Commentary

The Longhorns' key pipeline

Brenham has sent the most players to Texas in Mack Brown era

Updated: January 24, 2012, 11:49 AM ET
By Carter Strickland | HornsNation

[+] EnlargeLimas Sweed
Brendan Maloney/US PresswireFormer Texas wide receiver Limas Sweed is one of the many Brenham prospects to play for the Longhorns.
Joe Montana was the other guy last week.

Never mind all the Super Bowl rings, the Hall of Fame credentials and the flashy smile. Montana was an afterthought that Tuesday as he, his wife, and son Nick poked around Brenham, Texas, wondering if this was the place for Nick to enroll in junior college and play quarterback for Blinn.

Mack Brown was in town. And don't think for a second that the Texas coach wasn't the headliner. From Jack Hess scrambling trying to find something to give to Brown to eat before ultimately stumbling on a box of Christmas gingersnaps to the high schoolers lining up to have their picture snapped with Brown, he was the person that was making the town buzz.

"You wouldn't have known Joe Montana was even here," said Hess, who only knew because he runs the Southern Flyer restaurant at the Brenham Municipal Airport.

"I always tell people if he decided to be the governor of this state he would win hands down," Brenham coach Glen West said.

Brown probably also would win the mayoral race of this town of about 16,000 just off Highway 290 between Austin and Houston. Maybe because he has spent enough time politicking there and has plenty of constituents.

In fact, Brenham and its high school have produced more recruits for Texas than any other school during Brown's 14-year tenure at Texas. When Malcom Brown and Timothy Cole sign their letters of intent next week, seven players will have gone from Brenham High to Texas.

Two of those are currently on the roster -- fullback Ryan Roberson and offensive lineman Luke Poehlmann. The other three were wide receiver Brandon Collins (2007 recruiting class), tight end Ahmard Howard (2007) and wide receiver Limas Sweed (2003).

"People have always accused us of having a pipeline," West said. "But none of this was done by design."

Instead it was more coincidental circumstance.

It was 1998 when West decided to take a flyer on a program that had always been rich with talent and stood with empty pockets at the end of every season. West, offensive coordinator Tim Oehrlein and defensive coordinator Craig Agnew left Kemp High School south of Dallas and went to Brenham.

"We recognized there were certain pockets in this state where there was just tremendous talent," West said.

[+] EnlargeTim Cole
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comLinebacker Timothy Cole is one of seven Brenham seniors who will playing college football in the fall.
Brown, in his first month trying to rebuild Texas, recognized it too.

"He was stepping into a new job, I was in a new job," West said. "We kind of were kindred spirits. We were able to build a friendship and a great relationship."

The relationship was symbiotic. Brown needed West and his players. West needed his players to see that they could succeed at the highest level so they would trust in his coaching.

"There was not a plan," West said. "We do have a mutual respect. But there are a lot of coaches that we have relationships with across the state."

Like with Brown, those relationships have paid off for both college programs and West's program. Just this year, Brenham had 12 former players on FBS rosters. This year's senior class has the two Texas commits, as well as five others -- Adrian Bellard (Texas A&M), Robert Felder, Troy Green, Tremund Moore and Jerrid Jeter-Gilmon (Texas State) -- who will be playing somewhere in the fall.

"What we did when we came here was we had to get athletes in the thinking mode that college was a goal," West said.

Oehrlein was installed as the athletic director of the middle school, so he could oversee the development of that program. West also used a stipend to take math teacher Brett Mouser and put him in charge of academics. Mouser charts every athlete beginning in their freshman year, so the coaches know their academic strengths and deficiencies.

"The families have bought in and have trusted the coaching staff and understand what we are trying to do," West said. "We don't hire companies that come in [to help kids get recruited]. We have shown [the families and players] that we can do that for you and that is how we built their trust."

Brenham, its families and its coach have, in turn, entrusted their players to Brown and Texas.

Carter Strickland covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation

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