Commentary

Ricky Seals-Jones commits to Texas

ESPNU Watch List athlete chooses the Longhorns over LSU, wants to play receiver

Updated: February 22, 2012, 9:46 PM ET
By William Wilkerson | HornsNation

SEALY, Texas -- There were plenty of worn out individuals inside a coaches office at Sealy High School on Wednesday afternoon. But there might not have been anyone more sleep-deprived than Sealy head coach Jimmie Mitchell.

He stopped taking phone calls from those not directly related with the recruitment of ESPNU Watch List athlete Ricky Seals-Jones, his highly-touted prospect, two weeks ago. That essentially meant if you weren't calling from Texas or LSU, you were getting ignored.

"I got 50 calls a day from schools from across the country, from conferences across the country," Mitchell said. "You try and show them the type of respect and courtesy they need, but there are so many of them it's impossible."

[+] EnlargeRicky Seals-Jones
William Wilkerson/ESPN.comClass of 2013 athlete Ricky Seals-Jones will focus on football at Texas, despite being a talented basketball player.

That included the dozen or so calls Mitchell received from Alabama on Wednesday. As the Crimson Tide were calling, however, Seals-Jones was in Mitchell's office making a call to the Longhorns to give them his verbal commitment.

This was a decision that many expected but didn't become official until the 6-foot-5, 220-pound, 16-year-old spoke on speaker phone with Longhorns head coach Mack Brown, receivers coach Darrell Wyatt and defensive ends coach Oscar Giles.

"I went to the school on junior day [Feb. 12] and felt right at home," Seals-Jones said. "I liked the atmosphere. I just knew when I went there it was the right fit for me."

The week before Seals-Jones traveled to Austin, he attended LSU's junior day. The Tigers, like Baylor, already had offered him the opportunity to play both football and basketball.

But that trip 315 miles east on Interstate 10 paled in comparison to the 117-mile trek northwest.

"They were all in there mixed up until I went to Texas' junior day," Seals-Jones said. "Just talking with the coaches and players, looking at the campus and the dorm room. I just felt like it was home.

"I sat down and talked to my parents when we got back from the junior day and felt like it was a great place to go to, to try and win a national championship."

Seals-Jones has shown off impressive versatility over the last two seasons that has made him one of the nation's most sought-after prospects. He caught 31 passes for 512 yards and 11 touchdowns as a receiver and recorded 70 tackles, eight sacks and five interceptions as a safety in his sophomore season.

Last season, Mitchell moved Seals-Jones to quarterback for no other reason than he was Sealy's best athlete.

"If Texas wants the next Vince Young they should spend some time working with him," Mitchell said. "He's only been a quarterback for a year."

That's unlikely to happen, though, as Texas recently picked up a commitment from Whitewright (Texas) quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, who long has been compared to Texas' famed quarterback.

Whether he reaches those lofty expectations or not could depend heavily on Seals-Jones' success as a receiver. It's the position he most wants to play in college and one that Texas appears to be OK with, even though he has the frame to be a tight end.

"I talked about trying to play receiver, but whatever I have to do to help the team win I'll do," Seals-Jones said. "They asked me what I wanted to play, and I said receiver, and they were fine with that."

He was used as a receiver the first time he got a taste of the Longhorns lifestyle when he attended a camp in Austin last summer and caught passes from Swoopes. Mitchell wanted him to get some work as a quarterback at that camp, but Seals-Jones was so successful out wide that the coaches kept him there.

"He is so talented I think he is a multifaceted guy," Mitchell said. "With the exception of the offensive line and defensive tackle I think can play anywhere. It's up to Texas now to figure out where he'll fit into their scheme.

Because Seals-Jones is so young there is still a great chance that he'll add significant bulk to his frame. If that happens Mitchell can see him used as a flex tight end and inside receiver.

"The thing that is so good about him is he is so physical, so you get him in that three-point stance and have him block and then send him down the field and he is a match-up problem," Mitchell said.

All of that can be sorted out once he gets to Austin, where Seals-Jones said he would focus strictly on football and not try and be a two-sport star.

"I'm just going to focus on football, get a degree and try to make it to the pros," said Seals-Jones, who had 27 points and 13 rebounds in Sealy's first-round playoff victory Tuesday night.

It was because of that game that he didn't make his commitment known last week. But the constant phone calls just became too much, so he went ahead with his decision even though he has another basketball game on Friday.

"I got a lot of phone calls, late-night phone calls, early morning phone calls," he said. "I just denied them. I had schoolwork and practice. There was a lot going on, but you just have to adapt and overcome. I talked to my parents, and it was a lot of hassle on them and me so I got it out the way."

Over the course of his recruitment, Seals-Jones spoke with his cousin, Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson, for his advice. Dickerson, who was the nation's most sought-after player out of Sealy in the late 1970s, told him not to get forced into anything.

"We talked a few times, but not that much," Seals-Jones said. "He just told me what to look for and made sure it was the right place I wanted to be and not to get forced into anything you don't want to.

Dickerson, who went to SMU, had the opportunity to play at Texas but opted against it. He voiced his displeasure with the Longhorns in the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary "Pony Express."

Despite that, Seals-Jones said Dickerson would support him wherever he decided to commit.

On Wednesday, that became Texas.

William Wilkerson covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation.
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