Commentary

Davis, Searels bring SEC style

Former SEC coaches' recruiting tactics paying dividends along Texas' lines

Updated: January 26, 2012, 11:03 AM ET
By Carter Strickland | HornsNation

AUSTIN, Texas -- Caleb Bluiett had no idea what Bo Davis' history was when he first met him.

[+] EnlargeBo Davis
John Rivera/Icon SMIBo Davis helped recruit many of the players that won the 2009 and 2011 national titles at Alabama.
All the recruit knew was that Davis, the new defensive line coach at Texas, was now his primary coach, he was representing the Longhorns and he was saying everything Bluiett wanted to hear.

"To be honest, I didn't know he was from the SEC," the defensive end from Beaumont's West Brook High said. "But it makes sense."

It does on so many different levels.

On the playing field, where Texas coach Mack Brown wanted to get tougher on both sides of the line, the Longhorns were dominant at the defensive tackle positions, and on the other side they rushed for their most yards since 2007.

But it might be off the field, in the world of recruiting, that Bo Davis' history, as well as that of offensive line coach Stacy Searels, could pay the biggest dividends.

Davis recruited for Alabama for four years from 2007-2010. The Crimson Tide won a national title with his recruits in 2009. They just won another with some of his recruits, as well.

Searels recruited for LSU for four years from 2003-2006. The Tigers won a national title his first season, but Searels really didn't recruit any of those players. The Tigers won another title in 2007, the year after Searels left for Georgia, with a line full of Searels' recruits.

So, it's obvious they know how to recruit the top players in their area. But what might be overlooked is how valuable these two coaches will be in helping Texas evaluate future recruits.

"There is no doubt, coming from where they came from, they have seen what it takes to win a national title," said Dwight Thomas, a recruiting analyst for LRS, a service used exclusively by coaching staffs. "They understand and know the type of players who will work the best in their system."

Additionally, because of their SEC backgrounds, they do not have a myopic view when it comes to a recruit. They are able to draw from those evaluation experiences when turning a critical eye toward a potential Texas recruit.

That, in turn, could help Texas when it comes to getting productive players regardless of their recruiting ranking or hype. Texas has failed miserably in doing that for several years, particularly along the offensive line.

The last Texas offensive lineman recruit to be drafted by the NFL came back in the class of 2003. That player, Tony Hills, was a converted tight end. Since that time, there have been 136 offensive linemen selected. None of them were Longhorns. But Baylor has had three selected, all in the first three rounds, in the past three years. Two of those -- J.D. Walton and Jason Smith -- were from Texas high schools. TCU also has had three selected in the last three years, and all three were Texas high school products.

It's only slightly better on the defensive side, where Texas has had three tackles -- Roy Miller (2009), Frank Okam (2008) and Rodrique Wright (2006) -- selected over the last six NFL drafts.

Donald Hawkins
Courtesy Justin Ford/Northwest MississippiDonald Hawkins, a juco lineman, was recruited by Stacy Searels.
Brown brought on Davis and Searels to change those trends. Both can do that by first spotting and correctly evaluating what type of player Texas and it's offensive and defensive lines need.

"You can find a lot of those players in Texas," Thomas said. "They are there."

And when they can't find a Texan: "They are going to be able to come back here and get one or two that are difference makers," said Thomas, who is based in Florida.

Texas is hoping that is the case with junior college transfers Donald Hawkins and Brandon Moore.

Moore was exclusively recruited by Davis. He had developed a relationship with the defensive tackle after Davis had recruited him to Alabama out of Carver High (Montgomery, Ala.).

Searels spotted potential in Hawkins and convinced Brown to spend the time, money and energy necessary to bring him to campus.

Both players are the first out of their respective states -- Alabama and Mississippi -- to be signed by Texas in the Brown era.

So Texas made a little history there. If these players pan out, it might be a history others, like Bluiett, won't soon forget.

Carter Strickland covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation

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