If you haven’t been following recruiting much (and I don’t blame you if you haven’t), Tom Herman and the Longhorns have some pretty good momentum going.
But it’s not necessarily whom he’s getting to commit to his program that’s the surprise. Rather, it’s the question of how in the world is he getting them?
Out of the seven current commitments for the 2018 class, only three of them are from the state of Texas. One is from Florida, one from California and two are from Oklahoma. And those two players from Oklahoma are in the top three in overall rankings for the state right now.
What Herman is doing on the recruiting trail is raising some eyebrows, especially north of the Red River in Norman, Oklahoma.
In a span of about two weeks recently, Herman gained the following commitments:
- Quarterback Casey Thompson – one of the top quarterbacks in the state of Oklahoma. His dad is an OU legacy and his brother attended OU for a short time recently. How Herman got a commitment from him is beyond me.
- Quarterback Cameron Rising – from California and is one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the country. Initially committed to OU, he flipped his commitment to Texas a couple weeks ago.
- Defensive End Ron Tatum – another top prospect in the state of Oklahoma, who was considering OU as well.
Those are three guys that Texas basically stole from OU. There’s still a long way between now and national signing day, but the fact that Herman is even in the discussion with these guys is impressive.
So, what exactly is Herman selling?
His inherited program is coming off three straight losing seasons, they don’t produce many NFL draft picks anymore, the facilities are outdated and the team hasn’t won anything significant in about eight years.
There’s only one thing Herman can be selling: a vision.
He has been explaining his vision prominently to the media, in interviews and on social media. I can only imagine how intensely he is selling his vision to recruits.
Just take a look at the lockers he’s installing this offseason. Each is valued at over $10,000 each and has a 43″ TV screen above each one to show the player’s name and highlights. If Herman wants to get the attention of 17- and 18-year-old recruits, he’s done it with the lockers.
But what about the current players?
He’s been able to sell them his vision by bringing in former players, coaches, the Undertaker and anyone else he can think of just to get the vision through their heads. In a way, he’s had to recruit the players already on campus again.
Selling his vision will go a long way this offseason, but if the wins don’t follow this fall, then it will be all for nothing. The luster of the new lockers and revamped facilities will quickly fade if a subpar season happens.
The challenge Herman has is not allowing entitlement into the locker room. He’s also doing his best to give his players the confidence they need to succeed. But as we’ve seen over the last few years, he may be working with damaged goods. Confidence can quickly fade away when things go wrong on the field.
But if the Longhorns believe in Herman’s vision and look like a confident team on the field this year, then he’ll be able to sell reality, rather than a vision, based on results for years to come.