Texas recruiting notebook: Is Steve Sarkisian selling UT's culture or record to prospects?
As dismayed as fans might have been about the performances of Texas' offensive and defensive lines in the 40-21 loss at Arkansas, the Longhorns did actually win a battle in the trenches last week.
On Sept. 9, Texas received a commitment from Justice Finkley, a four-star defensive lineman from Alabama. Finkley had Alabama and Colorado as finalists as well.
Finkley becomes the 21st member of Texas' 2022 class. The last four pledges have all been defensive linemen. All four — Finkley, Aaron Bryant, Jaray Bledsoe and J'mond Tapp — have announced their commitments since Aug. 26.
All 21 prospects committed after Steve Sarkisian's hiring in January. According to 247Sports' composite ratings, that accumulation of talent adds up to the nation's third-ranked class.
It should be noted that Finkley is UT's most recent commitment, and he pledged two days before the Arkansas game.
That was the first loss for Texas under Sarkisian. Will such a loss hurt UT in recruiting? At this point in his tenure, is Sarkisian selling the program's culture or a win-loss record?
Last month, Sarkisian was asked if he needed to win big in his first season to win big on the recruiting trail.
"We have a tremendous product here at the University of Texas. We've got a world-class education in a booming city. We've got a tremendous, rich history and tradition on the football field. My opinion, we've got the best coaching staff in America.
"But part of that product is what we put on the field. And I think that showing that in the light to where a recruit can see himself and what that would look like with them playing in our offense, defense and/or special teams, and how we would fit in that role, I think is helpful. Ultimately, success is great because everybody wants to kind of join a winner, be part of something and build something special. But I don't think it's the end-all-be-all. I think it's a part of that product that we're talking about here at Texas.
"I think our staff does a really good job of balancing all of which we have to sell really here. We're fortunate; not every school has all of the things that we have. We've just got to make sure that we're pointing out and selling those things that are important to each individual recruit. This is not just one-size-fits-all. Everybody has things that are important to them. That's when we start to dive a little deeper into those things, whether it's position-specific, whether it's academic-specific, whether it's life after football-specific, whatever that is, to make sure that they can see themselves putting on the burnt orange and being a Longhorn for life. That's the goal."
In 2017, Texas went 7-6 in Tom Herman's first season. The next February, he signed the No. 3 class in the country. Charlie Strong had the No. 10 class the spring after his 6-7 debut in 2014.
Texas volleyball recruits
UT's volleyball program has kept itself busy this month. Five of its seven wins this season have been recorded in September, and two of those came over ranked Minnesota and Stanford teams. The top-ranked and undefeated Longhorns will play at Texas A&M on Friday night.
Jerritt Elliott's program has also earned a few out-of-state recruiting victories this month.
Devin Kahahawai, a senior and outside hitter from Hawaii, committed to Texas this week. That came on the heels of Elliott receiving pledges from Missouri setter Ella Swindle and Kentucky middle blocker Nya Bunton. Swindle and Bunton are both class of 2023 recruits.
Back in May, VolleyballMag.com had Kahahawai, Swindle and Bunton on its list of "underclassmen to watch."
Recruiting around the Big 12
Baylor lost a football commitment from Alabama product Zach Pyron earlier this month. Pyron is a three-star recruit who's rated as the No. 33 quarterback prospect in the country. Since his decommitment, he has received offers from Arkansas, Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt. ... Haslet Eaton linebacker Ben Roberts joined Texas Tech's class Monday.