Friday, January 29, 2010
Jeffcoat, Hicks headed to Texas
By Jeff Caplan ESPNDallas.com
PLANO, Texas -- Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat is going to be a Texas Longhorn. So is linebacker Jordan Hicks.
Jeffcoat, the nation's No. 2 recruit on the ESPNU 150 rankings, ended the suspense Friday morning with an announcement in the Plano West High School gymnasium in front of a cheering student body. He said he finally came to the decision only days ago.
Jackson Jeffcoat is poised to be next in line as a dominant pass-rushing defensive end for the Longhorns.
"It's definitely a relief," Jeffcoat said. "There's been a lot of speculation. People think they knew what I was thinking. No one knew what I was thinking except my family."
Texas' recruiting coup didn't stop there. The Longhorns also received a commitment Friday afternoon from Hicks, the nation's No. 4 recruit out of Lakota West High School in West Chester, Ohio.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Hicks, the nation's top-ranked outside linebacker, chose Texas over Ohio State and Florida. He recorded 80 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions during his senior season. It is the first time that Longhorns coach Mack Brown has attracted a player out of Ohio.
Verbal commitments are nonbinding. Recruits can sign letters of intent when the official signing period begins Wednesday and runs through April 1.
Jeffcoat had family to consider in his decision. The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder, who had 68.5 tackles, 8.5 sacks and two interceptions as a senior, had narrowed his finalists to three schools: Texas, Oklahoma and Houston.
Jacqueline Jeffcoat, his twin sister, already had committed to play basketball at Oklahoma. His father, former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jim Jeffcoat, is on the coaching staff at Houston.
Arizona State, his father's alma mater, didn't make the cut. Neither did USC and Florida. A five-star talent, Jeffcoat was named to the First-Team Class 5A All-State team and was the defensive player of the year in District 8-5A.
"I felt most comfortable at Texas. It's not that I didn't feel comfortable anywhere else; everywhere else was great. That's why it was such a hard decision and it took so long," Jeffcoat said. "All these schools are great schools. I just felt right with Texas."
At Texas, he said he hopes to follow in the footsteps of Brian Orakpo, a Pro Bowler in his rookie season with the Washington Redskins, and Texas senior Sergio Kindle, who attended Dallas' Woodrow Wilson High School and is projected to be a first-round pick in April's NFL Draft.
He might also follow in the footsteps of former Texas power forward P.J. Tucker. Jeffcoat said he hopes to join the Longhorns basketball team after football season. He said Texas coach Rick Barnes has given him the green light to pursue becoming a two-sport athlete.
"Basketball's my first love," Jeffcoat said. "It's so fun to play and it helps you so much with football. I'll just have to see how my body feels after football."
Jeffcoat, who made his announcement seated next to his father, mother and two sisters, said deciding not to play for his father, the defensive line coach at Houston, was difficult.
"I believe my dad is the best coach in the country, but I didn't feel like it was the right place for me," Jackson said. "My dad has always been there for me and he always will be there for me."
Jim Jeffcoat said from the beginning of the recruiting process he vowed to provide his son advice, but he would let him make his own decisions.
"It was his decision. We run basically similar schemes (at Houston)," Jim Jeffcoat said. "It was what he wanted to do. It was all about him."
Jeff Caplan covers colleges for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.