Since Charlie Strong arrived in Austin to take over the Texas Longhorn football program, it has been a bit of a mixed bag as far as results. The results on the field have been far from the lofty standards the Longhorn fan base is used to, but despite the struggles on the field Strong and his staff have had a good amount of success on the recruiting trail.
In 2015, the Longhorns won a big head to head battle against in-state rival Texas A&M when they earned the signature of Malik Jefferson and several other blue chip in-state recruits like Chris Warren, Holton Hill, and Kris Boyd.
This year on National Signing Day, Texas became the story of day as they landed several more elite in-state recruits, including guys like Nacogdoches safety Brandon Jones. On top of having a very successful cycle, the Longhorns were able to add several players from the 2016 Baylor recruiting class following them being released from their NLI.
With the talent levels getting back to where they should be in Austin, the pitch of early playing time is becoming a tougher sale in the 2017 recruiting cycle. On top of that, due to majority of the programs within the state of Texas facing various issues, many of the state’s top recruits are seriously considering to taking their talents out of state rather than staying home.
For example, South Grand Prairie cornerback Jeffrey Okudah recently released his top six schools and included no in-state programs on the list. Cy-Fair offensive tackle Austin Deculus was pretty set on taking his talents somewhere outside of the state of Texas and ended up committing to LSU, Bellaire Episcopal defensive tackle Marvin Wilson is heavily considering programs like Alabama, Florida State, and LSU (though Texas is in the picture), and La Grange running back JK Dobbins surprised everyone with an early pledge to Ohio State despite growing up an hour from Austin.
Despite the state of Texas having several options for recruits to choose from, it feels like majority of them are waiting for one of them to give them a reason to stay home rather than bolting for greener pastures elsewhere.
As far as the Longhorns go, recruits have definitely taken notice of the momentum they have gained on the recruiting trail, but the vibe from some is that they want to see how things will play out on the field this fall.
After a sub .500 performance in 2015 and no bowl appearance, you can’t really fault them for taking that kind of approach, when they have programs who are routinely finishing in the top 10 beating down their door.
For me, it feels like the momentum (and the recruits) are there for the taking if things finally materialize for Strong and his squad this fall. With Kevin Sumlin on the hot seat in College Station and Baylor being in turmoil following the firing of Art Briles, it feels like the state is as wide open as it has ever been even with TCU being successful on the field. If Texas can follow up its successful runs on the recruiting trail with success on the field, it feels like things could really take off in Austin and the sleeping giant that is the Texas Longhorns can finally make their way back to being one of the premier programs in the country.
This is going to be one of the more interesting storylines to follow this fall as the season begins, and with Notre Dame coming to Austin to open the season, we should get a good idea of how things are going to play out pretty quickly in 2016 for the Longhorns. With players like Wilson, Walker Little, and Baron Browning still in the picture for Strong and his staff, the Longhorns have a chance to repeat their success on the recruiting trail and Strong has a chance to continue stockpiling talent in the pantry that has been bare for some time.