After years of being bullied, Brown finally fighting back

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When Bob Stoops snatched Adrian Peterson out of East Texas in 2004, it set in motion a precedent that Mack Brown couldn’t quite shirk: Stoops and Oklahoma owned Texas, not only on the gridiron, but also on the recruiting trail.

The numbers don’t lie. For the better part of the last decade, homeland security has been a bit of an embarrassment for Brown. In 2004, he lost out on Peterson, the top-rated player that year according to Rivals, and Rhett Bomar, the top quarterback in the nation. Both from Texas, both headed to Oklahoma. In 2005, Stoops again poached a couple of highly rated players out from under Brown’s nose, notably Malcolm Kelly, a future NFL draft pick.

But 2008, most would agree, was the low point. Brown and Texas lost the top three players in the state to those Sooners, and a year later, in 2009, they lost the nasty recruiting battle for Lufkin’s Jamarkus McFarland, now a starting defensive tackle for Oklahoma.

Need more proof? From 2004 to this year’s class, forty seven percent of Oklahoma’s signed commits hailed from Texas. Sheesh, get your own state.

But things have improved. Not only has Texas been able to defend its home turf better, fighting off Oklahoma for Plano West’s Jackson Jeffcoat last year, but Mack has also served Stoops a taste of his
own medicine.

With Wednesday’s signing of Oklahoma’s top ranked player, cornerback Josh Turner, Texas has now signed the best player from the state of Oklahoma the past two years. Last year, it was the heralded Demarco Cobbs, who figures to see an increased role at safety this fall. If and when Cobbs and Turner team up in the secondary, they’d give Texas’ defensive backfield a strong Oklahoma flavor.

How has Mack done it? Simple. His teams started showing up in Dallas. The Longhorns’ five-game slide to Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry created the notion that Texas was soft, that they were weak, that they had no chance of ever winning a Big 12 title or national title if they couldn’t even get past the Sooners in so many tries. Frankly, it was true. That’s why Peterson chose Oklahoma, saying at the time that he wanted to win a national title and didn’t think it was possible at Texas.

So Mack rallied the troops and beat the Sooners in Dallas 45-12 en route to the Longhorns’ 2005 National Championship. The next year, Texas beat Oklahoma again. They’ve swung the tide of the Red River Rivalry to their favor recently, despite this past season’s loss.

Furthermore, Mack’s taken back Texas. While Oklahoma did sign 12 prospects from our state this year (out of 17 total commits), only one of them was offered by Texas. Inviting high school juniors to the annual February junior days and extending quick scholarship offers has helped Brown seal the deal on several prized recruits before Stoops has a chance to do the same. It’s clear that these days, Stoops is getting the Lone Star leftovers.

When asked how Texas was able to draw him out of Oklahoma, Turner’s answer was simple.

“Texas knows how to recruit, that’s it,” he said. “The players and the coaches; they’re all great.”

And they’ll all welcome Turner with open arms, thankful that after so many years, they finally have the upper hand on their rivals from the north.