When I am perusing the board while hanging with my girlfriend, I’ll look at other schools coming into Texas and wonder out loud “how did that happen?”
I’ll get her normal question of “what’s going on?” and one of the times led me to discussing national recruiting powers with her, and explaining why a school from thousands of miles away can come into Texas and take top prospects from under the noses of the Big 12 and the lone SEC program in the state.
Here’s a breakdown:
2 QB – 2 TX = 100%
4 RB – 2 TX = 50 %
11 WR – 7 TX = 63%
3 TE – 3 TX = 100%
12 OL – 9 TX = 75%
9 DE – 5 TX = 50%
5 DT – 3 TX = 60%
7 LB – 3 TX = 43%
7 CB – 3 TX = 43%
6 S – 4 TX = 67%
2 ATH – 2 TX = 100%
Overall 68 – 43 = 62%
8 QB – 2 TX = 14%
7 RB – 3 TX = 33%
18 WR – 7 TX = 38%
8 TE – 2 TX = 29%
19 OL – 10 TX = 53%
29 DE – 4 TX = 14%
11 DT – 4 TX = 38%
15 LB – 4 TX = 27%
17 CB – 5 TX = 29%
9 S – 3 TX = 33%
8 ATH – 3 TX = 38%
Overall 149 – 47 = 31%
In my explanation, I told her that there are some schools around the country that don’t have the strongest state or region to recruit from, so they have to look outside their borders for talent to fill their squads. Schools that, in my opinion, have this ability include Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Southern California and Alabama.
Some distinctions to be made here; USC has California at its disposal, but 8 of its 21 signees from 2016 came from outside the golden state. Alabama has the entirety of the South at its disposal, but can go into Texas and California and get top players.
Texas falls into line with these schools’ prestige, they just have not played like a national power since 2009. Texas does not need to travel outside its borders to grab elite talent. One of the nation’s No. 1 players lives in Houston (Marvin Wilson), and one of the players considered the best in the country in the 2016 class is from outside of Dallas (Baron Browning).
UT’s former Thanksgiving Day rival, Texas A&M, has looked outside its borders consistently for their 2017 cycle. According to 247Sports, Kevin Sumlin has extended 149 scholarship offers to 2017 prospects. Only 47 of those, or just under 1/3, were extended to players from within Texas. The Aggies are utilizing the recruiting strategy of a national power without the on-field results of a national power and with the lush recruiting base of the state of Texas. As I write this, A&M extended another out-of-state offer.
There are a few ways that this can be explained. First, is that A&M believes they carry a national brand strong enough to successfully recruit outside its borders. They’ve looked into Louisiana and Tennessee recently in their recruiting. Six of its 21 2016 signees are from another state. Seven of the last 26 were out-of-state in 2015, and six of its 22 in 2014 were from outside of Texas as well.
Secondly, is that the quarterback exodus that has drawn itself out from December to May has left them with a poor reputation among in-state prospects. While Kyle Allen’s name was not a popular one among in-state prospects in 2014, the name of Kyler Murray meant something. It meant a lot.
He was a wildly successful high school quarterback who chose the Aggies after a late push from Texas. Less than a year later, he left College Station. That action resonated among high school athletes, enough to where many in the following year’s class chose to avoid A&M at the end of the cycle and choose burnt orange.
In contrast, Texas has offered only 68 rising seniors, with 25 of those offers extended to non-Texans (I consider players at IMG Academy to be OOS offers, ex. Kellen Mond). Baylor has offered 93 players, 50 of them from Texas. Texas Tech has offered 82 with just 21 going out-of-state.
What do Texas scholarship numbers say about Texas? For one, it says that a Texas offer means something. Some schools may blanket offers to everybody with a pulse, but only the players with a 4- or 5-star pulse can commit to those offers. When a prospect receives a Texas offer, it implies that UT means they have interest and will pursue.
Best example of this is Wylie East RB Eno Benjamin. Benjamin, who is committed to Iowa, is a 4-star player who will be at the Army All-American Bowl next January. His offer list includes Baylor, Michigan, Texas Tech, and Cal among others. It does not include Texas. Even though he is a great prospect, Charlie Strong has yet to offer. They have their focus on four other running backs.
The numbers also mean Strong believes he can get almost everything he needs in his class in state, while searching for blue chips and system fits elsewhere as he sees fit.
The 2015 and 2016 classes showed that he can close in the final few weeks to put together Top 10 classes, even without the benefit of a winning record. Strong is trying to make a Texas offer mean something, and it looks like recruits are listening.