Saturday, December 14, 2013
Texas recruits react to Mack Brown news
By Damon Sayles
The inevitable is now a reality. At the start of 2014, Mack Brown will no longer be the head coach of the Texas Longhorns.
After a week of drama within the Forty Acres that would make some soap operas jealous, one of college football's most interesting stories was stamped with an ending. Texas announced Saturday that Brown will resign following the Longhorns game against Oregon in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30. Per the Longhorn Network, Brown already has informed the team of his incoming resignation.
For college football recruits, Brown's news means a completely new era of Texas football. Many of the prospects committed to Brown's program were mere toddlers when he left North Carolina to take over at Texas in 1998. The majority of 2014 commits were born in 1995 or 1996.
What will Brown's departure mean? For some of the 23 commits, consider it a wait-and-see process. For most of them, consider it a new chapter -- one they're looking forward to.
One thing's for certain: The recruits were big fans of Brown not only as a coach but as a person.
ESPN 300 QB Jerrod Heard stills expects to play for the Longhorns.
"He was really close to my family and made UT feel like it's the best place to be for four years of my life," ESPN 300 dual-threat quarterback Jerrod Heard said. "He really cares about you and your family. He talks more about you and less about your skills like other [coaches] do. It's personal."
Heard, regarding whether or not he'll shop around for another school, said he'll "be patient and see who comes in." Heard added that he isn't expecting to play anywhere else but Texas.
One player who said he's still solid with the Longhorns is offensive lineman Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper). The nation's No. 5 center said that while he grew up a big Brown fan, his love for his favorite team runs deeper.
"I grew up loving the Longhorns. I always played with them on the [video] game," Cuney said. "I always said if I had the opportunity to go, I would. I love the program and the school.
"I love Mack. He always will be the same guy to me. When I had a chance to talk to him, he was always cool. He always welcomed me to the Longhorn family."
Three-star wide receiver commit Dorian Leonard (Longview, Texas/Longview) added: "I just want to wish him good luck with everything, [but] I'm still strong with Texas."
The Longhorns' top-ranked commit, ESPN 300 defensive end Derick Roberson (San Antonio/Brennan) hasn't had much time to think about college, as his team is preparing for the Texas Class 4A Division I state championship game next week. Erick Roberson, the father of the nation's eighth-ranked defensive end, said nothing has changed with his son's opinions of Texas post-Brown.
"Coach Brown has been nothing but a wonderful person during Derick's recruitment," Erick Roberson said. "Although we are saddened at this news, we wish [Brown] and his lovely wife nothing but the best."
Brown's 16-season career includes a 158-47 record, four Big 12 South titles and two Big 12 championships. And then there's the 2005 national championship that starred Vince Young and the 2010 national-championship appearance, in which Texas lost to Alabama after losing Colt McCoy to a first-quarter shoulder injury.
The 2005 season is where many of the commits -- as elementary-school stars -- began paying attention to the Longhorns. Nineteen of the 22 2014 commits and all eight of the 2015 commits hail from the state of Texas. Brown, like Longhorns coaches before him, made the state a priority, and he made sure that the best in the state kept his program as a primary option.
"I loved him. Thought he was an amazing coach and such a better person who cared about his players," said ESPN 300 defensive end Solomon Thomas, an uncommitted target considering Texas, Stanford, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and several other schools. "[It's] sad he had to resign. It's hard to replace someone who knew football so well but loves his players and cares for the better and life of them."
Texas three-star 2015 offensive tackle pledge Connor Lanfear (Buda, Texas/Hays) added "It's saddening news, because you hate to see such a great coach and person resign. I really would have enjoyed playing for him."
More from ESPN.com
Mack Brown had a historic run at Texas, but the past four years couldn't live up to his prior standard, and while he resigned, he didn't get to go out on his terms, writes Ivan Maisel. Story
If Mack Brown was bitter for the way his Texas career is ending, he hasn't shown it. He is leaving the same way he always coached, with respect and class most of all, writes Max Olson. Blog
While most commits are still set on playing for Texas sans Brown, the idea of players being questionable about their college plans will surface. ESPN 300 linebacker Otaro Alaka (Houston/Cypress Falls) said he hasn't decommitted but will weigh other options.
"Coach Brown's a great guy. Before I committed, he said he's not going anywhere," Alaka said before the announcement became official Saturday. "He was pretty significant."
One of Texas' primary targets, ESPN 300 safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) on Saturday said he's no longer considering the Longhorns. Adams told ESPN that LSU and Florida are now his teams to beat.
"[It] just didn't seem sure he was going to stay," Adams said of Brown.
The Longhorns aren't expecting to lose a large number of recruits -- if any -- when national signing day comes in February. The next couple of days will be huge for Texas, as it looks to find a replacement for Brown and also get in touch with its commits and targets.
Starting Dec. 31, life after Brown begins. But don't expect a run of decommitments.
"Maea and Sione are still committed and are not decommitting," said Robert Taliaferro, guardian of 2014 three-star pledge Sione Teuhema (Keller, Texas/Keller) and his brother, ESPN Junior 300 offensive lineman Maea Teuhema. "We committed to the University of Texas, not to Mack Brown."
"It doesn't affect my pledge to the Longhorns," 2015 three-star cornerback commit Jalen Campbell (Corpus Christi, Texas/Flour Bluff) said. "I'm happy for Coach Brown; whatever choice he would have made, I was 100 percent behind him, and I wish him the best."
ESPN.com's Max Olson and William Wilkerson contributed to this story.