Posted: 12:16 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, 2013
By Wescott Eberts
When Robbie Rhodes committed to Baylor after giving Texas zero bump following a visit for the state track meet, it was surprising, nearly shocking.
When it became clear that Mount Pleasant wide receiver Kd Cannon was favoring the Bears after multiple visits in the spring, it was much less surprising.
When 2015 quarterback/wide receiver Chad President, a Temple product, chose the Bears recently, it was barely enough to raise eyebrows, it seemed.
When 2014 Alief Elsik wide receiver Ishmael Zamora chose the Bears on Tuesday night after receiving a Texas offer hours before, it had all solidified into a trend.
The Texas Longhorns have a major recruiting problem residing 100 miles up I-35 -- Art Briles and the Baylor Bears are owning the 'Horns on the recruiting trail as it pertains to head-to-head battles for wide receivers.
And it's not exactly hard to see why -- the Bears have fielded a passing offense that ranked fourth in the country in yards per game the last two years. Recruits now take pictures with RGIII's Heisman trophy.
More than that, it's an offense that has taken two-star prospects like Terence Williams and turned them into NFL players, with four wide receivers drafted in the last four years. Heck, Texas recruited Kendall Wright as a safety. Of course.
The perception of Baylor offensively is even better than that among recruits -- Waco is now a desirable destination, a rising program soon to have a shiny new stadium on the banks of the Brazos.
In recruiting, perception is reality and the perception is that prospects have a much better chance of making it to the NFL playing in Waco. So while Texas stands to produce NFL draft picks at the position in each of the next two years, even their most recent draft pick, world-class athlete Marquise Goodwin, who should have been heralded as an underrecruited success story, was a poster boy for how he wasn't used in Austin.
In fact, the last wide receiver draft picks before Goodwin were Quan Cosby, who originally signed in 2001, and Jordan Shipley, who inked with Texas in 2004. In between were a litany of poor evaluations and players who never developed. Guys like Darius White, Montre Weber, Philip Payne, Myron Hardy, James Kirkendoll. The list goes on and on.
The jury may still be out on Darrell Wyatt as an evaluator and developer of talent, but the sell of the Texas offense has gotten harder and harder in recent years after the move away from the high-producing offenses under Vince Young and Colt McCoy to the slow-paced, run-heavy attack operated by former co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin that often employed only two receivers at a time.
It was an offense that hardly helped recruit the needed tight ends and H-backs and helped not at all with wide receivers, though the 2012 group with Cayleb Jones, Kendall Sanders, and Marcus Johnson could turn out to be special.
The thing is, those guys committed to Texas, not the Texas offense.
The same with Jake Oliver, Jacorey Warrick, and Lorenzo Joe. For guys who really want to be Longhorns, the offense doesn't matter.
The problem is that as Texas recruiting luster fades as the seasons pass with little to no success on the field, there's nothing appealing offensively to bring in the prospects who don't already have a high affinity for the program overall. Kids like Rhodes, President, and Zamora.
In that regard, the move to the no-huddle attack new playcaller Major Applewhite is installing that should include more spread attacks may be the best thing to happen to Texas wide receiver recruiting in years. Even if it does significantly bolster production and the fun factor perception, it may be too late with Kd Cannon.
It's already too late with Rhodes, President, and Zamora. The hope is that it can help level the playing field with the 2015 and 2016 classes and beyond.
Because right now, Art Briles and Baylor are operating in another stratosphere than the Texas offense, a fact not likely to change soon on the Baylor side with all the incoming talent. It may have been incomprehensible when Briles arrived at Baylor, but it's become an unfortunate and uncomfortable reality on some fall Saturdays and especially on the recruiting trail.
And so in Major we trust to close that gap.