Good morning. Breakfast is served.
It’s February the 5th: 36 down, 329 to go.
And 41 till Texas begins spring football practice.
YESTERDAY: Texas lost a big 2014 recruit — and a potentially even bigger one for 2015. The Texas men held off TCU. Kansas, though, kept its one-game lead in the Big 12 by beating Baylor.
TODAY: It’s National Signing Day. ESPNU coverage begins at 7 a.m. Seriously. Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden hold their weekly live chat at 11 a.m. The Texas women host Texas Tech (7 p.m., Longhorn Network, 1300). The Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge battles the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony (7:10 p.m., ESPN).
TOMORROW: One day before the opening ceremony, the Olympics start in Sochi, with snowboarding and figure skating. The Texas softball team opens its season, at LSU. And Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido will either celebrate, observe or ignore his dodranscentennial. His call.
Feb. 5 has a sports history. On this date, the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI (2012); the Steelers beat the Cardinals in Super Bowl XL (2006); Howard Stern literally kissed New York Giants defensive lineman Howard Marshall’s butt after losing a bet that the Giants would lose Super Bowl XXV to the Bills (1991); Kareem Abdul-Jabar became the first NBA player to score 38,000 career points (1989); Vince Lombardi left the Packers to become part owner, vice-president, general manager and head coach of the Redskins (1969); the Celtics’ Bill Russell set an NBA record with 51 rebounds in a game (1960); Dick Button became the first U.S. figure skater to win Olympic gold (1948); and Jake LaMotta stunned Sugar Ray Robinson for the welterweight title (1943).
Last year on Feb. 5, Weldon Nelms — after winning two Class 3A state championships at Wimberley High School — left for Class 5A Weatherford. Nelms ended up going 1-8 in his first season there.
Today’s sports birthdays: soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo (29), Roberto Alomar (46), Jose Maria Olazabal (48), Darrell Waltrip (67), Craig Morton (71), Roger Staubach (72) and Hank Aaron (80). Other notables: Laura Linney (50), Jennifer Jason Leigh (52), Tim Meadows (52) and Barbara Hershey (66).
TODAY’S TRIVIA: What does “dodranscentennial” mean?
TODAY’S LEAD: COLLEGE BASKETBALL. Yeah, we know today’s National Signing Day. More on that in a bit. Depending on which side of the fence you’re on in the debate over the hype given to college recruiting and national signing day — which, for today’s blog purposes, will be called NSD moving forward — there was an important basketball game played Tuesday night.
The result shouldn’t have been too much of a shocker. The Longhorns are in second place in the Big 12, the Horned Frogs in last. And TCU still hasn’t won a Big 12 game.
But it was a gritty win in what could’ve been a trap scenario — coming off the huge win over No. 8 Kansas, having jumped up 10 spots in the AP poll, playing on the road against a desperate team looking for its first conference win, and playing without Javan Felix, who’s averaging 12 points a game.
The Longhorns didn’t look great. They trailed by 2 at halftime, having committed 10 turnovers. And the game was tied 52-52 with 2:45 left in the game. But Texas outscored TCU 7-2 down the stretch. Jonathan Holmes had 20 points and 16 rebounds.
Don’t worry too much about the tightness of that game. It’s not an entirely bad thing for a young team to have some struggles. It will make them better down the road and there’s a case to be made to worry about peaking too soon, only halfway through the conference schedule.
You want to start getting hot in late February or early March.
The second half of Texas’ Big 12 schedule isn’t kind. The Longhorns take five roadtrips, including stops at Iowa State on Feb. 18, then at Kansas four days later on Feb. 22, and at Oklahoma on March 1. Those are the first-, third- and fourth-place teams in the conference that’ll be fighting to protect their home court.
In Tuesday’s other Big 12 game, No. 8 Kansas beat Baylor in Waco, 69-52.
Big 12 standings:
Kansas, 8-1 (17-5)
Texas, 7-2 (18-4)
Oklahoma, 6-3 (17-5)
Iowa State, 5-4 (17-4)
Kansas State, 5-4 (15-7)
West Virginia, 5-4 (13-9)
Oklahoma State, 4-5 (16-6)
Texas Tech, 3-6 (11-11)
Baylor, 2-7 (14-8)
TCU, 0-9 (9-12)
No. 21 Oklahoma plays at West Virginia tonight (6, ESPNU). Texas’ next game is Saturday, at Kansas State (12:45 p.m.).
NATIONAL SIGNING DAY: Want NSD coverage today?
The fun starts at 7 a.m., when the first of 10 or more high-profile national recruits will make his college choice on ESPNU, which will be broadcasting NSD coverage throughout the morning and afternoon. At least one of those announcements is from a player that Texas is hoping to land. And the 7 a.m. opener is a Texan, Coppell’s Solomon Thomas.
We’ll provide coverage throughout the day — Dave Behr will be updating our Dotted Line blog, and we’ll be feeding Bevo Beat with Longhorns recruiting updates and analysis, as well as reports out of Charlie Strong‘s press conference and coverage of the rest of the Big 12 and nation. We’ll also provide comprehensive national coverage with a digital-only special section on Thursday; you’ll find it at statesman.com/signingextra.
On Tuesday, Texas got a double-whammy dose of bad news. All coming from the same Keller family. Sione Teuhema, a four-star defensive tackle, de-committed from Texas and flipped to LSU. What’s (probably) worse, his younger brother — a five-star offensive tackle for 2015 named Maea Teuhema — also de-committed. Likely destination for him? Baton Rouge as well. Maea, though, probably will be right at the top of next year’s best recruits from the state.
There are two major storylines to watch today. First, four-star defensive tackle Poona Ford (from Hilton Head, S.C.) will announced between Texas, Missouri and Purdue at 11:30 a.m., on ESPNU. Later, at 1:15, we find out the choice of three-star defensive tackle Chris Nelson (Lakeland, Fla.), who’ll pick between Texas and Central Florida.
Without them, Texas’ class, right now, sits at 21 players:
Quarterbacks (1): Jerrod Heard, Denton Guyer (4-star)
Running backs (2): Donald Catalon, Aldine Eisenhower (4); D’Onta Foreman, Texas City (3)
Wide receivers (5): Armanti Foreman, Texas City (4); Lorenzo Joe, Abilene Cooper (4); Roderick Bernard, Houston Sharpstown (3); Dorian Leonard, Longview (3); Garrett Gray, Marble Falls (3)
Tight ends (1): Blake Whiteley, Ariz. Western Coll. (3)
Offensive tackles (1): Elijah Rodriguez, Houston Cypress Creek (3)
Offensive guards (1): Alex Anderson, New Orleans (La.) Walker (3)
Centers (1): Terrell Cuney, Jasper (3)
Defensive ends (2): Derick Roberson, San Antonio Brennan (4); Jake McMillon, Abilene (3)
Inside linebackers (1): Andrew Beck, Tampa (Fla.) Plant (3)
Outside linebackers (2): Edwin Freeman, Arlington Bowie (4); Cameron Hampton, Dallas Carter (3)
Cornerbacks (1): Jermaine Roberts, New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine (3)
Safeties (2): John Bonney, Houston Lamar (4); Jason Hall, South Grand Prairie (3)
Athletes (1): Kevin Shorter, Newton (3)
Whiteley, Beck and Anderson already are enrolled and on campus.
The Longhorns’ class, as of now, is rated 15th best in the nation. Getting Ford and/or Nelson should help bump the Longhorns up a spot or two.
Very nice read today ($) by our own Brian Davis, who explored the history, value and relevance of today’s star system in recruiting. In Strong’s introductory press conference in early January, he told us to not get caught up in five stars and four stars, and that he was in the business of finding good football players who fit his system. And that’s fine. But like it or not, the modern recruiting class is powered by stars.
There are 33 consensus five-star players out there this year. Alabama’s expected to sign five of them, LSU three, Texas A&M three, and SECers Auburn, Georgia and Vanderbilt two each. Texas won’t sign any, but the Longhorns will have six former five-stars on their 2014 roster: guard Darius James (2013), running back Johnathan Gray (2012), defensive tackle Malcom Brown (2012), running back Malcolm Brown (2011), linebacker Steve Edmond (2011) and linebacker Jordan Hicks (2010).
Davis also handled this year’s NSD Q&A, the fourth year we’ve done this. We had Josh Turner in 2011, Malcom Brown in 2012 and James last year. This year’s NSD Q&A is with Denton Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard, who was asked his thoughts on the recruiting process, on the Texas commits who jumped ship and flipped to other schools, on Texas’ reputation of being soft, his place in the quarterback pecking order, and what he wants to accomplish as a Longhorn.
How have Texas’ classes ranked over the past few years? Here’s how UT has fared
AROUND THE BIG 12: Looks like TCU intends to keep up with the Joneses. Athletic director Chris Del Conte said the Horned Frogs are going to raise the money necessary to become relevant in the Big 12 again, the Star-Telegram reported. Kevin Sherington of the Dallas Morning News has had it when it comes to recruiting; there needs to be a fairer system that’ll make the college and pro games better in the proces. And look at this: A positive story being written out there. Seems that Texas A&M intends to honor the scholarship it offered to Dallas Skyline cornerback Cedric Collins, who committed to the Aggies back in August 2012 (before his junior season) but then had to quit football because of a congenital cervical problem. Collins will sign today. The Waco Tribune-Herald previewed Baylor’s signing class, which is led by star receiver KD Cannon. The paper also wrote a feature on Justin Murphy, an offensive tackle from Belton who’ll sign with Texas Tech today. Speaking of Tech, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal has previewed the Red Raiders’ expected signing class. The Daily Oklahoman advanced NSD with a feature on Sooners recruit Steven Parker, the No. 6-rated safety in the country and the No. 1 recruit in the state of Oklahoma — the Sooners would sign their home state’s No. 1 for the third year in a row, if all goes according to plan. And the Oklahoman also explored what’s becoming a thriving recruiting pipeline the Sooners are tapping into: Houston, Texas. The Tulsa World’s John E. Hoover, following up on Monday night’s dramatic three-overtime loss by Oklahoma State, says the Cowboys still have the time to react like an Eddie Sutton-coached team would. Sutton, of course, was honored at halftime of Monday’s game.
AROUND THE FORTY ACRES: What’s going on around UT athletics?
Football: The Longhorns are expected to sign 21-23 players Wednesday. Spring practice begins March 18. The Orange-White Game is April 19.
Men’s basketball: No. 15 Texas beat TCU on Tuesday night, 59-54. The Longhorns (18-4, 7-2) play at Kansas State (15-7, 5-4) on Saturday (12:45 p.m.). The Longhorns are off to their best 22-game start since 2010-11.
Women’s basketball: Texas (14-7, 5-4) hosts Texas Tech (6-15, 0-10) tonight at the Erwin Center (7, Longhorn Network, 1300). The Horns are 10-1 at home, including a 4-0 mark in the Big 12 and eight straight wins at the Drum.
Baseball: No. 18 Texas opens its season Feb. 14. In a Big 12 coaches poll released Tuesday, the Longhorns were picked to finish fourth in the conference.
Softball: No. 10 Texas opens its season Thursday, at LSU. The home opener is Feb. 12.
Men’s golf: No. 18 Texas opens its spring season on Thursday, at the three-day Amer Ari Invitational in Hawaii. Texas tied for fourth in the event last year. No. 2 Georgia Tech, No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 9 Stanford also are in the field.
ON FEB. 5 …
1994: Byron De La Beckwith was convicted of the 1963 murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Two years later, James Woods plays Beckwith in the 1996 movie “Ghosts of Mississippi.”
1945: General Douglas MacArthur returned to Manila. As promised, three years earlier.
62: The city of Pompeii was severely damaged by an earthquake. Seventeen years later, Mount Vesuvius leveled it — some 1,935 years before the big “Pompeii” movie is released two weeks from now.
TODAY’S TRIVIA ANSWER: Dodranscentennial = 75th birthday.
TODAY’S LITTLE NUMBER: 0. Number of five-star recruits Texas will sign today.
TODAY’S BIGGER NUMBER: 7. Consecutive Big 12 victories for the Texas men after starting conference play in an 0-2 hole.
TODAY’S BIG NUMBER: 21. Commitments for Texas. The Longhorns may end up signing 23, if two defensive tackles go burnt orange today and the current commitments all sign.
OK, Breakfast is over. Thanks for stopping by. I’ve got to put a new ink cartridge in the fax machine.
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