With National Signing Day officially in the books, head coach Charlie Strong proved his recruiting strengths on one of the country’s biggest stages.
“We were able to meet our needs,” Strong said. “Our guys did a great job of selling this program.”
The Longhorns’ 2015 recruiting class is the best Texas list since 2012 — ranked No. 11 nationally and No. 1 in the Big 12, according to 247Sports. Strong added 28 signed recruits and displayed the ability to recruit both in state and around the nation. He reeled in 10 out-of-state prospects, five of whom come from Florida.
“The state of Texas will always be our ground,” Strong said. “[But] I don’t mind going out of state to win a battle.”
The Longhorns’ most important commitment of the day came from four-star Rockwall running back Chris Warren, who chose Texas over Washington. Warren, who is ranked No. 8 among running backs, gives Texas another option in a backfield that struggled to produce consistent yardage in 2014. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Warren has a unique blend of size and speed, which showed in his senior year when he rushed for over 2,300 yards and 34 touchdowns.
“[Warren] is a big old strong back,” Strong said. “He has enough speed and quickness to get outside.”
While many expected Warren to choose Texas, Strong surprised experts Wednesday, as he flipped two prospects who were previously committed to other schools.
Strong flipped four-star Aledo receiver Ryan Newsome, who originally chose UCLA over Texas on Jan. 23. Newsome is a small but explosive receiver who racked up 21 total touchdowns in his
senior year. His speed is something the Longhorns lacked at the skill positions this past season, and his agility should make him an immediate contender for playing time this fall.
Strong was also successful in converting Beaumont’s three-star safety PJ Locke, who committed to Oregon last July. Although Locke is a little undersized at 5 feet 10 inches, 189 pounds, he showed his playmaking ability with seven interceptions in his senior year. He takes the place of three-star safety Jamile Johnson, who decommitted from the Longhorns on Sunday.
Newsome and Locke were two of nine commits to sign with Texas after originally committing to other schools.
“You can’t take no for an answer until the paper or fax comes across your desk,” Strong said.
While the Longhorns added three key prospects, the Longhorns missed on some big-name targets. Both five-star targets — Plano West running back Soso Jamabo and Gladewater defensive tackle Daylon Mack — listed Texas as a finalist after visiting the school together on Jan. 23. After the Longhorns seemingly gained momentum with the pair, the two prospects decided to take their talents elsewhere, with Jamabo selecting UCLA and Mack choosing
Texas also missed out on Demarkus Lodge, four-star Cedar Hill receiver, and failed to sign potential three-star targets cornerback Deandre Baker and JUCO wide receiver Dominique Reed.
However, Strong added a variety of talent and addressed several areas of need in his first official recruiting class. More importantly, the Longhorns are confident the recent recruiting success will translate to on-field results.
“This whole team will be a lot better than it was last year,” Strong said.