Longhorns' new recruiting approach paying off as Texas racks up Class of 2014 commits

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If Texas took one step back with its 15-member recruiting class this year, it’s taking two steps forward with the progress it’s making with the Class of 2014.

The Longhorns already have 14 commits for the class that will sign in February – four more than anyone in the country – six of them coming in the last two weeks and three in the last three days.

Texas only had so many scholarships available for Class of 2013 prospects, but the group that signed with the Longhorns was characterized more by who didn’t sign than who did. Ricky Seals-Jones, A’Shawn Robinson, Durham Smythe and Kyle Hicks all decommitted from Texas and went elsewhere on signing day.

“If a young person tells you they’re coming, the parents tell you they’re coming, and they don’t, you wouldn’t want them to be here, very honestly,” head coach Mack Brown said.

But the recent flood of verbal commitments has the Longhorns’ 2014 recruiting class ranked No. 1 in the country by rivals.com and 247sports.com. Texas’ new recruiting approach — offering juniors, holding camps for sophomores and hiring a new director of player personnel in Patrick Suddes — seems to be paying off.

It’s impossible to know right now what kind of impact Suddes, who has been on the job for barely more than a month, has made on the Longhorns’ recruiting efforts. But it’s also hard to believe that Suddes’ arrival from Tuscaloosa, which has coincided so closely with the Longhorns’ recruiting success, has been a coincidence.

“Alabama is doing it better than anybody else,” Brown said. “If you look at the efficiency, it’s something we have not done very well and something that Patrick will bring us.”

At this rate, Texas will be done with its 2014 recruiting class by the time the 2013 season starts in 142 days (but who’s counting?). After not signing a single defensive lineman this year, the Longhorns have gotten three commitments from defensive linemen in the last 12 days, along with two linebackers in the last three.

Despite losing 16 games in the last three years, Texas has convinced more than a dozen of the nation’s best high school football players to pledge to sign with the Longhorns next year – and not just those from the Lone Star State.

Courtney Garnett, a defensive tackle from New Orleans and current teammate of Leonard Fournette, the nation’s top Class of 2014 running back prospect, committed to Texas on Sunday. Two days later, Andrew Beck, a linebacker from Tampa, pledged to play for the Longhorns.

At this point, it’s a matter of hanging on to these blue-chippers, something Texas wasn’t able to do with this year’s class. But the Longhorns are making strides they didn’t make last year on the recruiting trail, indicating that the 2014 class will be much better than the 2013 class.

Recruiting timeline:

Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Jasper TX) - 3/30/13
Trey Lealaimatafao (Warren, San Antonio TX) - 3/31/13
Jake McMillon (Abilene, Abilene TX) - 4/1/13
Courtney Garnett (St. Augustine, New Orleans LA) - 4/7/13
Otaro Alaka (Cypress Falls, Houston TX) - 4/8/13
Andrew Beck (Plant, Tampa FL) - 4/9/13