Sunday, January 5, 2014
Strong will make inroads quickly in Texas
By Derek Tyson
New Texas coach Charlie Strong will have to compete with Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Baylor and other Big 12 schools for top recruits in the state of Texas, but if history is any indication, Strong will have no problem adapting to the new landscape.
Charlie Strong has kept strong recruiting ties int he state of Florida.
Since Strong took over as coach at Louisville in 2010, he has done a tremendous job of recruiting. On paper, however, it might not appear that way. Only one of Louisville’s recruiting classes under Strong finished in the top 25 of the team recruiting rankings. Louisville’s current class is ranked No. 23, but with Strong departing that certainly could change.
What Strong has had no problem with is going into talent-rich Florida and competing with the big three schools -- Florida, Florida State and Miami -- for top prospects. The defensive-minded coach has done an incredible job of identifying talent and then developing that talent. In Strong’s tenure at Louisville, 44 percent (37 out of 84) of the players Louisville signed hailed from Florida. He was also instrumental in helping land quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who will likely be a top 10 draft pick in April. Bridgewater was committed to the hometown Miami Hurricanes before eventually committing and signing with Louisville.
Strong has had four different coaching stints at the University of Florida. Most recently he was the defensive coordinator for the Gators from 2002-2009 and helped lead them to two national championships (2006, 2008). His reputation as one of the best defensive minds in the country along with his strong connections in Florida should allow him to continue to recruit the state with success.
At Texas, Strong will have to build new connections with high school players and coaches, but convincing a prospect to stay at home and attend Texas will be a much easier task than asking a prospect from Miami to attend Louisville.
Four-star Louisville wide receiver commit DeSean Blair (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) said Strong was the primary reason he committed to the Cardinals.
"Coach Strong is a great person. He’s a great coach, an amazing coach, one of the best ones I’ve had the pleasure of meeting,” Blair said. "He’s a big part of me going to Louisville. My parents love him and love what he has done. A lot of people talk to me about how he helped Florida out when he was there. He’s just a great guy and everything and I know he’s just doing what’s best for him and his family.”
Unfortunately for Louisville, Strong’s departure will likely affect Blair's decision. Blair, who continues to hear from Rutgers, Indiana and Purdue, said he’s still unsure what he will do now that Strong has decided to leave.
It’s hard to tell at this point what the fallout for Louisville will be. A lot will depend on who is hired to replace Strong. But one thing is for sure: Texas should have no problem bringing talent to Austin.