In the aftermath of the Ra'Shaad Samples developments over the last few weeks, it's clear the calm that once existed in Longhorn recruiting is entering a new phase with the arrival of spring on the recruiting clock. All of the patience from the last few months is now met with the reality that Mack Brown and his staff can't sit around forever, holding offers and hoping every potential attractive alternative doesn't fall in love with a school that isn't so shy about saying, "I love you."
The Longhorn staff is playing a game of chicken right now with a number of its remaining offers from inside the Lone Star State. Now, I'm not sure if this is a Ren McCormack game of chicken or a Detective Marcus Burnett game of chicken (both very different), but we can all see feathers flying, so I know we're looking at a Game of Fowls one way or the other, whether it's by tractor or a 911 turbo remains to be seen.
At some point in the very near future, Mack Brown and his staff are going to need to decide whether they need to tap the brakes and bail on a few of these races or whether they should simply keep the foot squarely on the gas in an effort to go for the win. It's a delicate balance this staff operates with when it gets through the month of February and finds itself waiting on a few remaining top prospects, who either want to enjoy the recruiting process or simply aren't ready to give up dating because the girl they like the most wants to have a five-year engagement, which is what committing 11 months before signing day must feel like for some kids. And the staff has to walk the tight rope of not looking like it is pressuring a kid, while not wanting to be played the fool at the same time.
It's a tricky, precarious deal ... but the job is to know the time when the brakes must be tapped and the gas must be punched. With the coaches in the middle of spring evaluations, the moment of truth in this fast-paced, high-stakes recruiting game has reached its zenith, as evidenced by last week's offer by USC to West Mesquite wide receiver Eldridge Massington. It's like everyone is playing a game of chess right now and the Longhorns aren't allowed to move any of their pieces.
While they wait on their favorite girl to say yes, every other girl they like and wouldn't mind getting a yes from is finding their own dates to the dance. Before May is over, the coaches are going to need to make some decision on the remaining six in-state offers.
With the knowledge every recruitment is a snowflake, let's take a look at the four offers that have existed since February and I'll make a call on whether the Longhorns should punch the gas or the brakes.
DeSoto running back Dontre Wilson (Punch the gas, Mike Lowery): The Longhorns appear to be on the outside looking in as he heads to a late May announcement, but there's no reason to bail at this point, with a decision looming later in the month. The truth is that the Longhorns are looking at add a cherry on top of their sundae with his recruitment and if they miss, it's not a sure thing that they even go after another running back in this class, although dropping from seven guys on scholarship in 2012 to five in 2013 probably isn't preferable. That being said, there's no obvious name on deck, so there's not a real rush. Just play it out and see what happens.
Dallas Skyline wide receiver Ra'Shaad Samples (jump off the tractor): Originally, Samples was viewed a little as another cherry on the sundae, but the difference between this position and running back is there are other very attractive options they are losing ground on while they play the waiting game. While Samples will likely forever have an open offer (it would not benefit them at all to "pull" an offer, whether they are full or not). The decision on this one appears to have already been made, as the Longhorns have Robbie Rhodes coming into town on Saturday and an offer seems imminent. That being said, if Rhodes pulls the string, the writing will be on the wall.
Dallas Kimball defensive tackle Justin Manning (Punch the gas, Mike Lowery): I know the initial instinct on this one might be to bail because Manning has been publicly clear about his lack of ever-flowing love for all things burnt orange, but we're talking about a potential elite player at a premium position and the 2014 class isn't exactly loaded with many in-state sure things at this point. The fact they are significant underdogs at this point ought to motivate the coaches that much more and this is exactly the kind of kid Tim Brewster would have volunteered to bird dog when he was on the staff. Is there a Brewster on this staff that can turn water into wine. In situations like this, I usually like to point people towards this quote made in August of 2001. "We've ruled out Texas as Vincent has decided that he probably won't stay in the state of Texas to play in college," Felicia Young said of her son's recruitment. Five months later, he was 100 percent locked in to Texas because Brewster wouldn't say no.
Alief Taylor defensive end Torrodney Prevot (Punch the gas, Mike Lowery): Prevot might be taking his time, but the Longhorns will be definite factors until the end and there's no other premium pass rush prospect in the state that brings his combination of explosiveness and playmaking ability. This one doesn't even warrant conversation. That being said, there's no reason the Longhorns shouldn't have lines out to a few open-minded national edge prospects because the position is so important they ought to take that approach every year as a principle.
No. 2: Scattershooting on the world of Longhorn football...
... Love the pick-up of Antwuan Davis for the Longhorns. In landing the state's top cornerback, the Longhorns get a kid with more speed than just about anyone at his position across the country and a developmental project for Duane Akina that is just starting to scratch the surface of his natural ability.
... The train doesn't seem to be slowing down with the recent offer to Chevoski Collins and the looming official offer to Robbie Rhodes this Saturday. With Collins, it's easy to forget he was one of the most impressive players at the UT summer camp last year, only to see his stock slip a little over the course of his junior season. I believe the OU offer this past month was a game-changer for him and you could sense the Longhorns would strike quickly beyond that. As for Rhodes, he's a guy that a lot of people thought would be offered in February. The Texas coaches really like the kid.
... It's May 7 and I'm still not sure what possible OOS prospects might exist for the team at defensive end. With Daeshon Hall and Torrodney Prevot both in a little bit of limbo, that position appears to be the one true area of concern in the class.
... I thought by this point in the month we might have a few more non-in state names of note to talk about.
... The 2014 class is going to be fascinating to watch unfold because so many of the state's top talents don't seem to be such sure-things for the Longhorns. Hoza Scott, Nick Harvey, Darrion Johnson, Ed Paris, KD Cannon and Cedric Collins are all elite talents that lists other schools as favorites and a few of the kids have minimal interest in Texas at this stage. The staff will really need to reconsider changing its approach with a few of these kids because waiting until February to go all-in might ensure the Longhorns never truly get in the front door with some.
... The most important prospects for the Longhorns with offers that remain on the board are... 1. Torrodney Prevot 2. Torrodney Prevot 3. Torrodney Prevot
No. 3 - My Mayweather/Cinco De Mayo/Derby weekend in Vegas
Oh man, there's simply nothing like a huge fight night in Vegas. For the second consecutive year, I was in Vegas for the first weekend in May for some business with Yahoo and a chance to catch a super-fight in the world of boxing. Last year, I experienced Manny World on a weekend Pac-man gobbled up some Sugar. And 52 weeks later, I was able to take in the Money Mayweather Circus.
I'm convinced that there's no better people-watching action in the world than on a weekend when to different worlds collide for a mega-fight and if that event exists, please ... do tell. That being said, here's a look at some randomness from the weekend in Vegas:
a. Floyd Mayweather Jr. might very well be the fighter of his generation and I thought it was awesome I was able to catch him in what might have been the best fight/performance of his Hall of Fame career. Against a bigger, but much slower fighter, Mayweather could have ducked, stuck and bailed all night for an easy win on points, but my goodness Mayweather fought the kind of "exciting" fight that made you feel like he earned every cent of that $34 million. He flashed the kind of power and desire to slug we've never seen before, not against a world class fighter, we haven't. That he was so willing to stand toe-to-toe and fire away was a little stunning when you consider for one of the first times in his career, his face was splattered with blood and a few welts from the hard fists of Cotto. It really was sensational theater.
b. It was interesting to see the reaction to the fight from inside the MGM versus those who watched via pay-per-view. Based on conversation on Twitter, there was a clear consensus that Mayweather was a clear victor, but inside the arena there was a feeling of real suspense going to the scorecards because the entire building felt like they had seen a much, much, much closer fight. When the scores of the fight were announced, I thought a riot was going to break out because people were that pissed. Even after the fight, I overheard a conversation with Jim Lampley where he panned the scoring and I talked in the press conference with a number of boxing experts that believed they had seen a 115-113 or 116-112 fight and not the domination that the judges scored.
c. For the record, I had the score as either a draw or 115-113 for Mayweather. There were a lot of very close rounds early in the fight, and I gave a few of those to Cotto because of his aggressiveness and activity. I expected 116-112. The idea that Cotto only won two rounds in that fight was absolutely silly.
d. Cotto doesn't get enough credit for the caliber of fighter he's been, but his ability to create a true moment for Mayweather, while giving him the most significant beating he's probably taken in a ring as a pro, makes him a new level of star in my mind. Consider that his only blemishes as a pro before Saturday night was an 11th round TKO against a dirty, cheating Antonio Margarito and a 12th round loss to Manny Pacquiao in his prime. That guy has fought everyone ... Mayweather ... Pacquiao ... Margarito ... Foreman ... Mosley ... Judah ... He's the Phil Mickelson of boxing. He's not Tiger Woods (Money/Pac-Man), but he's every bit the part of a Hall of Famer.
e. In terms of showmanship, a Money-May event production has nothing on what I saw last year for Pacquiao/Mosley. Last May, I got mini-concerts from L.L. Cool J. and Survivor, while this year I got a horrible national anthem from some woman who thought she was Mariah and a couple of bland walk-out songs. Pacquiao gave me Tyrese.
f. That being said, Mayweather's ring entourage of Justin Bieber, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne and Triple H was pretty damn awesomely random cool. Bieber is barely taller than the ropes and was dwarfed by every single person in the ring. All you could do was look for his Robert Downey Jr. haircut from Weird Science.
g. Canelo Alvarez is the real deal, folks. He'll headline his first pay-per-view in a few months, possibly against James Kirkland. He gave Shane Mosley the worst beating of his life. He's the future.
h. The post-fight scene in the press area was surreal. It's like Texas Relays meets Project Runway from a fashion standpoint, while the female talent ranged from near perfect 10s to some cousins of those 10s that might be a 3 after 10 beers. Meanwhile, everywhere you looked was some famous random person. You haven't lived until you've scoped some of that scenery, only to say to yourself. "Hey, is that Olden Polynice? Why yes, yes, it is."
i. Give me Chinese water torture over trying to find a cab after a fight in Vegas.
j. Vegas was not kind to me this weekend. I've had moments of treasure in previous visits, but I cried uncle to the betting gods after a Saturday disaster of Phillies/single-deck blackjack/craps/Kentucky Derby. Might have to cook up some Spam this week.
k. Cab drivers in Vegas are a different breed, and not in a New York City kind of way. Just drive me where I asked to go, dude. I don't want your life story, tales about your ex-wife and frankly, you don't need to know where I'm from. Just drive the car.
l. A bartender on Saturday morning called her shot on I'll Have Another for the Derby and swore she was going to place a bet. So, what happened? Of course, she forgot.
m. SW Steakhouse FTW!
n. Finally, my Vegas quote of the weekend. A hot little blonde in a very short mini-skirt is watching the craps table at the Wynn on Friday night when someone suggested she get in the game. Her reply? Wait for it ... wait for i t... wait for i t... "Does this game involve money?" Boom.
No. 4 - The Good, Bad and the That Can't Happen from Columbia ...
The Good: Well, the Longhorns did get one win against Missouri, so there's that. Also, the recent merry-go-rounds that have been Nathan Thornhill and Parker French responded back in a positive way, giving up two combined runs in 9.1 combined innings. Erich Weiss continued to hit the ball, recording seven hits in 12 at-bats (four extra-base hits).
The Bad: The scheduled starting pitching lasted all of 6.2 innings this weekend and Sunday's starter Ricky Jacquez didn't even record an out and after leaving the Longhorns in a position where they had to rely on the bullpen for 11 innings, including 5.2 innings from Corey Knebel, who pitched eight total innings this weekend. Jordan Etier was 1 for 10 this weekend. Kevin Lusson was 1-8 for the weekend and left six on base in Sunday's one-run loss. Alex Silver was 1 for 9 in the two losses.
That's Can't Happen: Losing two of three to a Missouri squad that came into the weekend 7-11 in a very down Big 12. It's anyone's guess as to what this team has left in it as it heads to the post-season, but the Longhorns are the essence of average and their starting pitching right now is an absolute wreck in that they don't have a single guy they can absolutely take to the bank on any night of the week.
No. 5 - MLB randomness...
... Albert Pujols finally hit a home run for the Angels! Albert Pujols finally hit a home run for the Angels! Albert Pujols finally hit a home run for the Angels! Stop the presses! Wait, do they still do that?
... Albert Watch: .196/.237/.295 (1 HR) (last week: .216/.266/.295)
... The Rangers are first in baseball in batting average, second in OBP and second in slugging. Oh, and they have the sixth best team ERA and the fourth best WHIP of any team in baseball. Yup, they are still very scary, even if they did lose two of three to Cleveland this weekend. They are just in a mini-road funk.
... The Nationals apparently made a statement in May this weekend by taking two of three against the Phillies. Of course, the two games they won were against Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley. Forgive me for needing to see a little more before I pull out my anointment oil.
... The Jayson Werth injury on Sunday night was awful and I hope his career isn't sidetracked too much because that same wrist nearly ended his career once before. He'll be a Phillie for life in my heart.
... Memo to the NL East: The five-time defending champion Phillies are not a good baseball team right now, so you better take advantage of the moment because they will turn this thing around at some point. Cliff Lee returns this week, Chase Utley in a few weeks and at some point Ryan Howard will return to the four-hole. The fact that they are only 4 Â½ games back at this point with the way they've been playing remains is ominous.
... In 2010, the Phillies were two games over .500 on July 23 and they finished with the best record in baseball. Just something I have to keep telling myself.
... How can you not root for the Orioles? There are kids watching baseball today that don't even know what an Oriole is because that team has been so irrelevant for so long.
... Chipper Jones sure has been lippy lately. I guess in his old age, he forgot that he hasn't been relevant in a big moment in a long time. The last time he was in the playoffs was 2005 and the last time he batted .300 or better in a playoff series was in 2001. Oh, and 16 World Series games he produced a mere 6 RBI (off of 1 HR).
... Not even Yankee haters hate Mariano Rivera. Think about that for a second. That's the ultimate respect.
... How in the world can the Cardinals possibly have a NL-best +62 run difference on May 7? They are clearly the best team in the NL right now ... a league that seems to reward teams yearly for playing their best baseball late and not early. Let's hope all of those things ring true in 2012.
Hey Astros fans, Jarred Cosart just got promoted to AAA.
... Jonathan Singleton Watch: .309/.402/.928 (last 10: .182/.289/.532)
No. 6 - Thoughts from The Association ...
... I'm not quite sure what to make of how Oklahoma City dispatched the Mavericks, but one thing is clear: the Mavs need a break from having to face Kevin Durant and Company. Those teams played each other eight times this year and the Thunder won seven of them.
... It's hard to remember sometimes that Kevin Durant is 23, Russell Westbrook is 23, James Harden is 22 and Serge Ibaka is 22 because they have already played so much basketball. Let that sink in for a moment.
... The injury to Kendrick Perkins has a chance to be a very big deal in the next round against the Lakers. He's on the team for match-ups against Andrew Bynum. Not having Perkins on the floor because of a hip strain has a chance to be the difference in what should be a very competitive and close series.
... After what feels like 17 weeks, the Spurs will finally get a chance to finish off the Jazz tonight. They might not get featured on Sportscenter very much, but that's the best team in basketball right there, folks. The Heat better hope that someone knocks them off before they can get to the Finals. Or else. I'm talking five games.
... My ranking of the best point guards in the NBA changes daily.
... A Heat/Celtics conference final has a chance to be epic. Rajon Rondo is the wildcard in these NBA playoffs. There's no one left in the East that can match-up with him. I'd love to see him rip the heart out of the Heat after the way last season ended.
... I feel bad for the Bulls, I really do. Life just isn't fair.
... Good grief, Spencer Hawes is making himself some money right now. Yikes, and my Sixers are going to have to give it to him, huh?
... The Clippers/Grizzlies series has seven games written all over it, but I can't for the life of me figure out how it won't end up being a Grizzlies sweep. They are clearly... CLEARLY the better team. That's what having a Chris Paul can do for you.
... Blake Griffin really needs to work on his game in this off-season.
... LeBron is playing a pretty amazing brand of basketball right now. His Judgment Day is coming. If he can play at this level and lead the Heat to a title, the world will be his oyster. If not, the fallout will likely be rough. The stakes are so high for him right now.
... The family jewels were not meant to take shots like the one Chris Paul took on Saturday.
No. 7 - They said what?...
A look at the 10 most memorable Tweets from the last week on my timeline.
1. "I made my mom delete her facebook cause she kinda ugly & I ain't want her to get cyber bullied"
@myhilariouslife (young buck in Connecticut)
2. "Oil Can Boyd says he used crack every day of 1986 season with Red Sox. Kinda makes that chicken & beer thing look silly"
@EricStangel (Head Writer for the Late Show)
3. "(817): I might not remember all of last night but I clearly remember the part where I humped the mailbox."
@TFLN (Texts from last night)
4. "that commercial shows the men's wearhouse guy driving a fancy car. if he's so paid. why's he shop at men's wearhouse?"
@bomani_jones (SB Nation and the Evening Jones)
5. "J.J. Redick ain't gonna take no guff from you, Mr. Hansbrough. He'll meet you behind the Country Club after Muffy's recital! Huzzah!"
@HPbasketball (Matt Moore, senior NBA blogger for CBsSportsline.com)
6. "LeBron Bodemeister James"
7. "Natitude" n. residing in a city you have no history with, while being a half-hearted yet arrogant fan of a team with no history either
@pompomflipflop (Phillies fan Laura Swartz)
8. "If you need me, I'm going back to staring at Paulina Gretzky's crotch."
9. "If it'll help, I will donate my ACL to Mariano Rivera..."
@EricStangel (Head Writer for the Late Show)
10. "I feel like Sonny Corleone at the toll booth.''
@untouchablejay4 (Terrell Suggs)
No.8 - Pop goes the culture because the culture goes pop....
... WTF Headline of the Weekend: Patricia Krentcil, New Jersey Mom Charged With Child Endangerment, May Be 'Tanorexic'
... WTF Headline of the Weekend II: Denise Richards beard is coming in nicely
American Idol Power Rankings: 1. Josh 2. Jessica 3. Hollie 4. Phillip
... Heather Showdown from the 80's: Today I voted for Heather Locklear, but when I was 10 I would have voted for Heather Thomas.
... Ummmmm: Ali Larter likes tight jeans....
No.9 - The List: The Beastie Boys
How could there be anyone else featured this week? RIP MCA.
10. Sure Shot
7. Root Down
4. Brass Monkey
1. Paul Revere
Coming up next week: Stevie Ray Vaughn, Willie Nelson or a possible mystery candidate.
Previous Lists: 2-Pac, Biggie Smalls, Boyz II Men, Jeff Buckley, Cartoon themes, Eva Cassidy,Phil Collins, Sam Cooke, Joe Ely, Al Green, Guns N' Roses, Hall and Oats, HBO Shows, Whitney Houston, Kool and the Gang, Metallica, George Michael, Mo-Town, Bill Murray, Queen, Scarface, Sexiest Women of All-Time, Gary Stewart , George Strait, TV Themes
No.10 - And finally...
There's a new boy wonder at Rivals.com. Meet 17-year old Alex Kline.
Precocious? Maybe. Impactful? Damn straight. Seriously, what an amazing story and kudos to Eric Winter (Head of Rivals) for being aggressive and locking up the Bryce Harper of the recruiting industry.
I will make sure we get Alex over to the site for a chat in the near future.