Texas Football Recruiting: Can Charlie Strong Keep Patrick Vahe Away from LSU?

Zach Shelton@@zachisagingerFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2014

Guard prospect Patrick Vahe is considered one of the best players in the nation, securing an invite to The Opening earlier this month.
Guard prospect Patrick Vahe is considered one of the best players in the nation, securing an invite to The Opening earlier this month.Courtesy of 247 Sports

On national signing day 2014, brothers Maea and Sione Teuhema flipped from Texas to LSU. Their cousin, Patrick Vahe, remains committed to Charlie Strong and the Longhorns for the time being.

Vahe, a Longhorn pledge since July 2013, is a 4-star guard with elite mobility that jumps off the screen. But the happenings of the past two months have led to speculation that the 6'3" prospect could be the latest Longhorn commit to jump ship.

Sione Teuhema, a 3-star defensive end, was the first chip to fall when he made the surprising decision to sign with LSU on February 5. From there, it was only a matter of time before his brother, 5-star offensive tackle Maea Teuhema, switched his verbal to the Tigers' 2015 class. 

Just like that, Strong lost a high-upside member of his first recruiting class and, more importantly, the best player from his second season's haul. Even worse is that Vahe, who was primed to play next to Maea, was expected to follow suit and further cripple Texas' line of the future.

At least, that's what most would expect. The Tigers play in the SEC, have won 14 more games than Texas over the past four seasons and have had twice as many players drafted than the 'Horns heading into this year's draft. Texas hasn't even had an offensive lineman drafted since 2008.

But Vahe's flip never happened. As rumors swirled, mum was the word on him prior to Texas' junior day on February 28, three weeks after the Teuhemas flipped. Vahe attended, enjoying his first interaction with Strong and his coaching staff enough to tell Horns247 that he was "110 percent" still committed to the Longhorns.

Yet to visit any other programs, Vahe has offered nothing but reasons for optimism. While earning MVP honors at the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp, the surging prospect said his commitment to the Longhorns remained "solid" and shed some insight as to why he has not shopped around.

"At first, yeah," Vahe said about wanting to look elsewhere. "But after meeting with the coaching staff, I realized that Texas is where I want to be." More specifically, The Opening invitee seems to have taken a liking to offensive line coach Joe Wickline, characterizing him as a "cool dude" and calling his work at Oklahoma State "amazing."

The 2015 recruit is referring to Wickline's nine-year tenure in which the Cowboys produced two players named as Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year. Over his 33-year career, Texas' new assistant has produced a total of eight All-Americans.

Herein lies Texas' biggest edge in retaining Vahe's commitment. The main goal for every recruit is to maximize his chances of reaching the NFL, and Wickline can point to the successes of former pupils, such as Russell Okung and Max Starks, as proof that he can do just that for Vahe. 

Sure, LSU offers Vahe the ability to play with his cousins. Just like Texas gives him the opportunity to reunite with Euless Trinity classmate Myles Turner, who just committed to play basketball in the burnt orange. But if another program were to enter the mix and present a better chance for him to become a professional player, then you have to believe that offer would take precedence.

Right now, Wickline and his credentials give Strong's team the edge heading into the summer. The head coach's job before next signing day is to continue to push this team and show some improvement next season.

So long as the results on the field indicate progress, Strong will ensure that Vahe's cousins will be the only members of the family to become LSU Tigers.