April 7, 2009

The Ticket City Locker Room



Q: (Hookah Horns■) - Mack Brown has once again revolutionized recruiting in this state, and by locking up most of the class in February and March, he has enabled his staff to lap the competition in evaluating the sophomore crop of players. Do you think Will Muschamp will keep up the momentum by following or trying to follow this exact model when he becomes The Man?

Second Question: Do you expect Muschamp will serve as his own DC when he assumes power, or will he be hiring someone else to serve in that capacity?


A: One of the more interesting aspects of the eventual transition at head coach to watch will certainly be on the recruiting end of things, but I think it's probably a little early too project how exactly Muschamp will approach things. First, I think the velocity that the Longhorns recruit at is something that Muschamp is probably still getting used to and I'm sure he's evaluating in his own mind how well it works in terms of getting the type of players he believes is needed to win national championships. I'm sure he was skeptical on a few levels when he first arrived, but this year's class is his first true test-case and if he likes what he sees, I would imagine he'll follow a similar path because this isn't a school that needs to re-invent itself as he takes the reigns. Still, I'm sure there will be a few subtle changes and I would expect to see a little more aggressive approach towards out of state recruiting.

Second, I would imagine that Muschamp will hire a defensive coordinator in title, even if Muschamp's the guy running things. I would imagine that the power of that coordinator will be determined by the quality of coach filling that position and I would have to believe that only someone coming in from the outside would be hired in that capacity with some sort of play-calling responsibility. The hope would certainly be that he as an eye for talented young defensive coaches like the guy (Nick Saban) that groomed him.

Q: (ptrain37) - How about some early 2009 Texas football True or False predictions?

a. John Chiles gets 20+ catches next season.
b. Texas has 3 DB's with 3 or more ints. next season.
c. Texas has 2 WR's that go for over 1,000 yards.
d. Cody Johnson will be Texas leading rusher.
e. Texas has 4 players with 5+ sacks next season.
f. Alex Okafor and Christian Scott will emerge as starters before seasons end.
g. Malcolm Williams will have 8+ TD's next season.


A: I like the game and because it reminds me of a segment from "The Drive", I'll turn it into Buy or sell, instead of true or false.

a) Buy. That's an average of less than two per game. I'll put him at 30-35.
b) Buy. Give me Aaron Williams, Earl Thomas and Blake Gideon.
c) Sell. Jordan Shipley will get there, but I think Brandon Collins and James Kirkendoll will have to share opportunities with the likes of Malcolm Williams and John Chiles. That being said, it's not impossible and I think both could be within reach of that number.
d) Sell. I'm still not convinced that he's the front-line guy in the running game. Also, he's going to need to prove that he can hold up physically over the course of an entire season.
e) Buy. Yes, I'm drinking the Muschamp kool-aid, but barring injuries, I think Sergio Kindle, Sam Acho, Lamarr Houston and… wait for it… Alex Okafor will hit the number this fall.
f) I already consider Scott a starter because he's in the starting nickel, which might as well be the base package for this team. On the other hand, I'm not sure who Okafor pushes out of the line up in his first year because I expect Acho to have a breakout season.
g. Sell. It's not because he's not talented enough to catch that many or more, but there are a lot of receivers that will be waiting in line for touches. Eight seems a tad too high.

Q: (Utsaappt802) - I have read on here in several places that Texas would need to have an undefeated season to make up for our pitifully weak Non Conference Schedule in order to be considered for the National Title Game. Although I agree on this I was wondering who you think has the possibility to go undefeated this year that could throw a monkey wrench into the selection process much like the Auburn snub in 2003 (I believe that was the year). I think whoever wins the RRR in the Big 12 has a shot at it. Hard to believe an SEC team could do it but Florida might have enough to get I done. USC in the Slack-10 and Ohio State in the Big-10 has a shot. Hell maybe even VT. If you had to put money on it, who would you pick to win them all this year and why?

A: I don't think there's any way that an undefeated Texas squad gets left out of the national championship equation, but obviously it's going to be a beauty pageant if we're staring at a bunch of one-loss teams at the end of the season and it's probably impossible to project the outcome at this stage. Hell, I would have never believed that the coaches and media would vote Oklahoma ahead of Texas, given their identical records and what happened on the field in Dallas, so I'm not sure that sanity and logic are big factors.

If we're talking about which teams have the best shot to finish the season undefeated, well, let's look at the field.

Ohio State - They've got USC in Columbus in week two of the season. Just as it was last season, that will have an early elimination game feel to it. Outside of that game, the rest of the schedule is very manageable, with the exception of two road games that end their season - at Penn State and at Michigan. They seem like an unlikely undefeated team in my opinion.

USC - In addition to the road game in Columbus on September 12th, they've got road games at California, Notre Dame, Oregon and Arizona State. The Trojans have the talent to run the table, but that's no walk in the park schedule.

Florida - The Gators should be undefeated when they head to Baton Rouge on October 10th. That's the tough game on the schedule and if they can get past it, the only out of state games on their schedule are at Mississippi State and South Carolina. They do have to face Georgia on a neutral field, as well as Florida State at home and the likelihood of the SEC Championship game.

Oklahoma - Their schedule is loaded. In addition to the game in Dallas with the Longhorns, they have road games at Miami, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State this season. Wow, that's easily the toughest schedule of any of the top teams in this discussion.

Alabama - Opens with pre-season Top 10 Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome to open up the season. They'll follow that up with road games at Ole Miss and Auburn, along with home games against Tennessee and LSU.

Virginia Tech - After getting a piece of Alabama to open the season, the Hokies get Nebraska and Miami at home. That finishes off the month of September. The rest of the schedule looks manageable, but it does feature road games at Georgia Tech, East Carolina, Maryland and Virginia. When you throw in home games against Boston College and North Carolina, you've got a pretty formidable schedule.

LSU - The Tigers have a pretty brutal schedule. In addition to road games at Washington, Georgia, Alabama and Ole Miss, they have home games against Florida and Auburn. Have fun with that.

Overall, I think Texas and Florida have the schedules that set up best for possible undefeated runs.

Q: (dragworm) - Ketch, if you had to walk down a dark alley in a bad part of town who is the one guy from the team that you would want to have your back?

A: Sergio Kindle. Next question.

Q: (principle) - What is your best guess of ships left to give out? Give us your rank order by needs and who will Texas want to see commit to fill their needs.

A: There could be a few national out of state prospects that Texas gets involved once the spring evaluation process begins, but for the most part this is going to be a party centers on Lache Seastrunk, Darius White, Jackson Jeffcoat, Corey Nelson and Jordan Hicks.

Overall, this isn't a team that has a lot of needs in recruiting. Texas is always looking for difference makers, period. If we're talking about this group of players, I think linebacker is probably the team's biggest remaining need among this group, along with true explosive weapon at running back.

Q: (LMAHORN) - Any news about the development of Michael Wilcoxon? I was hoping that he would be ready to contribute in this coming year at a position that we need help, but I am not hearing his name mentioned a lot. If he can't make the 2 deep this year is there any hope for the future?

A: It's important to remember that Wilcoxon is still a fairly young player and I never considered him to be a viable option on the field until his third or fourth season, which is the spot in his career he's close to approaching. As he prepares to enter his third season, he still hasn't performed well enough to lock down a spot in the rotation and he's going to have his hands full holding off freshmen Calvin Howell and Derek Johnson because they are better athletes with higher long-term upsides. The next six months are going to likely be the most critical stretch of his career because the need is for help is very real and he's not giving the team what the coaches are looking for. If he doesn't get there by this fall, the coaches will start to look in other directions.

Q: (rafa) - What is up with Aundre McGaskey, the offensive lineman from La Marque? I thought he was the primary backup at right tackle last season. It seems that the only right tackle discussion lately has been regarding the shoulder surgery to Kyle Hix and the way that Britt Mitchell has stepped in. Has Aundre been passed up by Britt? Is Aundre playing tackle or guard this Spring? Wasn't he an interior lineman in high school?

A: McGaskey is a guy that I still have high hopes for, but he's third-team right now and has fallen behind Mitchell on the depth chart. At this point, he's focusing on right tackle and hasn't been the one of the best two at that position on campus. He was recruited as a guy that could play inside or out, but he just hasn't emerged as a factor at any position on the line through this spring.

Q: (big rusty) - Locker Room newbie here Ketch. I've been a member of this site for a long time and after watching you put the smack down on a couple of posters for their negative holier than you attitudes towards recruits, I was wondering if you have ever had a recruit tell you man, "those guys on your message board were really ripping me" or anything of that nature? I'm not even sure if you are allowed to mention anything like that but I was curious.

Second Question: What do you think has led to Texas not being able to land a top flight 5* back in the last few years. I think the last back that I was really excited about coming to the 40 was JC. Is it the spread offense and mostly shotgun formations or something else. I know that we missed out on Darrell Scott last year but I think most of us were ready for that one because of all of the OOS failures in recent memory. Hopefully we can land Lache and get over that hump. Thoughts.


A: First, after eight years of being a member of our little dysfunctional family, I'm glad you finally sent in a Locker Room question. Keep'em coming.

Second, I think it's safe to say that each year I'll have a prospect or two each year that's more sensitive about what's said on the board about them than others. It's certainly not a new faze and there have been players that have gone on to have Pro Bowl careers in the NFL that were probably a little too worried about what was being said from posters on the board. It's just part of the deal and I think the majority of prospects/players understand clearly that anything that's said on a message board has to be taken with a grain of salt - both good and bad. I cannot think of any kids that had Texas as a finalist that's told me the message boards played a role in any decision, but I know it has happened with other schools. It definitely happened with Texas A&M and McKinney offensive lineman Bob Morton in 2002.

Finally, I think it's more about running back selection than the inability to sign big-time players. Texas didn't have any problem in 2005 and 2006 with landing big-time running back prospects, but if you look at 2007-09, the real question has been about selection. Thus far, none of the players taken in those classes have emerged as impact players and at this point there are some that believe only Chris Whaley (2009) has a chance to emerge from that three-year recruiting stretch as a top-end college player. Again, I would stress the need to let some of these young players develop a little before writing them off, but I do agree that this position is not as strong as most in the program with top-end players.

Q: (Eray7758■) - I remember on the main page of rivals right around NSD an article breaking down each position and the best recruits at each position that have signed over the past several classes. Desean Hales was in the top 5 at APB, clearly he is working at receiver. My question is this is a guy who has versatility and blazing speed do you see Greg Davis using him as a Percy Harvin type player or moving him around at all? or is he strictly a receiver? or is this just too early to speculate?

My second question could your project a starting 5 and sixth man for basketball one assuming Damion James comes back and one assuming James leaves?

Finally, just for fun, who ranks higher out of high school VY or T Pryor?


A: There's no question that Hales has the kind of explosive ability that could make him a major weapon at the high college level. Here's the deal - he's still learning the wide receiver position and all of the nuances that come with it. On top of that, he's got some outstanding upper-classmen in front of him that swallow up a lot of the reps. When the light switch comes on, Hales can be a do-it-all player from all corners of the field and the staff can't wait to take advantage of his skill set.

Second, here my early starting five - PG: Dogus Balbay or Varez Ward, SG: Avery Bradley, SF: Jordan Hamilton, PF: Gary Johnson and C: Dexter Pittman. If Damion James did decide to return, I think Hamilton likely comes off the bench to start the season.

Finally, it's VY and it's not even close.

Q: (iluvdahorns) - It appears that the door may be rapidly closing, or possibly already slammed shut, with DeMarco Cobbs and Trovon Reed; it also looks like Torrea Peterson's offer is no longer committable... with that being said, if you had the power to hand out 3 new offers, who would you offer? Would you focus on filling specific needs or would simply take the 3 best players on your board regardless of position or the number of players already committed, at that respective position, in 2010? Would some of those new offers be contingent on what another prospect, perhaps someone who's currently offered but remains uncommitted, does? Would you offer 2 guys with relatively similar skill sets one scholarship and take the first to commit?

If it were up to me, I'd offer DeAndrew White (WR), Evan Washington (OL) and Shawn Lewis (OLB) ASAP...


A: I don't think the Longhorns have a lot of big needs, so I would just comb the hallways of the five-star difference makers and see if the Longhorns can get some traction. In my mind, finding an elite-level tight end prospect is really important because I don't think Texas has truly signed a difference maker there since 2005. The only way it's going to happen is they go out and make it happen with a national search. Outside of that, you can always use big-time players across the board, so the position is a secondary concern in my mind. Outside of quarterback, wide receiver and offensive line - go make it happen.

If I had to stay in-state, I would offer DeAndrew White, Evan Washington and possibly Nate Askew.

Q: (texaztom) - You have commented in the past that you were surprised that Texas did not parlay its 2005 NC into stronger recruiting in the 2007 class. Yet, for the 2008, '09, and '10 classes, it seems that each is better than the one before. Any explanation for the one year lull, and subsequent snowball effect?

A: The 2007 class was actually very good, but there were some selections by the staff that year that were somewhat curious. I think the staff is doing a better job of evaluating talent in the last couple of years across the board than they did that season.

Q: (Horndaddy) - I grew up in the Royal era when UT basically got "all" the recruits they wanted, so I was spoiled at an early age! Nevertheless it seems that Mack and company are reaching new heights in in-state recruiting efficiency. I know that it is early in the recruiting process and that the prospect rankings will change, but it seems like Texas is sweeping the state again. Last year UT landed 5 of the top 10, 11 of the top 20 of the LSR rankings with Oklahoma coming in second with 3/20 and LSU third at 2/20. This year is looking even better with UT currently 4/10 (3-4 undecideds leaning towards UT) and 11/20 not counting the undecideds. Four part question, if UT gets 2 of the top 4 undecideds;

1) Has UT had a better 2 year run on the state top 20 talent in the past?

2) With Texas, Florida, and California considered the real pipelines for talent, do any other schools dominate their home turf like Texas currently does?

3) Can Oklahoma remain a power if Texas continues to dominate the Texas talent this way;

4) Is the up-tick in in-sate domination due to the influence of Muschamp and Applewhite or is it Mack Brown perfecting the early recruiting technique?

5) Finally now that it has been a few months and Texas seems to be having it's way on the recruiting front, can you evaluate the true impact of the McFarland story from last year and do you still feel like it could have negative impacts on future recruiting?


A: Lots of questions: Let's just work our way through them:

1. If the Longhorns finish this 2010 class with the likes of Darius White, Lache Seastrunk, Jackson Jeffcoat, Jake Matthews and Corey Nelson, I think you can make a very strong case that the two-year stretch in 2009-2010 is as good as Mack Brown and Co. have ever recruited.

2. USC could dominate the state of California like the Longhorns dominate Texas, but they recruit more nationally and it allows other schools to get strong competitive footholds in that state. It would be a little tougher for Florida to completely dominate the state of Florida, although they carry a big stick there right now.

3. That's a good question. Their national recruiting will probably need to improve if they want to stay on the same level with Texas because the key to their success has always been their recruiting from Texas. Mack Brown has beaten Bob Stoops three of the last four times they've met and I think it's not a coincidence that the Sooners haven't been a real competitive threat in recruiting with the exception of a few top kids in 2008.

4. Yes.

5. I think the McFarland deal is a non-story and if anything, it might have improved Texas' standing in a few locations in East Texas because the portrayal of that situation did nothing to earn Oklahoma stronger footing with the high school coaches out there. If all of that stuff had really occurred, are supposed to believe that John Outlaw would let Carrington Byndom head to Austin? It was such garbage that it offended some in the state that have marginal love for the Longhorns or Mack Brown.


Q: (#1HornFan) - With Texas having all of his 2009 class signed, his 2010 class almost complete with verbal commitments and expecting 100-200 2011 kids at the scrimmage this weekend, and completing those tasks in less than 6 weeks, Mack has clearly changed the landscape in regards to recruiting. It is obviously putting pressure on other schools, particularly those that recruit Texas heavily, to make changes to their recruiting strategies. How has this change in recruiting strategy affected your business and what changes do you see Orangebloods, Rivals and other recruiting services making to stay on top of the new trend?

A: I think it's pretty obvious. We've had to adjust the way we evaluate and cover recruiting in the state. The fact that we've got a sophomores list up before anyone else and we're going out of our way to cover kids in all classifications at one time displays more than anything else what Texas has done to the recruiting game/industry in this state. I'll give you a perfect example of what I'm talking about. When I went to the Texas Relays this weekend, I almost exclusively looked for kids from the 2011 class. We've got to better and sharper in our work than ever before, but I think we're doing a good job. It's a fluid process, but I think we continue to run at the top of the curve when it comes to recruiting coverage on Internet school sites. The truth is that we're doing things that very few people in this industry are doing, so it's tough to really compare.


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