Recruiting tends to lend itself to surreal situations.
There was the time Jonathon Colon signed letters of intent with Florida and Miami in 2000, Cyrus Kouandjio gave us an unforgettable moment during an ESPNU signing day broadcast in 20011 when he announced for Auburn but later ended up signing with Alabama, and there have been hundreds of other what-just happened-moments along the way.
But what transpired in the Lone Star State this June, seems almost unprecedented.
In less than a month, Baylor’s historic top-20 recruiting class crumbled after Art Briles was fired in response to a scathing review of the university’s handling of sexual assault allegations made against several football players. In the end, five players from the Bears’ best class in school history were released from national letters of intents, and in another twist, it was also discovered No. 3 receiver Devin Duvernay’s signing wasn’t valid after the school failed to submit the paperwork to the Big 12.
Waiting to pick up the pieces of Baylor’s crumbling class were Charlie Strong and the Texas Longhorns.
First Strong reeled in Duvernay, and then ESPN 300 offensive lineman J.P. Urquidez and three-star athlete Donovan Duvernay announced they were also heading to Austin. But the biggest piece fell into place when Patrick Hudson, the top-ranked offensive guard and No. 56 player in the country, committed and signed a financial aid agreement with Texas on Wednesday.
Landing Hudson was a rather significant feat, because he made an official visit to Oklahoma last weekend and Texas AM was pushing him hard to visit College Station. But when you combine Hudson’s recruitment with all the others that had to be courted again, nothing in the modern era of recruiting matches what Texas was able to accomplish.
“This will go down in the history books as one of the best recruiting jobs ever,” a rival Big 12 assistant coach said. “I know some people will say, ‘It’s just Texas. That’s what they’re supposed to do.’ But that would diminish what Charlie and his guys did here. To say it’s unprecedented might be an understatement.”
Texas was already one of the nation’s top stories on signing day after picking up ESPN 300 players Jeffrey McCulloch, Brandon Jones, Jordan Elliott, Chris Daniels, Erick Fowler and Marcel Southall and finishing with the 10th-ranked class. Now the Longhorns are the story of the summer with four former Baylor signees bolstering their class to include 15 members of the ESPN 300.
“It has to be one of the top five classes in the country after this,” another Big 12 assistant said. “Texas was what everybody talked about on signing day, and now we’re talking about them again this summer over and over. It’s this type of attention that will help them with the 2017 and 2018 classes, too. They’ll surely get a bump after this amazing run.”
The summer additions were also big for the Longhorns because they come at key positions of need.
Anybody that watched Texas last season knew help up front on the offensive line and more offensive playmakers were needed. With Hudson, the Longhorns get one of the most physically developed interior linemen to come out of Texas in a while. One SEC recruiter described Hudson as a “plug and play kid” wherever he landed, and Urquidez also has the potential to see the field quickly. Devin Duvernay is the fastest-recruit in the country with his 10.27-second 100-meter dash time, and new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert has to be licking his chops thinking of the different ways he’ll be able to use that speed in Texas’ spread attack.
“Looking at what Texas did, it wasn’t how many stars they had next to their name, it was what positions they landed them at,” a third Big 12 assistant said. “They got two really good offensive linemen, and Duvernay is a difference-maker at receiver and will be a threat on special teams. They’ll probably get three immediate starters out of this deal, and that’s what makes this situation like something I’ve never seen before.”