Texas football recruits maintain commitments
Cedric Golden, Commentary
SAN ANTONIO — A large part of the recruiting process has to do with making sure.
When a kid commits to play for your school as a high school junior (sometimes earlier), there aren’t any guarantees he will sign on that dotted line to play for your school when National Signing Day arrives in February.
It’s all about the follow-up because an 18-year-old kid can change his mind in the blink of an eye. Mention Ryan Perrilloux to a Texas fan and prepare to duck for cover. How about Adrian Peterson? Not a good idea.
Those were kids who professed a love of burnt orange at one time or another, only to sign with other schools, as was their right.
With signing day less than a month away, Texas coach Mack Brown has been wearing two hats: the guy putting together a new coaching staff and the guy holding together the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class.
Eight Brown recruits played for the West squad in Saturday’s U.S. Army All-America Bowl at the Alamodome, including Cibolo Steele running back Malcolm Brown and Brownwood wideout Jaxon Shipley. While coaches are allowed to attend this game, Brown and his staff were undoubtedly somewhere holed up in front a flat screen for the national TV broadcast.
Steele’s Brown carried the ball only three times for seven yards, while Shipley hauled in a 35-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter for his only catch of the day.
The West lost 13-10 before a record crowd of 37,893 at the Alamodome, but on a day like this, the winner didn’t matter as much as the chance to play against some of the best high school players in the nation.
“It was lot of fun,” said Shipley, who was joined by older brother Jordan after the game. “This was a great experience for me. I enjoyed the step up in competition and the whole experience of playing in this game.”
While the players enjoyed their week in San Antonio, their future coach was busy hiring assistants in what has to be the most challenging offseason of his career. Since last season ended, Brown’s coaches have been on the recruiting trail, scouting new talent, and making sure members of the Class of 2011 are still committed to Texas.
“The thing that we ask is we talk to every young man and say you came to Texas because you love Texas, and it’s a great place,” Brown said Thursday. “(There might be) an assistant coach maybe that you had a relationship with that’s gone, and we’ve had great coaches to replace the coaches that have left here for many years.”
Brown went on to emphasize that a commitment is a commitment but said he would help anyone who was having second thoughts about coming to Austin.
As for Saturday, the postgame questions were more about what was going on at the Forty Acres than what had just happened in San Antonio.
Shipley said he is still committed to playing for the Longhorns — that is, after he competes in track and graduates with his senior class.
Malcolm Brown, the most anticipated recruit at running back here since Jamaal Charles arrived from Port Arthur in 2005, also affirmed his commitment. He said as much to co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite in a telephone conversation over the holidays.
“Everyone knew I was still committed to playing for the University of Texas,” said Brown, who spent a good 45 minutes signing autographs and posing for pics with about 50 fans after the game. “I’m excited about going to Texas and playing for the new coaches. I’ve met some of the guys before and it’s going to be fun to play with them.”
Daingerfield linebacker Steve Edmond admitted he was surprised to hear that defensive coordinator Will Muschamp had left to become the head coach at Florida. Edmond prefers playing in a 4-3 defense and said he actually heard over the holidays that the Longhorns were thinking about going to a 3-4 alignment.
“I was sitting there thinking they were going to change the whole scheme and I was really worried about that,” he said.
Then he got a call from Mack Brown.
“He called over Christmas break,” said Edmond, who finished with two tackles. “He told me not to worry about anything, that nothing was changing. That was a big relief.”
Edmond will join Brown, Shipley, Carthage linebacker Kendall Thompson, and Chandler, Ariz., offensive tackle Christian Westerman in Austin on Jan. 21, when the recruits arrive for their official visits.
Brown and his staff are sure to put out the fine china, along with more assurances that all is well with Texas football.