Since May 31, Texas has landed five ESPN 300 commitments. The Longhorns’ class has vaulted into the top 10 of the class rankings. Maybe, most importantly, Texas has commitments from three of the Lone Star State’s top-10 prospects, including No. 1 B.J. Foster.
Texas has been arguably the winner of summer recruiting with Tom Herman’s renewing the energy around Texas recruiting.
“Nothing against the past staff, but when Coach (Charlie) Strong was there, it’s like a hard feeling to explain,” in-state ESPN 300 prospect Anthony Cook said. “When they were there it was cool, but it was kind of dead, there was no energy and no one was laying a hat and hitting at practice. When I went to a practice (with Herman’s staff), it was up and competitive and the coaches were all talking trash.
“It’s just different and it’s more high energy.”
The previous staffs’ lack of success at home was the most glaring indictment of the Longhorns’ fall with recruits. The University of Texas has not signed the No. 1 in-state prospects since Darius James in the 2013 class. The list of players previously atop the Texas rankings includes Myles Garrett, the No. 1 NFL draft pick, defensive linemen Daylon Mack and Marvin Wilson and offensive tackle Greg Little.
That looks like it’s going to change this year. Foster, the No. 24 prospect, says it’s not just the energy but Herman’s past success and clear direction for the program.
“When I first went there I was like, dang, this is really Texas, but it’s getting hype now and it’s really energized,” Foster said. “(Herman) is getting people to buy into his system and believe that he can bring Texas back, believe in him and that change is coming. What he’s done in the past, what we know he can do, we know he’s capable of doing this.”
Landing Foster and going aggressively after Cook, the No. 3-ranked prospect in the state, is no coincidence either. Herman says their recruiting goal will always be to keep the best players in Texas at home, since, as he believes, they are right in the middle of the best high school football state in America.
“We’re going to build our program around that, and if there’s a better player nationally, then we’ll go after them,” Herman said. “But I’ve recruited this state for a long time, and our staff has 108 years of combined experience recruiting Texas. We’re going to build on those relationships and will always recruit the heck out of the great players in this state first and foremost.”
Herman’s ability helped bring J.T. Barrett to Ohio State from Wichita Falls, Texas, and get five-star Ed Oliver to sign with Houston. So Herman won’t change the blueprint now that he heads the Lone Star State’s flagship program.
With the strong summer that Texas has had, though, it isn’t quite finished yet. Foster says he thinks this could be one of the top classes in the country come signing day, and if all goes as planned for Herman and his staff, Foster might be right.
Along with Cook, the Longhorns are pursuing ESPN 300 defensive back Jalen Green, ESPN 300 defensive lineman Keondre Coburn, tight end Malcolm Epps and receivers Brennan Eagles and Terrace Marshall among others.
It’s not likely they land all of their targets, but if the staff can land five more ESPN 300 recruits, it would give Texas its most ranked commitments since the list expanded to the ESPN 300 in 2013. That could help Herman in his efforts to make Texas a top landing spot for elite recruits.
“We have a vision and a plan for building a championship program at Texas, and kids are responding to it,” Herman said. “There’s a lot of positive energy in the program right now. We will continue to build on that and make Texas a cool place to be again. Making Texas attractive to every 16- to 18-year-old kid is critical.”