had to deliver was the reality that was the Ryan Perrilloux recruitment to the Texas fans that just didn't want to believe that he could announce his plans in a manner what would make LeBron James blush.

Q: (Channy) - I know it's hard to get specific information regarding the team's injuries, but what should we expect from our healing players this fall and which ones will be close to 100%?

A: Let's go through the list:

Jared Norton - I actually have a little bit of good news on Norton, as I had someone with knowledge of his situation tell me on Friday that they are much more optimistic than I had previously been in discussing his progress. Cross your fingers, but I'm hearing that he's making progress and could be a factor in August. Again, cross your fingers.

Blaine Irby - Although few expect him to play football this year, he is participating in some off-season drills and he doesn't look like a guy that's ready to quit. I would expect him to be on the roster this year and the Longhorns will give him every opportunity this fall to make some real progress, especially since he's a senior this year and his scholarship isn't going to be needed from a numbers standpoint.

D.J. Grant - His recovery is going well and he should begin limited participation in the next week or so. I was told this weekend that he likely won't be cleared for full participation until mid-August at the earliest.

Mason Walters - As you probably read in the War Room, the expectations are that he'll be ready for full-contact drills in August. Still, there's a level of apprehension for some simply because of the type of injury he suffered and the fact that it has already been a process that has seen its setbacks.

Steven Moore - Moore had off-season surgery on his shoulder, but is expected to be back for the start of the season.

Tray Allen - I need to get updated information on Allen's progress, but everything I've heard has him ready to go when the pads come on.

Calvin Howell - Howell has added some size/muscle to his frame and should be ready in August for full-contact drills.

Q: (Burnt-on-the-Bay) - Get out you crystal ball and do your best Carnac impression. What 2 or 3 recruits from this current class of commitments (2011) and the group of last years signees (2010) would you project to have the best careers while on the Forty acres. And, of course, why?

A: You want me to pick just two or three? Offensively, Mike Davis (2010) and Christian Westerman (2011) really standout for me at the moment for various reasons. Davis' incredible ball skills and ability to make plays all over the field in the biggest games makes me think he's headed for stardom, while Westerman's complete skill set makes him a player that has a chance to be a top-notch starter outside at tackle for two or three seasons.

On the defensive side of the ball, the three guys that really jump out are Jackson Jeffcoat, Jordan Hicks and Reggie Wilson. In any given year, I think they'd all rank as the No.1 player in the state and the Longhorns landed them all in one class. All three carry wallets that read "Bad MF" on them.

Q: (Weenhorn) - This is a 2012 recruiting class question. In regard to the top 25 to 30 recruits in that class which do you feel, at this time:

(a) Texas is in the best shape;
(b) Texas is in very good/solid shape
(c) Texas needs to make up some serious ground;
(d) Texas is not nor will not recruit.

A: It's still early to determine for a lot of these kids and it's possible that Texas won't have an interest in a lot of the kids that they are in great shape with, but here goes (the 2012 rankings will be updated this week)

(a):Austin High wide receiver Cayleb Jones, Aledo running back Johnathan Grey, Dallas A. Maceo Smith cornerback Ladarrell McNeil, Kilgore running back LaDarius Anthony, Spring DeKaney running back Trey Williams, Carthage defensive back Edward Pope, West-Orange Stark defensive back Justin Thomas, Pflugerville Hendrickson linebacker Victor Irokansi, San Antonio Sam Houston defensive end Javontee Green, Lewisville Hebron wide receiver Kiante Griffin and Denton Ryan linebacker Alex De la Torre

(b):Dallas Skyline linebacker Peter Jinkens, Brenham defensive tackle Malcolm Brown, Denton Ryan defensive end Mario Edwards, Brenham linebacker Troy Green, Klein Forest quarterback Matt Davis, Dallas Skyline athlete Thomas Johnson and Texarkana Texas High offensive lineman John Michael McGee

(c): Haltom offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai and DeSoto offensive lineman Curtis Riser

(d): Lake Dallas wide receiver Dayln Williams and a lot of other wide receivers around the state.

Q: (Principal) -I see us playing a 3 game schedule: Tech, OU, and Nebraska.

I fear even if we go undefeated, we will be over looked to play in the national title game. I think all three will need to have strong records for us to get in the title game. Agree or disagree?

A: If Texas is undefeated at the end of the season, they'll play for the national title. Book it.

Q: (NLTexasHookEm) - Do you think Texas will maintain the amazing recruiting success in the 2012 class as they've had in the 2010/2011 class? Who do you think their target will be for QB in 2012?

A: Yes, I expect the Longhorns do put together another pretty incredible recruiting class in 2012, but it could be a smaller class than we've seen in recent years. As far as the top target at quarterback for 2012, I'm not sure if one has emerged like we witnessed last year when David Ash clearly emerged as the guy for Greg Davis.

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