Texas Football Recruiting: Top 4 Targets Headed into National Signing Day

Taylor Gaspar@Taylor_GasparFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2014

Texas Football Recruiting: Top 4 Targets Headed into National Signing Day

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    With national signing day is right around the corner, the Texas Longhorns' 2014 recruiting class is still up in the air. 

    The staff changes at Texas ultimately led to five decommitments—defensive linemen Trey Lealaimatafao, Courtney Garnett and Zaycoven Henderson, and wide receivers Keke Coutee and Emanuel Porter.

    But Charlie Strong and his staff are on the recruiting trails to make a final push at keeping the on-the-fence commitments and hoping to get some new faces to sign a letter of intent come February 2.

    With so much uncertainty heading into national signing day, here's a look at four of the biggest targets for the Longhorns.

Linebacker Otaro Alaka

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    Cypress Falls linebacker Otaro Alaka is back in a familiar situation. Alaka narrowed his list to Texas and Texas A&M last summer, but he eventually gave his verbal pledge to the Longhorns.

    Following the departure of Mack Brown, Alaka took an official visit to Texas A&M. He was also visited by Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin, as well as Charlie Strong, on Thursday, which can be seen from Alaka's Instagram photo from Thursday evening.

    Securing the 4-star's commitment would be huge for the Longhorns, as Alaka is just one of three linebackers currently pledged to Texas.

    Alaka is the No. 16 prospect in the state and No. 8 linebacker, according to Rivals.com.

Defensive Back Nick Harvey

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    Texas A&M commit Nick Harvey recently took an official visit to College Station, but the rumor mill sparked up Friday afternoon that the Travis High defensive back could in fact be in Austin this weekend.

    Adding Harvey to the 2014 class would be huge for Texas. Following the departure of legendary defensive backs coach Duane Akina, the Longhorns are in need of maintaining the "DBU" standard. Harvey, who is the No. 9 safety and No. 9 overall player in the state of Texas, according to Rivals.com, could be the perfect fit to the new DBU mold under defensive coordinator Vance Bedford.

Defensive Tackle Chris Nelson

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    Victory Christian Academy defensive tackle Chris Nelson arrived in Austin on Friday.

    The Lakeland, Fla., native committed to Louisville in August, but he opened up his commitment when Charlie Strong took the head coaching job at Texas.

    Nelson expressed to Howie Lindsey of CardinalSports.com the importance of having a close connection with a coaching staff, which makes him a likely candidate for the Longhorns to add to the 2014 recruiting class.

    It's mostly all about the relationships with the coaches. Football wise, I know that I have great capability to play, and I'm going to put in the work to get in. At the end of the day, I'm going to be there for four years, so I'm looking for a coaching staff that is high on me and will help me reach [my potential]. That's really what I'm looking for.

    Texas has lost three defensive tackle commitments, and adding Nelson would be a big plus at a thin position for the Longhorns. 


Offensive Lineman Demetrius Knox

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    Fort Worth's All Saints Episcopal offensive lineman Demetrius Knox's recruitment has been a roller coaster in itself.

    The 4-star guard originally committed to Texas in November of 2012 but decommitted in April, and he eventually gave his verbal pledge to the Ohio State Buckeyes.

    But how solid is his commitment to the Buckeyes?

    SB Nation's Bret Favachio cited multiple media reports saying Knox could be planning an official visit to Texas. 

    Knox has since denied his intentions to visit Texas, saying he plans to stay home this weekend, via his Twitter account. But there seems to be a lot of smoke following the offensive guard, which makes it easy to speculate the Knox roller coaster might not be over just yet.


    Taylor is the B/R lead writer covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow her on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.