High School: College football


Five-star running back Johnathan Gray of Aledo broke more records in high school than an embattled music store employee.

Now the nation's top running back and No. 2 overall player in 2012 is turning his attention to doing more of the same for the Longhorns as the most-hyped recruit to come to Texas since Vince Young in 2002.

How much of an opportunity will he get next season with two solid backs already in Austin in Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron? What are his personal goals for next season, thoughts on running the Wildhorn and dusting off the Wishbone?

Gray answers those questions and more in a Q&A with HornsNation.

UCF signee Spencer gets ceremony after all

February, 23, 2012
DALLAS – The Dallas school district holds an annual signing day ceremony on the first day of the NCAA football signing period in which they showcase all of the football and basketball recruits -- from FBS signees to junior college signees. Linebacker Domenic Spencer (Dallas Skyline) wasn’t a part of that ceremony.

On Thursday, Spencer had his own ceremony, as the 5-foot-11, 215-pound outside linebacker proudly wore his Central Florida ball cap in front of family, friends, coaches and teachers. Spencer is Skyline’s 13th college signee of the 2012 recruiting class. He’s also the 11th Skyline linebacker to sign an FBS scholarship in the last seven years.

“It feels real good to finally take this load off my back,” Spencer said. “My brother’s in college, and my mom and dad are paying for him. It feels good that they don’t have to pay for me and that I have guaranteed four more years to play football, Big East football at that.

“It was hard for me not being able to sign on signing day. My mom and dad just told me to keep praying. They’re prayer warriors, and everything worked out.”

Spencer had offers from Navy and FCS national runner-up Sam Houston State, which is where his older brother, Desmond, attends college. Spencer also received interest from UTEP, SMU, UNLV, North Texas, Texas State and Nevada. Recruited by UCF director of player personnel Drew Hughes and linebackers coach Tyson Summers, Spencer is expected to play outside linebacker for the Knights, and he is expected to be the only Texan on the roster.

Spencer committed to UCF on Feb. 13, 12 days after national signing day. Prior to committing, Spencer visited Orlando, Fla., and the UCF campus. He was hosted by freshman linebacker Troy Gray, and Spencer said Gray and the rest of the players were a big reason why he chose to play for the Knights.

“Their players are a family. They really bond down there,” Spencer said. “When I went down there, we were all one big group. They didn’t think about partying; they think about how they can help each other on and off the field. We played video games all night talking about what we can do to get better.”

Spencer had 145 tackles and five sacks during his senior year. Spencer is expected to play outside linebacker but can also play middle linebacker if needed. As a junior, he lined up at defensive end and recorded 13 sacks. Spencer additionally was a defensive captain for this year’s team, which went 14-1 and advanced to the Texas Class 5A Division I state semifinals.

“He was a leader, and he was not afraid to redirect his players … but it was OK, because it was never in a way that was negative,” Skyline coach Reginald Samples said. “Sometimes, it’s good for the team, because there were some who didn’t have the courage to speak up.”

Spencer said he plans on majoring in education and hopes to be a college football coach after finishing college – if a professional football career isn’t in the plans.

Damon Sayles covers Midlands recruiting for ESPN Recruiting. He can be reached at dsaylesespn@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSayles
AUSTIN, Texas - - ESPNU 150 athlete Daje Johnson (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) has finally committed to the Longhorns.

Johnson, the No. 14 athlete and No. 141 player overall, was offered a scholarship by Texas during his official visit on Saturday and accepted on the spot. In doing so, he became the 25th member of its 2012 class and the 18th with at least a four-star grade.

There appeared to at least be a chance of that happening when he scheduled his official visit to Austin last week. Johnson has always liked the Longhorns and even made the initial effort to see if they had any interest in him by asking Texas coach Mack Brown via text early during the 2011 season.

Then there didn't seem to be much a shot at all after he canceled his visit on Monday.

At that time, Johnson said that Texas had simply waited too long to get in the race and he had every intention on sticking with his commitment to TCU, where he had been committed since March 26.

But Texas stayed persistent. On Tuesday, Johnson received a phone call from Longhorns co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite and a Facebook message from Mack Brown. That was enough to get Johnson to reschedule his visit for this weekend.

You can read the rest of the story here.

Recruiting Nation 411: Signing Day on horizon

January, 12, 2012

Michele Steele and ESPN Regional Coordinators Jaime Newberg, Dave Hooker, Damon Sayles, Mitch Sherman and Jared Shanker take you through the latest news on the college football recruiting scene.

Dunbar product Darius White leaving UT

December, 13, 2011
Texas receiver and Fort Worth Dunbar product Darius White confirmed Tuesday that he has decided to transfer.

White, who has been given an unconditional release from his scholarship, cited the need for a fresh start, although he has not yet determined where he will transfer.

He will not travel with the Longhorns to their Dec. 28 Holiday Bowl matchup against California.

The sophomore receiver has seen action in 20 career games and has six receptions for 71 yards and one touchdown, with five of those receptions coming in 2011.

As a senior at Dunbar, White was named to the Parade All-America team, tabbed first-team All-USA by USA Today and an EA SPORTS All-American third-team selection. He played in the 2010 Under Armour All-America Game.