Recruiting gets early wake-up call

Editor's note: Every Monday in Four Downs, we'll roll out four stories, themes and nuggets from the football recruiting world to tip off your week in proper form. We'll set the table with the stories that need to be told and give you a leg up on the watercooler conversations around the office.

1. Mack Brown still has game

There was a time when Texas coach Mack Brown was considered an innovator in the recruiting game.

When he arrived in Austin, he almost single-handedly spearheaded the early recruitment game that is so en vogue. It was once commonplace for the Longhorns to grab double-digit commitments at their junior day events. Recruiting during December and January was about as exciting as watching YouTube videos on dial-up Internet.

But something changed with the 2013 recruiting class.

Yes, the Longhorns had a very small class, and that hurt their chances of finishing with a top-10 class for the first time since 2006. But the bigger issue was of buzz: high school coaches and top recruits in the Lone Star State couldn't stop talking about the job that Kevin Sumlin and the Texas A&M Aggies were doing.

#AgSwag was in full effect after Johnny Football won the Heisman Trophy and the Aggies whipped the Horns' Red River Rivals, Oklahoma, in the Cotton Bowl. Then there was the bitter pill for Texas fans to swallow after four-star defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson flipped from Texas to Alabama on national signing day.

Fans on the Forty Acres were begging for Brown to make a change.

And he did.