Written by Corbett Smith
When it comes to picking a school, recruits weigh many factors but depth is not a major consideration
Arlington Martin running back Kyle Hicks wasn’t sweating it when he initially committed to Texas. The eventual TCU pledge wasn’t in the habit of scouring the depth charts of the colleges recruiting him — not that it was needed at UT, with a veritable who’s who of Texas high school backs already established in Austin, including Aledo’s Johnathan Gray and Cibolo Steele’s Malcolm Brown.
“I knew they had really great running backs, but I wasn’t really looking at it too much,” Hicks said. “I’d get better competing against them, getting better every day.”
High school coaches and recruits said that’s not uncommon. Most players, they said, concern themselves with how well they mesh at the school and with the coaching staff. And, as to be expected from highly competitive athletes, players expect their work ethic and talent will eventually win the day.
Talented athletes such as Hicks, Martin coach Bob Wager said, are “supremely confident” in their abilities. If a player’s good enough — such as former Martin star and TCU freshman Devonte Fields — he’ll find the field. Though not initially pegged to be a starter in 2012, Fields ended as the Big 12 defensive player of the year.
“Kyle and I had that conversation when he committed to Texas,” Wager said. “I told him, when I looked at that position, those were some pretty big names there … and his immediate response without hesitation was, ‘No matter where I go, they are going to have great players.’ He was ready to go in and do anything to help his team.”
When Hicks decommitted from the Longhorns, switching to TCU, the reflective response from the recruiting world was that he was doing so because of the logjam at running back. Hicks, however, said his choice was because he wanted to play close to home and join Fields at TCU.
“In the end, it was about staying close to the people that care about you,” Hicks said. “[Coaches at TCU] didn’t say anything about me being the guy or beating anybody out. Everywhere I go, there’s probably going to be someone ahead of me. If I want to get to the top, I still have to work as if I’m at the bottom.”
Cedar Hill coach Joey McGuire said that one place where recruits might peek at the eventual competition is by looking at their own signing class.
One of Cedar Hill’s prized recruits, wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo, backed away from a commitment to Texas A&M because the Aggies had eight potential receivers pledged at the time. Adeboyejo is expected to sign with Mississippi on Wednesday.
“Had to do what’s best for me,” Adeboyejo said. “I love A&M man.”
McGuire said he believed that an opposing school recruiting Adeboyejo “got into his ear,” because “it’s usually not the kid that’s thinking that.
“I think maybe at running back, but especially at quarterback, it’s a legitimate deal to look on that depth chart and see where you stand — because coaches are looking for a guy at those positions,” McGuire said. “At receiver, if there’s only three guys this year, it means they signed six last year.”
Of all the recruits in the state, Southlake Carroll quarterback Kenny Hill might have had the toughest decision, based on who would be ahead of him in college.
When he committed to the Aggies in April, Johnny Manziel was just a redshirt freshman from Kerrville Tivy in a four-way battle for the starting quarterback job. When Hill signs Wednesday, Manziel is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner with three more years of eligibility and a bevy of talented backups waiting.
Even that, in the end, didn’t matter.
Hill — who plans on playing football and baseball in college — ended weeks of speculation last weekend, sticking with his original pledge over serious suitors Baylor and Kansas State.
“Whenever he was up for the Heisman, and then won it, I kind of knew that I had to open things back up,” Hill said of Manziel. “In the end, I had to take the situation that was the best opportunity for me.”
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN