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July 14, 2012

It's story-time! The TicketCity Locker Room

Q: (Rick Nelson) - Assume that David Ash attains the best reasonably expected upside for his skill, who does future Ash compare to for each of his remaining years of eligibility?

A: I have two names that kind of popped into my sick and twisted mind … Chance Mock and Stephen McGee. From an upside discussion, I think McGee is a good comparison from a size, passing skill set and athletic standpoint. Forget a moment for how McGee was used under Dennis Franchione and just focus on the skills and what he could/can do when playing in an offense that utilizes his full skills. I bring up Mock because he's in the same ball park, but he never quite developed to the point where he was an NFL player. Ash might not quite have the arm that Mock had, but they both arrived in Austin lacking reps from their high school days for various reasons (Mock played in a running offense and Ash was injured for a lot of his prep career) and both are big athletes that can give you some threat of the run, but not the kind that makes teams nervous on every snap. Neither McGee nor Mock was an all-American in college, but both were the kind of talented, tough players (like Ash) that could win a lot of games if surrounded by the right type of players in the right system.

Q: (LongviewLobo01) - When it comes to your sources and reporting, what's the worst trouble you've gotten in for mentioning something on the board? Also, has there ever been a time where you saw something on another site and knew who their source was without asking them based on the info or what they said? Tell your favorite stories regarding sources being outed or just sources sharing information during the time on the board. And when a poster mentions something on the site about having a source do you try to confirm their info and compare notes so to speak?

A: Hmmmm … Good question. I think the most trouble I ever got into for trying to tap into a source was in 2004 when Jordan Shipley tore his ACL as a true freshman. Practices had been closed for the first time ever if I remember correctly and it was a morning practice, and soon after it ended there were posts all over Orangebloods that Shipley had been injured. The school had done a media session right after the practice, but no mention of the injury was made from the school at the time. With the site losing its collective mind (it was if someone had said there were bank rushes all over town), I tried to call a number of different people. One of the first people I called was Bob Shipley because I knew that he would have known by then what had happened and he could have given me specific terms on how the family would prefer the situation to be reported. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get anyone to answer the phone and it felt like I needed to do something … anything … to try and stabilize the situation.

So, I called a player that I had a very good relationship with at the time, true freshman wide receiver George Walker. Throughout the recruiting process, Walker and I had talked quite a bit and although the school hates it that we have relationships with players that sometimes extend well beyond the moment they start recruiting him, I felt like he was guy that I could call and vice versa. When he picked up the phone, the conversation went a little something like this …

GW: Hello

Me: Hey man, it's Ketch. I really hate to call you on something like this, but people are losing their minds right now on the Internet and I don't know where else to turn. I don't want you to tell me any specifics, but did anything outside the norm happen with Jordan today?

GW: (long pause) Uh, I can't really talk right now.

Me: Ok.

End of conversation. In my mind, there was no question that I must have called at the exact wrong time because if my intuition was ever going to be right, it was this time … I called when a coach was standing right next to him. "Hmmmmm," I thought. "I wonder if this is going to get me in trouble." Talk about poor timing.

Sure enough, the next day, John Bianco was waiting for me. "Mack wants to talk to you,"

Oh yeah, Mack was pissed beyond belief. In addition to reading me the riot act, he actually made me feel like less of a person, almost like he was Ward and I was the Beaver in that episode of Leave it to Beaver when Gilbert and The Beave took the car out for a spin when nobody else was around. I tried to explain that there wasn't anything sinister that had taken place, that I had tried to call Jordan's dad and that my only quest wasn't to break a story as much as I was trying to calm hysteria. Mack would have none of it and he made it very clear that he felt like I crossed a big line. To be completely fair, I understood Mack's position and he had every right to be pissed, but I felt like the circumstances of it all were such that he would understand (at least a little) that his view of the absolute worst of the situation wasn't true. In fact, by that time I had already spoken with Bob Shipley about everything and he was 100-percent understanding of what happened and it wasn't an issue.

I don't think George Walker and I ever had a conversation again after that happened. I might as well have been the Boogie Man to his UT athletic career at that point and I never even tried calling because I didn't want to get him in any trouble. That's the only time in my entire 18-year career of covering the Longhorns that something like that has ever happened, although I did get into a little trouble once for Facebooking "Good luck in your first practice today" to Buck Burnette.

As far as other sites and their sources, yeah, there are times when competing websites report things and we know exactly who it was that likely gave them the information. You don't work side by side with guys for years (in some cases) and not come away with an idea of where their leaks for info reside. Also, I think we all know that there are some sources that speak with multiple websites, so there's that.

When it comes to what people report on the site in the way of unconfirmed rumors or truths, we try to investigate them if we think there's even a 1 percent reason for doing so. I'd say nine times out of 10  they end up being wrong, but our job is to be on top of everything, so we're always on our toes.

Q: (Golfpr3145) - Geoff, realistically what are our chances with some of these OOS recruits we are pursuing? Some of these kids only want to add Texas for prestige. Also, have any steps been taken by the NCAA to stop some of this street agent crap that is going on with the recruits? It seems to me that if they would penalize the recruit for association with these guys that might have a greater impact in stopping some of this stuff.

A: Realistically, Texas is an underdog and perhaps a severe underdog in the recruitments of most of its out of state targets. Even a guy like Marcel Harris, who really likes the Longhorns and is scheduling an official visit, is favored to land with the home-state Gators. However, the Longhorns were an underdog at this time last year for Shiro Davis and that sometimes occasionally rare "yes" in February is exactly why you still give the old college try every time.

As far as the street agent crap goes, I don't see much being done. The Will Lyles story is a cautionary tale, but not much else.

Q: (unclejemimah) - Do you see Mack going all the way with the shift in recruiting tactics as far as extending official offers to kids before they visit? I wonder how long we can keep getting away with that policy.

Who is your favorite recruit in the 2013 class overall and why?

How long before Jonathan Gray starts taking starter snaps away from Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron?

So, Nickelback walks into a bar...

There's no punch line because ruining music isn't funny

A: This is one of those questions I think about all the time and I wonder if it's the type of issue that ultimately causes Mack to lose his taste for the modern game. About five years ago, right when the rest of the state was starting to accelerate its collective early offer strategies, I asked Mack if he ever thought we'd see a day when we would see college football look like college basketball with offers to kids when they are freshmen and sophomores.

With this look of pain on his face, he told me that he thought college football was headed that way, but he was strongly against offering scholarships to players that young (and this was before the disaster of some of the recent recruiting classes) because of the inherent dangers involved and he hinted that he would not be long for the game if it went that way while he was on the clock.

Fast-forward all these years and here we are. The recruiting ideologies he owns are strong in their foundations and I just don't know if he's going to break, although he's certainly showing an allowance for a little bending with the current "approval for an offer" bit.

As far as my favorite guy in the 2013 class, it's an easy one right now. Antwuan Davis sent me a text yesterday with well-wishes after losing the radio show, while also adding that he was a fan of the show and will regret not being able to listen to it moving forward. Y'all need to know right now that I've got that kid's back forever more.

Also, Gray is going to start taking snaps away from folks in week one.

Finally, I don't even hate Nickelback, but that was funny.

Q: (Sejjr1) - There has been a lot of talk about Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond. Can you talk a little more about Demarco Cobbs? How do you see him contributing this year, and what are his strengths? Is he finally healthy?

Lame Joke: What's the definition of mass confusion in College Station?

A: Father's Day

A: If Cobbs can stay healthy, he's probably the most athletic playmaker the Longhorns will have among their linebackers. Now that doesn't mean that he'll be the best, but the kid can flat out run, jump, cover and make things happen with the best of them. Look for him to be heavily involved in the team's nickel and dime coverage schemes. The issue with his health is the million dollar question and until he can prove that he can stay healthy for an entire season, I think you have to know going in that he'll likely miss some time at some point this season.

I'm not sure what I think about that joke.

Q: (philipjk21) - What do you think will be the biggest improvements on offense in year two under Harsin? What specific areas do David Ash and the wide receiving corps need to improve on in order to succeed? And finally how will the Sooners fare this season? I have a hard time beveling they are a top-5 team in college football, especially considering that Landry seemed to struggle a lot without Ryan Broyles in the lineup last season.

Oh, and what do you call an Aggie on Birth Control?
-A humanitarian

A: My number one expectations for the offense this year is to see a little more natural unison with so much of last year's inexperienced players being a year older and more comfortable in every single aspect of what they are being asked to do as college football player. I also expect the quarterback play to be better, but by what measures I'm not sure.

Ash and his receivers simply need to work on their timing and cohesion constantly. Seven-on-seven just isn't enough. They need rep after rep after rep. They have to be so in tune that they can make throws and run patters with their eyes closed.

Oklahoma is a top-10 team right now. I think OU being a top five unit might depend on exactly what you believe Landry Jones is as a college player.

Now that Aggie joke was pretty good. Sejjr, take some notes.

Q: (doc2rouge) - Geoff, hope you are fully recovered from your vacation and had a chance to sip a few frosty Coors Lights.

1. We've seen from the past that there has to be an on field leader for both the offense and the defense to truly excel. Who do you think will be the on-field leader for the offense and the defense, respectively?

2. We keep hearing Cayleb Jones named mentioned positively within the young wide receiver group. Having met the kid and his family several times at UT games last year I am rooting for him to succeed because he is a good kid and I can tell how much he expects from himself. Do you think he will be an impact player as a freshman?

Corny joke: A neutron walks into a bar and orders a drink. He asks the bartender, "How much?" . The bartender responds, "For you… no charge."


A: The defense has them all over the field. Just pick one. It's the offense that I'm not so sure about. The quarterbacks are trying their best. It's nearly impossible to lead if you can't be a standout on the field, and that's part of the final step that group needs to take.

Second, I fully expect Jones to play quite a bit this year as a No. 4 or No. 5 receiver in the offense. Outside of Mike Davis, Jaxon Shipley and Marquise Goodwin, I really don't see an upperclassman that is going to keep him off the field.

Yes, that corny joke ends part I of this week's Locker Room.

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