- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
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AUSTIN, Texas -- After a weekend in Austin and a long week of rethinking his future, Dalton Santos (Van, Texas/Van) has backed out of his pledge to Tennessee and committed to Texas.
Santos and his father confirmed the commitment in text messages to HornsNation. The No. 1 inside linebacker (No. 92 overall) in the nation according to ESPNU had been committed to the Vols since August, but a strong last-second push from coach Mack Brown and offensive line coach Stacy Searels resulted in Santos' change of heart.
With Santos' commitment, Texas will bring in eight of the state's top 15 prospects on national signing day Wednesday. UT now has 26 commitments for its 2012 class.
As a senior for Van, the 6-foot-2, 240-pound middle linebacker collected 101 tackles (19 for loss), three sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, an interception and one defensive touchdown.
Santos also impressed last month at the Under Armour All-America Game, an experience that made a big impression on him -- he befriended several future Longhorns commits during the week.
His recruitment opened up when Washington fired its defensive coaching staff and brought in Tennessee assistant Peter Sirmon and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.
Santos was closest to Sirmon, and though he did like the Vols' hiring of new defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri -- Alabama's former assistant head coach and linebackers coach -- Santos continued to have second thoughts.
That's when Texas jumped into the mix. Searels contacted the family last weekend to extend an offer and schedule a visit the weekend before national signing day, and Brown and his assistants went Wednesday to Van and made the Texas pitch.
Santos' commitment to Texas wraps up a whirlwind week that he never saw coming. The four-star prospect felt he'd somehow fallen off Texas' radar last spring in the midst of the Longhorns' coaching shakeup. The late attention was quite welcomed, though, for a kid who told HornsNation he has been a lifelong UT fan.
Now he has made a lifelong dream come true.
Max Olson covers University of Texas sports and recruiting for HornsNation.
Follow HornsNation's coverage on Twitter: @ESPNHornsNation
1dEthan Sherwood Strauss