June 5, 2008

This week's Inside the Locker Room

Q: (joejon3) - It was mentioned in the War Room that it sounds like Devon Kennard will make it back to the 40 eventually. In the eyes of the coaches, is there a preference for the date (summer or fall) of that visit with such a highly touted national recruit that doesn't have a deadline to commit? What are the pros/cons of each time to visits?

A: There's a couple of ways to look at this. On one hand, it's not a bad idea to have him come in for a full week in the summer (on his own dime) if that's feasible because there's so much more individual time that the entire staff can spend with him. He'd be around the players when they aren't dialed into the season and he'd get about as good of a look at what life is like in Austin as he ever could. There'd be time to do the tourist stuff, he could hit The Oasis and see every academic building on campus 10 times. On the other hand, if you bring him in for a game, he'd be able to see the atmosphere at the stadium and the inner workings of the team in an exciting environment. There are more students on campus in the fall, so the vibe around campus and the city is a little different than it would be in the summer. Plus, you can wine and dine the kid on the school's dime, which is kind of a big deal for most kids. From what I've seen this year, the summer plans for a lot of kids are being curbed quite a bit because of the rising costs of travel. Overall, I don't think there's a bad answer, but I think most coaches would always prefer to bring them in on officials.

Q: (Eric_mattson2000) - I have noted you as saying in a couple of your threads that Texas has their eyes on a lot of 2010 high school players. Loaded question for you. How proactive has this staff actually been with next year's cream of the crop? Do you believe that Major Applewhite and Will Muschamp have been paying dividends in this area? How has Muschamp done with becoming familiar with Texas high school coaches?

A: While most of the nation was busy scouting 2009 kids to the max in May, the Longhorns spent a great deal of time evaluating the 2010 class because of the side-effects of their early recruiting for this year. The biggest payoff is that while the rest of the Big 12 is still trying to figure out who they want/need in 2009, the Longhorns already have an idea of who they want/need for 2010. That means that the staff has been able to get a lot of the top kids from 2010 to visit the campus this spring, visit the school this summer for one of the summer camp sessions or both. I can't stress enough how big of an advantage this is for the program and there's not another staff in the nation that's this ahead of the recruiting game.

The proof is in the pudding. Just look at the overwhelming number of early top prospects that have plans to visit Austin this summer, while few of the other recruiting rivals for the Longhorns have started to pay strong attention to the next class. I believe that Texas A&M is probably doing the next best job and Mike Sherman's staff seems to sense what's going on because they've been active with 2010 kids, but I don't think schools like Oklahoma and LSU can match what Texas is doing. That's obviously a bigger problem for the Sooners than the Tigers because the lifeblood of the OU program has historically been elite Texas high school prospects.

As for Applewhite and Muschamp, they've drawn rave reviews for their ability to get on the road and grind away by visiting every high school they can find. Both coaches have a great desire to find diamonds in the rough and they are probably a little frustrated that they can't do more in 2009, but the numbers aren't there with so many early commitments. They get A+'s for their first spring on the job.

Q: (Wintex) - Geoff, this may have been covered, but has Cody Johnson fallen off the map? I loved his film, and had high hopes.

A: I don't know that he's fallen off the map, but he's a kid that's coming off of a surgery in high school and a redshirt year in college, so he's just trying to acclimate himself with a faster game. Also, let's not forget that he's taking snaps at fullback and the requirements of the position don't include carrying the ball 20+ times per game, which is what he's used to receiving. He's a very talented young man and he probably has better running skills than any fullback the Longhorns have probably had since Ivan Williams. I would suggest remaining patient and give him some time to come along because the end payoff could be really nice.

Q: (bman25) - What's the deal with the early signing period? I know the SEC coaches just voted for it, but I'm not sure what that means exactly. What would it take to actually get it adopted, do you think it's going to happen, and what is the timeline? Also can you break down how it would help/hurt the Horns and other top programs? Some coaches aren't for it (Bobby Petrino, Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier).

A: Yes, I think we're probably a few years away from an early signing period in football, but I do think we'll see one in the next three to four years. At this point, I'm not sure how much movement this has nationally, even with the approval from the SEC coaches. In talking with Mack Brown, I'm certain that he would be in favor of an early signing period, but this is going to be one of those situations where the have-not's are likely going to fight against it because of the sense that this is aimed for the betterment of elite programs who can recruit early, like the Longhorns. There are still a lot of concerns from coaches across the country that this simply separates the elite from the rest of the country to an even larger degree than what already exists.

The reasons for supporting the effort are obvious. It would allow kids that know exactly what they want to do, to go ahead and do it without having to wait an extra three months, which means they won't have to worry about endless attempts from other colleges to change their minds. It would also allow coaches to wash their hands of the need to baby-sit kids for three more months. There really are a lot of positives and it would be an extreme advantage for Texas for some of the reasons I've already talked about in this Locker Room.

Q: (Ponchon-Savarit) - "If Whaley's physical make-up doesn't change in the future to the point that he'll need to switch positions, the Longhorns should have a real blue chip talent coming to the program."

This is from your May 30th breakdown of the recruiting class. What did you mean about Chris Whaley's physical make-up? Is he not big enough? Is there worry he could outgrow the position. I am really excited about Chris at RB. The statement caught me off-guard.

A: It's pretty simple. Whaley is currently listed at 6-3, 220 pounds, but he has the frame that could carry a lot more muscle mass/weight. There's a feeling among many that when Whaley gets into a college weight program and is eating three square meals per day, he's going to develop physically into an athlete that's not best-suited to play running back. Frankly, he reminds me a lot of Terrell Suggs, who was an all-state running back in Arizona and was a five-star tight end prospect, but eventually emerged into one of the best defensive ends in football. Personally, I list Whaley as an athlete because I just can't know where he's going to play in the long-term. Of course, the one thing that everyone agrees on is that he's an elite prospect.

Q: (SmokeyHorn) -What's your gut feeling on Jamarkus McFarland? Longhorn or Tiger on Signing Day?

A: I've said it before and I'll say it again, the No.1 rule in recruiting is "go with the mom". I think the mom favors Texas and I think there are a lot of things that Texas has going for them. If family atmosphere is really going to be the deciding factor, well, isn't that what the Longhorns want?

Q: (Eric_mattson2000) - Two questions for you Ketch. There has been some discussion about one of our current QBs transferring. We have already lost Kinne and I was wondering if we lose one more QB to transfer? Are we currently recruiting or going after any more QBs in this class?

A: No, it doesn't appear that the Longhorns are recruiting any more quarterbacks for the Class of 2009 and I wouldn't expect that to change. I also wouldn't worry about any transfers from John Chiles or Sherrod Harris this season. There have been all kinds of rumors for months about both players, but everything we've gotten from very close connections to both players is that they plan on competing in the fall at quarterback in a Longhorn uniform and nothing less.

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