Texas’ win in the Cotton Bowl over Oklahoma on Saturday created waves in recruiting that could last years. Prospects across the nation noticed the Longhorns trajectory after wins over USC and TCU. The victory in the Red River Showdown was different, however, just like it always is when the two old rivals meet.
Texas caught up to its rivals and won in year two under Tom Herman. The same team that needed 11 games to become bowl eligible in 2017 can achieve that status by the open week with a win over Baylor in seven days. Herman no longer needs to sell hope. He can sell results.
“It was a big win to make a statement nationally and in the Big 12,” said the top 2020 offensive line target Chad Lindberg. The four-star from Clear Creek is the No. 5-ranked prospect on the Next 25 and is a national top 100 prospect. He and 2020 five-star running back Zach Evans are close and discuss attending the same school.
The 2019 class also took notice, specifically the commits. The last five games were validation for the current pledges, especially the out-of-state commits who admit the negative noise surrounding Texas after the Maryland loss was disheartening. Texas is now back winning games and creeping towards the top 10. Not in recruiting rankings, but in the actual polls. It feels like years since that was true in Austin.
“It was a big win and I can’t wait to play in this series,” said four-star defensive back Kenyatta Watson II. He’s one of eight commitments from outside of Texas in a recruiting class that currently consists of 18 members and ranks eighth nationally.
“I loved what I saw,” said Texas commit, three-star cornerback Marques Caldwell. “It was an all-around team win. We worked together throughout the whole game and it wasn’t about just the offense or defense. This was a team win.”
Even the 2021 recruits are taking notice of what’s happening on the 40 Acres. The work of offensive line coach Herb Hand and his improved unit is standing out to five-star Hayden Connor. He’s one of four Houston-area offensive linemen in the 2021 class already holding an offer from the Longhorns. The foursome is close and call themselves The Four Horseman.
“We all talk, and it would be awesome to play together,” Connor said. He also cautioned that one win doesn’t define a team’s success on the recruiting trail. There is more to it than wins and losses for the teenagers making life altering decisions. “For me, it’s the coaches and the direction of the program. Wins are nice, but coaches and education are the top two for me.”
Even players who attended the game as guests of Oklahoma came away impressed with the Longhorns. Take four-star defensive end Alec Bryant. The big-bodied defensive end from Shadow Creek in Pearland enjoyed what he saw from the Longhorns defensive line in the win.
“That was a great win for Texas. They came out and played hard from the beginning,” he said after the game. “The defensive linemen on Texas play a lot like myself so it’s a good fit for me.”