Kyle Hicks

No matter how bad things were, no matter how many games the Longhorns lost, they always found a way to win on the recruiting trail.

But Texas may finally be reaping the consequences of a 21-17 record since earning a berth in the 2009 BCS National Championship, including a 11-15 mark in Big 12 play.

Arlington Martin running back Kyle Hicks, who verbally committed to play for the Longhorns in February, decommitted from Texas and pledged to play for TCU on Monday. The four-star prospect becomes the second highly-touted high schooler to decommit from Texas this year, joining Sealy wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones.

“It was really one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life,” Hicks said. “It’s been something that I’ve been thinking about for a while now. They’re two great schools that I like a lot. When it came down to it, my heart was just telling me TCU.”

Hicks said that he wanted to be closer to home and that TCU beating Texas this Thanksgiving, 20-13, had nothing to do with his decision. He’s even optimistic that the Longhorns can right the ship soon.

“Texas is a great school. It’s been my dream school since I was a little boy,” Hicks said. “I can see them being a Top 10 team in the next year. I’m really excited to play against them beacuse you like to play in big games like that. It brings the best out of you.”

The Longhorns aren’t waiting around to fill the spot left vacant by Hicks. Multiple reports, the first by Hookem.com, say that co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin visited with junior college quarterback Tanner McEvoy on Monday.

Similar reports emerged this January about Bo Wallace, also a junior college product, before Wallace signed with Ole Miss, where he started all 12 games this year and led the Rebels, who fell to Texas, 66-31, in September, to their first bowl game since 2009.

Class of 2014 linebacker Hoza Scott, also a four-star prospect, could be on the verge of committing to Texas A&M. Scott told Hornsnation.com recently that Texas seems to be “falling apart.”

And if Texas can’t rely on routinely signing large groups of blue-chip prospects anymore, Scott might be right.

It’s one thing to bring in some of the best players coming out of high school at virtually every position and see many of them not live up to lofty expectations. It’s one thing to miss out on in-state prospects like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Michael Crabtree, LaMichael James and Johnny Manziel.

But it’s an entirely different thing to miss out on most of the blue-chippers altogether.

After going 5-7 in 2010, Texas signed the third-best recruiting class in the country, according to rivals.com. Despite losing five games last year, the Longhorns brought in the nation’s second-best recruiting class. But following an 8-4 regular season this year, Texas’ 2013 recruiting class doesn’t crack the top 10.

Mack Brown has dealt with plenty of problems during his 15-year tenure as the Longhorns’ head football coach. Lack of talent has never been one of them. The man once dubbed “Mr. February” has always hauled in some of the nation’s best recruiting classes. But things on the recruiting trail aren’t heading in the right direction.

While Texas will return the vast majority of its starters next year, the Longhorns’ long-term future could be bleak.

Printed on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 as: Longhorns' recruiting hold on Texas is slipping 

Texas Longhorns football commits perform in first round of playoffs

Plenty of Longhorn commits were in action over the weekend as first round of the Texas High School Playoffs kicked off. Here are the results, with each team’s future Longhorn listed in parentheses.

· Barbers Hill 31 – Livingston (Chevoski Collins, ’13 ATH) 0

· Southlake Carroll 65 – Arlington Martin (Kyle Hicks, ’13 RB) 7

· DeSoto 62 – Harker Heights (Naashon Hughes, ’13 LB, Darius James, ’13 OL) 15

· Cibolo Steele (Erik Huhn, ’13 S) 49 – San Antonio Marshall 17

· Dallas Jesuit (Jake Oliver, ’13 WR) 45 – McKinney Boyd 10

· Lake Highlands (Kent Perkins, ’13 OL) 42 – Plano West 35

· Celina (Jake Raulerson, ’13 ATH) 58 – Krum 27

· Alief Elsik 38 – Cypress Falls (Jacorey Warrick, ’13 WR) 10

· Langham Creek 38 – Eisenhower (Donald Catalon, ’14 RB) 21

· Denton Guyer (Jerrod Heard, ’14 QB) 42 – Saginaw 14

· Abilene Cooper (Lorenzo Joe, ’14 WR) 40 – El Paso Americas 14

· San Antonio Brennan (Derick Roberson, ’14 DE) 42 – Boerne Champion 24

The week’s most impressive performance went to 2014 quarterback Jerrod Heard of Denton Guyer, who threw for 246 yards and ran for 104 more, accounting for three total touchdowns according to the Denton Record-Chronicle. Denton Guyer will take on Aledo in the second round next Saturday.

Harker Heights 2013 center Darius James played his first game since breaking his foot in the first game of the season, but it wasn’t enough to stop DeSoto. James and 2013 linebacker Naashon Hughes were both roughed up in 62-15 loss.

James and Hughes weren’t the only commits to have their high school careers cut short over the weekend though. 2013 running back Kyle Hicks had to watch from the sideline as his Arlington Martin team lost 65-7 to perennial power Southlake Carroll. Hicks injured his knee in the last regular game of the season, and was not healthy enough to play this week.

The second round of the playoffs will open this Friday.

UT commits find mid-season form

Several members of Texas’ 2013 recruiting class came up big over the weekend, including a few record-setting performances.

Whitewright quarterback Tyrone Swoopes’ best efforts weren’t enough Friday night in a 40-36 loss to Leonard. The loss dropped Whitewright to 0-6 on the year, despite Swoopes rushing for 277 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries. The Army All-American Bowl Honoree and Elite 11 participant also threw a 45-yard touchdown pass. Swoopes’ play has helped Whitewright average 23.5 points per game this season, but it hasn’t been enough to prop up a defense that gives up 41.8 points per game. Swoopes, who committed to UT on Feb. 17, is rated as the best dual threat quarterback in the nation by rivals.com.

Swoopes wasn’t the only UT commit to have success on the ground this weekend. Arlington Martin running back Kyle Hicks rushed for three touchdowns in his team’s 63-9 blowout over Fort Worth Paschal. Hicks, who also passed for two touchdowns as a Wildcat quarterback, led 4-2 Martin in setting a new school record for total offense in a single game with 579 yards. Hicks currently leads District 3-5A with 18 rushing touchdowns.

Livingston quarterback Chevoski Collins found success in his first game since committing to play for the Longhorns as Livingston beat Ozen, 21-14. Collins, who committed to UT Monday, rushed for a 30-yard touchdown before leaving the game with cramps. Although Collins plays quarterback for Livingston, he will most likely line up at safety or cornerback for Texas.

Harker Heights outside linebacker Naashon Hughes came up with the biggest play of the night during Harker Heights’ 25-22 double overtime victory over Ellison. Ellison only needed a field goal to send the game into a third overtime, but opted to go for it on 4th-and-2 on the Harker Heights 17-yard line. Hughes sealed the game by tracking down Ellison running back Isaiah Cowan, tackling him for a six-yard loss. The win improved Harker Heights’ record to 2-4, going 2-1 in district play.

The weekend’s most significant performance, however, belonged to Dallas Jesuit wide receiver Jake Oliver. Oliver caught six passes for 96 yards and three touchdowns in Jesuit’s 59-7 win against W.T. White, doing the vast majority of his damage in the first half. Those six catches give him 259 for his career, tying him for the second most catches in state history with University of Oklahoma freshman Trey Metoyer. Oliver needs only six more catches to break the all-time record that former Longhorn Jordan Shipley set in 2003.

Despite his team falling to Nocona 55-47 Friday night, Longhorn commit Tyrone Swoopes lit up the stat sheet for Whitewright. 

Swoopes ended his night 16-for-24 with 167 yards and three touchdowns through the air, but he was even more impressive with his feet, racking up more than 280 yards and three more scores on the ground. Swoopes plays quarterback for Whitewright but is listed as an athlete on ESPN’s RecruitingNation, where he is ranked No. 10 at that position. Adding to his skill set, Swoopes also handles part of the kick-returning and punting duties and had a 73-yard punt in the game.

Wide receiver Jake Oliver had a trip of a lifetime, heading over to Ireland to play Wilmette Loyola Academy (Ill.) in Dublin, Ireland, over the weekend. Oliver led Dallas Jesuit with 13 receptions for 163 yards and had a key touchdown in the second quarter. Oliver is ranked 39th in the nation at the wide receiver position. In both his sophomore and junior years, Oliver racked up more than 1,000 yards receiving, including 1,637 yards and 24 touchdowns last season.

Friday night was a good and bad kind of night for running back Kyle Hicks and Arlington Martin. The Warriors got smacked 37-14 by Desoto, but Hicks had a stellar game compared to the rest of the team. Hicks accounted for both Martin touchdowns, both on the ground, and had 93 yards on 24 rushes. Hicks also flashed his arm, going 4-for-5 passing for 25 yards. Hicks, who is returning from a broken bone in his right foot, is ranked as the 22nd best running back in the nation and is 236th overall player in the ESPN 300. Despite the lack of big numbers, Max Olson of HornsNation said that Hicks was still impressive, making guys miss and pick up yards after contact.

Wide receiver Jacorey Warrick had the least stellar game stats-wise out of the four Friday night in Cypress Falls’ 42-0 win over Oak Ridge. Despite Cypress Falls’ domination on both sides of the ball, Warrick caught only four balls for 84 yards and a score. While playing as a receiver in high school, there is talk that Warrick could be moved to the cornerback position, especially if there is no room for him as a receiver on the depth chart. 

Arlington Martin running back Kyle Hicks became the fifth high school junior to pledge to play for Texas earlier this month. Hicks averaged nearly eight yards per carry and scored 26 touchdowns last year (Photo courtesy of Kyle Hicks).

Ever since Kyle Hicks was young, he has been a fan of the Texas Longhorns. Now, he has made the decision to become one.

Hicks, a junior running back from Arlington Martin High School committed to Texas Feb. 18 after visiting campus on the first junior day held by the Longhorns the previous weekend. He became Texas’ fifth commit.

“I made my decision based on where my heart was,” Hicks said. “And I really liked UT and my heart was there. It felt like home there.”

As a junior, Hicks rushed 217 times for 1,667 yards and 26 touchdowns. But when he arrives in Austin, he will join an impressive group of backs that includes Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray.

But that competition does not concern him. In fact, he is happy about it.

“I love the competition,” Hicks said. “People always ask me ‘What are you doing? They already have good running backs.’ But you know what? I don’t care. I love competition.”

Hicks believes the running backs at UT will help him improve.

“Why not go where you know your teammates can make you better?” Hicks said. “They’re good and I can’t wait to play with them.”

Hicks also received offers from Texas A&M, TCU, Texas Tech, Notre Dame, Arkansas, San Diego State and Michigan. Among those, he seriously considered TCU, A&M and Arkansas. But he said he knew that the coaching program at Texas could make him the best player he could be.

Martin head coach Bob Wager is impressed with Hicks’ ability on and off the field. He said Hicks is the epitome of a team player. Like Hicks, Wager believes the competition at back will help Hicks improve.

“He will be the first to tell you that he regards the current roster of backs as among the elite in the nation,” Wager said. “There was never anything in our discussions that made that a factor that he shied away from — quite the opposite in fact. His goal is to play with the best teammates that he possibly can and compliment their talents to help the Longhorns win.”

Wager said he has great vision and balance. In addition, he is fast and strong. But he has more than just the athletic abilities to be successful.

“When you have the rare combination of your most talented player who is also your hardest worker, that’s the separating factor,” Wager said.

While at junior day, he talked to various recruits Celina High School offensive lineman Jake Raulerson, Whitewright quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and Dallas Jesuit wide receiver Jake Oliver. He and Raulerson keep in touch every day. Hicks is excited to get to Austin and start playing with his future teammates.

“They can all play well and I like the way they play,” Hicks said.

He has developed a strong relationship with co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite and co-recruiting coordinator Bruce Chambers. Hicks and Applewhite talk frequently and the two have developed a great relationship.

This season, Hicks attended his first UT game when the Longhorns defeated Texas Tech. Hicks loved the stadium and the environment there.

“I took a picture at the game and it’s my screensaver on my phone,” Hicks said. “I just looked around and I couldn’t believe how many fans were there. I really liked it.”

He believes that the current team is very strong, but with the commits for the class of 2012 and his class, he thinks the team can win a Big 12 championship and potentially a national championship.

But Hicks will finish his high school career with the goal of winning a state championship.

“I know that I will become a great football player if I go play football there,” Hicks said.

Printed on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 as: Highly productive tailback Hicks doesn't mind a crowded backfield