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Monday, January 2, 2012
Texas commits having a blast

By Jamie Newberg
ESPN Recruiting Nation

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There's nothing like team chemistry. That's certainly the case for the black team -- officially Team Highlight -- in the Under Armour All-America Game, as 10 future Texas Longhorns fill the roster.

"We are like a family already," said defensive tackle Malcom Brown (Brenham, Texas/Brenham). "I am real close with all the guys and getting closer every day. This is great for us."

Connor Brewer
Future Texas QB Connor Brewer (above) relishes the time he has at the UA Game to develop a familiarity with future UT receivers Cayleb Jones and Thomas Johnson.

Texas has commitments playing at every position except tight end: Quarterback Connor Brewer (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral), running back Johnathan Gray (Aledo, Texas/Aledo), wide receivers Cayleb Jones (Austin, Texas/S.F. Austin) and Thomas Johnson (Dallas/Skyline), offensive linemen Curtis Riser (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto) and Kennedy Estelle (Pearland, Texas/Glenda Dawson), defensive tackles Alex Norman (Bishop Dunne, Texas/Bishop Dunne) and Brown, linebacker Peter Jinkens (Dallas/Skyline) and cornerback Bryson Echols (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto).

"It's a time for us to all get a lot closer," Norman said. "Then you get to compete against each other and work out together. That helps with the camaraderie. It seems like all the Texas guys have a real good relationship with one another. We are comfortable together. We have bonded very well."

What has always been unique about Texas recruiting with coach Mack Brown is how quickly the Longhorns get off to their recruiting start. While Brown committed in April and Estelle in early June, eight of the 10 were committed by the end of February. These kids have had a good bit of time to develop their relationships.

"It's a special thing and I think a good thing that we can all get together like this," Echols said. "A bunch of us were together at The Opening and Gridiron Kings. It really helps build chemistry. Now we have this game. It should only help us that much more as we grow together."

That will be particularly important for Brewer and his future targets, Jones and Johnson.

"To be able to come out here and play with some of the guys does a lot of good things for me," Brewer said. "I get to throw to them and I get excited about it. And I am excited to get to Texas with all these guys."

Now when you have a large contingent at an event like this, kids can and often will put on their recruiting hats. Who are these Longhorns trying to lure to Austin with them? The two recruits named the most were the nation's top-rated prospect, defensive end Mario Edwards (Denton, Texas/Billy Ryan), and five-star safety Landon Collins (Geismar, La./Dutchtown).

"I am working real hard on Mario," Norman said. "I am trying to make sure we get him. I am also working on that dude [Noah] Spence [Harrisburg, Pa./Bishop McDevitt]. He's a baller."

Spence has already made his pledge to Urban Meyer and Ohio State, and he's not budging. But it's a different story for Edwards. He's committed to Florida State, but there certainly has been some serious talk that he could flip to another school -- and Texas is in that discussion.

"We have to get Mario," Brewer said. "He's from Texas and he's hanging out with everyone from Texas. It would be a good spot for him, and to be honest, I think Texas is in good shape with him."

Meanwhile, Collins will announce his decision live during Thursday's telecast of the UA All-America Game (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPNU). The Longhorns might not have made the final cut, but these Texas All-Americans would love to have him.

"The dude I want for Texas is Landon Collins," Echols said. "I've been working him. I didn't realize he was announcing on Thursday. Are you for real?"

Well, there's 10 of them, and they have two more days to work on him.

Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at jamienewbergbw@yahoo.com.