What Recruits Are Saying About Charlie Strong as New Texas Head Coach

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What Recruits Are Saying About Charlie Strong as New Texas Head Coach
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Texas officially concluded a high-profile nationwide coaching search Sunday. The university hired former Louisville head coach Charlie Strong following flirtations with Alabama's Nick Saban, UCLA's Jim Mora Jr. and Baylor's Art Briles.

Strong spent four seasons with the Cardinals, taking over in 2010 after serving as defensive coordinator at Florida. He led the team to 23 victories in the past two seasons, including bowl wins over Florida and Miami, and he gained increased exposure due to the popularity of potential No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Teddy Bridgewater.

As Strong gets underway with his new role in Austin, recruiting immediately emerges as a top priority. National signing day is fast approaching, and a top-10 class is still within reach for if he can convince prospects that Texas remains a desirable destination.

Several Longhorns commits and targets have already reacted to the hiring. Here's a glimpse at how some of the nation's premier junior and senior high school standouts initially feel about Mack Brown's replacement.

 

4-star QB Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas)

2014 Texas commit

Jerrod Heard committed to Texas as a sophomore and has long been viewed as the team's quarterback of the future. He admires the way Strong increased the level of competition at Louisville.

"(Texas) definitely got a good coach," Heard told OrangeBloods.com reporter Jason Suchomel. "How he turned Louisville around into one of the top schools, he's a great recruiter, got some good guys in and I think that's what he's going to do at Texas. It's heading to the right track."

He also expressed excitement in Strong's willingness to open up the playbook for dynamic passers. Heard appreciated the way he allowed Bridgewater to flourish at Louisville.

"He lets the quarterback work," Heard told 247Sports reporter Blake Munroe. "That's the kind of offense I like.”

 

4-star RB Donald Catalon (Houston, Texas)

2014 Texas commit

Donald Catalon rushed for nearly 3,000 yards since his sophomore season. The running back pledged to the Longhorns prior to his junior year and seems undaunted in his commitment to Texas.

“He seems to be a great coach," Catalon told 247Sports. "I know he’s done some great things with Louisville and with Florida, so I’m really looking forward to playing for him. I’m excited about it.”

247Sports
Trey Lealaimatafao

 

3-star DT Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio, Texas)

2014 Texas commit

Defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao didn't sound quite as ready to buy into the Strong era as some of his fellow commits.

"I don't really know him too well. We'll just have to restart this recruiting process," he told OrangeBloods.com. "It's (a) soft (commitment), but I'll have to talk to (Strong) first before I do anything."

Lealaimatafao is also considering UCLA, Oregon and Texas Tech.

 

4-star DE Derick Roberson (San Antonio, Texas)

Dominant defensive end Derick Roberson reacted with a heavy dose of excitement on Sunday. He committed to Texas in August 2012 and clearly can't wait to get to campus with a new coach.

 

3-star LB Andrew Beck (Tampa, Fla.)

2014 Texas commit

Plant City High School standout Andrew Beck is an outstanding tackler who projects as an outside linebacker at the next level. Strong primarily worked with linebackers during his tenure at Florida, so it will be interesting to see what kind of imprint he makes on the position in Austin.

Beck is on board with the hire and ready to compete for a defensive-minded coach.

“I think it will be good for the university and for me personally," Beck told 247Sports. "He seems like a great guy and a great coach who obviously has turned things around at Louisville, so he knows what he is doing. He also seems like a high energy coach, so I’m excited.”

247Sports

 

4-star LB Otaro Alaka (Houston, Texas)

2014 Texas commit

Texas would love to pair Otaro Alaka with Beck in the linebacker corps, but Strong may have some work to do during the final stretch of his recruitment.

"I would like to talk to him before I make any decisions," he told 247Sports. "I still may take some visits but want to speak with him first.”

Alaka, a Texas commit since April, holds offers from Arkansas, Baylor, LSU and several other schools.

 

4-star TE Blake Whiteley (Arizona Western College)

2014 target

Blake Whiteley is rated the nation's No. 1 junior college tight end prospect by 247Sports. He received an offer from the Longhorns in early December, and the team quickly rose to the top of his list.

However, with a new regime in place, he wants questions answered about Texas' revamped offensive game plan.

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"I do think coach Strong is a great coach. However, for me as both a blocking and a pass-catching tight end, I still need to hear what kind of offensive philosophy and coordinator he is going to choose," Whiteley told OrangeBloods.com.

Virginia, Purdue and Arkansas are likely Texas' stiffest competition for his commitment.

 

4-star LB Cameron Townsend (Missouri City, Texas)

2015 target

Ridge Point High School junior Cameron Townsend is considered one of the top linebacker prospects in the 2015 class. He will be one of Strong's top in-state targets during his first full recruiting cycle at the helm, competing with the likes of USC, Oklahoma and Michigan.

Despite some unfamiliarity, Townsend has lofty expectations for Strong.

"I don't know much about him, but seeing the things he did at Louisville makes me think he can make Texas a national championship contender again," Townsend told OrangeBloods.com.

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