'00 Signee List and Bios
Trey Bates, 6-5, 280, OL, Fort Bend Elkins. Bates started for three years at Elkins, playing primarily at center during his senior year. A stress fracture in his vertebra during his junior season limited his playing time, but he came back and had a great senior season, earning Associated Press second-team all-state honors. He also made first-team all-district 20-5A at center as a senior to go along with 1999 first-team Academic 5A all-state honors. Bates, who has already placed out of 16 hours at UT, is a three-year Academic all-district selection, and a 1999 Touchdown Club of Houston scholar-athlete award winner. Picked Texas over Baylor and Rice after making an earlier commitment to the Bears. He also got early interest from Michigan, A&M and OU. "What happened was that last night, my mom got a call from coach Nunez who said a spot had opened up," Bates told IT after his commitment. "I thought she was joking. I thought about it long and hard but when the offer came from Texas, I knew that’s where I wanted to go." Elkins Coach Andy Boland on Bates: "Trey hurt his back his junior year. By the time we really found out what it was, he really wasn’t turned loose until right before spring training (in ‘99) to do any kind of weight lifting or running or anything, he just kind of did maintenance work, so he’s behind strength-wise, he needs a year or two to get to the same point strength-wise as those big guys, but he’s a hard worker." On Bates’ strengths: "I knew something was really wrong because he’s mentally tough and didn’t complain, but he just couldn’t go, so he’s gonna have to get a good bit stronger. But he’s got good feet and good technique and he’s extremely smart and a quick learner. So he’s just gonna have to improve his physical strength. He’s rather trim at 6-5, 280 -- he doesn’t look a lot like some of those Texas linemen -- they’re some of the biggest humans you ever saw (laughing). I know them all -- my son’s a manager down there and I’ve got another one of my players there, Marcel Blanchard. So Trey doesn’t look like those guys right now, he needs a little time to get on the weights and really hit ‘em, because the heavy part of his lifting schedule he missed last year. But I think he’s got quick feet, good technique and is really smart so he’ll be fine. I think when he camped there, they saw his technique and his movements and liked them because they didn’t get to see him in game-type situations." On his play for Elkins last season: "He played the entire season for us last year and did fine. We intended for him to play both guard and center but it evolved to where he played center the entire time. He did a better job at center. We play Katy and Alief Hastings and the other schools in our district and we see some of the over-shifted fronts to where the center is covered and you have to have somebody who can handle those type of kids and he sure gave us an advantage right there."
Arturo "Sneezy" Beltran, 5-10, 205, 4.41, RB, Abilene High. Texas' first commitment for the Class of 2000. "I've just been wanting to go there since I was little," Beltran told IT after committing, "and once I finally got offered I just had to go ahead and accept the offer." Earned Parade all-America honors as a running back in ‘99, to go along with Big County Offensive MVP and second-team Associated Press all-state honors as a senior. Beltran led the Eagles to their first playoff appearance in 40 years while rushing for 2,268 yards and 28 TDs as a senior. He gained 342 yards and three TDs against Odessa Permian last season, and posted 1,565 yards and ran for 11 TDs as a junior with two kickoff returns for TDs. He broke the District 4-5A single-game rushing record as a sophomore when he racked up 347 yards on the ground, and is second all-time in that district in rushing, behind Midland Lee junior Cedric Benson. Beltran is also a member of the student council and the AB Honor Roll. Picked Texas over Tennessee, Arizona, Kentucky and Okla. St., among others. Abilene Coach Steve Warren on Beltran: "He’s just been a tremendous player for us over the last two-and-a-half years. The thing that I’ve noticed most about him was that the tougher the situation, the more he rose to the top. He had his better games against our better opponents, and really improved and excelled in those type ballgames and situations, particularly last year. But the great thing was, any time he talked to the media or to anybody that would listen, he talked about the team and how well we were gonna do how that was his number one goal to help us get into the playoffs and he never did make a big deal about the individual honors -- he just made Parade All American the other day. The first thing he talked about was how he couldn’t have done it without his teammates and things like that so, he’s been a great great part of our process here and we’re certainly gonna miss him. He had 32 catches this year and right at 400 yards and four TDs. We threw it to him quite a bit. He rushed for right at 2500 yards in 14 games. He averaged about 26 carries a game and became the second all-time leading rusher in District 4-5A, and that goes back a long way. The kid that has the record is only a junior, ole Cedric Benson from Midland Lee. But Sneezy was only 15 yards shy of 5000 for his career." On his best football asset: "Probably his best asset is his vision. He just has a knack for seeing people coming at him that most people don’t. He utilizes that extremely well. He has as much of a combination of power and speed as I’ve seen in a long long time in high school. He’s got great speed but if he has to power -- he is so strong, he can squat 500 pounds as a high school senior. And when you watch him on film, he’ll make you miss, so he’s also got moves, his feet are quick, he’s got great vision, so he possesses a lot of things. The Texas coaches think he can step in there and contribute immediately, is the impression I get. They think he’s that talented. Coach Tolleson has been here about every week, coach Chambers has been here a lot and so has coach Brown. That’s what makes that staff so great." On what Beltran needs to improve on: "I think his competitive nature will rise to the level of the competition. Around here, he hasn’t had to compete in practice for a job. We don’t have any other All-American backs. He knew he was the guy. To play at the level he’s gonna have to play at at Texas, he’s gonna have to compete for a job every day, and when he does that, when he gets really hungry and when he wants that football, his level of competitiveness is something special, and when that happens every day to him, I think the sky will be the limit for him."
Sonny Davis, 6-3, 320, 4.9, DT, Austin Lanier. Davis earned Parade All-American honors, as well as well as being named an Honorable Mention all-USA Today selection and a first-team all-state pick in '99. As a senior, the big DT posted 72 tackles (25 solo), two fumbles caused, six tackles for loss, 12 quarterback pressures and four sacks. And here's something you don't see every day -- the 300-plus pound Davis was tabbed all-district at tight end as well as at defensive tackle. Davis notched 95 tackles and 15 sacks in 1998. The Lanier standout also has lettered in track (throwing events) and baseball. Davis committed to Texas back on June 18. "I just decided I want to stay at home and play and they made me feel right at home," Davis told IT. Sonny also had considered A&M, Kentucky, Miami, FSU, Ohio St, UCLA and USC. Lanier head coach Wade Johnston on what made Davis such a sought-after recruit: "First of all, Sonny is a very intense player. When he's on the field, he does a great job of hustling all the time while he's out there. He can play defensive tackle, he can play tight end, he catches the ball well. We even used him as a halfback to block and he also ran with the ball, so when you first look at him and see him on the field you can tell pretty quick he's a great athlete. What I've been told by the scouts is that what they like a lot about him is his quickness off the ball. When the ball moves, from his defensive tackle spot, he's on his way towards either his pass rush or his assignment in the running game. From that, his lateral movement, his range on the field is great. Of course, being 6-2, 310 pounds and running a 4.89 is a pretty good attraction in itself." On Davis' best football attribute: "In high school, if you have a guy his size who can move like he does, he's going to dominate the line of scrimmage. A lot of guys are big and can move around a little bit, but he's a great football player. He's got a good football sense about him -- he knows where the ball is and he loves the contact. Sometimes you get big guys who don't like the contact but Sonny really, really enjoys that. He likes to mix it up. . . . He's a guy you can count on to really play every down." On areas of Davis' game that need to improve: "I think all guys coming out of high school have a tendency to use their natural talents to get things done and in Sonny's case a lot of times he can overpower people. He's going to have to learn how to use his hands better and read blocks a little bit better. In high school he could get away with taking a wrong step or not using his hands real well and still recover and make plays but on the college level that won't happen. Talent-wise, he matches up with anybody around as far as potential and how fast he adapts to the college game depends on how fast he picks up the little things that you do that makes you a good football player -- reading the offensive linemen and being able to use his hands to separate and make plays." Johnston's final thoughts on Davis: "(Texas fans) are going to find a guy who's going to be loyal to the program and he's going to be a Longhorn all the way. They're going to love to watch him with the intensity he plays with. He's going to be a difference maker. I believe he has the capability to be a real impact player and I think (fans) are going to really enjoy watching the way he moves around on the football field. He's a good person and I think he will really represent Texas well."
Adam Doiron, 6-4, 255, 4.7, DE, Duncan, OK (HS). Doiron, who earned Oklahoma Defensive Player of the Year honors in ‘99, is considered one of the best defensive ends in the nation, a consensus top 100 player. Last season, he totaled 70 tackles, including 14 for loss. As a junior, he recorded 65 solo tackles, 15 tackles for loss, seven sacks, two fumble recoveries, three fumbles caused and five pass deflections. He also lettered in basketball and track and is an honor roll student. Chose the Horns over all the Big 12 schools, as well as Tennessee, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan to name a few. Doiron remained the subject of plenty of internet recruiting gossip right up until the week of Signing Day, but stayed true to his pledge. "I just felt like I fit in there and I really like the players and coaches," Doiron told IT Aug. 9 after his commitment. Duncan HS Coach Bill Patterson on Doiron: "Adam’s a kid that for us has started every game since he was a sophomore and he’s got all the tools to be a good football player, perhaps even a great football player. He’s got size, speed, quickness and tremendous strength. He’s the type of player that we don’t see very often, being 6-4, 257 pounds right now and can run a 4.7 forty, he’s got a lot of tools. He had the capability for us to take over a ballgame. As a senior, a lot of teams just wouldn’t mess with him, they would run the other way, and consequently, from a statistical standpoint, he probable didn’t have as good a season as he did his junior and sophomore years, in fact arguable his best year was his sophomore year when we went to the state semifinals." On Doiron’s biggest asset: "I think that his biggest asset is his speed. He’s always utilized his speed. To give you an example, when he was a sophomore, we were playing Ardmore and they have a WR that’s committed to OU named Ataleo Ford, and Ataleo is a kid who I’m sure runs a 4.4 or 4.5, and Adam was lined up on the same size as Ataleo and they gave him the ball on a reverse and Adam, on the opposite side of where Ataleo was running to, ran him down on the far sideline for no gain. That was the play that started out the recruiting tape that we sent out, and a lot of coaches told me they turned it off after seeing that play. So he’s definitely got speed and his strength is outstanding for a high school kid. He’s a great performer in the weight room and that’s only gonna get better." On what Doiron needs to improve on: "Taking on blockers at the line of scrimmage who are of equal ability to him, and the fact that people are not gonna run away from him and let him utilize his speed, they’re gonna come right at him and he’ll have to meet that challenge right there. Whether he can come in and make an immediate impact at Texas, I don’t know if that’s a reasonable assumption at this point, especially at Texas where the talent is tremendous. But he will definitely be able to run with anybody." Final thoughts on Doiron: "The thing about Adam is that he comes from an outstanding family and he is a tremendous student. We’re just all very proud of him, and we know he’s excited about coming to Austin to have a chance to maybe play for a National Championship."
Brock Edwards, 6-5, 250, 4.6, TE, Fort Worth Christian. Has the ability to develop in to a dominator for the Horns. A three-time all-state performer, Edwards became just the second player from a TAPPS to earn a spot on the Dave Campbell's Texas Football Super Team. He played tight end and fullback his first two years at Forth Worth Christian and moved to tailback his junior and senior seasons, but will play TE for Texas. Last season, he earned first-team all-state honors while rushing for 2,197 yards on 243 carries (9.0 ypc) and 26 touchdowns. He gained 1,171 yards and 23 TDs on the ground on just 122 carries (9.6 ypc) as a junior, and also caught 14 passes for 393 yards. Edwards also lettered in basketball, baseball and track and is a member of the AB Honor Roll. "I just felt it was the way the world was wanting me to go," Edwards told IT the afternoon of his commitment."I just felt it would be best for me to stay close and play near my family and friends." Picked Texas over A&M, Miami and Georgia Tech among others. Christian coach Kenny Davidson on Edwards: "I think he’s the real thing. It’s time for him to move on and see what he can do at the next level." On Edwards’ strengths: "He wants the ball, and those are the kind of players you want, the guys that want to make plays happen. What’s really impressive is that, at RB this year, any time you can take a guy that’s 6-5, 255 that can cut and move and break tackles, he’s really impressive. We got the ball to him a ton. He was pretty much our offense. The Texas coaches were watching his sophomore tapes and he would have been offered a scholarship based on those alone. The thing that impressed the Texas and A&M coaches so much was that, especially from a private school, you can take a kid in a summer camp situation and you can see the type of hands he has. They could see that he has good hands. He didn’t catch the ball a whole lot this year, we weren’t gonna try and trick anybody and send him out a lot, but he did catch some long passes. He can catch the deep ball and the short ball, and he can definitely make yards after the catch. It’ll be different at the D-1 level, but give him some open field and you at least know he’s done it before. I don’t know how fast he is exactly right now because he’s gotten huge, but at all the camps he went to, he never ran slower than a 4.6. Genetically, he’s gifted with speed. He gets in the weight room and lifts, that’s his release from all the phone calls and stuff and he is probably up around 270, but all the weight he’s gained is muscle." What Edwards needs to improve on: "He needs to improve on his blocking but he blocks well. I have film on him playing against Jordan Black of Dallas Christian two years ago. Right now Black is the number one lineman for Notre Dame and he probably won’t last all four years before he jumps to the NFL, and he was playing DE for Dallas Christian when he was a senior and Brock was a sophomore. Brock blocked him and didn’t move him off the ball, but he moved him and got his shoulders turned from a TE position and that’s what you want. And that’s a sophomore going against a 6-7, 315-pound D-1 lineman. So Brock can block, and he’ll get better when he gets with a position coach and they work on it every day. He’ll get it down."
Lionel Garr, 6-7, 334, 5.3, OT, Diboll. Garr, No. 19 on our Impact 30, paved the way from his left tackle position for the potent Diboll offense as it rolled to 540 yards of total offense and 49.5 points per game in 1999. Despite his enormous size, Garr is gifted athletically, competing all four of his high school years on the basketball and track teams. He is also an accomplished, 1,500-pound powerlifter. He also has some solid sports genes -- former Dallas Cowboy and current Oakland Raider Russell Maryland is a cousin of Garr's and former major league baseball standout Ralph Garr is Lionel's uncle. Garr picked the Horns over A&M, Rice and Oklahoma. Diboll head coach Finis Vanover on what made Garr such a sought-after recruit: "Anytime that you get an athlete that is his size with his running ability and his great feet and balance with the massive along with a wonderful personality and an incredible work ethic, it's hard for anybody to pass him up. He's a great, gifted athlete. He's played basketball, he's a championship power-lifter, he's a championship 57-foot shot-putter so he's a highly skilled athlete in a giant's body." On Garr's best football attribute: "There's not just one thing. It's a combination of all the things I just said -- his ability to run is just incredible for a kid that big at 6-7, 350 pounds. He never stays on the ground -- he never plays on the ground, he's up on his feet running and blocking people and doing things and he's got massive arm strength and with his wing span he can reach people, it's pretty impressive." On what Garr meant to the high school program: "We've built our program around speed and strength and our linemen take great pride in their ability to run as well as be massively strong and Lionel's been one of those. He's been a starter for me since his freshman year and he's the proverbial pillar of strength. His work ethic -- he's there early every day, he's there later than everyone else and he loves to play the game but not only play it, but prepare for it year round, so that's one of the biggest influences he's had on our program here." On areas of Garr's game that need to improve: "Well, ya know, I can't say that because he's done everything anyone could ever imagine at the high school level, so sure they're going to find things he can improve on but I don't know where they are."
Phillip Geiggar, 5-11, 197, 4.47, DB/kick returner, Shreveport Evangel Christian. An Honorable Mention all-USA Today selection and a three-time 5A all-state choice, including first-team honors as a senior, Geiggar is an athlete extraordinare. He could have an impact at both defensive back (probably corner) and as a kick/punt returner, an area the Horns desperately need help. Geiggar, a four-year starter during Evangel's undefeated, 60-0 run, recorded 36 career interceptions. Geiggar averaged 15.1 yards on punt returns and 29.1 yards on kickoff returns, returning three punts and three kick-off for TDs in '99 with a long kick-off return of 98 yards and a long punt return of 78. Along with his senior season roles as a defensive safety and a kick returner, the athlete totaled 48 receptions for 855 yards and 10 TDs as a wide receiver. As a junior, Geiggar posted seven interceptions, over 40 tackles, three fumble recoveries, one caused fumble, three pass breakups and three blocked PATs. The Texas coaches did a tremendous job of recruiting on both Geiggar and teammate Stevie Lee (see bio below), letting them know they coveted them early on and never wavering. Both guys made several unofficial visits to the Forty Acres, including for last March's Spring Game, an August two-a-days scrimmage and the Sept. 18 Rice game, and after one of those visits, Geiggar told IT that the Texas coaches "made us feel like part of the family." After verballing to Texas at his church service Dec. 5 in front of UT coaches Mike Tolleson, Darryl Drake and Everett Withers, the future Horn told IT that one of the factors that swayed him to Texas was the way the coaches treated him. "They acted like they really wanted me," he said. Indeed. Geiggar, who is already enrolled, attending classes and working with Maddog, picked the Horns over Miami. Evangel coach Dennis Dunn on what made Geiggar such a sought-after recruit: "He may be the best athlete we've ever had at this school. I know that's saying a lot but he is phenomenal. He can do it all. We didn't play anybody both ways and haven't for years here -- he was the first guy we've had do that, and he didn't come off the field. He returned kicks, punts, he returned several for touchdowns, he played corner, he played wide receiver. He was a game breaker." On what Geiggar meant to the high school program: "Great character. He and Stevie had been best friends for most of their career here. They're two great people to be around. Never, ever a problem. I never heard Phillip say one bad thing about anybody. He's also so positive, always leading by example. He is a man of few words but a man who didn't have to say anything, he let his actions speak a whole lot louder than his words and his teammates respect him for that. A lot of our alumni got together and said they wanted to give him the (fictitious) Evangel Heisman -- he's the best ever." On what position Geiggar is likely to play at Texas: "I think they're going to play him at corner and I think he'll have a chance to return kicks and punts as well. He's a big guy that can turn his hips and run." Dunn's final thoughts on both Geiggar and Lee: "Our loss is the University of Texas' gain. UT got two of the greatest kids, not just players but people, that I've ever been around. That means as much to me as their ability."
Jason Glynn, 6-3, 275, C, Richardson Berkner. Quick, intelligent lineman who earned first-team all-district (9-5A) honors in ‘99, as well as making first-team all-city OL and second-team all-area for the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex last year. Graded out at above 95 percent on the offensive line as a senior. Bench pressed 340 pounds his senior year. Chose Texas over Oklahoma and Nebraska among others. Berkner coach Bob Dubey on Glynn: "He did go to the Texas camp, and at the completion of the camp, Texas made an offer. Coach Brown obviously was aware of Jason prior to the camp, but basically the camp confirmed what they already thought of him -- that 'A' he's an athlete and 'B' he's a very intelligent football player with excellent grades to go with it. On Glynn’s ability to control the OL: "We're in a pretty wide-open offense, one back, four wide-outs -- and the offensive center in our scheme is making all the line calls, so he communicates well. We had a young man go out to Texas Tech from last year's team (Toby Cecil), leaving that OL, as well as a couple others who have a chance to play at some smaller schools, and Jason pretty much kept those kids together, he was the voice that coordinated them all." On the importance of the center position in an offensive attack. "A lot of times if you're an offensive guard, you can't see what's on the other side of the center when the defense is having combination stunts or different alignments, and the offensive center is about the only one that can see them, the only one that can see those linebackers slipping up and those kinds of things." On Glynn’s size and athletic ability: "He’s 265 now (last June) but he can easily get up in the 295-range. He's an athlete. You watch him move his feet, if you see him uncovered inside he's checking back-door, picking up stunts coming off the corners, so he's able to get there physically and do that. You don't have to be huge if you're throwing the ball, you just have to be able to slow 'em down, and if he can get there with his feet, which Jason's proven he can, then that short corner becomes a little bit wider for that DE or safety coming off the corner, so he's able to give the QB another half a second, which is all he needs. There's a lot of reasons Texas would go with someone with Jason's feet, quickness and ability."
Tony Jeffery, 6-2, 170, 4.41, ATH, Klein Forrest. Jeffery, a two-time first-team all-district QB, completed 100 of 170 passes for 1,394 yards (17 TDs, 7 INTs) and rushed for 698 yards and eight TDs as a senior. For his career, Jeffery totaled 3,021 yards and 28 TDs through the air, completing 263 of 463 passes, and added 1,268 yards and 21 TDs on the ground. Despite the outstanding numbers as a signal caller, the athlete will get a look at WR (see his coach's comments below) and DB. Jeffery also lettered in basketball and track, where he competes in the long jump and triple jump, and on Klein Forrest's 400-meter relay unit. After Jeffery committed to Texas on Aug. 23, his dad James told IT that his son "fell in love with Texas" back in June after attending one of the Horns' mini-camps. Jeffery also attended camp at A&M, and listed the Aggies as his early favorite when he returned a questionnaire to IT last May, but just as with Victor Ike, the Texas City foursome and Chance Mock before him, Jeffery's trip to the Forty Acres turned a maroon tide into an insuppressible Burnt Orange wave. Jeffery picked the Horns over A&M, Nebraska, K-State, Wisconsin and Purdue. Klein Forrest interim head coach Gene Johnson on what made Jeffery such a sought-after recruit: "I think Tony has everything that a college would want out of a prospective student athlete. Academically Tony is a very good student. I think his statistics and our won-loss record and his leadership accounted for his athletic abilities and certainly Tony had many of the intangibles that probably a lot of kids don't offer in terms of work ethic, dedication and commitment. I can't remember Tony ever missing a practice in the three years I was his quarterbacks coach and I never caught him being late, I can't recall him ever getting in any trouble. He just has an amazing ethic and work ethic and dedication and commitment to what he's doing." On Jeffery's best football attribute: "Tony's best attribute as a football player is having a great understanding of the game. Things come naturally to some of us and that's Tony's strong suit. Football is just like a pick-up game when he goes out on the field. He owns the sandlot, so to speak. He's such a great athlete and he has great lateral movement so that it looks like he's gliding and not even really running and his change of direction is so smooth. From an athletic standpoint, his speed and his change of direction is what makes him such a great player. From a mental standpoint, it's that it's just a game to him and he just goes and plays it." On what Jeffery meant to the high school program: "There's no doubt Tony was all the difference in the world for our football program here. When we came in (three years ago) the program had struggled some, it hadn't had the success or won as much as they would have liked to, and Tony endured an 0-10 season playing as a young, young sophomore who probably didn't need to be playing on the varsity level and he was able to endure some tough times. Ya know, it's real easy sometimes when we're on top of the world to be positive and to be a great leader. The great, unique thing about Tony is he's been able, when things aren't going well, he deserves a whole lot of credit for pulling us through those times and pulling us out of the bad times and he did that with his leadership and his work ethic and by staying positive and eventually Tony was able to have more and more success. He certainly didn't have as much as he deserved this year but at the same time we won seven games and he put up some good stats and he was first-team all-district and finished first or second in the district in passing." On areas of Jeffery's game that need to improve: "[Laughing] Tony plays above my coaching ability. I think the biggest place of improvement in Tony's career is gonna be when his metabolism slows down a little bit and he puts on a little more weight. Tony is a young man right now . . . when his body catches up with his growth and he puts on a little weight, it's just gonna make all the difference in the world to him from a durability and strength standpoint. Athletically and mentally, he's done everything that I could have asked of him." On what position Jeffery is likely to play at Texas: "Everything that (Texas) has talked to Tony about so far has been wide receiver. Certainly, they have mentioned the possibility of him playing defensive back, wide receiver, or several spots on the field. I would like to see Tony play wide receiver. He has a great offensive mind. He understands coverages and he understands how to read coverages and adjust routes and I think he'd be a great fit to slide from a quarterback to a wide receiver." Johnson's final thoughts on Jeffery: "Tony is a very, very special player. He has some athletic abilities and some God-given talents -- some things he's developed and some things have been given to him -- but really what makes Tony Jeffery such a special player and student athlete is the type of person he is and the character he has. As good a player as Tony Jeffery is, he's a better person and that makes coaching a reward, every day to have the opportunity to coach a guy who's going to work that hard and be a joy to be around."
B.J. Johnson, 6-1, 190, 4.47, WR, Grand Prairie, TX, SGP. Johnson is an exciting, explosive performer who is widely considered the best WR in the country. He earned Parade all-American honors in ‘99, and was named the best receiver on that team, and also racked up first team all-USA honors from USA Today. He was SGP's all-time leading receiver with 135 receptions for 3,059 yards and 42 TDs, and added 507 yards on 75 carries with eight TDs as well as returning 12 kickoffs for a 20-yard average during his career. He caught 71 passes for 1,749 yards and 20 TDs en route to first-team 5A all-state honors in 1999. Johnson also rushed for a pair of TDs and returned an interception for a score as a defensive back last season, but will play offense for the Horns. Against Abilene as a senior, BJ had seven catches for 149 yards and intercepted two passes (one returned for TD) in his team’s win. He caught 43 passes for 911 yards as a junior. We caught up with Johnson the night of Dec. 23 after his commitment and this is what he had to say about why he chose Texas: "Well, it's been between Texas and Tennessee for me, and I went up to Tennessee and I loved it, they had a great atmosphere and they had a great program, which is the same for Texas, so it was just a matter of me deciding where my heart was taking me. So when I went down to Austin this weekend, when I got around the players, that's what made me really want to come, because the players really took me in. You know, some places you might have some players that don't want you to come there because you might come take their position, but at Texas, they were all telling me to come because they wanted me there and they needed me. And the other thing was coach Drake, I get to work with a good coach. He's a big influence on me." Johnson chose Texas over just about everybody, but his finalists were Texas, Tennessee and Florida State. SGP Coach David Thompson on Johnson: "BJ is of course a great player, but beyond all that, he is just a great person. He and his family handled the recruiting process in a really classy way with all the attention they had. As for football, BJ does things that normal people can’t do. The best thing about him is that he can take a 7-yard hitch and turn it into 70, or he can go deep on you 70 yards. He has great acceleration and great leaping ability to go along with his speed." On what Johnson needs to improve on: "Well, ever since Christmas time he has been working on the weights, so I assume he thinks he needs to get stronger. A lot of those speed guys aren’t much for that but BJ has been working out hard, in fact, he’s in the weight room right now as we speak."
Stevie Lee, 6-4, 300, 5.0, DT , Shreveport Evangel Christian. An Honorable Mention all-USA Today selection and a first-team 5A all-stater as a senior, Lee knows how to win. He and teammate Geiggar, both four-year starters at Evangel, never lost a high school game, posting an incredible 60-0 record and capturing four state titles during their careers. As a senior, Lee totaled 49 solo tackles, nine tackles for a loss, four sacks and one interception. Lee, along with Geiggar, in Evangel tradition, verballed to Texas Dec. 5 at his church service attended that morning by UT coaches Mike Tolleson, Darryl Drake and Everett Withers. When we asked Lee why he choose the Horns over his other suitors, he said, "My heart was at Texas." Lee told IT that former Evangel teammate and current UT freshman Cole Pittman's spot in Austin didn't necessarily have a lot to do with their decision. "We saw when we went down there, it's just awesome," Lee said. The big DT, who is already enrolled, attending classes and working with Maddog, picked the Horns over Miami, UCLA, Florida and Georgia. Evangel coach Dennis Dunn on what made Lee such a sought-after recruit: "Well, No. 1, he's a pretty big guy at 6-5, 300. Obviously, the attraction early on was his size, but you look at Stevie and his ability to move laterally and his power off the line of scrimmage, his ability to control the line of scrimmage, he runs really well for a big man, so I think he's got a chance to be a really great one." Dunn on Lee's best football attribute: "For a big man to be able to move like he can move -- he's got great feet -- makes all the difference." On what Lee meant to the high school program: "He was a four-year starter and I can't say enough about his leadership on and off the field. Not only is he a great player, he's a great person to be around. Texas not only got a great football player, it got a great citizen. He never missed a practice, he is always smiling, always very positive." On areas of Lee's game that need to improve: "There's always areas that everyone can improve in. I think just being a part of the college strength program where there is more intense time, and then with a guy like Maddog, he's only going to get stronger and that's gonna help him."
Will Matthews, 6-2, 232, 4.7, FB Austin Westwood. Matthews is a guy that didn’t show up on too many top 100 lists, but Mack Brown doesn’t know why. The Texas coaches love his size and blocking ability, as well as his hands out of the backfield. He gained over 100 yards receiving and caught three touchdown passes in ‘99. Matthews racked up 1,074 rushing yards on 199 carries (5.4 yards per carry) last season, despite being Westwood's primary blocking back. He scored 11 touchdowns (nine rushing/two receiving) paving the way for his backfield mate to rush for 13 scores on the season. He earned team MVP honors as a senior. Chose Texas over Texas Tech, TCU, New Mexico and Rice. RR Westwood coach Mike Spradlin on Matthews: "The best thing about Will is that he is a great kid. I know you hear that a lot and sometimes it fits and sometimes it doesn't but I can assure you this guy is quality -- they got a real solid kid." On his not being on too many lists: "I got here last year in March and before that they had run pretty much a one-back scheme. Will wasn't the only back they had last year. We are a two-back offense and we were gonna feature him as our runner, but the more we got to messin' with it, the more it became obvious he was just a devastating blocker. And he's grown some. He was about 6-2, 205 last year when I got here and he's in there right now at about 6-3, 230, and they weighed him in this weekend at 232. By the summer last year he had already gotten the height and he'd gained about 10 pounds by August, so he played this season for us at about 225, so I'm not sure he has stopped growing. And (the Texas coaches) don't think he's done growing. Greg Davis came by last spring to look at him and really liked him." On how he was used in the offense: "We did give him the football quite a bit. We're a little bit different, we're not an I-set, we run kind of a hybrid Wing-T so our feature back is sometimes our FB. We wound up off-setting him a little bit and using him in some zone plays and as a blocker for us on sweeps and plays like that, and ran the ISO a good bit with him, so yes, he gained his yards from the FB spot. He ran traps and bellies and plays like that so he had a great year, averaged 5.4 yards per carry. Had about 130 yards receiving. He's got great hands, matter of fact he had nine rushing TDs and two passing." On his best football asset: "I'm gonna tell you, and I hate to label him this way, but he's just a great blocker. But then this is a guy that averaged 5.4 yards per carry, so he is a tough kid. He's a physical, big body, hard-practicing, hard-working kid who has a great work ethic." Final thoughts on Matthews: "What was really great for us is with us being new, he just totally bought into everything we were doing. He's got an award-winning smile, he comes to play every day, never missed a practice, never missed a workout, only sat out probably five or six plays all year because he got banged up a little. He's real durable and he's just a great kid."
Matt McFadden, 5-11, 185, K, Coppell. McFadden kicked 25 career field goals, including a school record 53-yard field goal in 1999, and registered 177 career points (every point scored by a Coppell kicker from 1996-99). McFadden earned first-team 4A all-state (Texas Sportswriters) honors last season. He also is an all-district third baseman for the Coppell baseball team. McFadden committed to Texas after camping in Austin last summer. "When Coach Brown made the offer to play football at Texas after camp," the Coppell kicker told IT, "the only answer I could give him was . . . yes, sir." For more, see the extensive Q&A with McFadden we published in our June 22, 1999 issue.
Chance Mock, 6-2, 205, 4.5, QB, the Woodlands. Mock can get it done running or throwing and could give Texas mobility at the QB position it hasn’t seen since the earliest days of James Brown’s career. Mock earned ‘99 Parade all-American honors after hitting 82 of 131 passes for 1,441 yards (16 touchdowns/6 interceptions) as a senior. Tabbed the District MVP as a junior after leading his team to an 11-1 record that season, during which he completed 82 of 165 for 1,051 yards (four TDs/two INTs). He also ran for 563 yards and 10 TDs on 102 in ‘98. Chose Texas over A&M. Mock, an outgoing and really fun young man to talk to, told IT after his commitment, "I tell ya, I was pretty set on A&M, but my dad said you need to go on down (to Austin) and look at what they have to offer. It's not right just to mark somebody off without giving them a fair shot, so I went and looked and I was really amazed at what I saw. The coaching staff is extremely sincere about what they're doing, it's a very positive atmosphere, the facilities are fantastic and I was just very, very impressed with what they had to offer." As for the competition he will face for PT with Chris Simms, Major Applewhite and Adam Hall, Mock said "you know, anywhere, at any major college, there is going to be competition. You can't go to a big school and not find somebody who's going to be there in every class. You go to the Florida States, the Ohio States, Tennessee -- you know, all those big time schools, there's always gonna be somebody to step in, and you can't be afraid of that." The Woodlands coach Weldon Willig on Mock: "Let me preface it by saying this is a great kid, a very fine young man who is just the most pleasing and likable person you will find. But he’s undoubtedly as good an athlete as I’ve ever coached, just on athletic ability, on pure talent alone, and that’s what gives him such potential for the future, that whatever needs to be done, he can do it. He has the speed, he has the strength, he has the arm and the knowledge to be able to do all those things, so I just think the sky is the limit for what he will be able to do." On what Mock meant to his team: "He may not have been the most mechanically correct QB around or made he right read every time -- he has a lot of things to learn -- but he made big play after big play for us, and that’s what you see with the truly gifted QBs where the receiver may not have been open or the read wasn’t there, but he would turn a potential loss into a first down or a TD or a big play to keep us going. What he did for us his last two years was that kind of thing time and time and time again, so he meant a great deal to our team and we were successful in large part due to his contributions. He could do so many things that the team’s confidence in him was so high. He was hurt on about the 10th play of the season and missed about the first three games of the season and when he went out there there was just a tremendous difference in when he came back for the start of district play, the kids were just like, alright, now we’re ready to go, so the feeling and confidence the kids had in him was just different." On Mock’s speed and his strength as a QB: "Chance seems to always be as fast as he needs to be. He won the Fastest Man award at the Nike camps he attended last summer, so he’s in the 4.4s, but not to say he won’t get faster because he’s so strong.To see a kid that’s 6-2 that can power clean right at 300 pounds, to squat 450 with a 40-inch vertical and to run a 4.4, you know, that’s almost unheard in that type of a body type. As for what he can do at Texas, the ones they have done an excellent job, Applewhite’s done a great job for them in what he’s able to do, but you know, when teams see a not-as-mobile QB, the blitz will kill you. The thing to offset that is having a QB where you can run some type of option or whose scrambling ability can beat that so when a defense does that, they put themselves at risk, and I think that’s what he’ll be able to do. Chance gives them an alternative to just a drop back guy, and you’ve got to have that playmaker there which is an asset Chance has. His best asset is his athletic ability, to be able to break tackles. All you need to do is look at the Super Bowl with Steve McNair, with two big lineman on him and he breaks tackles and makes a huge play. That’s Chance Mock to a T." On what Mock needs to work on: "At every level you just have to turn the knobs because everything just takes place that much faster and things are more complex so he’ll just have to get up to speed, but I see no reason why he won’t do that."
Marcel Moses, 6-4, 305, 5.0, DT, Texas City. Moses, who continues the Longhorn pipeline to Texas City, is considered among the top two DLs in Texas this year, along with fellow-Horn signee Sonny Davis. He earned 1999 Honorable Mention all-USA Today honors, is a two-time first-team all-state performer and a unanimous selection to the District 23-4A first-team defense in '99. He was also named to the Houston Chronicle's all-Greater Houston first-team defense as a senior. This past year, he recorded 80 tackles, including 22 for losses and three sacks, and registered 60 tackles, 12 TFLs and eight sacks as a junior. Was voted first-team all-district, all-Galveston County and all-Bay Area Super Team in 1998. Moses started for coach Rusty Dowling along with Tyrone Jones, Ervis Hill, Everick Rawls and Jermain Anderson on the Stingarees '97 state championship squad, so the heart and soul of that program could be reuniting on the Texas defense of 2000. As a sidenote, the Lady Longhorns basketball team also signed a player who graduated from Texas City in '98 with Rawls, et.al.,Tina Cullen, a 6-4 center who was a freshman on last season's squad, so the pipeline is not just in football. Texas City Coach Rusty Dowling on Moses: "Marcel is the real deal. He's got good speed, runs well, is very strong and very aggressive -- everything that a good defensive lineman needs he's got." On the job the Texas coaches are doing with in-state recruiting; "I remember when coach Brown was hired and then he hired Everett Withers, and it was just a day later that Everett came into the stadium here in Texas City to recruit, so they do a first class job. In my dealings with them, they're very honest and if they're not interested in a kid they tell us that, too. So they do both sides and they do it well. I'm just very impressed with the way they do business."
Aurmon Satchell, 6-3, 220, 4.6, LB, Denver Jefferson. Satchell, ranked as one of the top 10 prospects in Colorado, totaled 180 tackles, seven sacks and two interceptions as a senior. As a junior, Satchell recorded 160 stops, five sacks, six passes broken up, two fumbles caused and two fumbles recovered. The former and future teammate of current Horn Ryan Haywood is also three-year lettermen in track, running on Jefferson's 400 and 800-meter relay teams. Satchell committed to Texas Jan. 2 after originally verballing to Nebraska in December. "When I committed to Nebraska, I didn't feel right," Satchell told IT. "Nebraska was real nice, it was real quiet, but the night after I committed, I didn't sleep at all. That told me that something wasn't right. When I re-thought about all the pros and cons, I decided that Texas was the best place for me." When we asked him what some of those pros were, he said "they have a great football program at Nebraska, but the University of Texas is a lot better school than Nebraska. That was the biggest thing. And I can play for a great program at Texas, too." Denver Jefferson head coach Tim Cross on what made Satchell such a sought-after recruit: "He's strong, fast, aggressive. He has sideline to sideline range. He has natural instincts at the position up there with the best guys in the country. He played both on the outside and the inside for us. We put him all over the place. Teams really did whatever they could to keep away from him so we had to start moving him around a little bit." On what position Satchell is likely to play at Texas: "I think it depends. He's equally adept at either inside or outside (LB) because he can run but he's also strong enough to step it up in the middle and handle his business." On Satchell's best football attribute: "His non-stop motor." On what Satchell meant to the high school program: "The poise and the leadership he has brought to the program, not only on the field but he's a great kid. He has an element of quiet confidence, toughness, leadership in the weight room, and he's a coach on the field." On areas of Satchell's game that need to improve: "He's going to have to keep getting bigger and stronger. Also he's going to have to adjust to the overall speed of the game which I think every freshman has to do. Just keep improving in every facet of the game. I don't think he'll ever be satisfied where he is. Matter of fact, after he signed he was in a suit but he just went home and changed clothes so he could come back and work out." Cross' final thoughts on Satchell: "Outside of being a great kid and a great football player, despite not being from Texas, I think he'll be a player (Texas fans) will come to know and love."
Austin Sendlein, 6-4, 235, 4.7, LB, Scottsdale AZ Chaparral. Big and rangy like his father, former UT linebacker Robin Sendlein (1977-80), who was drafted in the second round of the '81 draft and played eight years in the NFL (Minnesota, 1981-85/Miami, 1986-87/Houston 1988). Austin, a two-time all-state performer who posted 331 tackles, 11 sacks and four interceptions during his three years as a starter, earned honorable mention all-USA Today in ‘99. He also was named Arizona Defensive Player of the Year and won the Larry Gordon Award (top LB in Arizona), as well as making first-team all-state last season, during which his team went 14-0 and won the state championship. He posted a school-record 137 tackles, nine sacks, one interception and blocked a punt as a senior. As a junior, made second-team all-state while recording 127 stops (No. 2 on the Chaparral all-time list) and two sacks that season. I spoke with Robin June 13 about the commitment of his son to his alma mater and the elder Sendlein said he felt so happy about the commitment, "it's kinda like the day he was born." On that day, Robin said he and his wife Carrie knew exactly what they wanted to name their son. "My wife and I met there and we had such a great experience in Austin that we thought it was an appropriate name for our first boy." Indeed. And now Sendlein the Younger will have the opportunity to continue his father's hard-hitting Longhorn legacy. "We're so proud of him and tickled he's getting an opportunity to get that education and be a part of that experience down there," Sendlein said. "In my mind, I haven't seen anything better and I couldn't imagine it being any better, and with coach Brown in there getting everybody pumped up, I think they've got a lot of good things ahead of them." Sendlein chose Texas over Michigan and Notre Dame among others. Chaparral coach Ron Estabrook on Sendlein: "Austin’s going to Austin! He is a team leader. Physically, he is a dominant player on the field and you all can also expect a gentleman who will be a team leader, who will set an example and be a good citizen. He is a wonderful kid just to have, you’ll be proud of him. Watching him play on the field, he was simply dominant, he dominated any field he was on. I think once he gets acclimated to the college ranks and gets a little playing time, he should be able to do the same time, he should be able to do the same thing there." On how Sendlein was featured: "He played the middle ‘backer in our 4-3 scheme. We used him to run tackle to tackle, he keyed backs and read through the guards, but we also used him on the blitz. We played some good QBs and we would have him mirror the QBs, and if they broke with the ball, then he would go, and then we blitzed him some also, so he’s very versatile. He had 10 sacks for us this year from the MLB position. He’s a got good speed at 4.7, but he’s got extra speed that pops up that I call football speed. He seems to get his motor runnin’ pretty quick for a big boy, and he gets goin’ and can close fast. He actually cracked our starting lineup as a sophomore about our fourth or fifth game and you could just see the steady improvement, but this (‘99) was just his outstanding year, he matured obviously both physically and mentally. Last year as a junior he received a lot of awards, but you could just see that he had matured and was completely developed as a high school player this entire year." Final thoughts on Sendlein: "You guys are going to enjoy him. We were in a meeting with Mack Brown during the last home visit and they want to see him on the field of course, but he’s projected as a LB. Whether they use him at outside or middle will probably be determined but I believe he’ll start out in the middle."
Justin Smith, 6-5, 185, P/K, Midland. Smith is not one of the names that you'll find at the top of many recruiting lists -- punters never are -- but he could be as important a pick-up as anyone else in this class. Given the punting woes the Horns' experienced in '99, landing a punter was one of the top priorities in this class, and Texas got a good one. Smith averaged 41.6 yards on 36 punts as a senior, with 13 of those kicks downed inside the opponents' 20-yard line (see the coach's comments below). Smith also nailed 31 of 31 extra points and kicked seven field goals as a senior. As a junior, the Midland punter averaged 40.1 yards on 35 punts. Texas offered after watching Smith perform at camp in mid-June, and the lanky West Texas punter verballed on June 24. "I always wanted to go to Texas," Smith told IT, "but they hadn’t sent me any letters so I decided to go down there to camp to see if I could get on their mailing list or something, I really didn’t expect to get a scholarship out of it, but I always wanted to go there, so when they offered, I was more than willing." Smith picked Texas over SMU, Kentucky and North Texas. Midland head coach David Browning on what made Smith such a sought-after recruit: "He's an extremely dedicated individual, an extremely hard working player and he is kicking year-round. He always wants to excel, to be the very best he can be and he does that in the weight room as well as on the field. Ya know, kickers are sometimes kinda flaky and everything -- he's not that kind of kid. He does his best job of kicking the tighter the situation is. He really got us out of some holes with some great punts. It doesn't matter if it's one person in the stands or a million, he's going to do a great job." On Smith's best football attribute: "He's got great hang time, he hit some boomers this year, and he's got some touch on the ball. We killed a lot of punts inside the 10 yard line, so his average could have been a whole lot better than it was and it was around 42 yards. We did a lot of pooch punting to try to play field position football, so we would punt from the 40 to try to pin people down deep." On what Smith meant to the high school program: "He's a great individual. He's a team player. The kids really enjoyed being around him and he commanded a lot of respect, which is sort of unusual for kickers, with his work ethic and those types of things." Browning's final thoughts on Smith: "I guarantee you he will be a credit to The University. He's a class individual all the way and comes from a great family."
Rashad Thomas, 6-1, 230, 4.6, LB Dallas Carter. A physical, aggressive LB, Thomas made 97 tackles, including 11 for a loss, and seven sacks as a senior. He also scored on a blocked punt return and recorded a game-clinching sack of the Lufkin quarterback in his final regular season game in ‘99. Thomas racked up 138 tackles on the area’s second-ranked defense as a junior. He also gets it done in the classroom, making Carter's honor roll for four years. Benches over 300 and squats over 500 pounds. "I had been interested in Texas since last summer but at that time it was just light recruiting and then by about the middle part of December they started recruiting me hard," Thomas told us after he committed. "The main factors for me in picking Texas were the direction of the program and the academics -- the alumni really persuaded me. Not everybody's gonna go pro, you're gonna have to get a job and what better opportunity to do that than to get a degree from Texas." When we asked Thomas to describe his style of play he said "the way I play linebacker is downhill, attacking, going after the hard hits and collisions. Our base defense was a 4-3 and Texas' is a 4-3. The only difference is the SAM LB has the TE more than our defense, but I really am not expecting to be playing there." Picked the Horns over Texas Tech and other Big 12 schools. Carter Coach Linus Walton on Thomas: "Rashad is a run-stopper; he’s a punishing-type player, a physical-type player. He’s probably as good as any linebacker we’ve had here since Jessie Armstead. (Ed. note: coach Walton was on the Carter staff when Armstead played there). I’m not gonna say he’s as good as Jessie -- he’s got to go to a few Pro Bowls first -- but I will say he’s the best since Jessie. We ran a very aggressive defense and moved Rashad around a lot so people couldn’t get a bead on him." On his best football asset: "Rashad is very hard to get off his feet, he’s really strong, especially in his lower body. He’s agile, quick and reads RBs and OLs well. He’s just a great athlete, he lettered in three sports here - baseball, football and soccer. He’s also very intelligent, he made a 1230 on his SAT. He knows the game, he studies hard." What he needs to work on: "If anything, he probably needs to work on his strength to be able to take on the bigger guys. But he’s had a personal trainer work with him here and he’ll get excellent training with Maddog Madden in Austin. Plus, of course, he’ll have to learn a new system, new terminology, but he’s smart and should be fine. I expect to see him contribute on special teams this season, but then after that, he should get on the field." Final thoughts on Thomas: "I know Rashad’s makeup and I think he’s gonna be a great fit at Texas. Bruce Chambers was very instrumental in recruiting Rashad. He coached him his sophomore year so he knows him and knows his family. Texas is gonna get a great player and Rashad is gonna get a great education."
Sloan Thomas, 6-2, 194, 4.4, WR, Klein HS. Big, fast and dangerous on the field, quiet and mature off it. Thomas was named Honorable Mention all-USA Today and Houston Chronicle Offensive Player of the Year in ‘99. He started for three-years at Klein and registered 1,489 all-purpose yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior, as well catching 49 passes for 987 yards and 11 TDs. He also returned 11 punts (18.5 ypr) and seven kickoffs (24.7 ypr), and scored five TDs (two receiving/one rushing/one passing/one punt return) in one half vs. Huntsville last season. As a junior, Thomas grabbed 34 passes for 694 yards (20.4 yard avg.) and also played cornerback, returning an interception for a TD and two kickoffs for scores in 1998. His cousin is Ron Merkerson who played at Colorado (1994-97) and is currently a LB for the New England Patriots (1998-99). Thomas picked Texas over everybody, including Tennessee and Florida State. Klein coach Ray Kenjura on Thomas: "Super young man. One of those kids that we get into this business to coach. Good parents, a good head on his shoulders and is focused on what he wants to do, he’s a real hard worker with a lot of God-given abilities, but a lot of kids out there rely solely on that and they don’t try to improve on it. His work habits are such that the talent he has, he improved on it by leaps and bounds. He’s highly competitive. Sloan’s kind of a quiet, laid back kid, but on the field, he’s highly competitive. He’s the type kid that if it was basketball and the game was tied at the end, he’d want to be shooting free throws. He’s one that wants to make a difference, and not just in athletics. He’s in a mentor program where he goes and visits with elementary and junior high kids and he’s very sincere about it. I have two little boys at my house and I know that he’s their hero." On how Thomas was featured at Klein: "We primarily used him as a WR, but we also we put him in the slot and ran him on some inside reverses and some quick reverses.We had one game in which he caught two TDs, returned a punt for a TD and threw for a TD. He can throw it a lot longer than any of our QBs. In fact, sometimes we even lined him up at TB and pitched it to him." On what Thomas needs to improve on: "The biggest adjustment when you get to that level is the speed at which the game occurs, and the other thing is, most of these kids that go to play college ball, they have been the go-to guy, so I tell my guys, you think back to the very best guys you’ve ever played against in high school, and every guy on your team is gonna be that good or better, and that’s a big adjustment. And when you talk about whether a kid can come in and contribute as a true freshman, it’s your emotionally mature kids that can do that, not just the great athletes. As for Sloan, whatever pressure’s put on him, he can handle." Final thoughts on Thomas: "From a maturity standpoint, from a team-player standpoint, that young man will do whatever he’s asked to do, and will give 110 per cent. That’s the kind of kid he is. He and I talked a bunch about the other two kids that committed, and I told him that no matter what you hear, you are all going in there on an even scale. It’s like I tell my younger kids when we move them up, if you want to play early, then you’ve got to do something to catch the coaches’ eye. And I told him you’ve got all the talent in the world to go out early and catch somebody’s eye. You go out and play as hard for them as you did for us and everything will work out fine. At that level, it’s about production. You are going into a situation now where it’s a business, so the ones that are productive are the ones that are going to play. I tell you this, how much he plays as a true freshman at WR will depend on what he get done, but I tell you this, if he’s not back there returning kicks and punts, somebody needs to reconsider. He had a punt return average of 25 yards and scored on a couple. He only returned about four kicks because people would kick it away this year, but his junior year, he had almost a 50-yard average at one point."
Kalen Thornton, 6-4, 265, 4.7, DE, Dallas St. Marks. Thornton, who switched from tight end to defensive end as a senior, posted 86 tackles, 16 sacks, four fumble recoveries and two fumbles caused in '99. Kalen also saw some action at fullback, carrying the ball 24 times for 232 yards, including a 55-yard rush on a fullback dive set up the game-winning TD vs. Greenhill in the 1999 League Championship game. As a junior, Thornton caught 23 passes for 439 yards and six TDs. He also has lettered in basketball and track. Why Texas? "Well, the main thing was that I really enjoyed the camaraderie of the Texas players,, the close-knit nature of the whole squad down there" Thornton told IT. "They all get along, they go out together and they all have the same goal in their heads. That was the biggest reason . . ." Kalen picked the Horns over Michigan. We did an extensive profile of Thornton in our Jan. 18 issue, but here are a few highlights: St. Mark's coach Jay McAuley on Thornton: "From the first time I met him, I knew he was a special kind of player," "He works hard, he practices hard and he’s a great competitor, but above all, he’s a fine person and I am just happy to have been his coach." Video clips of Thornton show an amazing explosiveness off the ball which launches him into the backfield, before opposing offenses can get their feet set. "He was a stellar contributor at TE for us, he was the most dominant TE I’ve ever seen," said McAuley, "but he’s been even more dominant on defense." Of course, playing in the private school divisions, Thornton’s heroics came against a lesser grade of opposition week in and week out than what many other top prospects faced playing in the Texas 5A ranks, but McAuley doesn’t think for a second that Thornton will struggle to make the transition. "Football is football," he said. "You can talk about not facing guys in 5A, but I'll tell you this, nobody in 5A had to face him either. It's all about what's inside a kid and Kalen's got all the tools. He is one of the best young men I've ever been associated with. He brings a lot of character to the table. It's just a bonus that he also plays football like a wildman." Ft. Worth Christian coach Kenny Davidson on Thornton (Christian and St. Mark's squared off last season): "He's big-time. We played 'em here before and he has so much explosion. We didn't even run to his side because we knew we couldn't block him. They played him on our offensive left side and we just didn't run over there. He's got big legs and great explosion. I see him being a tremendous rush end."
Nathan Vasher, 5-11, 170, 4.4, ATH, Texarkana. The UT bio on Vasher is not the only place you'll see the Texarkana speedster called explosive. Opposing coaches certainly had the same thought as Vasher totaled 106 tackles, six interceptions, two sacks and three fumbles caused from the cornerback position while collected 52 receptions for 837 yards and 12 touchdowns from the wideout spot. Oh yeah, he's a pretty salty punt returner, too. Because of his multiple-threat capabilities -- he earned first-team 4A all-state (Texas Sportswriters Association) honors on both offense and defense as a senior -- Vasher is one of the most exciting overall prospects in this class. His high school coach, Barry Norton, doesn’t think it matters whether Nathan lines up at CB or WR, because the kid will handle it. "He can do either one," Norton said, "and do it at a higher level." Norton called Vasher "an exciting football player with great hands," but added that "as great a player as Nate is, he is an even better person. He’ll make the Longhorns proud. I don’t think Nate knew what he would do until the very end. All the schools had good factors about them, but he just had to go with the school where he felt most comfortable, that was the best fit for him. I think he handled the recruitment process exactly the way he should have. He took his time, visited the schools and weighed it all out. I’m very proud of him." Vasher, who committed Jan. 25, told IT he had a great time on his visit the weekend of the 21st with his host Greg Brown as well as with guys like Chris Simms and Shaun Rogers, but he also enjoyed hanging out with fellow commits Sloan Thomas and Chance Mock who were also on campus. When he got back home to Texarkana, he talked about his decision with his mother, prayed about it, and decided to become a Longhorn. He said the coaches told him they would look at him on both sides of the ball. With wideouts B.J. Johnson, Roy Williams and Sloan Thomas all on the way, you have to figure Vasher’s services would be best utilized at one of the corners, but according to Nathan, as for now, "it’s wide open." Vasher has also lettered for three years in basketball and track. The speedster from Texas High in Texarkana chose the Horns over Arkansas, A&M and Nebraska, and in case you’re counting, those are the three teams that spanked the Horns to close the season, so Brown and his staff obviously did a heckuva job on this young man.
WR Roy Williams, 6-4, 205, 4.4, Odessa, Permian. Despite contending with an ankle injury for much of last season, the two-time first-team all-state receiver recorded 35 catches for 800 yards and seven TDs. Williams, our No. 2 prospect in the state, also played safety and returned kicks during his senior year. As a junior, he posted 49 receptions for 1,521 yards (31.0 ypc) and 18 TDs and intercepted three passes on the defensive side of the ball that season. The wideout told IT he compares himself to Chris Carter and Randy Moss of the Vikings, "Carter because of his smarts and Moss because he’ll go up high and fight for the ball." Williams has also lettered in basketball and track, finishing fourth in the long jump (23-6) at the 1999 5A state meet. After committing to Texas Jan. 3, Williams told us that he’s looking forward to competing for playing time with Sloan Thomas and B.J. Johnson, as well as the receivers already on campus. "We’re gonna make a mark for our team and as individuals, and the competition will make us better and will make the team better also," he said. Williams picked the Horns over A&M (despite a huge late push by R.C. Slocum), FSU, Tennessee and UCLA. Odessa Permain coach Randy Mayes on what made Williams such a sought-after recruit: "I think the first thing that attracted people was his production his junior year when he lead the state in receptions and knowing he was a two-way player at free safety. The next thing beside the production -- I know he's been compared to B.J., he's been compared to Sloan -- is being 6-5, 210. And then the most important thing once you get to know him, he's real coachable, he's real personable. I don't think this has ever happened at Permian but every kid on the team voted for him for captain." On Williams' best football attribute: "Athleticism and leadership." On what Williams meant to the high school program: "He was totally healthy as a junior and we got beat by the eventual state champion in the quarterfinals. He played four games as a senior and we won those four. That was it. That kind of speaks for itself, doesn't it?" On areas of Williams' game that need to improve: "Inside routes, curls and digs. His best routes are the fade and the out." Final thoughts on Williams: "He's the best player that's ever come through Permian High School and one of the best people that's ever come through Permian High School."