While the Texas coaching staff eagerly anticipates this week’s national signing day, the wheels are already rolling for next year’s recruiting class.
With seven commitments, Texas is beginning to lay the foundations for a solid 2014 group.
Quarterback Jerrod Heard is known for his level-headed leadership and competitive nature. After overcoming a 16-point deficit in the Class 4A Division I state title game this season, Heard rallied his team to win Denton Guyer High’s first state title.
Despite five other offers, Heard, who threw for 4,000 yards and 52 touchdowns in his junior season,committed in August and already sees himself as a Longhorn.
Defensive end Derick Roberson didn’t hesitate for long either. As a top defensive end in the state, he has a solid frame and strong film that upstaged other edge rushers.
“I came home from jogging and my dad handed me the phone and said it was Coach Akina from UT,” Roberson said. “He told me they offered and that they wanted me to come to school. I committed right away.”
Abilene Cooper junior Lorenzo Joe was raised as a Longhorn fan. When Joe was offered the chance to play at Texas he didn’t hesitate to commit, despite an offer from Texas Tech.
Though he started as a high school quarterback this season, Joe was recruited as a wide receiver for the Longhorns and brings his signature fluidity and flexibility to the field.
The coaching staff took it upon themselves to find running backs who can fill the gaps that will be left by Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron upon their graduation in two years.
The first is Donald Catalon, a junior at Eisenhower High School in Houston. Lauded for his balance, great feet and instincts on the field, Catalon is well-recognized as one of the top running backs in the state.
“Duke,” as he’s known, had offers from Oklahoma State, SMU and Texas Tech, but committed to Texas in August.
The second, Daniel Gresham, a fullback from All Saints Episcopal in Fort Worth, had offers from Ole Miss and Tennessee. Hailing from Louisville, Ky., Gresham was raised as a Cardinals fan despite moving to Texas at age 12.
Admired for his ability to break tackles and consistent speed, Gresham traveled to Austin in June for a training camp and was charmed by the Longhorn experience. Though he didn’t get to meet Mack Brown, the coaching staff left an impression on him.
“I loved it,” Gresham said. “Coach [Major] Applewhite was my favorite. He’s a real cool guy.”
Fellow All Saints player Demetrius Knox committed to Texas in November. Standing tall at 6 feet 5 inches and 300 pounds, Knox is one of the top-ranked offensive guard in the state , and possesses a knack for technical footwork and explosive power on the field .
Texas’ seventh recruit, a speedy junior from Sharpstown High School in Houston, was eager to cut to the chase when it came to the recruiting process.
Despite the fact that colleges were just beginning to bait him with the prospect of offers, Roderick Bernard pledged his allegiance to Texas.
“I committed to Texas today. I’m a Longhorn,” Bernard said last Wednesday night.
Coveted for his quickness, Bernard garnered attention as a defensive back and was named a First-Team All-District selection. Additionally, he made the second team as a wide receiver, scoring nine touchdowns and tallying 790 yards.
Early commitments mark a change in recruitment strategy that took place last August. Prospective Longhorns used to have to hold off until February of their junior year to announce their commitments, as well as attend UT junior day to receive an offer.
Now, young commits no longer have to be silent regarding their pledges to play for Texas.