- William Wilkerson, RecruitingNation
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CELINA, Texas -- There was Jake Raulerson with his family, the weekend of Jan. 21, having breakfast alongside Mack and Sally Brown and Texas president Bill Powers and his wife, Kim.
It turned out to be the most important breakfast of Raulerson's life.
The two-way lineman from Celina High School was the lone junior prospect on campus that weekend.
Texas also happened to be hosting half a dozen seniors on official visits. But Raulerson was on an unofficial visit, which meant he and his parents, Jay and Jolene, had to pay for their family's meal.
They didn't mind one bit.
Something important was bound to come from a breakfast that included two of the most powerful people in the state. It came in the form of a scholarship offer from Brown, a rarity from a coach who almost never offers junior prospects before Texas' first junior day.
The Longhorns won't host their first one of those until Feb. 12, but Brown understood the trickle-down effect that a Raulerson commitment could have on the rest of his 2013 recruiting class. He's one of the top juniors, if not the top junior, in the state. So Brown threw his hat in the ring with the 26 other offers for Raulerson.
Raulerson, having done his due-diligence on the recruiting trail, accepted on the spot and agreed that he wouldn't make it public until Friday. He did exactly that by calling Brown early this morning.
"It's the coaching staff, the players there," said Raulerson, who has already accepted an invitation to the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game. "They are going to win a national title in the next three years and I want to be a part of it. They have one of the best recruiting classes I have ever seen coming in. They are ridiculous."
Raulerson (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) plays right tackle and nose guard for Celina, a 3A program 45 minutes north of Dallas that has eight state titles to its name. But Texas is recruiting him as a defensive end and a tight end.
"That is very cool, to have that opportunity to play on both sides," he said. "It's a cool plan."
He's excited about the opportunities to become a more well-rounded athlete under the tutelage of Longhorns strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie.
"One of the things that draws me to it is Coach Wylie," Raulerson said. "He is one of the coolest guys I've ever seen. He works his butt off there. I like the way he trains guys. He's awesome."
It was only a matter of time until Raulerson's offer list reached a level of absurdity. Coincidentally enough, it was his performance at a Texas junior camp that alerted the nation to his abilities.
The June 5 camp was reserved for the 2012 prospects, many of whom had already committed to Texas. The June 12 camp was supposed to be when the 2013 prospects arrived.
But offensive line coach Stacy Searels approved Raulerson's request to compete with the 2012 class, and it turned out to be a great decision.
"So we show up on June 5 and Jake proceeds to destroy every one of Mack's commitments," said Jay Raulerson, Jake's father. "In fact, at one point Mack was yelling at the 2012 class and said, 'Can anyone stop this kid?' "
Apparently the answer was a resounding "No."
"Coach Wylie walked over to me and said, 'Your son is not only the best offensive lineman here, he is the best defensive lineman, too.' I was blown away," Jay said. "Mack walked up to Jake later and said, 'Son, you are going to play anywhere you want in the country. I just hope it's at Texas.'"
Jake and Jay proceeded to take a 5,200-mile journey around the country to different camps over the summer to check out other schools. He picked up offers at every stop, which included Arkansas, Florida, Alabama, Ole Miss, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
There would be days when he would get three or four offers in succession over the phone.
"My performance at the 'J5' camp obviously got someone's attention and it had a domino effect after that," Raulerson said. "Everyone heard about Jake Raulerson at 'J5.' Jake Raulerson dominated at 'J5.' That's where it started to snowball."
That time spent checking out those schools enabled Raulerson to make this commitment with a clear conscious. He's seen everywhere that he was interested in, including Stanford a few weeks ago when he met former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
"It came down to Texas and Stanford," Jay said.
But in the end Texas just had too much to offer, even if that didn't include the ability to pay for breakfast.
William Wilkerson covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation.
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