- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
One day after getting hired as Texas’ new running backs coach, Larry Porter got right to work on making his first big move.
Porter called up ESPN 300 running back Mark Dodson Jr. (Memphis/Whitehaven) and immediately gave him a Texas offer. Dodson confirmed the offer in a text message to ESPN.com.
Whitehaven coach Rodney Saulsberry told HornsNation that Porter has been recruiting the four-star back ever since he was head coach at Memphis, and he continued to during his one-year stint at Arizona State.
“He called to inquire yesterday,” Saulsberry said. “We have a relationship from his coaching and playing days at Memphis, and when he got the job he called and wanted to talk to Mark. He’d already built up a relationship with him and he called and offered on the spot.”
The tricky part is Dodson’s commitment. He’s been committed to Ole Miss since May and has signed scholarship papers to enroll early. Ole Miss announced his signing in a release on Dec. 19.
“Recruiting still ongoing for me Univ. of Texas just offered me a last min scholarship,” Dodson posted on his Twitter account, @MarkDodson7, on Friday morning.
Because early enrollees do not sign binding letters of intent, Dodson is still technically permitted to sign elsewhere. If he did flip to Texas, he would plan to enroll this month. And according to his coach, Dodson is interested in taking a visit to Texas.
“It’s possible. He’s talked about taking a visit,” Saulsberry said. “It’s a little late in the game, but there’s definitely nothing wrong with seeing what’s out there. Texas is major, one of the top programs in the country. You have to listen to what they have to offer.”
The 5-foot-10, 183-pound back is 295th in the ESPN 300 and 26th at his position. He participated in The Opening this summer and chose Ole Miss over offers from Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.
His senior season at Whitehaven was a prolific one: Dodson rushed for 3,295 yards and 37 touchdowns. He finished with nearly 7,000 career rushing yards.
“He can get it done. The scary thing is he could’ve played as a freshman and we held him out,” Saulsberry said. “This past year, he could’ve challenged the national records if we ran him a whole lot. I mean, this year, we really only had five games where he played the whole game. In most games he was done by halftime.”
Saulsberry said he’s always been impressed by the job Porter does on the recruiting trail and was happy to see him reach out to Dodson after landing with the Longhorns.
While he does believe Dodson is happy with his commitment to Ole Miss, the coach is confident it’s not too late for Texas to get involved with the early enrollee.
“I think he’s still pretty solid. But again, it’s like if my alma mater Michigan comes calling,” Saulsberry said. “You listen when the big dogs call. They’d be getting a great player in Mark.”