The waves of change keep coming for Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns.
Tuesday night, the Longhorns secured a commitment from Reggie Hemphill, a 6-1, 170-pound wide receiver who’s about to enter his sophomore year at Manvel High School.
He’s the youngest player to ever commit to Texas.
The Longhorns already have 22 commitments for their 2014 signing class and eight more for 2015. But Hemphill, who wouldn’t sign a binding national letter of intent for another 30 months, is Texas’ first player for 2016.
Still, even though he’s young, Hemphill is projected to be one of the best players in the state, if not the country, by the time he’s a senior.
Want proof? During the 2012 season, as a freshman, he turned 10 varsity catches into six touchdowns, averaging 40 yards per reception. He also played quarterback, mostly as a runner, and finished with 101 rushing yards on 11 carries.
“When he was at a Texas minicamp (June 12), he was elite,” Horns247 Texas recruiting analyst Jeff Howe said. “He was, honestly, in terms of performance, as good as any of the receivers I saw in camp — including the guys they have committed in the 2014 class.”
Even with the show he put on at the Texas minicamp, it still may seem like a stretch to offer a full-ride scholarship to a player who’s not even old enough to drive himself to school yet. But Howe said this circumstance was too perfect for lead recruiter Darrell Wyatt and the Texas staff to ignore just because of the player’s age.
“I think this is a situation where it’s a kid you’ve evaluated, you’ve had in camp, he’s an elite talent and he wants to come to Texas,” Howe said.
Hemphill’s pledge is just the latest in a number of sweeping changes the Longhorns have undergone. Texas has drastically altered its recruiting philosophy since the hiring of Patrick Suddes as the director of player personnel in early March. All nine commitments across the 2015 and 2016 classes have come since Brown plucked Suddes out of Nick Saban’s personnel department at Alabama.
Texas’ 2015 class currently ranks No. 1 in the country, according to 247Sports, with its eight commitments. The Longhorns are one of only eight programs with a pledge for 2016.
When Brown wants to make a change, it seems he does it in a big way, but he’s also not the only coach on campus looking that far into the future. Volleyball coach Jerritt Elliott has received commitments from four players for 2016 this summer on the heels of winning the national championship last December.
A look at Texas’ committed recruits for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 classes. Star ratings, in parenthesis, are from 247Sports composite rankings of leading recruiting sites.
2014 (22 players)
Quarterbacks (1): Jerrod Heard, Denton Guyer (4)
Running backs (2): Donald Catalon, Aldine Eisenhower (4); D’Onta Foreman, Texas City (3)
Wide receivers (6): Armanti Foreman, Texas City (4); Lorenzo Joe, Abilene Cooper (4); Emanuel Porter, Dallas Lincoln (3); Dorian Leonard, Longview (3); Roderick Bernard, Hou. Sharpstown (3); Garrett Gray, Marble Falls (3)
Tight ends (1): John Thomas, Trinity Valley C.C. (3)
Centers (1): Terrell Cuney, Jasper (3)
Defensive ends (3): Derick Roberson, S.A. Brennan (4); Sione Teuhema, Keller (3); Jake McMillon, Abilene (3)
Defensive tackles (2): Trey Lealaimatafao, S.A. Warren (3); Courtney Garnett, N.O. St. Augustine (3)
Inside linebackers (1): Andrew Beck, Tampa (Fla.) Plant (3)
Outside linebackers (2): Otaro Alaka, Hou. Cy Falls (4); Cameron Hampton, Dallas Carter (3)
Cornerbacks (1): Jermaine Roberts, N.O. St. Augustine (3)
Safeties (1): Jason Hall, S. Grand Prairie (3)
Punters (1): Corbin Daly, Charlotte (N.C.) Kell (2)
2015 (8 players)
Offensive tackles (2): Maea Teuhema, Keller (5); Connor Lanfear, Hays (4)
Offensive guards (2): Patrick Vahe, Euless Trinity (4); Aaron Garza, Sherman (4)
Defensive tackles (1): Bryce English, DeSoto (3)
Cornerbacks (1): Jason Campbell, C.C. Flour Bluff (3)
Safeties (1): Johnny Shaw, W. Orange-Stark (4)
Athletes (1): Keke Coutee, Lufkin (4)
2016 (1 player)
Wide receivers (1): Reggie Hemphill, Manvel (not rated)
GETTING AN EARLY START
Eight schools don’t seem to mind recruiting high school freshmen; so far, nine prep players who will be sophomores this fall have already pledged to schools more than two years before they’ll have to sign a letter of intent:
Arizona (1 pledge)
Mississippi State (1)