INDIANAPOLIS – New Texas coach Tom Herman has not coached a single, solitary game yet.
That does not mean there is not significant revitalization when it comes to the Longhorns, an excitement that has been woefully absent around the program in recent years.
“I went to a couple Texas practices and I like the energy they bring,” said five-star cornerback Anthony Cook, the state’s top player, here at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas. “Nothing against (former) coach (Charlie) Strong but it’s nothing like when coach Strong was there.
“It’s a totally different atmosphere. They bring a lot of energy and (Herman) is an energetic guy. Kind of like when coach Strong was there, the atmosphere was kind of still and dead. Every practice I went to at Texas, everybody is celebrating, competition, a little trash talking.”
There is a lot to talk about again in Austin. The Longhorns have the fifth-best class in the country behind only Miami, Ohio State, LSU and Penn State. Nine of Texas’ 12 commits are four-stars including Angleton, Texas, four-star safety B.J. Foster, second at his position nationally.
And Texas is seriously involved with the state’s top prospects again like Cook, four-star wide receivers Brennan Eagles and Al’Vonte Woodard and many others. The days are back of when Texas’ top recruits are serious about playing for the Longhorns.
“The excitement level of recruits in the state of Texas and, frankly, nationally has definitely been noticeable,” said Jason Suchomel of Orangebloods.com. “If you go back and look at Tom Herman’s history at Houston, he landed the majority of his first full class there before he ever coached a game.
“He’s doing that again at Texas. The effort, the attention to detail, the improvements to facilities, the social media presence, there’s just a general bulldog attitude when it comes to recruiting efforts. That’s really paying off.
“You talk to these recruits and there is a little bit of blind faith they have to put into things with what Tom Herman and his staff did at Houston and there’s no lack of confidence that they can do it at Texas as well. It’s pretty remarkable to see the number of commitments but also the types of players Texas is getting.”
Woodard, the fourth-best prospect in the state and the eighth-best receiver nationally, has a simple answer for why Herman has been so successful on the trail thus far. He’s just that damn impressive.
“The dude is a genius,” Woodard said. “He’s very cool to be around and he’s going to keep it 100 with you. That’s all you really need in a coach, to tell you the truth.
“Football-wise, he’s a genius offensively and defensively. He told me back in the day he used to play receiver. As the spring went on, he’s keeping a close eye on the receivers. That’s good for me because that’s what I play.
“For everybody, it’s changing. All the guys are buying in.”
Herman and his staff have done extraordinarily well in-state so far with commitments from Foster, fellow four-star defensive backs DeMarvion Overshown and Caden Sterns, who flipped from LSU, and four-star running back Keaontay Ingram all since May 7. During that stretch four-star linebacker Ayodele Adeoye from St. Louis (Mo.) Ritenour also pledged to the Longhorns.
Recruiting is going well, no doubt. For Cook, though, he wants results on the field this fall. He expects to see it – and a possible future in Austin for himself.
“I definitely see it changing but kids also want to see how they do,” Cook said. “It sounds good right now but they have to put action into all the words they’re speaking. That will play a role even in the first game to see what they do.
“I just want them to show that competitive nature, everybody being aggressive, solid tackles, nobody missing tackles and not blowing coverages. Just a different vibe will change a lot of recruits’ minds.
“Texas is kind of like America’s Team. Everybody knows Texas and I feel like if I were to go there we’ll get it back to how it used to be.”
The good ole’ days could be returning to Austin. Herman might see to it.