Tag Archives: Brandon Jones

Charlie Strong Wins National Signing Day

Wow! Did that just happen?

That’s what Texas Longhorns fans were saying for about 24 hours starting on the Tuesday before National Signing Day. Texas was sitting at 15 total commitments and ranked no higher than #30 in any of the recruiting rankings when the day started on Tuesday.

Then the first domino fell.

Running back Kyle Porter made the call to Coach Strong Tuesday afternoon, in what was a bit of a surprise. Then D’Andre Christmas-Giles decided to announce his verbal commitment to Texas on a New Orleans TV station (where he is from) that night. It was those two moments that we could feel a little momentum building.

It was one-after-another-after-another when it comes to verbal commitments, and eventual Letters of Intent being signed on National Signing Day itself. Strong pulled in an astonishing eight 4-star prospects in a 24-hour span. It was enough to make him start trending on Twitter by mid-morning.

Texas jumped 22 spots in ESPN’s class rankings to finish #10 with 24 total signees. No other recruiting service had them ranked any lower than #10. And this is a team that went 5-7 last year and 6-7 the year before.

Charlie Strong’s recruiting strategy was extremely gutsy. He went all-in with confidence that he was going to get the players that he wanted. There were a few that he didn’t get on signing day, but signing eight of his twelve targets in a 24-hour period wasn’t a bad showing.

Most coaches want players to commit to their school early. Not Strong. He told recruits to commit to him, but don’t announce it. Why? Because that makes them an easy target for negative recruiting by other schools. If other schools don’t know that they are committed to Texas, then they can’t talk as bad about them to persuade them to back out of their commitment.

That was the secret to Strong and the Longhorns winning signing day.

It wasn’t a surprise to him, even though it may have shocked the country. He knew what was going to happen. But even he admitted he had a couple of surprises that fell in his favor.

One of those pleasant surprises was landing one of the best safeties in the country in Brandon Jones. Jones picked Texas over Texas A&M and Baylor. If you’ve watched any college football over the past few years, you know that both of those programs have had better results on the field than Texas.

Chris Daniels is a defensive lineman that was once committed to Oklahoma.

Christmas-Giles was considering TCU and LSU.

Jeffery McCullouch was considering A&M, Notre Dame and Stanford.

The one thing in common that all those other programs have is that they’ve been better than Texas on the field recently. So how can a Texas team get these players when they’re coming off of a 5-7 season and a 6-7 season the year before?

The answer is trust.

It’s evident that these players trust that Strong will turn around Texas. They want to be a part of something special. Many of the players that Strong signed yesterday could have gone to a dozen or more schools, but they chose Texas.

So what does that all mean for Charlie Strong and the Longhorns?

Nothing if they don’t develop those players and start winning games.

Mack Brown was known as Mr. February during the later part of his career at Texas, since he was able to consistently bring in top-5 recruiting classes. But once the results started becoming non-existent on the field, he found his way out of the program.

This year’s big recruiting class or last year’s won’t matter either if they can’t find a competent quarterback to lead the team. Shane Buechele could be that guy, or someone else could step up.

On paper, this class could be more important than last year’s because it gives the Longhorns depth at just about every position. It will be shocking if more than 4-5 upperclassmen are starting for Texas next year. Because of the 50 or so players that Strong has brought in over the last two seasons, the excuses for losing are becoming few and far between. These are his players now and this is his team.

If Strong doesn’t start winning soon, then he could just be stockpiling the cupboard with talent for another coach to come in and win with his players. We’ve seen it happen with other programs. One thing for certain is that the players will play hard for Strong and will go to war with him any day of the week.

Texas may not be back at the top in 2016, but when Strong’s first two classes at Texas become sophomores and juniors, look out.

2016 Prospectus: Safeties

Safeties are the last line of defense, and as such, have to be sound in most aspects of the game in order to start in college. These safety prospects are the cream of the crop, and look to have promising careers ahead of them.

Brandon Jones (4*) Nacogdoches High School, Nacogdoches, Texas

Status: Uncommitted   Height: 5-10   Weight: 185 lbs.

Probably the most desired safety prospect in this year’s class, Brandon Jones has a lot to offer. Jones is extremely quick, but his ability to catch up to receivers while the ball is in the air sets him apart from the other safeties in the 2016 class. On top of his agility, Jones plays with toughness the stats don’t show. A natural free safety, Brandon Jones finishes his tackles by wrapping up and driving the ball carrier into the ground, and applies fundamentals most players neglect, especially at the high school level. Jones is from Texas, which means that Baylor, Texas, and Texas A&M are hot on his trail, with LSU and Ole Miss in the mix too.

Deontay Anderson (4*) Manvel High School, Manvel, Texas

Status: Uncommitted   Height: 6-0   Weight: 190 lbs.

At first glance, Deontay Anderson looks to be the typical build for a safety, but on tape, Anderson plays big. On the field, he looks (and plays) like a taller and heavier safety would. Anderson loses no speed in the process though, and is able to run step for step with receivers. The most exciting attribute Anderson possesses is his discipline. He follows the ball well, and is rarely caught out of position on reverses, fakes, or screens. O yeah, he’s quick off the edge on blitzes too, and is constantly disrupting the play in the backfield. While Deontay Anderson most likely will play Safety in college, his return game is equally strong. Don’t be surprised if he returns punts during his tenure in college as well.

Eric Monroe (4*) North Shore High School, Houston, Texas

Status: Uncommitted   Height: 6-0   Weight: 180 lbs.

Eric Monroe is a guy that could step in and play immediately for a bunch of teams. Monroe has an uncanny ability to make secure, open field tackles, and that is encouraging for any defensive coordinator out there. He may not be the fastest guy on the field, but he more than makes up for it through pure desire. Monroe finishes every play, even if the play is on the opposite side of the field. More often than not, Monroe will cross the field to make a tackle downfield, and stop a would-be touchdown. On top of that, Monroe runs the line well, and once he decides to attack, he’s there in a split second. Another Texas guy, Eric seems to be particularly high on Texas A&M (Chavis), Baylor, Texas, and LSU.

JoeJuan Williams (4*) Father Ryan High School, Nashville, Tennessee

Status: Uncommitted   Height: 6-3   Weight: 200 lbs.

JoeJuan Williams has the body of a wide receiver, but has a knack for defense, and more specifically, safety. At 6’3”, Williams is a promising safety recruit due to his long arms and solid size. Because of Williams’ length, he can break up passes that other safeties couldn’t reach normally. He has a strong vertical leap, which allows him to equal the jump of taller wide receivers, an attribute few safeties possess. Williams is an all-around good player. He tackles well, doesn’t risk reaching for interceptions he can’t get to, and he finds the ball well. It’s hard to ask much more from a high school recruit. Williams might not end up at safety in college, but instead, could play corner, or even wide receiver at the next level. Among schools making a push for Williams are Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, and Tennessee.

Nigel Warrior (4*) Westlake High School, Atlanta, Georgia

Status: Uncommitted   Height: 6-0   Weight: 180 lbs.

If Nigel Warrior’s last name is any indication of the way he plays, he’ll fit in anywhere he ends up going to school. Warrior seems to always end up near the ball, or with the ball in his hand. Whether it’s reading the quarterback’s eyes, or finding the ball in the air, Warrior figures out the fastest way to the ball. He’s a great rover when the deep ball is busted out, and he can keep up with the fastest ball carriers out there. Towards the top of his skill set has to be the angles he takes to the ball. Warrior doesn’t get beat to the outside, and hardly ever misses due to a bad angle. He’s also a monster with the ball in his hands, and has the vision of a running back when creating return yards. Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, and Georgia are actively pursuing him the hardest.