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March 5, 2012
Longhorns get No. 12 and it's a doozy
Mack Brown and the entire Texas Longhorn coaching staff are showing a take-no-prisoners mentality as they continue to put together one of the nation's top 2013 recruiting classes.
Last week, Texas hit big with three Sunday commitments following their second junior day. On Monday and Tuesday, UT added two more pledges from Lake Highlands offensive lineman Kent Perkins and Harker Heights outside linebacker Naashon Hughes. Then this morning, Texas struck again when Harker Heights offensive lineman Darius James made the call to be a Longhorn.
James had talked about taking a few more unofficial visits before deciding. Trips to Oklahoma and LSU were in the works, but instead the 6-5, 325-pound James decided to head to Austin on Monday and tell the Longhorn staff he was ready to pledge his commitment.
"It was more of a gut feeling. I just felt like I needed to do it," James said. "I actually decided sometime last week. We set it up this morning. Our coaches were going to come down and watch practice. I just came with them and pulled the trigger.
The timing of James' announcement came as a little bit of a surprise with the blue-chip lineman stating recently that he'd wait things out a bit before making a decision. In fact, the Texas coaches didn't even know James was coming to Austin today until James and his coaches were on their way.
"He told us last week he was basically ready," Harker Heights head coach Mike Mullins said. "We waited until today to tell them we were coming to practice. Somehow he was in the back seat with us (Mullins and Harker Heights OL coach Robert Hagey)."
When he got to campus, James met with UT offensive line coach Stacy Searels. Shortly after, he was officially on board as the Longhorns' 12th commitment of the class.
"I told (Searels) I came down to talk to you about where I wanted to go to school. Then we went into Mack Brown's office and made it official. They were ecstatic, just like I was."
A four-star prospect, James has built a good relationship with the Texas coaches over the last year, and he said there's been a feeling of comfort at UT that helped tip the scales in the Longhorns' favor.
"It's more of a homey feeling. I love everything about Texas. There is no downfall to it. I just love Texas," James said. "It's a big relief. Now I get to focus on my grades more because I don't have people calling me while I'm doing homework and things like that. It should be really good."
Over the last few years, James has grown very familiar with the Longhorn program. Texas, along with Baylor and Oklahoma, has been at the top of his list since he began receiving college interest as a sophomore at Harker Heights. It certainly did not hurt that he was able to gain more insight into the program when former Harker Heights offensive linemate Camrhon Hughes enrolled at Texas in January as a member of the Longhorn's 2012 recruiting class.
Early on, it was thought that James would be one of the first 2013 prospects offered by Texas, and when he attend the Longhorn junior day on February 12, Texas wasted little time letting him know he was a wanted man.
James chose the Longhorns over offers from Baylor, LSU, Mississippi St., Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Tulsa. He is one of the most highly sought recruits in the country and is currently ranked No. 92 in the Rivals100.
He has been a standout offensive tackle, center, defensive tackle, and defensive end for coach Mullins' Harker Heights squad. He has been pursued for his talents on offense and defense by schools across the country but is expected to line up on offense as a Longhorn.
"First of all, he's an outstanding young man," Mullins said. "And he's a great teammate. Having said all that, he's an outstanding football player. With all of those things combined, it just makes him a special man to coach. We're happy for him making this decision. I think he really liked the situation and he just felt comfortable."
James is the twelfth member of the Longhorn's 2013 recruiting class, and is the seventh member of the current Rivals100 to commit to the Texas Longhorns.
"It's a firm commitment," Mullins said. "He feels very good about it and he's proud to be a Longhorn."