Jake Raulerson

Tyrone Swoopes

In his first two starts, sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes started off hot, but, since then, he hasn’t had the same success. The Texas offense has only averaged 13.5 points per game in Swoopes’ first four games as a starter. Against Baylor, Swoopes threw two interceptions, failed to throw for at least 150 yards and fumbled the ball on the opposing one-yard line for the second consecutive week. Swoopes has been put in a difficult situation, as he is behind a makeshift offensive line and the running game has struggled. But the Longhorns need him to step up if they expect to beat Oklahoma and win at least six games to become bowl eligible.

Jake Raulerson

For the second consecutive week, redshirt freshman center Jake Raulerson and Swoopes mishandled a snap and cost the Longhorns seven points. As a center, Raulerson’s first responsibility is to ensure the quarterback-center exchange happens without any issues. That hasn’t happened, and, now, Raulerson has to step up and play better. Raulerson, like Swoopes, has been put in a difficult situation. Raulerson, a native of Celina, Texas, was forced into action in replacement of senior center Dominic Espinosa, but the Longhorns’ makeshift offensive line needs him to lead by example, even if he is the youngest of the bunch.

Special teams

Junior kicker Nick Rose made this list last week, but he is not the sole reason special teams have made an appearance again this week. For the second week in a row, Texas had a field goal blocked because the offensive line failed give Rose time and space to get enough height on the ball. The result was harmless against lowly Kansas, but, against Baylor, the outcome was disastrous — the Bears returned the blocked kick for a touchdown. A kick should never get blocked as easily as the past two have, and the protection on special teams needs to step up. Secondly, Texas needs explosive plays from its special teams. Senior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley is a reliable punt returner and can be elusive, but he isn’t an explosive returner. The Longhorns relieved junior wide receiver Marcus Johnson of his kick returning duty in favor of sophomore wide receiver Jacorey Warrick, who may provide the added speed they need in the return game.

The absolute worst case scenario for the Longhorns this season has already happened. Junior quarterback David Ash, yet again, is struggling with concussion symptoms.

So, as Texas head coach Charlie Strong would say, “Next man up.”

QB Tyrone Swoopes

That means Tyrone Swoopes, the 6-foot-4-inch, 243-pound sophomore from Whitewright, is now the Longhorns’ starting quarterback. Naturally, Swoopes has to step up. Injuries and struggles at the quarterback position have plagued Texas since Colt McCoy went down in the 2010 National Championship Game. Swoopes doesn’t need to be McCoy, but he’ll have to be better than he’s been in the few chances he’s had thus far.

“He does not need to put an ‘S’ on [his] chest and a cape on his back and try to do it all by himself,” offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. “It won’t work that way.”

If Swoopes steps up, he may hear chants of “SWOOOOPES.” If he struggles, he will hear “BOOOO” instead.

C Jake Raulerson

The other part of Texas’ injury nightmare last week was the loss of 40-game starter and senior center Dominic Espinosa. Espinosa suffered an ankle fracture, which will likely sideline him for the rest of the season. The torch has now been passed to redshirt freshman Jake Raulerson.

Raulerson, a native of Celina, has big shoes to fill as the center. He will be responsible for keeping the offense organized and calling out reads — an even more difficult task, given the difficulties the line had at times against North Texas.

But the coaching staff believes Raulerson can get the job done.

“They know what they’ve lost in [Dominic],” Watson said. “[Raulerson] has taken a great sense of responsibility, making sure everybody is on the same page. They’re communicating together, [and] they’re in the film room together. [Raulerson] has captained a lot of that stuff. It’s impressive seeing those guys work together.”

Offensive Tackles

The offensive line suffered major losses after week one. Losing Espinosa was a tough pill to swallow, but even worse was the news that tackles Desmond Harrison, who was expected to return to action after being suspended prior to the season, and Kennedy Estelle were suspended for the game against BYU after violating team rules.

The offensive tackles will have to step up as a unit. Marcus Hutchins played left tackle last week but offensive line coach Joe Wickline may choose to rotate guys in. Whoever is lined up on the outside has a tough task in front of them and has to be ready to step up. 

Jake Raulerson out for spring after emergency appendectomy

Wednesday evening, freshman Jake Raulerson underwent an emergency appendectomy. The Celina, Texas native, who splits his time on both offense and defense, will miss the remainder of spring practices. According to Head Althetic Trainer for Football Kenny Boyd, Raulerson is expected to make a full recovery. 

Antwuan Davis, a defensive back from Bastrop High School, is among six defensive recruits currently committed to Texas and one of the most important assets of the 2013 class.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The accolades pile up quickly for Texas’ 2013 defensive recruits.

Of the six who are currently committed to Texas, three of them were U.S. Army All-American Bowl honorees.

One of them made the state semifinals, was first runner-up and won a state title in three varsity seasons.

Another accepted Texas’ grayshirt offer nearly a year ago, turned down full rides from other schools, then finally earned a full scholarship from Texas in December.

For everything they are, however, the 2013 defensive recruits may be remembered more for what they are not.

They are not 6-foot-5, 304 pounds. They do not play defensive tackle. And they are not named A’Shawn Robinson.

Fair or not, Robinson’s decommitment is the story of the 2013 class, and it casts a pall over an otherwise small but promising set of defensive recruits.

This isn’t to say that athlete Chevoski Collins, defensive end Jake Raulerson, outside linebackers Naashon Hughes and Deoundrei Davis, safety Erik Huhn and corner Antwuan Davis lack talent or potential. But without Robinson (who was the most highly-rated member of the class), the task of making people forget about last year’s worst defense in school history becomes that much more difficult.

Ultimately, Robinson’s last decommitment turned what was previously considered to be a strong defensive crop into one which faces more questions than answers.

Take for example the two members of the class who will learn new positions, Collins and Raulerson. Both of them exhibited superior athletic ability in high school, but will take on completely different roles in college.

Collins, a former dual-threat quarterback, will play in the Longhorn secondary. Though there’s a precedent at Texas of converting high school quarterbacks to defensive backs (Adrian Colbert, Quandre Diggs, Adrian Phillips and Josh Turner all saw time under center before they were Longhorns), it’s never guaranteed that a player will thrive at a new position.

The same goes for Raulerson, who will likely move from offensive tackle to the other side of the ball.

“They are trying me out wherever I fit, and they are going to start me out at defensive end and see how I do,” Raulerson said in an April interview with hornsports.com

Meanwhile, though Collins and Raulerson face uphill transitions, they at least enter their first collegiate seasons without questions about their health.

The same cannot be said for two of their classmates, Huhn and Deoundrei Davis, who both tore an ACL in their senior seasons. Neither injury was career-threatening, and rehabilitation is reportedly going smoothly for both of them. Nonetheless, their recoveries will be important for the long-term trajectory of the class.

The recruit most likely to see the field in his first year besides Deoundrei Davis is Antwuan Davis, who developed into one of the best corner prospects in the country this year. Antwuan Davis showcased his ability in the AAA Bowl, where he blocked a field goal and broke up a pass in the end zone.

“I think Antwuan Davis is a guy that can push for playing time at nickel back or safety,” rivals.com’s national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said.

Without Robinson, Antwuan Davis becomes the most heralded recruit of the class, a responsibility for which he seems ready.

“I don’t know if I’ll start right away or anything, but I know that I’ll be ready to start if [the coaches] ask me to,” Antwuan Davis told The Daily Texan in September.

Whether that opportunity comes this year or later, it will be here soon.

When it comes, the Texas class of 2013 will have a chance to remind the college football world who it is.

More importantly, the Longhorns will try to make it forget who they are not.

Published on February 6, 2013 as "Robinson leaves shadow". 

Illustrations by Colin Zelinski.

At the start of the 2013 recruiting cycle, Mack Brown and company knew they needed a ton of help in this class. And they got it. Almost.

1,810 pounds will have to do.

That’s the combined weight of the six 2013 linemen who have verbally committed to Texas: defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, defensive end Jake Raulerson, center Darius James, offensive tackle Kent Perkins, offensive tackle Desmond Harrison and guard Rami Hammad.

Those six will throw their weight around with the other 14 offensive lineman and 15 defensive linemen on scholarship for the 2013 season.

Consequently, it may be a while before some members of the incoming class get the chance to carry their share of the load. Even though Hammad, Robinson, James, Perkins and Raulerson are all listed by rivals.com as the best prospects in Texas at their respective positions, their playing time could be scarce.

The Texas lines are packed with more experienced commodities (the only starter Texas will lose from either line is defensive end Alex Okafor), and acclimating the incoming freshmen to the speed of the college game will take time. Hammad, James, and Perkins especially are early candidates for redshirts.    

Harrison, however, is a notable exception. A junior college transfer, Harrison has only two years of eligibility left and is under pressure to make an immediate impact. Although he may not be a starter from Day One (like fellow junior college transfer Donald Hawkins), Harrison should provide valuable depth at both tackle positions.

Although Harrison’s niche is already well established, the same cannot be said for the class’ two defensive linemen, Robinson and Raulerson.

Robinson could be the cream of the crop in their class if he indeed makes it to Austin. Even though he has been committed to Texas since Feb. 16 of last year, Robinson has taken official visits to Southern California, Florida State and as of last weekend, Alabama.

If he signs with Texas on Feb. 6, he has the talent to find playing time in a crowded Longhorn defensive front. Rated by rivals.com as the best prospect in Texas, Robinson could cause just as much disruption as Malcolm Brown or Brandon Moore did in their first years at Texas.

Alternatively, Raulerson has been committed to Texas longer than any other member of the 2013 class. He is already taking classes at UT and will participate in Spring Practice. Unlike Robinson, Raulerson’s future as a Longhorn is secure; what role he will play is murkier.

Raulerson is listed by Texas as a defensive end, but he played offensive tackle throughout high school. At 6 feet 5 inches and 262 pounds, Raulerson would need to put on considerable weight to be effective at that position at this level.

As an early enrollee, Raulerson will have a head start on learning the system as well as access to Texas’ strength and conditioning program. Even so, with all the returning talent on the defensive line, Raulerson will have to make quite an impression to avoid a redshirt position in his first season.

Although it’s always difficult to project a recruit’s impact, this is particularly true with linemen. Discerning how a recruit will develop both physically and mentally is a tricky business.

Still, the potential for this group to be a force in the Texas trenches is real. And while that opportunity may still be a few years off, the Longhorns should be optimistic about the big things coming to Austin.

Early enrollees arrive on campus

The UT football team officially gained four new members this week, as early enrollees made their way to the 40 Acres. The athletic department issued a statement on Sunday that Jake Raulerson, Tyrone Swoopes, Deoundrei Davis, and Geoff Swaim had all enrolled for the spring semester as the first members of the 2013 recruiting class.

Of the bunch, Celina athlete Jake Raulerson has perhaps the most ambiguous football future. At 6-foot-5, 262-pounds, Raulerson played offensive tackle in high school, but is listed by mackbrown-texasfootball.com as an outside linebacker/defensive end. Playing defense would probably be Raulerson’s most direct path to immediate playing time, as concerns about his size and ability to gain weight could hinder his development as a Division 1 offensive lineman. Wherever he plays though, Raulerson’s greatest assets may be his intangibles. Coaches and scouting services rave about his leadership ability, and he was named as one of the West’s team captains at the U.S. Army All American Bowl.

Another AAA Bowl honoree, Whitewright dual-threat quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, comes to Austin as a bit of an enigma. Though some have compared him to Vince Young in terms of physical stature and ability, Swoopes will have to improve his throwing motion in order to reach the heights that Young did while at Texas. In all likelihood, Swoopes will redshirt for the 2013 season, then compete with Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet for the starting job in 2014. Swoopes has not yet arrived in Austin, but should be here by Thursday, according to his Twitter account.

Cypress Woods’ Deoundrei Davis had earned the right to join Raulerson and Swoopes at the AAA Bowl, but those plans were derailed by injury. Davis tore his ACL in an October 5 game against Cypress Springs. Though the outside linebacker is expected to make a full recovery, his availability for spring practice is in doubt. How fast Davis heals will play a large role in deciding how much of an impact he can make in an already crowded Texas linebacker corps.

The early enrollee expected to make the most immediate impact, however, is one of the class’ least heralded. Geoff Swaim played most recently at Butte Community College in Oroville, CA. With only two years of eligibility left, Swaim will be expected to perform right away. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end is known mostly for his blocking ability, and functioned primarily as an H-back at Butte. After the December decommitment of Durham Smythe (the pass-catching tight end from Belton), however, Swaim may also play a more significant role in the passing attack than was previously intended by the coaching staff.

It turns out there was no need to be concerned after Texas’ first junior day. Ten scholarships were offered Feb. 12, but no commits were added.

Now, just over two weeks later, the team boasts 11 commits. Not only are they commits, but they are standout players — especially on offense. For a team that has struggled offensively for the past two seasons, the class of 2013 could be exactly what is needed to break through.

Although Mack Brown and the Longhorns had to wait patiently for commitments the first junior day, that was not the case after the second one. Cy Woods linebacker Deoundrei Davis committed on Sunday morning, just hours after receiving his offer, and became the seventh commit for this class. Davis is easily one of the state’s top linebackers.
Cy Falls’ Jacorey Warrick followed Davis by committing Sunday afternoon, and Lancaster defensive end Daeshon Hall became Texas’ ninth commit and third of the day. Not too shabby.

ESPNU Watch List member Kent Perkins was supposed to attend the team’s first junior day. He could not attend because of a family emergency. But the 6-foot-5, 295-pound offensive tackle did not wait long to commit and pledged to become a Longhorn on Monday.

Although Texas received its 11th commit of the class of 2013, it comes with a catch. Harker Heights’ Naashon Hughes was not offered a scholarship. The only linebacker in the class was Davis. But coaches are attempting to get him a scholarship offer before next February. If that doesn’t happen, he agreed to take a grayshirt.

He will be the class’ fifth defensive commit and joins Davis, Jake Raulerson (Celina, Texas/Celina), A’Shawn Robinson (Fort Worth, Texas/Arlington Heights) and Daeshon Hall (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster).

Hughes, brother of freshman tackle Camrhon Hughes, would delay his enrollment and can join the program in January 2014. His commitment gave the Longhorns five commitments in three days.

Hughes’ situation shows how small this recruiting class is, and the selectivity of the coaches this time around. But as time goes on, Texas will continue to get more recruits. February is always a vital month for Texas recruiting. Brown likes to nab top commits — especially Texas players — early. Although the number of players that have committed at this point is not as high as usual, this class is smaller than in the past.

In an interview with Horns Nation, Texas’ first commit Raulerson, expressed his excitement for this class.

“It is one of the best in the country,” Raulerson said. “It’s a great class so far. I am really excited about it. I am really liking the guys that we have brought in. I’m excited to see what happens in the next couple of years.”

Although Texas fans were throwing the towel in for this recruiting class after the first junior day did not result in numerous recruits, February has become a successful month in recruiting for the class of 2013.

Printed on Thursday, March 1, 2012 as: Second junior day yields commitments from five

Mack Brown and his staff are known for nabbing commitments early in the recruiting process. Sunday was Texas’ first junior day of 2013.

The day ended with no commitments.

Although scholarships were offered to 10 of the 12 prospects, none accepted — yet. Jake Raulerson remains Texas’ only commitment. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound tackle also reported offers from Alabama, Auburn and Oklahoma.

Should Texas be concerned?

The Longhorns have had four consecutive top five finishes in the ESPNU class rankings — with getting commitments early in the process being a big part of its success. With Jake Raulerson’s commitment, one would expect that other players would follow suit.

Not this Sunday.

Two years ago, 13 members of the Longhorns’ 2011 class committed within 48 hours of the first junior day.

It is hard to pinpoint what the issue is. Texas’ struggles over the past two seasons are an obvious potential reason for the lack of immediate response.

In addition, the coaching staff has gone through a lot of changes since the 5-7 2010 season. Changes in staff could mean a change in philosophy when it comes to recruiting. These changes could take time and it is only February. The class of 2012 is already different than what Texas fans would expect with two junior college transfers and an out of state quarterback, Connor Brewer.

The lack of commitments could have something to do with other schools in the area revamping their recruiting. With Texas A&M heading to the SEC, the staff has been busy getting commitments. Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin recently got a commitment from defensive tackle Kerrick Huggins and currently have six members in their 2013 class.

Texas offered scholarships to tight end Durham Smythe, defensive back/running back Kyle Hicks, wide receiver Ra’Shaad Samples, quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, running back Dontre Wilson, Dallas Jesuit receiver Ricky Seals-Jones, offensive lineman Darius James, offensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson and defensive tackle Justin Manning.

Smythe also attended junior days at Baylor and TCU with trips scheduled for A&M and Stanford.

The recruiting process has become a much longer, more intense process over the past few years. Athletes are taking more visits and changing their minds more and more often. Look at how Texas acquired Torshiro Davis. He had a verbal pledge with LSU for about a year until signing day when he decided to go to Texas.

The recruiting process is fickle. But Texas’ lack of commitments will raise concerns about how strong the class of 2013 will be. Early signing has worked for Brown for many years and this change of pace could raise concerns. But, it is only February. It is not time to panic. Yet.

Printed on, Tuesday February 14, 2012 as: Normally prolific, first Junior Day nets no commitments despite many offers

Whiteright quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is being courted by a number of top football programs. Swoopes has drawn comparisons to former UT quarterback, Vince Young. (Photo courtesy of Buzz Photos)

As one recruiting cycle for the class of 2012 is starting to come to an end, the process for the class of 2013 is about to hit full-stride. Every February, colleges around the nation invite their respective state’s top high school juniors to tour the campus and football facilities and also gives them an opportunity to meet with current players and coaches. In the fast-paced world of college football recruiting, junior days are indispensable to a team’s coaching staff. They allow programs to form a bond with a player long before other schools and can influence a prospective target’s college choice immensely.

Jason Howell of Orangebloods.com confirmed that two standout juniors will have attended the Longhorns’ junior day being held Feb. 12. The first is dual-threat quarterback from 2A Whitewright, Tyrone Swoopes, who is listed at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds and runs a 4.59 second 40-yard dash. Bartender! I’ll take a Vince Young, minus the aging please. Calling him the next Vince may be a stretch at this stage, but the potential, especially with such a young player, can easily be developed.

Swoopes is already being pursued by teams like Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Oregon, Stanford — you get the point, right? He’s really, really good. So good that he’s already received six DI scholarship offers. Odds are he’ll get another offer from Mack Brown come Feb. 12, as well.

He could even elect to make a verbal commitment to Texas during his time on the 40 Acres. Before Texas fans get too excited, more than once players have wavered on early verbal commitments and entertained other offers as they prepare to graduate. But for the same reason that juniors making verbal pledges to a university at such events is something to be wary of, it could also be a harbinger for a good relationship with a recruit. If a program can get to a player early enough and make them feel at home, both on and off the field, then the chances of that prospect signing rises exponentially.

The other junior that Texas is keeping a close eye on is Jake Raulerson. Raulerson checks in at 6-foot-5, 290 pounds and also has a few scholarship offers of his own — 20 to be exact. Hailing from Celina, he’s regarded as one of the top offensive and defensive lineman prospects in the nation, and he’s happy playing either position. Raulerson has already become one of the most sought after lineman in the country, and the Longhorns would love to snag him if at all possible.

They’re certainly on the right track. According to Orangebloods.com, Raulerson is scheduled for an unofficial visit to Austin on Jan. 27 and then he will also be in town in early February for junior day. The Longhorns’ junior day is the only one Raulerson will be attending. As of now, it seems as if Texas is high on his list of potential choices, and there’s always a possibility he could make a commitment while on campus.

These two talented athletes will join 16 others on junior day and any number of them could make commitments, which would bode well for Texas’ 2013 recruiting class. There’s still tons of time until these guys sign, but bringing in two prospects like Swoopes and Raulerson could be a sign of good things to come for the Longhorns.

Look for more recruiting news on our “Keeping Score” blog.

Printed on Thursday, January 19, 2012 as: QB Swoopes among Horns' focus for 2013