Jake Raulerson's voyage from Celina to Austin included 5,200 miles on the road, routine meals at Cracker Barrel and nights at Motel 6 and plenty of country music.
The junior Celina offensive tackle, perhaps the state's top recruit in the class of 2013, put plenty of time and money into his college research before committing to Texas last week.
William Wilkerson takes a closer look at Raulerson's recruiting trail over at HornsNation. Here's an excerpt:
Because Jake isn't a senior, all of the trips he took had to be paid for by him and his family. Prospects aren't allowed to take official visits (when schools pay your way) until their senior season.But the Raulersons thought it would be beneficial if they took the time, and spent the money, to let Jake experience these programs first-hand so he could make a commitment with a clear conscience, having left no stone unturned.
"I believe that it gave me an edge," Jake said. "It helps. Some families don't have the opportunity to go to all of these places (on unofficial visits). It helps. If you are from Texas and one of your favorite schools is Florida, Alabama or Tennessee, it's a long way from home. If you never get the chance to be able to see it, then you lose your advantage if you go there and commit and don't like it. It's because you never got the chance to look at it."
Jake was well aware of the monetary sacrifice that his family made for those trips, so he made sure to get his money's worth.
"I made sure I looked at every detail of everywhere I went," he said. "The coaches, the campus, the atmosphere. You could ask me one little thing about the schools, and I could tell you what I liked, didn't like. It gives me the upper hand in knowing what is right for me."
And for that, Jake is forever grateful.