Texas coach Charlie Strong celebrates a score against Oklahoma Sooners in the NCAA college football game at the AT&T Red River Rivalry Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas Texas Saturday, Oct 10, 2015. (RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Football

National signing day could be explosive for Texas, Charlie Strong

247sports projects Texas to land 10 new commitments on signing day, bolstering a class with 15 recruits already

Posted February 2nd, 2016

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Story highlights
  • The Longhorns have never gone into national signing day expecting so much news.
  • Multiple Texas targets will announce on Wednesday, starting at 7:45 a.m.
  • Strong's class currently ranks 33rd nationally, but is expected to rise into the top 20.

If Bobby Burton is right, Wednesday will be the most power-packed recruiting day in Texas football history.

Burton, the publisher of 247Sports, has tracked high school recruiting for more than two decades. The Longhorns have never gone into a national signing day with such a possible avalanche of 11th-hour pledges.

At least 13 key Texas targets are still undecided, Burton said, and the Longhorns likely are sitting on multiple silent commitments, as recruits are waiting to make a big announcement splash on Wednesday.

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“I think it’s going to be a banner day for Texas,” Burton said Tuesday, the day before thousands of high school seniors nationwide sign scholarship paperwork. “I’ll really be surprised if they don’t get 10 players tomorrow that haven’t already committed.”

Ten new commitments on national signing day? Every coach that’s ever prowled the UT sideline would faint at the notion. Well, that is every coach except Charlie Strong, a cool customer who doesn’t mind the frantic 11th-hour frenzy.

The blitz might have started midday Tuesday when Katy running back Kyle Porter, who had played things close to the vest, chose Texas. Two of Porter’s teammates announced the decision on Twitter, something that Porter himself does not utilize.

The Longhorns have 16 commitments — seven are rated four-star athletes, nine are considered three-star prospects, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings. When Tuesday began, the website’s composite rankings had Texas’ class at No. 33 nationally and fourth in the Big 12. Other sites had similar projections, although Rivals is the outlier (44th).

Just by adding Porter, 247Sports bumped Texas’ class up to 25th. “State Champion coming to ATX! #LetsRide,” Strong tweeted shortly after the news of Porter’s commitment broke. Porter led Katy to the Class 6A Division II state championship last season.

Four recruits from this class have already enrolled for the spring semester — quarterback Shane Buechele, receiver Collin Johnson, lineman Zach Shackelford and linebacker Demarco Boyd.

Receivers Reggie Hemphill-Mapps, Davion Curtis and the athletic Lil’Jordan Humphrey are considered dynamic playmakers. Jean Delance, Denzel Okafor and Tope Imade will help bolster an offensive line featuring two freshman All-Americans in Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe. Tight end Peyton Aucoin could find a role in Sterlin Gilbert’s new offensive system as well.

On defense, Andrew Fitzgerald, Gerald Wilbon and Malcolm Roach are solid line prospects, as is cornerback Eric Cuffee.

“I think this is exactly what the doctor ordered,” Burton said.

With about a dozen targets still undecided, Wednesday’s announcements will come in fast and furious fashion.

Defensive tackle Chris Daniels, who backed away from Oklahoma, is expected to announce his decision at 7:45 a.m. Safety Brandon Jones is expected to pick between Texas, Texas A&M and Baylor at 8 a.m.

Linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch, nicknamed “The Shark,” is announcing at 10 a.m. Another defensive tackle, D’Andre Christmas Giles, was slated to make the big reveal late Tuesday.

There’s a slew of other players in the mix, including defensive tackle Jordan Elliott and safety Chris Brown. What about linebacker Erick Fowler, who is apparently going back and forth between LSU and Texas? Or, offensive lineman Patrick Hudson, long considered to be leaning toward Baylor but gave Texas a long look late?

Mack Brown would consider this sacrilege. For most of his 16-year tenure, national signing day was kind of boring in Austin. Many recruits committed to Texas as juniors. Normally by this time, Brown was knee-deep into next year’s recruiting work. Not Strong.

Burton believes that Strong’s real strength is connecting with athletes and their parents. The Internet is littered with selfies taken by recruits with Strong and one, two or more assistant coaches over the last two weeks.

Strong has insisted he “needs just one more class” to bolster Texas’ overall depth. The 2016 team is going to be young across the board. If the Horns can land several more starters on Wednesday, this program could be back on the right track.

“You have to temper expectations somewhat because they’re young,” Burton said. “But it will be very apparent very quickly how much more talent is on the field and on the team generally when this class comes in this fall. It will be obvious to the eye.”

2016 Texas Longhorns recruiting class

Here's a look at the recruits who have committed to Texas coach Charlie Strong for the 2016 recruiting cycle. Star rankings from 247sports. Oral commitments are non-binding. National signing day is Feb. 3.

PlayerPos.SchoolStarsCommitted
Collin JohnsonWRSan Jose (V. Christ.), Calif.44/17/2014
Reggie Hemphill-MappsWRManvel310/4/2014
Demarco BoydILBGilmer31/30/2015
Shane BuecheleQBArlington Lamar42/23/2015
Tope ImadeOGArlington Bowie35/26/2015
Gerald WilbonDTDestrehan (La.)36/17/2015
Peyton AucoinTENew Orleans (La.) Martin37/24/2015
Malcolm RoachDEBaton Rouge (La.)311/6/2015
Andrew FitzgeraldDEFlower Mound411/12/2015
Denzel OkaforGLewisville411/14/2015
Davion CurtisWRTemple311/19/2015
Jean DelanceOTNorth Mesquite41/2/16
Zach ShackelfordGBelton31/17/16
Eric CuffeeCBWaco41/28/16
Lil'Jordan HumphreyWRSouthlake Carroll31/30/16
Kyle PorterRBKaty42/2/16
D'Andre Christmas-GilesDTNew Orleans (La.)32/2/16
Marcel SouthallDTDuncanville32/3/16
Chris DanielsDTEuless Trinity42/3/16
Brandon JonesSNacogdoches42/3/16
Erick FowlerLBManor42/3/16
Chris BrownSAlief Elsik32/3/16
Jeffrey McCullochLBAldine Davis42/3/16
Jordan ElliottDTHouston Westside42/3/16
Devin DuvernayWRSachse46/22/16
JP UrquidezOTCopperas Cove46/25/16

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