University of Texas

Once a top destination, Longhorns have fallen off recruiting map

Tom Herman’s recruiting class is ranked unusually low for Texas.
Tom Herman’s recruiting class is ranked unusually low for Texas. AP

The University of Texas has fallen on hard times when it comes to recruiting.

The Longhorns’ class is not ranked in the top 30 by Rivals, ESPN or Scout, where the Longhorns are No. 33.

Since having Scout’s top class in 2012, Texas averaged No. 12 the past four years, including No. 3 in 2016, when the Longhorns had five recruits in the top 100, and one five-star recruit.

Last year, Texas land a key number of uncommited recruits on National Signing Day and finished with a top-10 class.

This year, the Longhorns’ highest ranked player is Austin Westlake quarterback Sam Ehlinger, at 119th. The class may not appear as strong because three former Baylor commits dipped into the 2017 numbers. They landed at Texas after being released from their letters of intent following the sexual assault scandal at Baylor.

Those three — ESPN 300 offensive lineman J.P. Urquidez, three-star athlete Donovan Duvernay and Patrick Hudson, the top-ranked offensive guard and No. 56 player in the country — gave Texas 28 signees in 2016. A team can have a total of 85 players on scholarship.

Area high school football coaches believe that coaching changes and the lack of success have also affected this year’s UT class. Signing Day is Feb. 1.

“Biggest thing is success rate,” Saginaw Boswell coach John Abendschan said. “They won it in 2005, and since then, lost the next one [the 2009 national title game], and just haven’t had much success. Schools that are winning get the recruits and Texas hasn’t won.”

Texas went 5-7 in 2016, their third straight losing season. The 16-21 stretch led to the firing of Charlie Strong, who was replaced with Tom Herman on Nov. 27.

“Word-of-mouth on Tom Herman is that he’s an energetic guy and brings a lot to it,” Abendschan said.

Herman was 22-4 in two seasons at Houston. He served as a graduate assistant at Texas in 1999, and had stints at Sam Houston State, Texas State and Rice before moving to Ohio State, where he coordinated the Buckeyes’ offense in their championship season in 2014.

“Tom has Texas college roots so he understands recruiting in the state,” Colleyville Heritage coach Joe Willis said. “But if you’re a Texas team and you’re winning, you’re also winning the recruiting battle.”

Some coaches also believe their recruiting is slightly down because of Texas A&M’s move to the SEC and the capability of every team to have its games televised or be online.

“Kids want to be a part of a winner, but Texas and the Big 12 have declined since losing Texas A&M to the SEC,” South Hills coach J.J. Resendez said. “The Big 12 has relevance when Texas is good.”

Brian Gosset: 817-390-7760, @gosset41

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