Charlie Strong faced an uphill battle. With less than a month to fix what appeared to be a broken house, Strong spent the majority of his time on the recruiting trail trying to convince players who were already committed to Texas to stay. Decommitments, as they’re called, are tough for any coach to swallow, but when the player was recruited by another coach, it’s simply inevitable.
With Texas influx, the Longhorns lost high-profile commits like OLB Otaro Alaka and DL Brandon Garrett to rivals Texas A&M and Oklahoma, respectively. Strong also lost three more defensive linemen, one of whom, Sione Teuhema, is one of the top prospects in the 2015 class. Sione elected to sign with LSU on Wednesday and his 346-pound brother, Maea, is expected to follow next season.
Strong could have easily washed his hands, admitted defeat, and hoped to start fresh next season with a full year on the recruiting trail. No one could blame him if he had. Afterall, the new coach had less than a month (the recruiting period didn’t begin until Jan. 15) to show his recruiting prowess, a process that takes years. But instead of rolling over, Strong went after previous Louisville commits Poona Ford and Chris Nelson to fill the needs at the defensive line.
"You can't be concerned and worried about the ones you didn't get, you have to be worried about the ones you do have because those are the ones that could get you beat," Strong told reporters on Wednesday. "With the ones that decommitted, if they decided that the other place is the best for them, there isn't much you can say because you recruited them and it just didn't happen."
Despite the negativity surrounding Texas’ decommits, the Longhorns did hang on to the number one dual-threat quarterback in the recruiting class, Jerrod Heard, and the No. 9-ranked defensive end Derick Roberson.
"Jerrod is an outstanding player and once he made a commitment, he stuck to it," Strong said. "What we tried to do as a staff to make sure the guys that we had committed was to bring them in the last weekend so those guys that hadn't had a chance to meet our staff had a chance to meet the staff."
Texas managed to hang on to a top-20 recruiting class, which shows both the recruiting prowess of the Longhorn brand, and the workman-like attitude Strong is sure to bring to the recruiting process.
The list of incoming recruits signing national letters of intent for the 2014 season included:
• Alex Anderson*, OL - New Orleans, La. (Landry-Walker)
• Andrew Beck*, LB - Tampa, Fla. (Plant)
• Roderick Bernard, WR - Houston, Texas (Sharpstown)
• John Bonney, DB - Houston, Texas (Lamar)
• Donald Catalon, RB - Houston, Texas (Eisenhower)
• Terrell Cuney, OL - Jasper, Texas (Jasper)
• Poona Ford, DT - Hilton Head, S.C. (Hilton Head)
• Armanti Foreman, WR - Texas City, Texas (Texas City)
• D'Onta Foreman, RB - Texas City, Texas (Texas City)
• Edwin Freeman, S - Arlington, Texas (Bowie)
• Garrett Gray, WR - Marble Falls, Texas (Marble Falls)
• Jason Hall, DB - Grand Prairie, Texas (South Grand Prairie)
• Cameron Hampton, LB - Dallas, Texas (Carter)
• Jerrod Heard, QB - Denton, Texas (Guyer)
• Lorenzo Joe, WR - Abilene, Texas (Cooper)
• Dorian Leonard, WR - Longview, Texas (Longview)
• Jake McMillon, DT - Abilene, Texas (Abilene)
• Chris Nelson, DT - Lakeland, Fla. (Victory Christian)
• Derick Roberson, DE - San Antonio, Texas (Brennan)
• Elijah Rodriguez, OL - Houston, Texas (Cypress Creek)
• Jermaine Roberts, DB - New Orleans, La. (St. Augustine)
• Kevin Shorter, RB - Newton, Texas (Newton)
• Blake Whiteley*, TE - Vancouver, BC, Canada (Arizona Western CC/West Vancouver)
*Early Enrollee, will participate in spring drills