College Sports

January 16, 2014

Texas loses, gains recruits on Strong roller coaster

The Longhorns lose a pledge to TCU but gain a safety from Arlington Bowie.

It’s been a roller coaster on the recruiting trail for Texas since Charlie Strong was hired as the Longhorns’ new football coach.

On Thursday, ESPN four-star wide receiver Emanuel Porter of Dallas Lincoln switched his commitment from Texas to TCU, according to a source. Porter had originally pledged to TCU before committing to Texas.

Porter’s flip follows three Texas recruits who backed off their commitments after Strong’s hiring, but the class still looks strong, according to ESPN’s Big 12 recruiting reporter Damon Sayles.

“They were hit,” Sayles said. “They weathered the storm and now they’re going back to work to plug some of these holes.”

The Longhorns lost commitments from three defensive tackles after the departure of defensive line coach Bo Davis, who left for USC before going to Alabama a week later.

However, Texas picked up a pledge from Arlington Bowie safety Edwin Freeman after a visit Thursday from Strong and recruiting coordinator Bruce Chambers. Freeman, a U.S. Army All-American ranked 128th overall by ESPN, had offers from TCU, USC, LSU, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

Bowie coach Danny DeArman said Strong presented his philosophy.

“[Strong] said, ‘I promise you you’ll never be talked down to. Everything will be to build you up. Every correction made will be in the most positive way,’  ” DeArman said. “That’s what [Freeman] was looking for.”

Freeman will join Denton Guyer dual-threat quarterback Jerrod Heard, who remains solidly committed to the Longhorns. Rated sixth nationally at his position by ESPN, Heard led Guyer to the Class 4A Division I state championship and was the top rusher in the U.S. Army All-American Game with 63 yards.

Another Rivals four-star recruit, Derick Roberson, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound defensive end from San Antonio Brennan, is also firm with his commitment.

Sayles said only one other player might switch his commitment: Houston Cy Falls linebacker Otaro Alaka. He had said that he would consider opening his recruitment should Mack Brown step down. Alaka has shown a strong interest in Texas A&M.

“I think, actually, if a kid would have flipped, now would have been the time or last week would have been the time,” Sayles said. “I don’t see any coming flips, but you have to remember these are kids and they change their mind every minute.”

But the addition of the new staff also carries positives in the recruiting game.

Texas could gain Hilton Head, S.C., defensive tackle Poona Ford after he dropped his commitment to Louisville when Strong headed for Austin. Ford (6-foot, 285 pounds) is an ESPN four-star recruit rated higher than the three defensive players Texas lost in the coaching shuffle.

Sayles said he believes things are in place for Texas to vie with Baylor and Texas A&M for the state’s top class in 2015.

But if there is a program that’s equipped to handle this kind of change, it is Texas, the school with the most brand recognition of any in the state.

“When it comes down to it, Texas is still going to be Texas and it can pull a lot of players a lot of schools can’t just on name alone,” Sayles said. “Some people may not like that, but let’s be honest, there’s a lot of people that want to go to Texas because it’s Texas.”

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