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Brown, Texas off to a quick start

Posted: Friday May 09, 2003 12:18 PM
Updated: Friday May 09, 2003 4:50 PM

Here we are, in early May, and the Texas Longhorns are off and running in the great college football recruiting race. Signing Day 2004 is still some nine months away, yet Mack Brown and company are off to a torrid start on the recruiting trail with a dozen commitments already. Thatís right -- 12 verbal commitments.

Brown is a great recruiter. He always has been and since he took the reins in Austin, the Longhorns have become a consistent recruiting power always at or near the top of the recruiting rankings when itís all said and done. And this season, Texas is once again on its way to another top-notch recruiting class.

Offensively, the 'Horns have picked up seven commitments, including three wide receivers led by Jordan Shipley from Burnet, Texas. Shipley is an outstanding talent on both sides of the ball. As a junior, he was all-state as both wideout and cornerback, and was named the Texas 3A Offensive Player of the Year. Last season, he caught 79 passes for 1,717 yards and 22 touchdowns and scored 30 touchdowns overall. Defensively, he had 10 interceptions and returned three for scores. For his career, Shipley has returned 10 kickoffs and four punt returns for touchdowns. George Walker, from Houston, and Nathan Jones, from Texarkana, join Shipley as wide receiver commitments. Walker and Jones are considered two of the Lone Star Stateís top offensive prospects, btinging good size and speed to the table. The Longhorns appear secure with this trio for the future as Roy Williams, B.J. Johnson and Sloan Thomas will all be playing their last seasons in Austin this year.

Jacob Hester is considered one of the top big backs in the nation among the class of 2004. He hails from Shreveport, La., and is the Longhorns' lone out-of-state commitment so far. Hester can play either tailback or fullback at 240 pounds. Last season, he rushed for 1,592 yards and 24 touchdowns for pass-happy Evangel Christian Academy.

Up front, Texas has picked up two offensive tackle commitments. Greg Dolan, from Austin, decided to stay home. He is already 6-feet-7 and only 270 pounds with lots of room to grow and get much stronger. Adam Ulatoski, from Southlake, is very similar to Dolan is size and build at 6-6, 280. He comes from a team that passed the ball 457 times last season and he did not allow a sack.

Peter Ullman, a tight end from Round Rock, joined the Texas commitment parade in late March. Overall, he is a very good run blocker and has soft hands for a big man.

Defensively, Bobby Tatum leads the way so far. The senior-to-be from Fort Worth is one of the stateís fastest prospects and is considered one of the top defensive backs from the Big 12 region. Tatum plays free safety and cornerback; he's blessed with great speed and is very strong for a secondary guy. He projects as a cornerback at the next level. Ryan Palmer, from Austin, has also committed to Texas. Palmer is a speedy cornerback who could also return kicks.

Andrew Kelson, from Houston, will join the Fort Worth duo in the Longhorns' secondary. Kelson is a strong safety prospect that has size, speed and athleticism. More importantly, he plays the position with a linebacker mentality.

Nic Redwine is a versatile defensive prospect headed to Texas that could play outside linebacker or defensive end. At 6-3 and 212 pounds, Redwine runs very well and is quick off the edge. He loves to rush the passer and would prefer to play defensive end in college.

Derek Lokely, from Denton, followed his dream and committed to play at Texas. It didnít take the defensive tackle long, as he was the Longhorns' first verbal of the season. Lokely is strong in the weight room and in the classroom with his 400-pound bench press and 1300 SAT.

Why the early success for Texas with the early verbal commitments? There are many factors, but this is Texas and right now the 'Horns are the top dog in a rich and fertile football state. They have had success on the field, produced a ton of high NFL Draft picks recently and they play in the top conference in college football. And let's face it, Mack Brown and company know how to recruit. They identified their early offers and closed quickly. Thatís impressive considering some of the talent they have landed thus far. Usually, prospects like this tend to wait it out rather than commit before Memorial Day.

The Longhornsí battle cry is "Hook íem Horns" and that is certainly what Mack Brown and his staff have done so far.

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