Kai Locksley

Charlie Strong wants Jerrod Heard to push Tyrone Swoopes for Texas QB job

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Tyrone Swoopes finished his sophomore campaign about as poorly as the quarterback position can be played. Following a dazzling 28-7 win at Oklahoma State in which he connected on 24-of-33 throws for 305 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers, Swoopes turned the ball over five times in a 48-10 blowout loss to TCU, then closed the year by accounting for 25 total yards in 30 combined pass/rush attempts plus an interception and a fumble in his own end zone in a 31-7 flattening at the hands of Arkansas in the Texas Bowl.

So it’s no surprise that Charlie Strong is all but begging redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard to push Swoopes for the starting job throughout spring ball, which opens Wednesday for the Longhorns.

“Going into spring practice, we’re going to give them equal reps and give them a chance to go compete against each other,” Strong told ESPN.com.

The easiest path for Texas to return to contention for Big 12 and national titles is for Swoopes to simply turn into the quarterback his potential suggests he can be. Swoopes has the strongest arm of any Texas quarterback in recent memory and has regularly beaten the wide receivers and defensive backs in sprints this winter. The problem for Swoopes has been between the ears, and Strong hopes running with the gazelles can boost his confidence. “When I placed him in that group, he didn’t back away at all,” Strong said. “You see a big guy like that winning most of the races, and he’s beating our skill guys. He didn’t back away at all.”

If not Swoopes at quarterback, Texas has no other option than Heard. The Longhorns saw Zach Gentry decommit in favor of Michigan and missed on a late pursuit of Texas A&M signee Kyler Murray. Texas did sign Kai Locksley and Matthew Merrick last month, but the latter won’t enroll this fall and the former is viewed as a future wide receiver.

With that in mind, when Heard saw his competition run with the skill groups, he followed suit. “When Jerrod saw me move him, he automatically moved on his own,” Strong said. “I turned around and looked and he says, ‘I’m going with the skill guys.'”

Just like Strong had in mind.

 

Tomorrow is National Signing Day

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We are now fewer than 24 hours away from the moment high school football players can begin faxing in their National Letter of Intent to the college of their choice. It is an exciting time and is the most significant part of the offseason calendar in college football.

Tomorrow, Wednesday February 4, will be the big day but the past 24 hours have seen plenty of recruiting activity from coast to coast. Last night Texas head coach Charlie Strong managed to flip quarterback Kai Locksley, son of Maryland assistant Mike Locksley, from Florida State to Texas, giving him what may be the quarterback he needs to begin turning things around at Texas. Florida head coach Jim McElwain also won a recruiting battle against the Seminoles and Miami by securing four-star running back Jordan Scarlett. There were also a number of commitments and developments around the country leading up to signing day. It is like the mad rush on Christmas Eve; a lot is happening, but tomorrow is the big day for the biggest headlines.

There will be a full day of live announcements being made on national television, with ESPNU offering some big announcements from tight end Chris Clark (Michigan or UCLA), offensive lineman Pat Allen (Tennessee, Georgia or Oklahoma), defensive end Byron Cowart (Auburn or Florida) and running back SoSo Jamabo (Texas A&M, Texas, UCLA, Notre Dame all considered among the favorites) by 9:00 a.m. eastern.

Power conferences will once again have the upper hand for the most part as the divide between the power conferences and the non-power conferences continues to evolve. Alabama will be a big winner, as will programs like USC, Clemson, Florida State and Tennessee. Ohio State has come on strong of late and Penn State looks to have its best class in years. Keep an eye on Florida and Michigan to see if they can finish with any notable additions, but remember these programs should be more fairly reviewed with what they do in 2016.

Some quick links with a quick glance at the power conference recruiting rankings as of Sunday, top recruits and top recruiting battles to keep an eye on leading up to tomorrow.

ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Some quick closing thoughts as we get ready for signing day. Do not tweet at recruits. These are high school kids making a life decision and they deserve the chance to make what they feel is the best decision for them, not your rooting interests. If a recruit does choose a rival school, it is for a reason or reasons that most likely do not involve the other school cheating.*

Are you ready? Let’s go!

* Your rivals definitely cheated.

 

Charlie Strong gets his next Bridgewater, flips QB from FSU to Texas

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Texas head coach Charlie Strong is doing all he can to rebuild the Texas football program, and now he may have his quarterback to get things going. Kai Locksley switched his commitment from Florida State to Texas, giving Strong a huge recruit just days before National Signing Day.

Locksley, the son of Maryland assistant coach Mike Locksley, is a four-star recruit according to Rivals. The recruiting service labels Locksley an athlete, but he is expected to play quarterback for the Longhorns. Locksley had committed to the Seminoles last July, but with a crowded quarterback position in Florida State’s recruiting class and in Tallahassee, it was likely one quarterback was going to pursue a different route. This turned out to be Locksley, who now will have a chance to step in early and have an impact in Austin as Strong attempts to revive the program.

Strong did tremendous work in building the Louisville program and he had a quarterback more than capable of carrying the load the entire time in Teddy Bridgewater. It would be premature to suggest Locksley will be as good as or better than Bridgewater turned out to be at Louisville. Bridgewater was a special player and was the perfect quarterback to buy into Strong’s philosophies. If Locksley brings the same qualities to Austin, then things should be pretty fun to watch at Texas rather soon.

As for Florida State, the job to replace Jameis Winston loses one potential candidate in 2015 with Locksley going to Texas. Florida State returns Sean Maguire, J.J. Cosentino and John Franklin and will add early enrollee De’Andre Johnson and Class of 2015 commit Deondre Francois (unless he has a change of heart as well).

Florida State (over)loading up on QB recruits in 2015

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It is amazing what a national championship can do to a program’s recruiting production. Just take a look at Florida State, now with three quarterback recruits verbally committed for the Class of 2015. For now.

As of today, Florida State has three four-star quarterbacks lined up in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. That includes in-state prospects Deondre Francois and De’Andre Johnson and Maryland recruit Kai Locksley, the son of Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley who surprised some Thursday afternoon by committing to the Seminoles. Locksley’s verbal came slightly before that of Francois, which makes the recruiting plan a bit interesting for Florida State moving forward. In case you forgot, Florida State is already in a pretty solid position under center with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston, returning for just his sophomore season. Florida State also added four-star quarterback J.J. Cosentino in the most recent recruiting class. Simply put, life is good for head coach Jimbo Fisher as far as quarterbacks are concerned. Francois, Johnson and Locksley are all classified as dual-threat options, while Cosentino is scouted more as a typical pro-style quarterback. Winston, of course, is labeled a dual-threat quarterback as well, so that may give a sense for which direction Fisher would like to go on offense. Hey, it worked last season, but what do you do with all of that talent under center?

The first question to address is the future of Winston in Tallahassee. Winston has stated he intends to play two more seasons for Florida State before deciding on his pro future, which echoed comments made by his father earlier in the offseason. If Winston does stay on campus through the end of the 2015 season, the next question is what goes through the minds of four four-star quarterbacks hoping to be the next starter for Florida State? What are the odds Francois, Johnson, Locksley and Cosentino are all still in Tallahassee? They may not be all that great.

For Fisher, that is a problem he will have to begin sorting through now, although the additions of Francois, Johnson and Locksley will not become official until the next signing day, if they all choose to stay committed to Florida State. By then Fisher will have a better idea of whether or not Winston really will be back in 2015 or if he ends up heading into the NFL. The planning for the position all hinges on Winston’s decision, and Winston’s decision could be an influential one to the future decisions of the Class of 2015 quarterbacks. If Winston does come back, might one of these Class of 2015 quarterbacks re-open his recruiting process? It certainly would not be out of the question, nor would it be against the norm in college football recruiting. Florida State is even in a position where it would not be worth sweating over if one of the quarterbacks did start looking again.

Florida State’s recruiting “problem” is one that every program would love to have. There is never anything wrong with having too much talent in a recruiting class, just ask Alabama.