• Longhorn football gets head start for 2014

    Though the 2013 UT recruiting class won’t officially sign with Texas until February, the Longhorns have already made significant headway with the 2014 class.

    Texas currently holds five verbal commitments from high school juniors, all of which came during August. By comparison, the only other Big 12 schools with 2014 commits are Texas Tech and Oklahoma, which have two and one respectively. Alabama has only one 2014 commit, while Texas A&M and LSU each have two.

    The five commitments include Houston Eisenhower running back Donald Catalon, Denton Guyer dual-threat quarterback Jerrod Heard, Abilene Cooper wide receiver Lorenzo Joe, Fort Worth All Saints Episcopal running back Daniel Gresham, and San Antonio Brennan defensive end Derick Roberson.

    While Mack Brown’s program has pioneered the push to recruit younger players, the strategy for the 2014 class looks to be particularly aggressive, even by Texas’ standards. If players choose to commit to Texas before their senior season, they typically do so during or directly after Junior Day in early February. Picking up five commits who have yet to play a down of their junior seasons is unprecedented territory for the Longhorns.

    Though some may argue that this is a sign of Texas being less “picky” than it has in the past, it’s worth bearing in mind that the 2014 class projects to be one of the deepest and most talented the state has seen. With (potentially) future five-stars like Tony Brown, Ed Paris, Hoza Scott, and Jamal Adams all high on the ‘Horns, Texas will likely sign a larger-than-normal class in 2014, especially with how few players will join the team in 2013.     

  • Kabongo to miss opener as NCAA continues probe, Bond out with ankle injury

    Sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo will not play in Texas' season opener against Fresno State on Friday night as the NCAA continues its investigation into allegations that he received improper benefits from an agent earlier this year.

    Kabongo averaged 9.6 points per game and a team-best 5.2 assists per game as a freshman last year. He has been practicing with the team but did not play in either of the team's scrimmages against Davidson last month or against Gonzaga last weekend.

    The NCAA is looking into whether agent Rich Paul, who represents former Longhorns Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, along with reigning NBA MVP LeBron James, gave Kabongo any impermissible benefits while he traveled to Cleveland in May for workouts with Thompson in May.

    Freshman Javan Felix is a prime candidate to serve as the Longhorns' starting point guard in Kabongo's absence. Fellow freshman guard Demarcus Holland and Ioannis Papapetrou, who can play multiple positions, are also among those that can play point guard if needed.

    Head coach Rick Barnes said Wednesday that sophomore forward Jaylen Bond, the team's top returning rebounder from last year, will also miss Friday's season opener with an ankle injury.

  • Longhorns look for first 2013 hoops commit

    Rick Barnes and the Longhorn men’s basketball coaching staff are still searching for their first verbal commitment for the class of 2013. Though recruiting has typically been one of Barnes’ strengths, having pulled in elite talent such as Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, and D.J. Augustin, this recruiting cycle marks the first time since at least 2002 that Barnes has failed to secure a commitment before November. With National Signing Day not until late April, however, there’s still time for Barnes to sign a quality class. Even so, getting commitments from the players listed below would be a good way to start.

    Demarcus Croaker, a four-star prospect, according to rivals.com, from Jones High School in Orlando, Fla., named Texas as one of his finalists along with Florida State and Murray State. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Croaker is listed by rivals.com as the 101st-best recruit in the class of 2013, and would provide a solid offensive punch to the class. The versatile scorer loves to dunk, but he also has touch from the outside and can take defenders off the dribble.

    Another swingman, five-star prospect Keith Frazier from Kimball High School in Dallas, is rated as the nation’s 21st-best player according to rivals.com. Frazier has tremendous size and length for a perimeter player at 6-foot-5, 185 pounds. He too has narrowed his list down to three potential schools: Arizona, Florida, and Texas. Frazier, a gifted passer, possesses a game with more than a little flash to it, but his most impressive attribute his soft outside shooting stroke. His shots take a high-arching approach to the rim before settling neatly through the nylon.

    The 2013 class’ biggest target, however, is Plano Prestonwood’s Julius Randle, ranked as the second-best player in the nation by rivals.com, and his offer sheet backs it up. The 6-foot-9, 240-pound power forward has been offered a scholarship by nearly every major program in the nation, and has narrowed his list down to Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Texas. Though he is not expected to commit until the spring, Kentucky is likely Randle’s leader. He has already taken an official visit to Lexington, and is close friends with Texas twin guards Andrew and Aaron Henderson, who have committed to UK. Whoever lands Randle, they’ll be thrilled to have a player whose size belies his superior ball handling ability and athleticism. Though he still needs to develop a better low post game, there’s simply no denying his talent level and potential.

  • Legendary Longhorns coach Darrell Royal dies at age 88

    Darrell K Royal (2012 file photo)
    Darrell K Royal (2012 file photo)

    Darrell Royal died at age 88, Texas announced Wedensday morning.

    The namesake of the Longhorns' football stadium, Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Royal had battled Alzheimer's over the past few years. He and his wife, Edith, served as honorary captains before Texas' season opener against Wyoming on Sept. 1.

    He posted a 167-47-5 (.774) record in 20 years as Texas' head football coach (1957-76), making him the program's all-time winningest football coach. Royal, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, was also responsible for winning 11 Southwest Conference titles and the Longhorns' first three national championships in 1963, 1969 and 1970.

  • Martin rocks Raiders with stellar game

    If October’s a good month for fantasy football, November’s even better. This weekend’s NFL action featured many impressive outings by players, including a herculean performance by Tampa Bay’s rookie running back.  Though many fantasy owners should be ecstatic with their players’ stat lines, others were no doubt upset when they checked the box scores:

    Fantasy Studs:

    1) Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Martin had an unforgettable performance against the Raiders on Sunday, lighting up the Raiders for 251 rushing yards and four touchdowns, becoming the first running back since 1940 to run for three touchdowns of at least 45 yards in a single game.  Incredibly, Martin scored all four of his touchdowns in the game’s second half, achieving the single highest-scoring fantasy outing by any player this year.

    2) Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears

    Marshall had his best game yet as a Bear, snagging nine balls for 122 yards while hauling in three touchdowns to successfully complete the hat trick against the Titans on Sunday.  He was easily Jay Cutler’s favorite target, especially in the red zone, and showed the entire league how dangerous a combo those two are when they’re on the right page.

    3) Mikel Leshoure, RB, Detroit Lions

    Leshoure had been quiet since week three, when he racked up 100 rushing yards and a touchdown against Tennessee.  However he showed up in a big way against the Jaguars, breaking out for 70 yards and three touchdowns, tripling his previous season total for touchdowns.  Even if it came against a weak Jacksonville defense, credit Leshoure for his monster game on Sunday.

    Fantasy Duds:

    1) Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants

    Facing the Steelers’ stingy defense, Manning struggled with accuracy and decision-making throughout the Giants’ 20-24 loss.  Completing less than half of his passes and tossing an interception, Manning failed to throw a touchdown for the second straight game and only has one in his last three.

    2) Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings

    Harvin struggled with production and health in the Vikings’ 20-30 loss to the Seahawks, aggravating a previous hamstring injury early on and later spraining his ankle in the third quarter.  Although he was able to play the duration of the game, his effectiveness was clearly limited, as he managed only two catches for ten yards.

    3) Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys

    Bryant makes his second appearance on this list in three weeks after a forgettable performance on Sunday night against the Falcons, catching only one pass for fifteen yards. After being critiqued for poor decision-making and route running over the past several weeks, Bryant was essentially ignored by QB Tony Romo, who directed the majority of his passes at Miles Austin and Kevin Ogletree.