At the rate Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns are going, they could very well earn the title of “Defensive Back U.” With former Horns like Quentin Jammer making their mark in the NFL and a plethora of other potential first-round draft picks battling for playing time on the UT roster, it’s hard to imagine another school that can boast of the quality of defensive backs that the Longhorns can.
On Thursday, the rich got a little richer. The Longhorns, already off to a blazing start in the 2004 recruiting season, picked up their 10th – yes 10th – commitment when Fort Worth Dunbar defensive back Bobby Tatum called Brown and said he too will wear the Burnt Orange.
“They offered me on Tuesday. I really, really liked Texas and I wanted to do it then but my coach (Bob Jones) said maybe I should take my trips and everything,” Tatum said. “I talked it over with my dad and my old coach at North Crowley and he said there’s really no need for me to go through all this extra. It’s really just a waste of time. So I figured I’d just go ahead and get it over with.”
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The 6-1, 195-pound standout, who is regarded as one of the top defensive backs in the Lone Start State, said he made the decision while passing some idle time at Dunbar’s district track meet. Normally, Tatum would have been a key piece to Dunbar’s sprint teams, but due to a tweaked hamstring he had some extra time to contemplate his future.
“I was at the track meet and it was really on my mind since I wasn’t running,” he said. “My dad had called me and he was talking to me about it, telling me I should commit. I didn’t know if I wanted to but when I called my old coach at North Crowley, we’re really close, he said he thought I should commit because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I really trust his opinion and it’s kind of what I wanted to do anyway.
“I called Mack Brown from the track meet on my cell phone on his cell phone. He was just getting back from vacation and we were talking about fishing and stuff. Then I just told him how I felt.”
Tatum said he probably won’t be able to run in the regional meet but he hopes to back in time for Dunbar’s run at a state title. He has listed the Longhorns as a clear leader for some time and he said his familiarity with the UT program was enough to win him over.
“It’s close to home and I really liked the environment, the players and the coaches,” he said. “I’ve been going to the Texas summer camps ever since I was a freshman plus the state track meets. I just love Texas.”
Tatum, who will be a mid-term enrollee, said he’s hopeful that he can get right into the mix for playing time once he reports to the Forty Acres. If not, he’ll bide his time until he’s ready.
“They’re recruiting me as a cornerback,” he noted. “I told them I’ll be there in January and coach Brown said I’ll have a chance to get in the mix as a true freshman. I would love to play as a freshman but if they want to redshirt me I’m fine with that.”
Although he’s one of the most highly sought after prospects in the state – including a bundle of offers from the likes of Oklahoma, Texas A&M and LSU, among others – Tatum said he realizes he still has things to learn and on which to improve.
“I’m big and I’m physical. Right now I rely on my natural ability and my speed. I have good coaches and all, but I think I can still get a lot better with the coaching they’ll give me at Texas,” he said.
What’s next? With his commitment in the bag, Tatum said he’ll turn his attention towards track and close the door on recruiting.
“It feels really good,” he said about his pledge. “I can tell all the other coaches I’m through and I know where I want to go. I’m not taking any visits except to Texas.”