Five Years In The Desert: Texas Longhorn Running Back Recruiting

For some of our backs, that title could be Five Years In The Dessert.

Some running backs will play on Sundays.

Some play on sundaes.

The AAS has a capable rundown of our RB recruiting over the past half decade and it provides some useful context for how we got to a ball-toting roster of 6s when Texas shouldn't be leaving closing time with anything less than a 8.

Disclaimer: running backs are not solely, or even largely, responsible for the running game. But good RBs make running games easier and a great one can spin average blocking cloth into gold.

Over the half decade, we saw RB talent famine state-wide, some can't-miss running backs we missed out on missed elsewhere; we, at times, settled like a triple divorcee at a Friday's Happy Hour, and we often signed a capable, if unexceptional, running back while stubbornly refusing to recruit beyond state lines.

In those years of scarcity, Mack may as well have affixed a collar to his assistants like the prisoners wore in The Running Man. Major could only stand at the fence line, looking longingly at spots like Southern California, warning beeps backing him down every time he considered making a break for it. Major had heard tales of this sunny place that houses 1/7 of the US population. A sunny place filled with RBs seeking to play football in other sunny places where people care about football more than windsurfing and fans that will support them through their marijuana suspensions....

A quick recap:

2006

We signed Vondrell McGee. Goodson went to A&M, where he was a talented carcinoma. Moody got the blues at USC and tried his luck in Floridy. Soon after Urban Meyer pronounced that he hated all of his RBs, and they would eventually make his rage valve close.

Comment: Goodson had some citizenship issues that the Bitches Must Be Kicked crowd would have cultivated and we may have caught a break on Moody. There are flights out of Austin, right? National RBs from this class: LeSean McCoy, Ben Tate, Knowshon Moreno, Beanie Wells, Baron Batch, Dexter McCluster, Javarris James, Anthony Dixon, Evan Royster, Alexander Robinson.

2007

We sign Cody and Fozzy, in an attempt to fill the backfield with names from Dora the Explorer. Lennon Creer goes to Tennessee and pronounces that he doesn't believe in Volunteers, he just believes in me. Valley legend Bradley Stephens signs with A&M and realizes that football moves to the rhythms of Tupac, not Tejano. Someone called Marcus Mendoza is mentioned. Did he play against Bradley Stephens?

Comment: The coaches had no way of knowing that Fozzy is made of popsicle sticks in a science egg drop project and Cody is reasonably talented and may yet still round up into something. Both guys can prove their mettle with a solid 2010.

2008

We sign Hills (picture legacy scene from Animal House when Flounder's picture comes on the screen in front of the Deltas) and Tre Newton.

Tre is supremely...adequate.

Sam McGuffie was the leaping super-wigger that left 8 Mile to start at Rice and will soon attempt to leap Alex Okafor in Reliant, Devin Thomas will be splitting carries at Ole Miss, Cyrus Gray is pretty decent in a straight-line speed rural kind of way at A&M, Aundre Dean ended up at TCU via UCLA because his parents couldn't spell Andre, and Jacquizz Rodgers is an unbelievable stud at Oregon State.

We did go out of state to woo Darrell Scott and he played us like a trumpet. A trumpet used for the funeral dirge of his career. This was hugely responsible for making us out-of-state gunshy and reinforced all of the things that Mack believes about these guys. That written, Scott is further proof that the Mack Brown curse is real and Jamarkus McFarland should cry in his bunk bed each evening thinking of how it will one day savage him and leave his life in smoldering ruins.

Comment: Hold up your hand if you predicted Jacquizz Rodgers would be a superstar at Oregon State before he took a snap? OK, me neither.

2009

Disappointing. I was among several that held before Whaley was a high school senior that he was a bad fit for us. He was huge and clearly still growing, he had lost skills since his sophomore year - plainly evident on tape, he wasn't a maximizer, he smoked Kools (seriously), had some attitude, and he eschewed contact.

A good athlete? Yes. Running back solution? No.

We passed on Christine Michael, who is not the flake some attempted to portray him as, and who would have removed a nut to attend Texas. Michael went to Aggieland, Sherman laughed at his good fortune, Michael rushed for 10 TDs as a freshman, and was rewarded with Big 12 Freshman of The Year.

Michael is now a cut up 215 pounds, skilled, willing to block, seeks contact, and can catch out of the backfield.

Pretty much the perfect RB for everything we're trying to do with this offense.

Comment: Embarrassing miss. On Mack, not Major. You don't anoint 15 year olds. And then ignore the mounting evidence plain as day before you. I'm comfortable with taking Whaley as an athlete project, but a RB coronation at a position where you badly needed a hit?

Here's what Henry James had to say when we inked Whaley on signing day, 2009:

So what running back did Texas target for its four receiver spread offense? A 6’3″ 230 pound I back with questionable desire and work ethic. Don’t try to understand it. Just trust the staff that has seen fit to offer Tyrone Richardson, Ivan Williams and Henry Melton at the position. I think he’d make a great tight end or defensive end.

Not bad.

And here is one of many examples of my two cents when most Longhorn sites were anointing Whaley as a possible starter and an impact freshman:

First, Whaley. As I wrote in the Spring review, the plays that made everyone ooh and ahh made me yawn. If a 260 pound back can’t win a one-on-one with a 170 pound DB on a perfectly blocked play, he should quit football. And in “winning”, he was still tackled. Mack has been married to an idea of Chris Whaley that hasn’t existed since Whaley was a sophomore in high school...

By the way, Tech RB Eric Stephens is a fine runner too.

And yes, my arm is sore from patting my own back.

2010

We sign 1A Shead and athlete Cobbs is placed at RB. The jury is out. Most recruiting experts believe that this was a weak crop of RBs state-wide, so, again - why aren't we looking nationally?

OU did that. They're reliant on Texas talent too. Right now the raves out of Norman - and I don't mean the Stoops style bullshit - are for freshman WR Kenny Stills and two RBs named Brennan Clay (California) and Roy Finch (Florida). I'm confident that UT and Austin, TX can make a better pitch to a California kid than OU and Norman, OK. Those pricks walking around in skinny jeans on South Congress didn't all move here from Gilmer.

2011

Malcolm Brown or bust. I absolutely believe that we land Brown. So do the wildly overconfident percentage monkeys at the Recruitoscosm.

**

And so our wandering ends?

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