The Numbers Game
Posted by Jesus Shuttlesworth
A lot has been made of Texas’ practice of giving out too many early offers to kids not considered elite. When Mack first instituted this practice, I felt it was genius. It let you put the current class to bed early while getting an early jump on the next batch. In theory, it’s a great way to get a head start on a recruit and make the kid feel wanted before another school gets a chance to make a first impression.
But as with many things written down on paper, real life has a way of throwing variables at you that can’t be predicted. First being the the high beta of physical growth a 15-17 year old will experience. One kid might not gain a pound while another might stack on 60. There’s no way that an evaluation done immediately after a kid’s junior year will be as good a barometer for success as an evaluation done after seeing him in camps or even during his senior year (gasp!) when you have a much better idea of what kind of physique he’ll carry into high school. It’s why going one and done with Chris Whaley as our lone RB was such an inept recruiting failure. The kid wasn’t getting any smaller and had about an 85% chance of ultimately outgrowing the position, while more talented backs that played against elite competition never got as much as a phone call.
Rather than offering 18 or so kids in February, Mack should offer no more than the top 12 must haves in his opinion, and then slow play the rest. And by slow play I mean, continue to recruit. By loading up early, the duds are often exposed during their senior years.
In this day and age of scholarship limits, proper evaluations are key. Unless you call in the Dean of Moral Turpitude himself Dr. Nick Saban to come in and diagnose some congenital heart defects, you’ll be stuck with a kid that you knew halfway through his senior year of high school was never going to contribute.
Texas has anywhere from 20-22 schollies to give in the 2012 class, as broken down here. Rather than use this February’s junior days as an open buffet to snare the state’s top talent in one mass haul, count on Mack to be more selective with early offers. There are more voices in the film room to be heard and limited offers to hand out. No more offering a lightly recruited coach’s son because he’s a GKWG that has bled orange since conception.
Texas has some ground to make up from years of lazy evaluations and underdevelopment of the studs we did land, particularly on the OL and at the skill positions Landing commitments from guys like J. Gray, Trey Williams, Curtis Riser, Cayleb Jones, and Javonte Magee would obviously accelerate that cause. The average age on the Texas coaching staff just plummeted about ten years so you know there won’t be any fatigue on this recruiting staff. I’ll take Diaz, Harsin, Wyatt, and Applewhite over any young corps of coaches in the country both in the film room and on the recruiting trail. It might take a few years until the refined product hits the field but it will be a fun process to watch, as opposed to whittling your carotid artery with a pen knife because our staff game planned from the country club bar, or because players skipped workouts in favor of a 24 hour Madden marathon.
Which kids get early offers will also signal who is pulling the recruiting strings. If Trey Williams and Johnathan Gray are both offered after the first Junior Day on Feb 13, that’s a good sign Major and Harsin are being given carte blanche to select the kids they want to run their offense. Hopefully they’re on the same page as Searels. I can envision some tense moments and long stares in the war room when scholarship offers are being finalized.
Texas could very well offer 23-25 guys and count on attrition/grayshirts/blind luck to get them back to the magic number of 85, but that’s not Mack’s style. We’ll likely end up with a scholly to give and save it for 2012, which is the right call. Les Miles scoffs at this notion.
Looking around the country, South Carolina has 30 commitments for the 2011 class and the Old Golf Coach certainly doesn’t seem worried. It has become a common practice in the SEC to scatter shoot scholarship offers and worry about the math later. The NCAA has raised an eyebrow … while on hold booking a tee time. You can follow the leaders here. Six of the top seven schools are from the SEC. Shocker! Who would have thought a guy like Houston Nutt would try to game the recruiting system by oversigning now and delivering the unfortunate news later?
C’mon, Trust me!
5-7 felt like a never ending episode of Whale Wars where the harpoon spears an old grey whale with laser precision while a whispy haired hippy fires back with a potato gun. But I’m willing to bet that with a new coaching staff intact, a fresh crop of Texas talent in the hopper, and another loaded one filing in, Mack Brown is finally sleeping better these days. As in five hours instead of three.
But Houston Nutt will always sleep with one eye open.
Of course we’ll honor your scholarship, Jackson…
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