When Stacy Searels first set foot on the field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, he was in awe.
“What a beautiful place,” Searels thought. “Tommy Nobis played here.”
Searels, Georgia’s offensive line coach at the time, eventually took the same position at Texas. An All-American offensive lineman at Auburn, Searels became one of the six new coaches Mack Brown hired last January. Another one of them, co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, had a similar situation when he was introduced to the Longhorns’ 88 year-old football stadium.
“If you go into the stadium, you’re going to take the job, so be careful down there,” Texas head coach Mack Brown warned Harsin. “He said, ‘I’m going to be fine. I’ve been in a lot of stadiums.’ So he walks in and his kids start crying. And I said, ‘We are in.’”
The Longhorns signed one of the nation’s best recruiting classes Wednesday and have assistants like Harsin and Searels to thank. While Harsin, Searels, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt and defensive tackles coach Bo Davis had not been in Austin for a month before last year’s Signing Day, they were instrumental in assembling one of the country’s finest recruiting class.
All but one of 23 members of Texas’ recruiting class of 2011 committed to play for the Longhorns before they went 5-7 and lost two-thirds of their coaching staff. But despite the fact Brown was hiring coaches in the weeks leading up to Signing Day a year ago, he signed all of the players that made verbal commitments to Texas except Chandler, Ariz. native and five-star offensive tackle Christian Westerman.
“We all fought our guts out to keep those 22 kids,” Brown said. “I thought last year’s [recruiting class] was maybe the most satisfying we’ve ever had with all the problems we had.”
The Longhorns went on to play 17 true freshmen last season, more than any team in the nation, including Big 12 Freshman of the Year defensive back Quandre Diggs and Holiday Bowl MVP quarterback David Ash. Rookie running backs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron combined to rush for more than 1,200 yards despite each missing three games due to injuries. Freshman left tackle Josh Cochran took over midseason for Tray Allen, one of the country’s top offensive tackle prospects five years ago.
“Stacy started a lot of freshmen at Georgia,” Brown said. “He doesn’t care. He’s going to play the guys that are passionate enough, in tuned and ready to play every day at practice. He’s a very demanding coach. But I just think that he’s really good at what he does.”
With Texas not having to piece its coaching staff back together, the Longhorns used its newfound stability to reel in a superb recruiting class this year. Brown’s assistants, especially Searels and Davis, were crucial to picking up prospects such as Torshiro Davis, once committed to LSU, but who signed with Texas. The four-star linebacker from Shreveport had known Bo Davis since his days coaching at Alabama.
Searels also helped the Longhorns steal away a recruit from the SEC when Van High School linebacker Dalton Santos, who Searels had his eye on since he was at Georgia, committed. Brown said that Searels nabbed all of the offensive linemen he was targeting, including junior college transfer Donald Hawkins. Davis also attracted a junior college player to Texas in 6-foot-6-inch, 335-pound defensive tackle Brandon Moore.
“I’m really impressed with Stacy and Bo and what they’re doing for our line of scrimmage,” Brown said.
“Players like to play for an offensive line coach that played in the NFL, that was an All-American, and that blocked for Bo Jackson. They like to play for a defensive line coach that beat us in the national title game two seasons ago at Alabama.”
After helping the Longhorns sign yet another outstanding recruiting class, Davis has an excellent chance to be part of a national title-winning team at Texas.