Duvernay in middle of Baylor-Texas offseason issues

Devin Duvernay was the prized jewel of Baylor's 2016 recruiting class, an elite wide receiver whom former coach Art Briles called "the fastest football player we've ever signed" in February. In the highest-rated recruiting class in Bears history, he was supposed to be their No. 1 recruit.

Which makes for an uncomfortable reunion Saturday afternoon when No. 8 Baylor takes on Texas, and Duvernay is right in the middle of it.

"I haven't talked to anyone there," Duvernay said last week. "I just expect to go out there and play and do our best to win."

Along with Duvernay, an ESPN 300 receiver, the two other highest-rated ESPN 300 members of the Bears' once-top-10 rated class -- Patrick Hudson and J.P. Urquidez -- enrolled at Texas in the fallout of Baylor's handling of sexual assault allegations made against students, including football players.

Undoubtedly, Texas was the biggest beneficiary when Baylor released eight Class of 2016 signees from their national letters of intent. But Duvernay's case was the most complicated of them all, and he's the only one who will play for the Longhorns on Saturday.

The Duvernay brothers -- Devin and twin Donovan, a three-star defensive back -- were three days away from enrolling at Baylor this summer when Briles lost his job.

Before Baylor's freshmen were scheduled to arrive, Baylor's board of regents released the scathing summary of the findings of the Pepper Hamilton law firm's investigation into the school's handling of sexual assault complaints. Since then, four federal Title IX lawsuits have been filed against Baylor. Further, the U.S. Department of Education has opened its own investigation into the university's handling of Title IX cases after receiving a complaint from Patty Crawford, Baylor's former Title IX coordinator.

Briles was removed as head coach on May 26. That week, the Duvernay family -- from Sachse, Texas -- was "packed and ready to go" to Waco, said Henry Duvernay (Devin and Donovan's father). The family was planning to move the twins into their dorms on May 29. They canceled that trip and filed requests to be released from the Baylor national letters of intent soon after learning Briles was out. But on June 1, they learned Devin was not actually bound to an NLI.

Baylor had failed to fax Devin's NLI paperwork to the Big 12 office. Henry Duvernay said he still doesn't know how that error was made. But once compliance officials made the revelation, Devin became a free agent.

When word got out on June 2, the Duvernays got calls or messages from more than 40 schools.

"The phone was ringing off the hook," Henry said. "I put it down by about 7 p.m. and I stopped answering it."

Devin had his heart set on playing for Briles and the Bears. And despite the paperwork mistake, Baylor stilled hoped he would honor his commitment.

Baylor interim coach Jim Grobe tried to persuade Devin and the rest of the recruits to stick with Baylor. But Grobe knew what he was up against from rival recruiters.

"As the process played out, we wanted kids that wanted to be at Baylor at Baylor," Grobe said. "We didn't care if the kids moved on to other schools. We'd be disappointed, because we need them here. But in the long run, I want the kids to be happy."

Duvernay said his concerns were related to losing the coaches he had relationships with and also living with the fallout from the scandal.

"Hearing they'd be all gone and not knowing what would happen and if there would be any bowl sanctions or penalties and stuff, I just wanted to be safe and get out," Duvernay said.

The brothers narrowed their focus to Texas and TCU. They'd grown up fans of the Longhorns thanks to their uncle, former MLB player and Texas alum Calvin Murray. When Devin restarted his recruitment in June, he said Texas assistant coach Jeff Traylor was "on me hard" -- and so were Texas freshmen Shane Buechele, Brandon Jones and Reggie Hemphill-Mapps. So Devin made a visit to Texas on June 11.

New offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert sold Devin on a familiar vision of rebuilding Texas' offense. Gilbert hails from the Briles coaching tree and said he leaned on Briles "very heavily" when deciding whether to take the Texas job last December. During Devin's visit, Gilbert explained his plans to utilize his version of Briles' offense, one of the many factors that won Devin over.

"I felt comfortable with Coach [Charlie] Strong and just felt like they have a ton of talent and the future's bright here," Devin said. "I felt like I could come join and help out."

Two and a half weeks after he was supposed to move into his Baylor dorm, Devin committed to Texas. Donovan's release and commitment followed shortly. Along with Hudson and Urquidez, they enrolled in July.

Devin's speed and athleticism have already made a difference for Texas' offense. The other three have some catching up to do. Donovan is redshirting this season, as are Hudson and Urquidez. Of the eight recruits who bailed on Baylor, five have ended up playing right away: Devin, Kameron Martin (Auburn), DeQuinton Osborne (Oklahoma State), Parrish Cobb (Oklahoma) and Brandon Bowen (TCU).

Despite losing the bulk of its historic recruiting class, Baylor is 6-0 and ranked No. 8 in the AP poll. Grobe said he feels no animosity about Devin's decision, and he praised the receiver this week.

"Speed, speed and more speed," Grobe said. "We didn't miss on that guy. We thought he was really, really special and he's proved that to us. When you watch him run by people, it makes your heart skip a little bit because you know you've got to go defend that guy."

And as Devin prepares for the team he was supposed to join, he is finding his fit in Texas' offense. He is the guy who can outrun everybody. He has flashed his 10.27 100-meter dash speed with touchdowns of 63, 75 and 80 yards on long bombs from Buechele and leads the team in receiving yards.

"In practice, it's always fun seeing if I can throw it as far as I can, to see if I do overthrow him," Buechele said. "It hasn't happened yet."

Henry Duvernay thinks his son will experience some jitters on Saturday afternoon when he lines up against the Baylor players he knows well and sees the assistant coaches he'd signed to play for (who stayed after Grobe was fired). But Devin won't be lacking any confidence.

"I don't think anyone can cover me," he said.