National Signing Day is in two days, and the Texas Longhorns still have a few moving pieces to address. Here are the key questions remaining for the coaching staff headed into NSD 2013.
Was A'Shawn Robinson ever really going to sign with Texas?
News trickled out over the weekend that Texas' star recruit, DT A'Shawn Robinson from Fort Worth Arlington Heights, was not going to sign with the Longhorns. Robinson later confirmed the news to ESPN's Max Olson ($). In the interview with Olson, Robinson said he told the news to DT coach Bo Davis in a face-to-face meeting last Friday, but hadn't planned on releasing the information to the public until signing day.
Robinson had been committed to Texas since February, and was considered the Longhorns' crown jewel of the class. I hate to use the "P" word, but his decommitment recalls shades of Ryan Perrilloux, the Louisianan signal-caller that strung Texas along all the way until Signing Day, only to decommit for hometown LSU ($). Robinson's decommitment stings just as much. Robinson had been looking around since September, but there was always hope that he would eventually sign with Texas.
Instead, Robinson will head east to play for the Alabama Crimson Tide. It's hard to fault Robinson for choosing the "it" program, especially since Nick Saban purportedly offered Robinson the chance to play his desired position, the 3-4 defensive end spot. But from a Texas perspective, this loss hurts.
Is Texas still in the running for Andrew Billings?
With Robinson no longer in the fold, Texas has its fingers crossed that DT Andrew Billings from Waco picks the Longhorns when he announces his decision. Billings will reportedly publicize his choice on Waco's ESPN affiliate tomorrow afternoon. He will pick from Texas, the Baylor Bears, and TCU Horned Frogs.
The Longhorns have been aggressively recruiting Billings for a few months, including a last-ditch effort this past Saturday when Bo Davis made one final stop in Billings' hometown. At various times throughout his recruitment, Billings had been thought to favor Texas, but the consensus down the home stretch is that Billings won't choose the Longhorns when he signs his Letter of Intent.
When Robinson was still on board, Texas would have certainly welcomed a Billings commitment to bolster depth on the defensive interior. But without Robinson, the Longhorns' chase for Billings has become much more crucial. If Texas loses Billings to a rival Big 12 program, the Horns face the possibility of a 2013 class without a single defensive lineman.
Did Major Applewhite do enough to land Dontre' Wilson?
The big news going into the final weekend before Signing Day was that the coaching staff had done enough to convince 2013 RB Dontre' Wilson from DeSoto to take an official visit to Austin. Wilson did indeed make it down to the Forty Acres. Reportedly, the visit went well, and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite did a great job selling Wilson on a potential role in Texas' offense.
However, many recruitniks still believe that Wilson will choose the Ohio St. Buckeyes over Texas and the school he is currently committed to, the Oregon Ducks. According to ESPN's Damon Sayles, Wilson plans to make his announcement tonight, with the three schools listed amongst his finalists.
Similar to the defensive tackle position, the Longhorns currently don't have a committed running back in the 2013 class. If Wilson says no thanks, Texas may be left waiting on the standardized test scores of Ke'uan Kinner, an all-purpose back from Little Elm. Kinner and Texas have mutual interest, with reports that the Longhorns would offer if they believe Kinner could qualify academically.
Will surprise visitors Montreal Meander and Frank Herron flip to Texas?
Wilson's visit wasn't the only good news from the past weekend. Texas hosted two other official visitors in Austin: WR Montrel Meander from Amarillo Palo Duro and DE Frank Herron from Memphis (TN) Central.
As evidenced by the Robinson recruitment, "the game is the game." Last year, Mack Brown proved he's willing to go after committed recruits to sway them on coming to Texas. Meander is currently committed to the Washington St. Cougars, while Frank Herron is committed to the LSU Tigers. In today's recruiting environment, commitment is just a word.
The Longhorns have been fruitlessly searching for a third wide receiver in the class, and landing Meander (pre-approved by Mike Leach) would be intriguing. One snag is that Meander's teammate and friend, Charleston White, is committed to WSU. Ultimately, Meander may decide to stick with White and head to Pullman. At the very least, Texas has made things interesting.
Both Meander and Herron were said to be very impressed with their Austin visit, and it would certainly be impressive if Texas could flip Herron, a national Top 100 recruit, from LSU. Public credit for Herron's visit appears to go to new running backs coach Larry Porter, who leveraged his existing relationship with Herron to garner a visit. There were rumors that Herron had already decommitted and pledged to Texas, but that appears to be inaccurate at this time.
Are there any more tricks up Mack Brown's sleeve?
Last year, the Longhorns shocked everyone when they received a signature from DE Shiro Davis. The flip from the one-time LSU commitment and native Louisianan was kept an extreme secret, unreported by any recruiting sites until the switch happened.
Could there be a similar surprise this year? We've got three days to find out.