Tag Archives: Letter of Intent

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.

How Do College Football Recruits Choose Their Schools?

We are less than one week from national signing day, where hundreds of student athletes will sign their letters of intent to play football at a school for the next four (or so) years. While this may be un-newsworthy for some, I happen to find it one of the most incredibly entertaining days of the year.

Actually, let me backtrack a little bit. Recruiting in general, leading up to signing day, is entertaining to follow. National signing day is just the result of all the recruiting tactics that players and coaches use up until that day.

Most casual college football fans, and even a lot of experts and die-hards, don’t follow recruiting closely.

And I get it.

Championships aren’t won in February. A star ranking means nothing on the field. Players are only as good as their coach develops them. I understand it all.

But what makes the recruiting cycle fun to observe is the constant battles amongst coaches and players. It is more transparent now than ever with Twitter blowing up every time a recruit talks to a coach.

So here’s what I’ve observed on Twitter and other outlets about how these high school kids choose their college.

The days of growing up being a fan of a team and playing for that team are over. Yes, there are still some kids that are die-hard fans and have dreamed of playing for that school ever since they were little. But nowadays, it’s not unusual for a Longhorn fan to commit to play for the Aggies and vice versa.

Relationships with the head coach and the coaching staff outweigh the fandom that comes into play, in most cases.

Momentum in the program also plays a role. Kids that normally would commit to Texas are now looking at Baylor, TCU and other programs in the state since they are in a better position to win immediately. You can’t really blame them for that, especially if they have NFL aspirations.

But what makes the players commit to a school? It may not be the reasons that you’re thinking.

Some players flip a coin when they are down to two teams. Some choose based on the restaurants available near campus. Some choose based on the attractiveness of the females they saw during their visits. Some may not like the weather that a city gets.

I’m not joking about these, but these are obviously not the only factors that kids take into consideration.

Just like with regular relationships, sometimes the pursuit works, and sometimes it doesn’t. In fact, one player is committed to another school currently and said he wouldn’t listen to anyone else. Charlie Strong called anyway. The player came to Austin for an official visit, and now he may flip his commitment to the Longhorns.

What’s hilarious is what coaches will do to sway the minds of their recruits. Jim Harbaugh has been on a roll this year. He has reportedly slept over at a recruit’s house and met with another at 12:01am after the dead period ended. Some recruits appreciate that, some don’t.

Going back to relationships, you shouldn’t use college coaches or recruits as examples for good relationships. Think about how many players “commit” to a school, only to “decommit” and play elsewhere. It’s pretty much like dating to a point, but to a different extreme.

“Committed” players still talk to other coaches from other schools. How would you feel if your significant other was committed to you, but talked to other guys or gals?

I think players shouldn’t be allowed to officially commit until they sign their name on papers. All the talks of committing and decommitting are just for attention and really mean nothing. We’ve seen players be committed to a school for over a year, only to change their mind on signing day. That leads to conspiracy theories, but we will leave that for another day.

When I take a step back and really wonder why I like following recruiting so much, I can laugh and make fun of myself. It’s ridiculous to follow Twitter feeds of high school kids in hopes that they come to my school. But I like to read into things way too much anyway, so it’s right up my alley.

Fortunately, recruits do the same thing, which makes following them even more entertaining. With all the outside noise and social media, recruits are having a harder time than ever trying to nail down a school to go to.

I would like to say there’s a formula to figuring out why kids choose to play for a particular school. But there’s not.

But at least we can try to figure it out, right?