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Of the state of Texas's top six prospects in the class of 2016, four are headed to the SEC while a fifth chose to attend a program in the American Athletic Conference. Another player from the state ranked in the top 40 nationally is off to the Pac-12. Recruiting in the Lone Star State did not always feature this much variety. Texas dominated, and other programs tried to keep up. Now the Longhorns must compete not only with Oklahoma and, to varying degrees, the 11 other Football Bowl Subdivision programs in the state of Texas, but also SEC powers like Alabama and LSU and others.
Texas was one of the biggest winners on National Signing Day this year (it landed five-star safety Brandon Jones and several other four-star prospects) and it’s off to a solid start with its 2017 class. The Longhorns have secured commitments from three members of the Scout 300, including five-star defensive end Lagaryonn Carson and four-star quarterback Sam Ehlinger. Still, there’s plenty of nearby talent that programs will be vying for in the coming months. Six of the top-10 recruits hailing from the state of Texas, according to Scout.com, have yet to declare which schools they’ll attend. (Of the other four, quarterback Shawn Robinson is committed to TCU, Carson is committed to Texas, center Jack Anderson is committed to Texas Tech and tight end Brock Wright is committed to Notre Dame.)
While it’s still early in this recruiting cycle—and the Longhorns offered proof just a couple of months ago of what they are capable of pulling off at the eleventh hour—let’s take an early look at those uncommitted prospects, with insight from Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst Greg Powers.
Position: Defensive tackle
High school: Episcopal (Bellaire)
Position rank: 1
National rank: 9
Wilson visited Alabama, Florida State and LSU earlier this year, and he told Campus Insiders in February that the Crimson Tide and Tigers will be on his final list of schools (even though he has not released a list yet). However, Wilson also holds reported offers from Big Ten schools such as Ohio State and Michigan, as well as Pac-12 schools UCLA and USC. It will be up to Texas schools like Texas and Texas A&M to dissuade Wilson from leaving the state. “If I had to handicap it, I think that he ends up somewhere in the SEC or possibly Florida State,” Powers says of Wilson.
Position: Inside linebacker
High school: Plano East Senior (Plano)
Position rank: 1
National rank: 15
Hines has received more than 80 reported scholarship offers, but he released a list of 20 schools last August: Baylor, Duke, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State, Southern Methodist, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech. Hines told Scout.com last month that he plans to enroll early. “He can play any of the linebacker positions in a 3–4 or a 4–3,” Powers says of Hines. “And I think that’s why he’s kind of seen his offer list expand the way it has all across the country—because he’s a really good fit for virtually any program out there.”
High school: South Grand Prairie (Grand Prairie)
Position rank: 1
National rank: 18
There seems to be a pretty good chance Okudah won’t play college football in the Lone Star State. In March he reiterated that Ohio State is the leader in his recruitment, and he plans to visit Columbus when the Buckeyes play their spring game on April 16, according to The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Last month Okudah also indicated he was happy with Ohio State’s hiring of former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano as defensive coordinator, describing it as “crazy,” according to ESPN. “Our prediction would be Ohio State right now for Okudah unless something were to drastically change,” Powers says.
Position: Outside linebacker
High school: Kennedale (Kennedale)
Position rank: 1
National rank: 19
Browning issued a verbal commitment to Baylor in July but elected to reopen his recruitment in February. The other program that has made a sharp rise to the top of the Big 12 in recent years, TCU, could have a decent shot at landing Browning, whose father played for the Horned Frogs. Still, don’t count out the Bears, Texas or Texas A&M. “Now that he’s made that decommitment, will that pressure to follow that tradition and play at TCU be too much for him to turn down?” Powers asks of Browning. “Or will a school like Texas be able to make its push and get him?”
Position: Defensive end
High school: North Shore Senior (Houston)
Position rank: 4
National rank: 47
Like Browning, Chaisson could become a legacy recruit, but at a different school. Chaisson’s father, Kelvin, played linebacker at Baylor (he was shot and killed in 2014). In Chaisson, the Bears could land a top-tier defensive end recruit for the second consecutive year after adding four-star Byron Nelson High product Brandon Bowen as part of their 2016 class. LSU also remains a factor in Chaisson’s recruitment—the Tigers reportedly extended him his first scholarship offer last year—but there isn’t a clear picture. Powers describes Chaisson as someone who “doesn’t really like to do a whole lot of interviews or kind of talk about his favorites.”
High school: Bishop Dunne (Dallas)
Position rank: 7
National rank: 55
Alabama has landed the state of Texas’s top-ranked cornerback the last four years, according to Scout.com: Maurice Smith in 2013, Tony Brown in ’14, Kendall Sheffield in ’15 and Jared Mayden in ’16. Could Calloway follow in their footsteps and join the Crimson Tide? Given Alabama’s recruiting track record, we probably shouldn’t downplay its chances. The Crimson Tide extended him a scholarship offer last summer, and Powers says that “the one offer that really grabbed [Calloway's] attention was the Alabama offer.” However, Powers also notes that “Baylor’s done a really good job in Chevin’s recruitment.” Calloway reportedly took a visit to Waco this year.
Social media item of the week
Bailey Hockman, the No. 15 quarterback in the class of 2017, according to Scout.com, announced his commitment to Florida State on Sunday by posting a message to his Twitter account. The McEachern (Ga.) High standout initially committed to Georgia last June but decided to back off that pledge in December, after Kirby Smart replaced Mark Richt as the Bulldogs’ new head coach.
Three things to know
• Class of 2016 recruit Auston Robertson signed with Michigan State last week, the school announced. Robertson, a four-star defensive end, committed to the Spartans in June but didn’t officially join their ’16 recruiting class on National Signing Day after being arrested in January on a battery charge stemming from an incident last October. Robertson tweeted on Feb. 3 that he was “re-opening my options,” but he ultimately wound up at the same program to which he originally pledged. Court records show that he has entered a pre-trial diversionary program. "Our decision to accept Auston Robertson's signed National Letter of Intent and Big Ten Tender has been evaluated over the last three months while utilizing all resources available to us to thoroughly review his situation," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said in a news release. Robertson is the second-highest rated prospect in the Spartans’ class, which Scout.com ranks 18th nationally.
• Though not as highly regarded as the Texas recruits detailed above, two prospects from the Lone Star State who could still make a big impact at the next level committed to Oklahoma State last week: twin brothers Tylan Wallace and Tracin Wallace. Tylan Wallace becomes the highest-ranked member of the Cowboys’ 2017 recruiting class as the No. 17 wide receiver in the nation, according to Scout.com. He counts reported scholarship offers from the likes of Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Ole Miss. Tracin Wallace is ranked as the No. 40 athlete in the country, but he plays quarterback at South Hills High in Fort Worth and is listed in that position by other recruiting services. Tracin Wallace missed his junior season with a torn ACL, but he accounted for more than 3,500 yards and 50 touchdowns as a sophomore in ’14, according to the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth. He’s received reported offers from Vanderbilt, Houston and SMU, among other programs.
• There’s a new leader in Dylan Moses’s recruitment. The No. 2 prospect in the class of 2017, according to Scout.com, pegged Texas as his top school after an unofficial visit to Austin over the weekend (he also visited LSU and Alabama last week). “All I wanted to hear was how I fit in the defense and as far as that conversation I really liked it and it went well and that’s why I have them at number one,” Moses said, according to The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. The rest of his top five: Alabama (No. 2), UCLA and LSU (Nos. 3) and USC (No. 4). In February, Moses named a top six of Alabama, Texas, Georgia, Florida, UCLA and USC and said the Crimson Tide were on top. Moses, a linebacker and running back, initially committed to LSU in September 2013, when he was a freshman at University Lab in Baton Rouge, La., but he decided to withdraw that pledge in August.