Even the most solid of commits understand the concept of recruiting momentum. Neither Jared Wiley or Peter Mpagi wavered on their pledge to the Longhorns despite a slow start through two games. Still, both knew the importance of beating USC with so many recruits on hand. Mpagi missed the experience because his Richmond George Ranch team was in action.
Wiley, a three-star tight end commit who plays quarterback at Temple High School, was in attendance for the biggest win in Tom Herman’s tenure. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound prospect wasn’t surprised that Texas put in its best performance of the young season.
“It was a great experience. I called it after the Maryland loss. I knew this team was better than what it showed in the first two games,” Wiley boasted after Temple beat Killeen Shoemaker on Thursday night. “Players are more understanding to the process than fans because we see it from the standpoint of it can be fixed. We have some perspective.”
Mpagi saw the score and knew it what it meant for the Texas program. The cerebral three-star defensive end is a lifelong Texas fan who has seen his share of disappointing seasons. The 6-foot-4, 224-pound defender knows his commitment is 100 percent solid. He also knows that might not be true for everybody if more wins like USC don’t follow in 2018.
“We didn’t play well in those first two games and it made me start worrying about de-commitments and that kind of stuff. We needed a win like that, especially with that many recruits on campus. The atmosphere looked unreal,” he said. “It was a confidence booster for the team, and I think it was for the recruits also.”
Mpagi doesn’t remember a time that he didn’t follow the Longhorns. His dad worked in the business school and his sister attended Texas for track before transferring to Rice. Burnt orange is in his DNA and he’s ready to make an impact as a freshman. He’s grown close with assistant coach Oscar Giles and appreciates the approach Texas takes to recruiting.
“Coach Giles is a caring man,” Mpagi said. “He’s a nice man who cares about family and that was important to me. He’s built a great relationship with me that extends beyond football.”
There was a time in his recruitment that Mpagi worried an offer from his dream school wasn’t in the cards. He admits to nearly committing to Washington in the summer. The three-star defensive end attended a camp at Texas A&M in June. This didn’t sit well with Giles, who assured Mpagi an offer was coming. A meeting between coaches at Texas was held and Mpagi picked the Longhorns on June 16, within 48 hours of picking up his offer.
“I kept being told to be patient and I was. It wasn’t easy, though. I was worried at times,” he admitted. “It felt great to get that offer. There were no worries after that because I knew where I wanted to go. It was like getting your dream girl.”
My dream came true 🐂🤘🏿 pic.twitter.com/e7sNausjb6
— 🤷🏿♂️ (@PeterMpagi) June 16, 2018
Wiley is starring at quarterback for the 4-0 Temple Wildcats. He tossed two touchdowns in the win on Thursday and has yet to play a single snap in the fourth quarter of any game this season because of his team’s dominance. He knows a position move is a year away. Wiley is willing to sacrifice. He’ll forego his senior season of baseball to enroll early. He also sacrifices some money for his offensive teammates.
“My guys will definitely get some pizza or Mexican food tomorrow at lunch,” said Wiley. “I got to take care of my guys.”
Wiley is enjoying the moment, and the wins, with his teammates. With his decision out of the way, Wiley is simply focused on his final three months in high school. He knows his life will change once he arrives on campus, and he’s just happy to know his destination.
“Recruiting is tough because you have a lot of people in your ear. It’s a grown man decision you’re trying to make at 16 or 17,” Wiley said. “I’d tell young recruits to enjoy the process and focus on the positives. It’s a blessing. Go wherever you feel most comfortable.”