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The Dotted Line: Texas prospects discuss Steve Sarkisian's offense, recruiting obstacles

Steve Sarkisian coached his final game as Alabama's offensive coordinator on Monday night when the Crimson Tide beat Ohio State in the national championship game. The throng of interested viewers included recruits in the 2022 class.

Sarkisian, who was hired as Texas' new coach on Jan. 2, will be formally introduced by the Longhorns on Tuesday afternoon. He's already talking to in-state recruits. 

“I think he’s a really good coach,” said Jaydon Blue, a four-star running back from Klein Cain. “I talked to him for the first time on Sunday, but I didn’t really talk to him much at Alabama. He seems like a great coach, so I’m excited to get to know him.” 

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Blue is the top-ranked running back in Texas for 2022. The 6-0, 190-pound prospect is the fourth-best running back in the nation and the 60th-best overall prospect, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. He’s one of nine backs with a UT offer.

A fast-paced recruiting world means Sarkisian and his staff must catch up on building relationships with recruits who have existing relationships with coaches on other staffs. 

“As long as you can call and text a coach every day, that is what really builds relationships,” Blue said. “Coming from out of state doesn’t really matter because communication is what is important and you can be anywhere to talk on the phone or text.” 

Austin Westlake quarterback Cade Klubnik agrees. Klubnik, who plays for the Class 6A Division I state championship on Saturday against Southlake Carroll, thinks the pandemic will help Sarkisian avoid any recruiting deficit. 

“I don’t think it’ll be hard for (Sarkisian) to build new relationships because there are no in-contact relationships right now anyways because everything is over the phone,” Klubnik said. “I think he was a big-time hire for Texas. I was excited to watch the game on Monday and to really dive into their offense more.” 

Sarkisian knows how to recruit. He’s helped Alabama build an offensive powerhouse. He signed the second-ranked class in the nation during one of his two years as head coach at USC. Even his classes at Washington ranked better than the normal class signed by the Huskies. And while California will be a place Sarkisian continues to recruit, he knows the key to his success at Texas is to keep in-state prospects inside the borders. 

"We cannot let the top talent in the state of Texas leave the state of Texas," Sarkisian said the day his hiring was announced. 

That won’t be easy in the 2022 cycle.

While it may seem like 11 months until the early signing period is a lifetime, some of his competitors on the recruiting trail have been in contact with the top prospects in 2022 for more than a year. For example, Dickinson tight end Donovan Green holds offers from both Texas and Alabama — as well as 44 others.

That’s a lot of competition. 

“It’s hard to build relationships this late in the recruiting game,” Green said. “It’s not impossible to do, but if he hadn’t talked to you while at Alabama, you don’t know too much about him. I’ve known some of the coaches recruiting me since I was a freshman or sophomore.” 

Port Arthur Memorial cornerback Jaylon Guilbeau is Texas' lone 2022 commitment. The Longhorns signed 18 prospects for the 2021 class during the early signing period in December. Two others remain committed and plan to sign on national signing day in February.