AUSTIN, Texas -- Welcome back, Texas. The recruiting world was, well, kind of boring without you.
But now it is like old times. Here it is the middle of April and 15 recruits have already pledged to the burnt orange and white. The rest of the Big 12 conference has 23 combined.
Not even that new nemesis, Texas A&M, has as many commitments. The Aggies, who plucked four players from the juggernaut formerly known as Texas, just have 10. That’s good enough for second nationally and, again, five behind Texas. What’s more, Texas has won the head-to-head battle against the Aggies so far, getting six players who had TAMU offers to commit to Texas while the Aggies have had five players with Texas offers commit to them.
Of course, that is slightly hollow chest thumping when considering the Aggies were a top-10 team last year, a likely preseason top-five team this year and have a Heisman winner returning at quarterback.
But at this point, Texas, a program that has wandered more aimlessly than a Panhandle tumbleweed over these last three years and, by the way, been just about as sturdy in construction, has to point to something of promise on the horizon. And apparently that is just what the Longhorns are successfully doing in recruiting.
Yes, after thorough checking it has been confirmed the Red River Rivalry does air in both states and yet both still cast their lot with the team that was embarrassed. But now, some six months later, there is an embarrassment of riches at Texas.
And all this also comes after Texas suffered through the red-faced recruiting scene of last season, when five players lured Texas in before planting the Longhorns in the dirt with stiff arms.
There are several reasons for the Texas turnaround, the primary being the conviction of Mack Brown as well as the athletic department to invest in the belief that it could once again achieve the juggernaut status that it once held. Well, first off, Texas had to admit it had a problem and Brown, who claims self-evaluation as one of his core tenets, was able to do that.
Brown admitted Texas had been "mom and popping it" when it came to recruits. The Longhorns had used the brand and the facilities both built several years ago as crutches. It wasn’t until Texas A&M exploded under Kevin Sumlin and its new SEC cache that it was evident Texas really didn't have a leg to stand on.
So while maybe Brown wasn’t exactly prescient in his reading of the recruiting tea leaves, he, at least, has reacted with alacrity, money -- Texas, alongside Alabama, appear to be the two programs most vigorously building a recruiting staff -- and most importantly a bowed back.
When Brown stated on national signing day that once a player committed to Texas he had to only have eyes for Texas, it showed, and not-so-subtly, that he believed in the program and only wanted those who also believed. This was a signal that Texas holds itself in higher regard than it does any other school and that by committing to Texas, a player believes he is at the top program in the country.
Now sure, there are flaws in this us-against-them philosophy Texas employed. But, to date, the good has outweighed the bad as the recruits appear to be buying into being a part of a program that once again has put a chip back on its shoulder instead of one that repeatedly found itself stepping into a cow chip with its foot.
And now, because of that, Texas has come up smelling like a rose, and it is still on April.