Bo Davis

A'Shawn Robinson decommits from Texas, caps tough stretch for Longhorns

The hits just keep coming for Texas.

A day after Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds released a statement which admonished co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite for “inappropriate, consensual behavior with an adult student” at the 2009 Fiesta Bowl, Arlington Heights defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson decommitted from Texas. He will likely sign with Alabama.

Even though Robinson committed to play for Texas last February, he also took official visits to Florida State, Southern California, and Alabama. Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban met went to Arlington to meet with Robinson earlier this week. Burntorangenation.com reports that Robinson informed Texas defensive tackle coach Bo Davis of his decomittment during an in-home visit on Saturday.

Davis’ decision comes on the heels of the Applewhite scandal, which may have contributed to Robinson’s choice.

Davis is the fifth former member of Texas’ 2013 class to decommit. Sealy athlete Ricky Seals-Jones, Lancaster defensive end Daeshon Hall, Belton tight end Durham Smythe, and Arlington Martin running back Kyle Hicks all decommitted earlier in the year.

Meanwhile, Texas is already working on replacing Robinson with another exceptionally talented defensive lineman.

Memphis Central defensive end Frank Herron is visiting Austin this weekend, as the Texas coaching staff makes a last-ditch effort to bring him on board. Herron is rated as a five-star by rivals.com, and is currently committed to Louisiana State. He is joined by two other prospects who have also made verbal commitments elsewhere: DeSoto running back Dontre Wilson (committed to Oregon), and Palo Duro safety/wide receiver Montrel Meander (committed to Washington State).

Texas is expected to add approximately three more members to the 2013 class, which now stands at 14.

Recruiting surprise for Texas

Although Texas is notorious for doing most of its recruiting work early, the team had a late surprise on Wednesday. Four-star defensive end Torshiro Davis has switched his commitment from LSU to Texas. He is Texas’ 28th letter of intent for the class of 2012.

At 6-foot-3, 222 pounds, Rivals ranks Davis as the nation’s 125th best overall and ESPNU ranks him 77th overall. Davis made an official visit to Texas in December. He had been committed to LSU since February 3, 2011. But made his decision to switch to Texas shortly after 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

Davis is the fourth player since Saturday to switch a non-binding verbal pledge to Texas. Dalton Santos from Tennessee, Daje Johnson from TCU and Bryce Cottrell from Oregon all switched from their prospective schools. Although he comes from Shreveport Woodlawn High School, a football powerhouse in Louisiana, Torshiro made the tough decision to leave his home state and his commitment to LSU.

Davis had visited both Alabama and Texas during the recruitment process. But his relationship with defensive tackles coach Bo Davis could have contributed to his last-minute change of heart. The two became close during the recruitment process, but met at a summer camp in Alabama his sophomore year. Texas did not give up on recruiting him, even though his allegiance appeared to lie with LSU. Texas continued to recruit him until last week when Davis told the team he would be signing with LSU.

Rivals ranked him as the eighth-best outside linebacker in the country. But he may play defensive end at UT. He specializes in pass rushing.

With Texas’ top recruits mostly on the offensive side of the field, Davis will be an important edition to the slightly depleted defense. Linebackers Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson’s graduations will provide Davis with the opportunity to play early in his career at Texas. He definitely has the ability to make a difference in Texas’ rebuilding effort.

Texas now has 12 of the top 150 prospects in its recruiting class.

After a disappointing 5-7 season two years ago Mack Brown cleaned house, but his new assistants have kept ties with this year's recruits.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

When Stacy Searels first set foot on the field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, he was in awe.
“What a beautiful place,” Searels thought. “Tommy Nobis played here.”

Searels, Georgia’s offensive line coach at the time, eventually took the same position at Texas. An All-American offensive lineman at Auburn, Searels became one of the six new coaches Mack Brown hired last January. Another one of them, co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, had a similar situation when he was introduced to the Longhorns’ 88 year-old football stadium.

“If you go into the stadium, you’re going to take the job, so be careful down there,” Texas head coach Mack Brown warned Harsin. “He said, ‘I’m going to be fine. I’ve been in a lot of stadiums.’ So he walks in and his kids start crying. And I said, ‘We are in.’”

The Longhorns signed one of the nation’s best recruiting classes Wednesday and have assistants like Harsin and Searels to thank. While Harsin, Searels, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt and defensive tackles coach Bo Davis had not been in Austin for a month before last year’s Signing Day, they were instrumental in assembling one of the country’s finest recruiting class.

All but one of 23 members of Texas’ recruiting class of 2011 committed to play for the Longhorns before they went 5-7 and lost two-thirds of their coaching staff. But despite the fact Brown was hiring coaches in the weeks leading up to Signing Day a year ago, he signed all of the players that made verbal commitments to Texas except Chandler, Ariz. native and five-star offensive tackle Christian Westerman.

“We all fought our guts out to keep those 22 kids,” Brown said. “I thought last year’s [recruiting class] was maybe the most satisfying we’ve ever had with all the problems we had.”

The Longhorns went on to play 17 true freshmen last season, more than any team in the nation, including Big 12 Freshman of the Year defensive back Quandre Diggs and Holiday Bowl MVP quarterback David Ash. Rookie running backs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron combined to rush for more than 1,200 yards despite each missing three games due to injuries. Freshman left tackle Josh Cochran took over midseason for Tray Allen, one of the country’s top offensive tackle prospects five years ago.

“Stacy started a lot of freshmen at Georgia,” Brown said. “He doesn’t care. He’s going to play the guys that are passionate enough, in tuned and ready to play every day at practice. He’s a very demanding coach. But I just think that he’s really good at what he does.”

With Texas not having to piece its coaching staff back together, the Longhorns used its newfound stability to reel in a superb recruiting class this year. Brown’s assistants, especially Searels and Davis, were crucial to picking up prospects such as Torshiro Davis, once committed to LSU, but who signed with Texas. The four-star linebacker from Shreveport had known Bo Davis since his days coaching at Alabama.

Searels also helped the Longhorns steal away a recruit from the SEC when Van High School linebacker Dalton Santos, who Searels had his eye on since he was at Georgia, committed. Brown said that Searels nabbed all of the offensive linemen he was targeting, including junior college transfer Donald Hawkins. Davis also attracted a junior college player to Texas in 6-foot-6-inch, 335-pound defensive tackle Brandon Moore.

“I’m really impressed with Stacy and Bo and what they’re doing for our line of scrimmage,” Brown said.

“Players like to play for an offensive line coach that played in the NFL, that was an All-American, and that blocked for Bo Jackson. They like to play for a defensive line coach that beat us in the national title game two seasons ago at Alabama.”

After helping the Longhorns sign yet another outstanding recruiting class, Davis has an excellent chance to be part of a national title-winning team at Texas.
 

Junior defensive end Alex Okafor battles a Brigham Young offensive lineman during a Sept. 10 game. Okafor has found sacks hard to come by in 2011.

Photo Credit: Fanny Trang | Daily Texan Staff

The sacks will come.

At least, that’s what the Texas coaching staff believes. While the Longhorn defensive ends have the potential to be some of the more dominant pass rushers in the nation, junior Alex Okafor and sophomore Jackson Jeffcoat have yet to record a sack in the three games this season. In fact, the Texas defense has only had two in 2011 — one from senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho and the other from sophomore defensive tackle Ashton Dorsey.

Still, defensive ends coach Oscar Giles is confident his group will start getting sacks as the season wears on.

“If they come, and I think they will come, they’ll come in bunches,” Giles said.

Part of the Longhorns’ lack of sacks is a direct result of the offenses Texas has faced so far.

“It’s hard now to get sacks now because of the way the offenses are designed,” said defensive tackles coach Bo Davis. “They put the quarterback deeper, and they get the ball out faster. Quarterbacks are not three yards deep any more.”

But while the sacks aren’t showing up in the stat sheet, the Longhorns defensive line is doing other things to cause havoc in the backfield.

“Disrupting the quarterback is the most important thing we have in our scheme,” Giles said. “If we get the sacks, it comes. I think right now it’s a work in progress. Are they making all the sacks? No. But what I like about our guys is they’re disrupting the quarterback.”

The Longhorns finally got consistent pressure up front last week against UCLA. But while Texas only had one sack in that game, the line hurried the Bruins quarterbacks and forced them to make bad passes, which led to three interceptions in the first quarter.

“We rushed the quarterback on some of those throws which caused some inaccuracy,” said defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. “That’s how you defend the pass.”

On one series, Jeffcoat plowed one Bruins offensive tackle into the quarterback’s grill, forcing quarterback Kevin Prince to throw off his back foot and float a pass that junior safety Kenny Vaccaro intercepted.

Jeffcoat didn’t register a sack on the play, but his pressure lead to a turnover.

“It’s like going out to block a field goal,” Davis said. “Every time you go out to block a field goal, do you go out to block it or do you go out to affect the kick?

“So when you’re rushing the quarterback you may not get a sack, but the goal is to affect him and make him move his feet. And once you affect the quarterback, his throwing rhythm is off. The interceptions we’ve had come from making the quarterback get out of rhythm.”

In three games, the Longhorns have faced a steady diet of teams using the zone read, which has changed the roles of the defensive ends. Instead of pinning their ears back and darting up field to get the to the quarterback, Okafor and Jeffcoat are being asked to support the run defense.

So far, the game plan hasn’t relied on the ends getting sacks.

“I don’t want a guy to be selfish to go get a sack when his job is to squeeze down and play the zone read,” Giles said.

“We have to be disciplined. You make sure you take care of your responsibility, and then you go rush the passer.

“If we’re working on getting Alex Okafor five sacks, and we lose the game, it’s not a benefit to our whole team. If we get sacks, great. But we’re not concerned about getting a sack for Alex or Jackson Jeffcoat if we lose.”

But while the chances for sacks have been somewhat limited during the first three weeks of the season, Texas foresees the sacks piling up once the leaves start to change colors and conference play begins.

That’s when the defensive line will go against offenses they already have a feel for.

“You’ll see a change, and you’ll start seeing guys make more sacks and getting the quarterback on the ground,” Davis said.

Printed September 22, 2011 as: Longhorns pass rush yields few sacks