Texas Football: Goals Mack Brown Must Set for 2013 Recruiting Class
Actually, the Longhorns already have 14 commitments in the 2013 class. This leaves only 11 remaining scholarships to sign additional players.
However, it is still a long way away from national signing day on February 6th and recruits are still free to back out of their commitments. Texas felt the sting of denial earlier this month when the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver, Ricky Seals-Jones, backed out of his verbal commitment.
There are also a number of top-flight recruits remaining that the Longhorns have extended offers to, but have yet to make their college decision.
Despite the fact that more than half of the class of 2013 is already complete, there are still a number of things to do. So, here are some goals for Mack Brown in rounding out the class of 2013, as we inch closer to national signing day.
Bring Ricky Seals-Jones Back into the Fold
photo courtesty of faniq.com
Seals-Jones is a tantalizing talent at wide receiver. He is 6'5" and 220 pounds, with soft hands, great leaping ability and long strides that allow him to separate from defensive backs.
Only thing is, those same abilities translate just as well to the basketball court, where he averaged 32 points per game and 15 rebounds his junior year.
Seals-Jones is a competitor and wants to play both basketball and football when he gets to college, and that desire played a huge role in his decommitment from Texas, according to Scout.com's Greg Powers (h/t DallasNews.com).
It seems that Texas basketball coach Rick Barnes didn't have a spot on his roster for the talented guard, so Seals-Jones decided to explore his options. He has said Baylor, Texas A&M and LSU have all told him that he could play both sports.
Fortunately for Texas, there is still a strong possibility that the 5-star receiver recommits to Texas, according to his close friend and Texas pledge, 4-star quarterback Tyrone Swoopes.
"He said Texas is still No. 1 but he just wanted to see what other schools had to offer," Swoopes said. "I told him I respect that."
Texas may still be Seals-Jones’ top choice, but without the opportunity to play basketball, there is no guarantee that he spends his college years on the 40 Acres. Brown and Barnes need to find a way to come to a compromise so this special talent finds his way back to Austin.
Ensure That at Least One of the Longhorns' Top Safety Targets Commits
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Texas has had a number of great safeties come through its ranks the last decade. Whether it be great pros like Earl Thomas and Michael Huff or current Longhorn Kenny Vaccaro, talent has been rampant in the Longhorn secondary.
Bell is the more complete safety prospect, and is a solid 6'0" and 190 lbs. He has good coverage skills and the ability to play in the box. Here's what a scout from ESPN had to say about him:
A very well-rounded safety prospect; Bell has the size, speed and athleticism to make plays in all three levels of the defense. Tall, well-built with a muscular frame that can still add size and power. This guy has a knack for being around the ball and making plays.
Harris is the bigger player at 6'1 and 209 pounds, and he projects more as a strong safety. Here's what an ESPN analyst thought about him:
Harris is a good looking safety prospect with top-end range and size. He is may come across more as a run supporting safety with his good size and physicality but this guy can hold up in man coverage and make plays in the back-end.
Each player has already visited campus once, but both have impressive offer sheets from other schools. SEC powers like Florida and LSU are in hot pursuit, as are perennial contenders like Ohio State, Oklahoma and Notre Dame.
Competition will be stiff to sign one of these two studs, but if the Longhorns can get one or both to commit, it will help round out an already strong class.
Win the Recruiting Battles for in-State Prospects
Justin Manning, photo courtesty of tagteamsportz.com
For years, the Longhorns have dominated the recruiting trail in the state of Texas.
Rarely has Mack Brown ever have to step outside of the state to recruit, thanks to the immense talent in Texas. When he targeted a player from the Lone Star State, they almost always ended up playing their college ball for the orange and white.
However, competition has emerged within the state over the last few years, threatening Texas' recruiting stranglehold. Baylor has become an up-and-coming football power, TCU's move into the Big 12 has expanded its appeal and A&M's switch to the SEC has made them a more attractive option, as well.
Recently, Texas has lost a few head-to-head recruiting battles with these other schools. If the Longhorns aren't careful, they could start to lose a stranglehold as the top school in the state.
The Longhorns' pursuit of 4-star recruit Justin Manning is a great example of this. They have already extended and offer to the 6'2", 275-pound behemoth, but he is still weighing his options and considering almost all of the Longhorns’ major rivals.
Manning is from Dallas and is taking a strong look at TCU, but there is no clear indication right now as to where he will go. It seems as if he isn't in a hurry to make a commitment any time soon, but when he does, Texas needs to make sure it has done everything possible to woo him.
Reeling in studs like Manning is about more than just landing one individual player. It's about setting a tone and maintaining the aura Texas has throughout the state.
Make Sure Tyrone Swoopes and the Rest of the Texas Commits Stay Longhorns
Normally the Longhorns wouldn't have to worry about other schools poaching their top recruits, because as far as programs go, they don't get much better than Texas.
However, the decommitment of Seals-Jones has shaken that confidence for many fans. Now, the Longhorns must do everything possible to ensure that their current verbal commits stick around to sign their letters of intent.
Most importantly, they need to keep their top quarterback prospect Swoopes on board. Swoopes is the definition of a dual-threat QB. He has an athletic 6'4", 220-pound frame and the arm strength to put the ball wherever he wants on the field. He has even drawn comparisons to Texas legend Vince Young.
Keeping him on board, along with the other 13 current commitments, has to be a top priority for the coaching staff.
Most of these guys have been Texas fans since they were little, so another decommitment isn't likely. But the loss of Seals-Jones came out of nowhere, proving that there are no guarantees.
Get Some of the Recruits to Enroll Early in the Spring
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The Longhorns are one of the youngest and fastest-rising teams in the nation. This season, Texas should be competing for a BCS bowl, and in two years it could be back in national title contention.
The class of 2013 has a chance to be a part of that, but they will need to hit the practice field as soon as possible to get used to the speed of the college game. This is why as many players as possible should consider enrolling early.
Enrolling early allows recruits to get ahead of the curve when it comes to adjusting to the college game. They get extra practice time during the spring semester, become more familiar with the playbook and get a leg up with the coaching staff when it comes to playing time in the fall.
But enrolling early has its advantages off the field, too. Academically, it allows recruits to adjust to school during the spring semester instead of in the fall during football season, a much more demanding semester for the student-athletes.
Many Texas players have enrolled early over the last few years and had success their freshman seasons, including Blake Gideon, Alex Okafor and Vaccaro.
If the coaching staff can convince some of the players in the class of 2013 to enroll early, they would be in a great position to help Texas compete for the 2014 national title.