Geoff Swaim

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

Entering the weekend, the Texas football season had been mostly noted for its missed opportunities. The Longhorns entered their matchup against No. 23 West Virginia 0-4 against top-25 teams, riding a seven-game losing streak against ranked teams.

All of that changed Saturday when the Longhorns played their best half of the season in the game’s first 30 minutes, and the defense held strong in the second half to beat the Mountaineers, 33-16.

The win marks the first time Texas has notched consecutive victories under first-year head coach Charlie Strong.

“It’s a really good win for our program,” Strong said. “We just, week by week, we continue to get better.”

The Longhorns managed to strike first on a 2-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes to senior tight end Geoff Swaim. The Mountaineers responded with a 48-yard kick return and managed to drive the ball inside the Texas 2-yard line.

However, the Longhorns held tough against the wall near the end zone, stuffing the Mountaineers on third-and-goal at the Texas 1-yard line. The Mountaineers came away from the drive with a field goal, but the goal-line stand made a statement.

“I think that kind of set the momentum,” senior linebacker Jordan Hicks said. “The crowd was into it; the defense was able to stop them. We got a few tackles for losses and held them there on the goal line. That’s gigantic.”

The Longhorns gashed the Mountaineers on the ground to the tune of 227 yards, including 101 yards by junior running back Johnathan Gray. Senior running back Malcolm Brown added 90 yards on the ground on 20 carries.

The duo was especially effective during the second quarter, in which the Longhorns scored 17 unanswered points, highlighted by two long runs from Gray.

The first went for 39 yards and a score, while the second run followed a 25-yard run by Brown, in which Gray hit the hole for a 40-yard gain. Gray capped the drive from two yards out to give the Longhorns a 21-3 lead.

“[The] offensive line did a great job opening holes,” Gray said. “They knew what we had to do to get the job done tonight, and they did it.”

On the other side of the ball, senior defensive end Cedric Reed dominated the Mountaineers’ offensive line with three sacks. Reed’s penchant for finding the quarterback was akin to his play last season, marking a bounce-back performance after recording only 1.5 sacks through the first nine games this year.

“Tonight, after I got that first sack, I went up to Coach [Chris] Rumph and told him, ‘Sacks come in bunches, so you better watch out,’” Reed said.

The Mountaineers ended up outgaining the Longhorns by nearly 100 yards but were held to a season-low 16 points and did not get into the end zone until early in the fourth quarter.

Texas won the battles on third and fourth downs, allowing West Virginia to convert only 3-of-17 third-down attempts and 3-of-5 fourth-down attempts.

“We had to win on third down, and we were able to win on third and fourth down,” Strong said.

The win was a step toward bowl eligibility for the Longhorns, who are now 5-5 on the season and need to win at least one of their final two contests. Despite defeating a top-25 opponent at home for the first time since 2008, some players were hesitant to call Saturday a signature win.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Reed said. “It’s just another win — another Big 12 win."

Early enrollees arrive on campus

The UT football team officially gained four new members this week, as early enrollees made their way to the 40 Acres. The athletic department issued a statement on Sunday that Jake Raulerson, Tyrone Swoopes, Deoundrei Davis, and Geoff Swaim had all enrolled for the spring semester as the first members of the 2013 recruiting class.

Of the bunch, Celina athlete Jake Raulerson has perhaps the most ambiguous football future. At 6-foot-5, 262-pounds, Raulerson played offensive tackle in high school, but is listed by mackbrown-texasfootball.com as an outside linebacker/defensive end. Playing defense would probably be Raulerson’s most direct path to immediate playing time, as concerns about his size and ability to gain weight could hinder his development as a Division 1 offensive lineman. Wherever he plays though, Raulerson’s greatest assets may be his intangibles. Coaches and scouting services rave about his leadership ability, and he was named as one of the West’s team captains at the U.S. Army All American Bowl.

Another AAA Bowl honoree, Whitewright dual-threat quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, comes to Austin as a bit of an enigma. Though some have compared him to Vince Young in terms of physical stature and ability, Swoopes will have to improve his throwing motion in order to reach the heights that Young did while at Texas. In all likelihood, Swoopes will redshirt for the 2013 season, then compete with Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet for the starting job in 2014. Swoopes has not yet arrived in Austin, but should be here by Thursday, according to his Twitter account.

Cypress Woods’ Deoundrei Davis had earned the right to join Raulerson and Swoopes at the AAA Bowl, but those plans were derailed by injury. Davis tore his ACL in an October 5 game against Cypress Springs. Though the outside linebacker is expected to make a full recovery, his availability for spring practice is in doubt. How fast Davis heals will play a large role in deciding how much of an impact he can make in an already crowded Texas linebacker corps.

The early enrollee expected to make the most immediate impact, however, is one of the class’ least heralded. Geoff Swaim played most recently at Butte Community College in Oroville, CA. With only two years of eligibility left, Swaim will be expected to perform right away. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end is known mostly for his blocking ability, and functioned primarily as an H-back at Butte. After the December decommitment of Durham Smythe (the pass-catching tight end from Belton), however, Swaim may also play a more significant role in the passing attack than was previously intended by the coaching staff.

Class of 2013 recruit, Chevoski Collins, No. 14 , verbally committed to Texas on Monday morning. Collins plays quarterback in high school but will likely play defensive back in college (Courtesy of Livingston High School).

Chevoski Collins became the 15th member of the 2013 Longhorn recruiting class on Monday morning, verbally committing to Texas in an announcement at his high school in Livingston, Texas.

Collins’ commitment is the first for the Longhorns since mid-June, when Butte Community College tight end Geoff Swaim chose Texas. Collins considered offers from Oklahoma, Baylor and Oklahoma State, but ultimately couldn’t resist staying closer to home.

“When I went to the University of Texas, it felt like family,” Collins told ESPN.com. “I just felt welcome there. And it’s so close to home, my family can come see me.”

Rivals.com rates Collins as the third-best athlete prospect in the state of Texas. Although he currently plays quarterback for the 1-4 Livingston Lions, Collins will likely spend his Longhorn career as a defensive back.

Collins won’t be the only member of the Longhorn secondary who spent significant time on offense in high school. Freshman Adrian Colbert, sophomore Quandre Diggs, junior Adrian Phillips and sophomore Josh Turner were all used to having the ball in their hands before coming to Texas.

Collins will join Cibolo Steele safety Erik Huhn and Bastrop cornerback Antwuan Davis as the third addition to the Longhorn secondary from the class of 2013. All three were recruited by UT secondary coach Duane Akina.

Texas is expected to accept only three or four more commitments for this recruiting cycle after bringing in classes of 25, 22 and 28 from 2010 to 2012. The 2013 class has the potential to be Texas’ smallest since 2003, when Texas signed only 18 players. With so few spots available, the Longhorns can afford to be selective in deciding which players will fill out the class.

Caleb Benenoch, an interior lineman from Katy who decommitted from Michigan State in June, is among the most likely candidates to be the next UT commitment. Benenoch is considering offers from schools around the country, although he has listed Texas as one of his top choices after visiting Austin this past weekend.

Even though he does not currently have a scholarship offer, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is a dark horse to sign with Texas in February. The Illinois receiver is rated by Rivals.com as the best wideout in the country, and has been talking to UT receivers coach Darrell Wyatt. Although Treadwell is entertaining offers from dozens of schools including Florida, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio State, it is speculated that he will likely visit Austin before making a decision.

Other potential Longhorns include cornerback Cole Luke (who visited campus this weekend), Dallas Kimball defensive tackle Justin Manning and safety Marcell Harris of Orlando, Fla.

Printed on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 as: Collins commits, ends long drought