Commentary

Relationship build great class

Texas focused its pursuit on building the lines in 2012

Updated: February 1, 2012, 9:13 PM ET
By Carter Strickland | HornsNation

AUSTIN, Texas -- It's the intrigue of it all that draws people in.

[+] EnlargeBrown
AP Photo/Matt StrasenMack Brown's new coaches paid dividends on the recruiting trail with their ability to reach new areas.

Which recruit will go where? When will they sign? What will they do when they get there?

Texas offered up plenty of that intrigue, stealing away with four players in the past five days, with one of those, Torshiro Davis (Shreveport, La./Woodlawn), coming across state lines Wednesday and to an also-ran instead of the BCS runner-up.

Coach February indeed. Maybe just not the February everyone was thinking.

Davis was the exclamation point on the day and the recruiting season for Texas. He is the No. 12 defensive end and No. 77 prospect overall in the ESPNU 150.

And, oh by the way, Davis was an LSU commit for 363 days. That is until the day it mattered. Then he switched to Texas, just like Dalton Santos (Van, Texas/Van) switched from Tennessee, Daje Johnson (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) flipped from TCU and Bryce Cottrell (Plano, Texas/West) left Oregon's scholarship papers on the table for Texas.

"What happened is we had more numbers after the season than we had going into the season," Texas coach Mack Brown said.

The reason why is the transfers -- Texas had more than a few -- as well the defection of wide receiver Thomas Johnson and the misses with Dorial Green-Beckham and Mario Edwards. With the 2011 roster in flux, the coaches were able to evaluate where they had deficits, check the big recruiting board again and then hit the road.

"Our coaches did the best we have had since we have been here of keeping relationships with kids," Brown said. "We would tell [the recruits], 'We like you. We may come back.' "

As it turned out, Texas was a frequent traveler.

By adding the last four commits, Texas is able to challenge Alabama and Florida State for the top spots in the ESPNU class rankings. The Longhorns, who jockeyed between the top three spots in the final weeks, finished at No. 3. It's the fifth time in the past seven years Texas has finished in the top three.

"Today we made the team better than we were yesterday," Brown said.

That is imperative around Texas, where the yesterdays, at least those of the last two years, have not been ones the staff or players want to remember.

But when it comes to recruiting, Texas almost always comes up a winner. This year was no different.

With the national player of the year, Johnathan Gray -- as well as 11 others in the ESPNU top 150 -- Texas once again has won more than its fair share of recruiting battles. In all, Texas brought in 28 players. Six of those, including junior college players Brandon Moore and Donald Hawkins, already have enrolled and expect to have an impact in the spring.

The other player whom all eyes will be on in the spring is Connor Brewer (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral). The nation's No. 7 quarterback will have a chance to challenge incumbent starters David Ash and Case McCoy.

"We do feel like we will be much further along at the quarterback than we were last year," Brown said. "We feel like those two guys (Ash and McCoy) should have strong springs, and we will let Connor get in that mix and work this spring and see how he does."

[+] EnlargeTimothy Cole
Max Olson/ESPN.comTexas' class has many recruits like Tim Cole who has been committed for a while and also those that came late.

Despite saying that quarterbacks are typically better off when they redshirt, Brown is not quite ready to throw that shirt on Brewer. In fact, just like last year's class, all players will be evaluated for potential spots on the field. Of course there are a few, defensive tackle Malcom Brown and Gray come to mind, who undoubtedly will be given a harder look.

Davis very well could be one of those players, too. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound end gives Texas a chance to have a speed rusher off the end behind Jackson Jeffcoat.

It was that role and the immediate impact that he could make that lured Davis away from LSU and to Texas, Brown said.

"He really had three schools in his mind, and I think he is excited about his ability to pass rush in this league," Brown said. "And I really think that is what made the difference."

Texas wants to make the difference on its lines. That is why Texas went heavy with offensive and defensive linemen. The Longhorns signed four on the offensive side of the ball, three of whom had been targets for more than a year. On the other side of the line, Texas signed seven defensive linemen.

"I was really impressed with [offensive line coach Stacy Searels] and [defensive line coach Bo Davis] and what they are doing to help our lines of scrimmage," Brown said. "We needed to be better on the lines. You have to be good up the middle.

"We still want to have great quarterback, but we would rather build it from the outside in where we can be good regardless of the play of one guy in that game and not put so much pressure (on the quarterback) like we did with Colt [McCoy] and we did with Vince [Young.]''

Now the pressure is squarely on the coaches. The Coach February moniker is not meant to be a compliment. To that end, Brown is much more interested in being Coach January.

"I am more excited than I have ever been," Brown said. "It is headed back in the right direction. There have been years I have been so tired (after recruiting heading into spring practice), now I am really excited about getting Texas back to where it should be."

Carter Strickland covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation

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