• Horns snag three commitments before National Signing Day

    Dalton Santos, considered a jack-of-all-trades, has made a verbal commitment that he will attend Texas.
    Dalton Santos, considered a jack-of-all-trades, has made a verbal commitment that he will attend Texas.

    The Longhorns 2012 recruiting class swelled to 27 members with the verbal commitments of three more athletes this week. Texas picked up two defensive players in linebacker Dalton Santos and defensive end Bryce Cottrell as well as local athlete/flex back Daje Johnson. Each of the trio had previously been committed to other schools, but decided to switch their pledges to Texas after careful consideration before National Signing Day on Feb. 1.

    We’ll start with Daje Johnson, a product of Pflugerville’s Hendrickson High School. While Johnson is diminutive in size at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds he runs a 4.3 40-yard dash and has been likened to a bullet train in the open field. Johnson affords Texas the option of either converting him to an able cornerback, or keeping him in the D.J. Monroe role as a running back/receiver hybrid. For Johnson’s sake, let’s hope he doesn’t fade in and out of obscurity like Monroe has the past few seasons.

    Johnson had initially committed to play under head coach Gary Patterson at TCU, but once Texas offered the Austin native, he was sold on playing as a Longhorn. Johnson is a playmaker that does have the ability to make a defender or two miss, but he doesn’t have the durability to be an every down back. Texas knows this, that’s why it has a stable of stud running backs at its disposal. Johnson could be in line for more receptions than carries with the likes of Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and Jonathan Gray in the backfield. With the loss of Skyline’s Thomas Johnson to A&M, Daje Johnson fills the Longhorn’s need at receiver and running back perfectly. In his senior season at Hendrickson, Johnson accumulated over 25 rushing touchdowns as well as six receiving scores. He also returned a punt for a score, showing his versatility. Johnson could very well make his way on to the field in some gadget-type plays next season. He’ll be a fun guy to keep an eye on throughout his Longhorn career.

    Santos is rated as the No. 1 inside linebacker in the nation by ESPN and is a jack-of-all-trades in his own right. He had committed to Tennessee but switched after deciding Texas was a better fit for him and his family. At 6-foot-2, 250 pounds he can stop the run all the way down the line and has a great feel for the game. Santos is a very instinctual player that makes the right decision more times than not. He will vie for playing time immediately against Steve Edmond at the inside backer spot. Edmond will probably have a leg up given his time with the program, but don’t count Santos out all together. Santos could be the biggest hitter Texas has had since Nathan Vasher, who was known to lay some vicious hits on opponents as a Longhorn. The competition between Edmond and Santos this offseason will be one filled with heavy hits. Either is a solid option to anchor an improved Texas defense.

    Cottrell, a former Oregon commit, comes in from Plano West. The 6-foot-3, 230 pound defensive end played on the edge in high school, but could project as an outside linebacker in college. Wherever he plays, you can rest assured he’s going to come off the line at full-speed looking to inflict pain on whoever has the ball. His pursuit off the edge is top of the line and he has the frame to add much more muscle to his already powerful physique. Cottrell has shown that he can either line up in a two or 3-point stance, or drop back into coverage if need be. He uses his lengthy arms effectively in getting around linemen and to the point of attack. Cottrell garnered interest from several schools, including a couple of SEC squads but decided to stay in-state and become a Longhorn. He’ll fit well in Manny Diaz’s scheme-filled defense and could push for playing time in the next year. Under the guidance of the Texas coaches, Cottrell could blossom into another NFL-caliber Longhorn.

  • Howard now open to playing in Chicago

    Dwight Howard looks on as his Magic lose to the Indiana Pacers. Howard may be moving out of Orlando after this season. The Magic are 12-8 this year.
    Dwight Howard looks on as his Magic lose to the Indiana Pacers. Howard may be moving out of Orlando after this season. The Magic are 12-8 this year.

    Dwight Howard has added a new city to his trade wish list, the “Windy City,” Chicago.

    In the past Howard’s list of the teams in which he would sign a long-term deal if traded to included only: Dallas, the L.A. Lakers, and the New Jersey Nets.

    The list has been speculated upon since November, and teams have been on and off the list more often than the Republicans have had debates this winter.

    Now, the new team on his wish list is the Bulls, where Howard would get to play with his buddy Derek Rose.

    "If I could play with Derrick right now and God wanted that to happen, it will happen," Howard told the Chicago Tribune. "It has nothing to do with me not wanting to play with Derrick Rose. I love him. That's my brother."

    In the past there were rumors that Rose and Howard’s shoe sponsor Adadis did not want the two to play together, because it would limit the pairs influence too a smaller market space. Howard quickly dismissed that idea.

    "It has nothing to do with Adidas," Howard said, according to the Tribune. "In fact, Adidas would love that because me and Derrick have the same guy."

    If Howard were traded to the Bulls, the combination of Howard and Rose would be lethal. It would be the first true high-low combination between a center and a guard since Shaq and Kobe.

    In fact, it could be even more deadly. Rose is a much more willing passer than Kobe ever was, and Howard is a more effective defender than O’Neal in his prime.

    The trade would also work for both squads, as the Bull’s have the young pieces to send back to Orlando, to make the trade worthwhile.

    The Bulls would be able to put together a package of Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson or Omer Asik and draft picks to send to the Magic in return for Howard and absorbing Hedo Turkoglu contract. A package of young talented pieces is something no other team on Howard’s list can afford to offer, in terms of value.

    As of now there is no indication that the Bulls are actively perusing Howard, but at this point it looks like Howard will have to be traded and the Bulls would seem to be an excellent fit.

  • Prince Fielder lands a deal for a prince, strikes agreement with Detroit for 9 years and $214 million

    And just like that, Scott Boras strikes again. Revered by some to be the most successful player agent in all of sports, representing players such as Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Beltre, Mark Teixera, and Alex Rodriguez, he is known for getting top dollar for his players services. And as of today, he gets to keep that reputation.

    The Detroit Tigers announced this afternoon they had signed the hefty, lefty first basemen to a nine year deal, paying him $214 million over that span. Not surprisingly, this deal comes right on the heels of the announcement that first basemen/catcher/DH Victor Martinez will be held out all season due to a torn ACL.

    The deal for Prince Fielder comes late in the winter due to an interesting market for his services. The Texas Rangers were rumored to be interested in Fielder, but sources say they had a tough time agreeing on a length for the contract, and after the Yu Darvish signing last week, money was a tad tight. The Nationals were also reported to be in on negotiations, but Prince’s desire to play for a contender all but ruled them out once the Tigers through their hat into the ring.

    The interesting part of this deal is the log jam of all star first basemen Detroit suddenly finds itself with. 28 year old Miguel Cabrera has held the fort down for the last 4 years, even winning the AL batting title in the 2011 season. The always potent Victor Martinez played 32 games at first last season, and he too had an eye popping season at the plate hitting .330. Unless the American League adds a second DH in the very near future, something is going to have to give, as all three of the players are under contract until at least 2015.

    Fielder heads to Detroit to follow his father Cecil Fielder’s legacy, and immediately boosts the Tiger lineup to another level. He provides an immediate replacement for Victor Martinez, and unquestionably puts the Tigers back as the front runners to win the AL central for consecutive years.

    However the Tigers manage the traffic jam at first base, there is no arguing that GM Dave Dombrowski pulled a quick one on the rest of the MLB, and isn’t settling for second place in the American League again in 2012.

  • Deloss Dodds and Bill Powers recommend extending Mack Brown contract

    Athletic Director Deloss Dodds and University President Bill Powers recommend on Tuesday to the University Board of Regents that Mack Brown’s contract be extended.

    “We want Mack Brown to be The University of Texas football coach for as long as he wants,” Dodds and Powers said in a joint statement. “Consequently, we are recommending that the UT System Board of Regents extend Coach Brown’s contract an additional four years, taking it to 2020.”

    Brown’s contract, which expires in 2016, is the only topic on the UT Board of Regents agenda on Thursday. Brown is 141-39 in his 14 years as head coach, and has averaged 10 wins a year during that time. Brown also won a national championship in 2005, and it is safe to say that his impact on the program has been immense in terms of both overall on-field success and financial gain. 

    “He has achieved a level of success rare in college athletics and has done so with the class and integrity that embodies The University of Texas at Austin," Dodds and Powers said. “Our football program is in a great place thanks to Mack’s hard work. Mack is as energized as ever, has a great staff and an exciting young team. Our future is very bright.”

    “We’re proud of everything Coach Brown does for us and, with this recommendation, are thrilled to have him leading our football program for years to come.” 

  • Brown expected to receive contract extension

    In Texas, football is king, so it makes sense Mack Brown will continue to be paid like one.

    Texas head football coach Brown is expected to receive a four-year contract extension through the 2020, according to an anonymous source that tipped the Austin American-Statesmen.

    On Thursday, The UT Board of Regents is set to have a telephone conference with Brown, the highest paid coach in college football, where it is expected they will offer to continue paying him annual raises of $100,000. Brown will make $5.2 million at the end of the year.

    There is also reportedly a buyout clause that gives the power to dismiss Brown for $3.5 million if given six months' notice.

    From a football and financial perspective alone, the extension was the right move. Despite going 13-12 over the past two seasons, the football program raked in about $95 million dollars last year and made a $71 million dollar profit. It adds so much value to the university and the face of it all is Mack Brown.

    He is widely regarded as one of the best recruiters in the nation and is notorious for giving players the full protection under his guidance. Not to mention, athletes tend to prefer programs with tradition and continuity. It makes for difficult college careers when there are coaching changes midway through them. And though he’s spent the past two years rebuilding, Brown has led the Longhorns to an impressive 141-39 record in his tenure, appeared in two national title games, and even won the 2005 championship.

    When you can bring in the best players in the country, win big football games, help your school secure multi-million dollar television contracts, and raise the overall prominence of the institution, an extension is a necessary and inevitable investment. And with the buyout clause, the option to fire Brown if his team continues underwhelm is not a terrible price to pay for someone who has heightened the value of the 40 Acres for 14 years.

    Of course, it does make you wonder if that whole "head-coach-in-waiting" proposal ever had a chance.