- May 29, 2001
Ready or not, the class of 2022 isn't going to wait for Steve Sarkisian and his merry band of recruiters.
While Sarkisian's staff is still settling in with new email addresses, passing out new business cards and figuring out where to find the best Tex-Mex within 10 minutes of the 40 Acres, business decisions are being made by the top prospects in the class that represents Sarkisian's first major challenge as head coach for the Longhorns.
There's a very thin line between "It's early, don't panic" and "Holy crap, should we start focusing on 2023?", especially following a week that witnessed 30 percent of the top-10 from my recent Lone Star Recruiting Top 100 List go off the board.
* No. 3 DT Bear Alexander from Denton Ryan committed to Georgia.
* No. 5 RB Jaydon Blue from Klein Cain committed to Texas
* No. 9 QB Conner Weigman from Cypress Bridgeland committed to Texas A&M.
In the blink of an eye, five of the top 10, six of the top 13 and 11 of the top 22 are already off the table, pending that rush of flipped recruits that everyone seems to sit around dreaming about each year.
More than anything, you guys know I love making a list and with those commitments in the last five days, it seemed like a perfect time to identify the five remaining recruits that might largely define how successful we view Sarkisian and Co.'s first year in recruiting.
If you haven't been paying attention to 2022 because you can only do one recruiting class at a time from an attention standpoint, this little section can serve as a very quick crash course in learning the names you need to memorize over the course of the next 12 months.
Grab your pen and paper.
1. Quarterbacks Quinn Ewers/Cade Klubnik/Maalik Murphy (PICK ONE)
We can all sit around arguing the order of the list (and we might just do that for the next 24 months), but the reality is that there are three big-time quarterback prospects in the state of Texas in the 2022 recruiting class and two of them (Ewers and Weigman) have already committed elsewhere. That leaves Klubnik as the top uncommitted option in state for the Longhorns, while the California Kid (Murphy) seems to be the No. 1 out-of-state option for Sarkisian and his staff if we look at the quarterback offer board (see below). After losing the commitments of Jalen Milroe and Ewers over the course of the last six months, one of the biggest needs in the program is securing the first true impact quarterback prospect of the Sark era. Any of the three names mentioned will do the trick, but if Texas has to go swimming in some other swimming pool to find its quarterback, it'll represent a major disappointment in this class. We cannot pretend that the urgency here doesn't exist.
2. Offensive Lineman Kam Dewberry
In the event you you've been in a coma for the last 12 months, there are a couple of things you need to know.
a. We're in a world-wide pandemic and the world has changed a lot, so go buy a mask.
b. Herb Hand did not cover himself in recruiting glory in 2021 among a historically good offensive line class in the state of Texas.
Unlike Tommy Brockermeyer, who had left tackle written all over his scouting report, Dewberry isn't likely to protect the blindside of a conventional right-handed quarterback prospect, but he's easily the class of the 2022 class at his position and looks like a Kenyon Green (second-team All-American as a sophomore in 2020 for Texas A&M who came from the same high school) starter kit. Ohio State is a big factor. So is A&M. So is Oklahoma. So is Alabama. The good news is that Dewberry has been very pro-UT on social media lately. New Texas offensive line coach Kyle Flood is jumping right into the frying pan fire ... no pressure.
3. Cornerback Denver Harris
I always thought that Harris was a guy that Tom Herman's staff would have a very good shot at, just because he's been so openly pro-UT in the first two years of his commitment as perhaps the best young cornerback prospect the state has produced in the last couple of decades. Although he suffered an ACL injury at the end of his junior season, he still projects as the best remaining defensive prospect in the state. LSU has felt like the primary competition for the last 12 months or so, so it could turn into a battle between Texas assistant coach Terry Joseph against LSU cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond when it's all said and done, although the Longhorns seem to be throwing a lot of resources at Harris when you consider that he's followed on Twitter by no less than 10 members of the football staff.
4. Defensive end Omari Abor
Not only is Abor the only top-end uncommitted defensive line prospect in the state, but he's the No. 1 overall remaining uncommitted prospect from the DFW Metroplex. In an interview with the Ohio State Rivals site a few days ago, Abor mentioned that the Buckeyes are either in his top two or three at the moment. Oklahoma and Texas figure to be heavily in the mix as well, so it's possible that those three represent the primary favorites in this recruitment. Pete Kwiatkowkski, Jeff Banks, JM Jones and Shaun Lewis are the four members of the Texas staff following Abor on Twitter,which means that Abor might be the first big dog in-state recruit that Banks has truly been assigned to land as a lead recruiter.
5. Offensive linemen Devon Campbell and Kelvin Banks
Texas simply must rebound from last season's offensive line disappointments, which means that the Longhorns would do very well to land two of the three best offensive linemen in the state. If Dewberry is No. 1, the Campbell/Banks combo rank 2a and 2b. Campbell has always been high on the Longhorns, but LSU and Oklahoma will be formidable foes, while the Aggies might be the favorite to land Banks.
No. 2 - The game of musical chairs for Texas quarterback propsects ...
It's rare when you can point to the ability of Texas A&M to land a top 50-level national prospect in football as a good thing for the Longhorns, but the commitment of Weigman to the Aggies might have been just that.
Make no mistake about it, Weigman is a baller. That part is indisputable.
However, the commitment of Weigman has a significant impact on the recruitment of Cade Klubnik, a player that plays his high school football 10 minutes away from the 40 Acres, but hails from a family with deep Texas A&M ties.
Before we go any further, let's take a look at the quarterback offers from Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, LSU and TCU as a means of providing a deeper picture of the offer game in the state of Texas this year.
Texas (under Sark): Ewers and Klubnik
OU: Ewers, Weigman and Orji
A&M: Weigman, Ewers and Klubnik
LSU: Ewers and Klubnik
TCU: Ewers, Klubnik and Orji
When you look at the offer lists, you'll notice that A&M is the only school that had offered both Weigman and Klubnik, while OU has a different preferred in-state target with two of the three that have been offered now committed.
The school that Klubnik has most been connected to is Texas A&M because of his family connections there, but it feels incredibly unlikely that the Aggies will do anything to mess up their relationship with Weigman.
The other school that has been connected to Klubnik is Clemson, but the Tigers haven't yet offered and appear to be the heavy front-runner for Tennessee-prep star Ty Simpson.
It's possible that LSU, Oklahoma or some other school comes out of relatively nowhere this early in his recruitment to emerge as a legit foe to the Longhorns, but as we stand here right now, the Longhorns ...
a. Have the Aggies completely cleared out of the way.
b. Might not have to worry about the flashy shiny out-of-state favorite for much longer.
c. Aren’t dealing with Oklahoma and Lincoln Riley.
d. Aren’t facing an obvious No. 2 school at the moment in his recruitment.
I know that @Russhorn literally has level-one information that tells us that the hurdles for the Longhorns will be difficult to overcome, but I'm here to tell you that a lot of hurdles just got moved out of the way for the Texas by divine intervention.
Suddenly, the Longhorns have the following advantages going for them.
a. Hometown team.
b. A hometown program that is recruiting his left tackle and has added a couple of former teammates as preferred walk-ons in the last 10 days.
c. A coaching staff that can go all out for him without having to worry about the in-state politics of it all with other kids they've offered.
(Note: The following members of the Texas coaching staff currently follow Klubnik on Twitter: Steve Sarkisian, AJ Milwee, Jeff Banks, Pete Kwiatkowski, Blake Gideon, Shaun Lewis, JM Jones and Jake Kostner)
d. No clear cut competition, barring an offer from Clemson, which would suddenly create some clear cut competition among schools that have offered.
e. There's no school in the competition that they have to worry about having a longer and better relationship at this point, simply because Texas offered so early under Herman and Sarkisian made a strong effort to re-offer very quickly into his tenure at Texas.
What will be interesting to watch now is whether there's a feeling between Klubnik and California target Maalik Murphy that if either of them want to be the quarterback in this class, they better act before someone takes the spot.
I don't get the sense that Klubnik has been in any rush to make a fast decision, but you're crazy if you don't believe that he understands the impact that the Weigman commitment potentially has on his recruitment. He'll have to ask himself in the coming weeks and months how badly he wants to lock up a spot at one of his top options before he's suddenly out of plan A top options and having to move to plan B top options.
It happens all the time. It's already happening to other quarterbacks in the state of Texas.
I don't know how much sand is the hour glass, but it's running as I type. It would shock me if we get through the month of May and the quarterback position hasn't sorted itself out.
No. 3 - Nostraketchus on 2022 big dogs ...
Per request from @echeese, I'm going to make a 12-month out set of predictions for the top 20 prospects on my Lone Star recruiting Top 100.
I'm sure none of these will miss. 20 for 20, here I come!
1. QB - Cade Klubnik - Austin Westlake (Prediction: Texas)
2. CB - Denver Harris – North Shore (Prediction: Texas)
3. DT - Bear Alexander - Denton Ryan (Prediction: Georgia)
4. QB - Quinn Ewers - Southlake Carroll (Prediction: Ohio State)
5 QB - Jaydon Blue - Klein Cain (Prediction: Texas)
6. OL - Kam Dewberry - Humble Atascocita (Prediction: Texas A&M)
7 DE - Omari Abor - Duncanville (Prediction: Oklahoma)
8. DE - Malick Sylla - Katy (Prediction: Texas A&M)
9. QB - Conner Weigman - Bridgeland (Prediction: Texas A&M)
10. OL - Devon Campbell - Arlington Bowie (Prediction: Texas)
11. OL - Kelvin Banks - Houston Summer Creek (Prediction: Texas A&M)
12. WR - Evan Stewart - Frisco Liberty (Prediction: Texas)
13. WR - Caleb Burton - Del Valle (Prediction: Ohio State)
14. LB - Harold Perkins - Cypress Park (Prediction: Texas A&M)
15. S - Bryce Anderson - Beaumont Westbrook (Prediction: Texas A&M)
16. DB - Jaylon Guilbeau - Port Arthur Memorial (Prediction: Texas)
17. WR - Armani Winfield - Lewisville (Prediction: Texas)
18. RB - Jamarion Miller - Tyler Legacy (Prediction: To a school that hasn't yet offered)
19. Ath - Brenan Thompson - Spearman (Prediction: Oklahoma)
20. TE - Donovan Green - Dickinson (Prediction: Texas A&M)
Breakdown: Texas (7), Texas A&M (7), Oklahoma (2), Ohio State (2), Georgia (1) and unknown offer (1)
No. 4 - King of the Lone Star State ...
Which recruiting region inside the state of Texas is where all of the talent is this year?
Here's the breakdown by the top 10
Greater Houston Area: 5
DFW Metroplex: 4
Here's the breakdown by the top 25
Greater Houston Area: 8
DFW Metroplex: 8
East Texas: 2
Golden Triangle: 2
Lubbock/West Texas: 2
Here's the breakdown by the top 50
DFW Metroplex: 27
Greater Houston Area: 11
East Texas: 4
Golden Triangle: 2
Lubbock/West Texas: 2
No. 5 - Selling on Shaka?
I'll be honest, I'm not overreacting ... or really reacting at all to the loss in Stillwater over the weekend.
On some level, we have to quit pretending that anything that happens in the regular season matters in college basketball unless you win the conference (and even then it doesn't matter a lot if you fall on your face in the Tournament).
The team has been ravaged by COVID issues the last couple of weeks and I can't pretend that all of this disjointed yo-yo action from the last few weeks hasn't had an impact on the team.
The key is stopping the bleeding as soon as possible and building back some momentum going into March.
If the Longhornsn make it to the second weekend of the Tournament, nothing from February will matter.
No. 6 – BUY or SELL …
(Sell) I still like this team to make the Sweet 16.Shaka Smart flames out in the first round and retains his job until 2023.
(Sell) The Big 12 has never won a playoff game in the modern era of the playoff. The SEC isn't scared.A&M, OU, Texas potentially all being top 10 programs puts a large dent in the SEC for the next 10 years.
(Buy) Texas has averaged double-digits in attrition for almost 20 consecutive years. Not including "super seniors," there's probably a better chance of Texas playing closer to 75 scholarship players this year than 85.If the over/under is 3 players to the portal after spring ball, you'll take the over?. And do you think those players were encouraged by the current staff?
(Sell) 2020? Sure. 2022/2023? It's way too early to make that call.Given OU’s success in recruiting and the Tennessee portal, OU definitely has better talent in 2022 and probably 2023
(Buy) You left out the word "much."For 2021 to be seen as a success, Thompson/Card must be better than Sam.
(Sell) That would be the best season in Sark's head coaching career in his first year at Texas. That would be substantial.Texas pulls off a double-digit win season in 2021.
(Sell) It might end up being that, but for now I'm going to pass and give TCU the respect it deserves.The Longhorns opening game against Louisiana is their third toughest game of the season behind only OU and the road game with Iowa state.
(Buy) The question directly under yours asked the following: "The starting Texas QB will have a QB rating that averages at least 190 for the year and at least 3 games over 220."OBs’ expectations for the 2021 season are already grossly inflated.
(Buy) I'm not sure they'll have much of a choice.Sark and Flood want to wait until after spring ball for OL transfers.
(Sell) I think it's very close, maybe a push between Klubnik and Murphy. By my count, one more Texas personnel person follows Klubnik on Twitter than Murphy.Maalik is actually Sarkisian’s favorite QB in the ‘22 class.
(Sell) I'll take the field.Bijan Robinson will lead the nation in rushing for 2021.
(Sell) Let's put some respect on Mack Brown's name!Sark’s value to our program as an offensive coordinator is the “most valuable” coaching hire for UT in the last 30 years.
(Sell) Maybe after two years.At least one of LJ and Camar will be in the portal within one year from now.
No. 7 - Super Bowl Randomness...
* Man, I just did not see that ass-kicking coming a mile away. Bomani Jones mentioned that it reminded of the Raiders/Washington Super Bowl XVIII and I have to say.... yeah, that's about right.
* Is this the highlight of Tom Brady's GOAT career? Outplaying Mahomes in his 40s for his seventh title? lulz. Crazy.
* I just didn't think Patrick Mahomes had a stinker like that in him. It was like seeing Ivan Drago bleed in Ricky IV.
* That Bucs defensive line is something else.
* It feels like the Bucs used the NCAA portal to get to the Super Bowl with Brady, Gronk, Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown making plays left and right.
* I thought the Weeknd was perfectly fine. Didn't love it, but thought it was a good show. I can live with that.
* Just once, Tony Romo... call him Roland Jones!
* Speaking of Romo... he found himself trending in the second half.
* Brady to Gronk in the Super Bowl for two touchdowns in 2021 for the freaking Tampa Bay Buc was some kind of sight to take in.
* The Chiefs having at least a brief lead in 62 straight games (and counting) is kind of incredible.
* I liked the M&M commercial from the first half.
No. 8 - Scattershooting on the world of sports...
* The Texas women's basketball team isn't exactly two steps forward, one step back as much as its three steps forward, one step back. Even with the loss to West Virginia at home, we can't talk enough about Charli Collier. She really is an incredible player.
* Consider me fascinated that Alabama defensive backs coach Karl Scott left for a job with the Vikings in the NFL. Maybe he thinks this is his way to an eventual coordinator job. Regardless, Alabama has had a LOT of off-season turnover.
* Consider me very happy that Drew Pearson finally made the NFL Hall of Fame. It was long overdue and I'm just glad that Pearson is still with us to enjoy the moment. It's more than 35 years since he played his last game, so that last sentence is nothing to take for granted. As someone that has had a chance to interview Pearson more than 25 times in my lifetime, I can say that from my experience he's just a lovely person, first and foremost. It's time.
* My brain tells me that it is ridiculous that John Lynch is in the HOF before Darren Woodson. In his prime, Woodson was arguably the best player on the 1994-95 Cowboys. He was that freaking good at his absolute height as a player.
* How the hell did he accept an offer from the Yellow Jackets over the Dawgs? He's the only player in the last 20 years has been a high four-star prospect with offers from Georgia and Georgia Tech that actually picked the Yellow Jackets.
* Derrick Rose to the Knicks just doesn't pop like it might have ... oh ... a decade ago.
* A Lakers/Sixers Finals might be kind of fun. Just saying.
* I have nothing but respect for the beating Man City put on my beloved Reds on Sunday. We're a bit broken and City isn't. They'll be worthy league champions this year.
No. 9 - The List: Top 10 Favorite Pro Wrestling matches ...
I'm really going to miss @caldonna, who easily ranks as one of my favorite Orangebloods posters of all-time.
It wasn't just his awesome wrestling posts. Or his frequent randomness.
It was way more personal than that. Over the years, I'm not sure that anyone has sent me more notes of encouragement and support. It actually occurred to me last week that I needed to reach out to him because I could feel that it had been a few months since we had chatted.
The last time we exchanged messages, he was asking me if I thought Chris Del Conte had the ... uh ... guts to make the move on Tom Herman. It saddens me that he didn't live to see Texas football regain its excitement levels.
In honor of Calixto Gonzales, I'm going in a direction I think he'd love ... my top 10 all-time personal favorite pro wrestling matches of my lifetime.
10. Anytime Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair did anything in their rivalry: There's not anyone match that stands out as much as the feud itself.
9. Triple H beats Cactus Jack at Royal Rumble in 2000.: Mick Foley brought out the absolute best of Triple H.
8. The Undertaker beats Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 25: This match could easily be higher on the list.
7. Edge slams Jeff Hardy in the tables, Ladders and Chairs II match at Wrestlemania 17: I'm a big fan of Edge and this was HIS moment.
6. Stone Cold Steve Austin beats The Rock at Wrestlemania 17: Heel turns don't get better than this.
5. The Undertaker bears Mankind in a Hell in a Cell match at King of the Ring in 1998: Still leaves me speechless.
4. Ricky Steamboat beats Ric Flair in best 2 out of 3 at Clash of the Champions VI in. 1989: In terms of the art of wrestling, this match stands out as the best hour of wrestling I've ever seen.
3. The Von Erichs defeat The Freebirds for the Six-Man Tag Title in 1984: You could really pick any match between a Von Erich and a Freenird in the 80s.
2. Hulk Hogan defeats Andre The Giant a Wrestlemania III: I remember calling the Waco Tribune hotline to get updates on the match, only to see the match a week later. Hulk Hogan was bigger than life.
1. Kerry Von Erich defeats Ric Flair in 1984 at Texas Stadium: This was the match that meant the most to me emotionally. I was seven-years old and it felt like man had gone to the moon when Kerry put the strap on. There isn't even a debate.
No. 10 - And Finally ...
I have four TV comedy recommendations to make from the last month or so.
1. After Life
2. Derry Girls
3. I'm Sorry
All four can be viewed on Netflix.