This is a pretty big commitment for head coach Tommy Tuberville and DL coach Robert Prunty as OL/DL Michael Starts committed to Texas Tech yesterday. Right now, the class is relatively small as Starts is only the 8th commitment for the Red Raiders, but I think that the end of the day, this is going to be a relatively small, but highly rated class.
Starts' commitment was down to four universities, Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech as those were the four hats in front of him during his press conference yesterday. You could also certainly throw in Texas A&M into the mix as well. In any event there seems to be quite a bit of discussion in that UT only offered Starts as an offensive lineman and that this is the reason why Starts didn't chose UT. I said it yesterday and I'll say it again, if a staff tells a player that they would give him the opportunity to play both positions and see where he best fits and what is in the player's best interest, what's wrong with that? I still don't understand why you just have to offer at one position or why its more honorable to just offer a player at one position.
Maybe my thinking is a bit off, but I keep thinking that you never really know where a player might eventually end up until you get a player on campus and in the weight room to figure out where he might play. I guess I don't have a problem with Tuberville and Prunty telling Starts that they would give him the opportunity to play on the defense (I say that because I think that they will give him a legitimate opportunity), but if they decide that Starts is a gifted offensive lineman, I don't think that Starts is going to have a huge problem with it. Texas Tech fans can relate to the idea that finding talented offensive or defensive linemen isn't the easiest thing to find. Big, strong and athletic linemen can translate to either side of the line.
The Player Speaks: Lots of things from Starts this morning. Starts talked with RRS.com's Aaron Dickens as Starts said that Prunty focused on grades:
"Whenever we talked, he wasn't talking to me about football," Starts said. "He was talking to me about grades and if I do come to Tech, my grades are going to be the main deal. I thought that was big because after football, what else can you do?"
According to Starts, the opportunity to play defensive end was also a big plus in the Red Raiders' favor. Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas recruited him as an offensive tackle, while Texas A&M and Tech wanted him on defense.
"I love to play defense and, hopefully, this coming season I get to play some defense like I did last year," Starts said. "I think it's a big step for me and I think I made a great decision."
LAJ's Don Williams talked with Starts' head coach who said that Texas Tech was the first to offer Starts who talked about how Prunty recruited Starts:
"I really believe that when coach Prunty came, first and foremost he’s a heck of a recruiter and he’s a real person," Williams said. "He didn’t tell him, ‘You’re going to be great at this; you’re going to be great at that.’ He told him, ‘You’re going to concentrate on academics.’ He knew how many days he missed in school. He knew if he was lagging in a class. He also talked about all his weaknesses in addition to his strengths.
"That not only won his dad over, but won me over. He impressed them not only as a heck of a recruiter but as a person."
More after the jump.
Aside: BON's GhostofBigRoy wonders if Starts' commitment, one that is portrayed as one that was down between Texas Tech and UT, is one where Texas Tech can start competing for the same talent that Texas is recruiting:
However, that take isn't meant to minimize the importance of Tuberville landing such a high-profile recruit. After all, Tech did beat out other in-state schools like Baylor and Texas A&M for Starts, as well as some programs that recruit well nationally, like USC and Auburn. And getting Starts to buy into what Tuberville is selling in building a defense is no insignificant accomplishment.
The point here is merely that until Texas Tech can compete on a consistent basis for players like Steve Edmond or Malcom Brown -- when both schools are recruiting the prospect at the same position -- the commitment of Starts doesn't represent a major battle won against Texas or a major reversal in the narrative. Merely that Tuberville was willing to provide Starts with an opportunity that the Texas coaches could not as a result of the talent void at tackle.
I don't keep up with recruiting enough to know how many recruiting battles Texas Tech is winning against Texas. For me, the key here is that Texas Tech won this one. Obviously, Texas Tech isn't going to win any and all recruiting battles against UT, I don't think we're that naive, but you have to win one for there to even be a discussion.
I'd also say that for those that follow Texas Tech football closely the name "Robert Prunty" means something. He's the guy that you've never heard of that is bringing in an incredible amount of talent to Texas Tech and right now, this is looking as perhaps the best hire that Tuberville made last January. I'd also guess that if you're a fan of other teams, you dismiss the commitments of guys like Leon Mackey, Delvon Simmons, Branden Jackson and Desimon Green. Legitimate 4-star players (depending on the scouting service) that just happen to not be from Texas. Just because Texas Tech isn't going head-to-head with UT or TAMU or OU or OSU to get players doesn't mean that Texas Tech is losing the recruiting war. I think Texas Tech is making up ground on the recruiting front.
The Video: There is only one video of Starts playing and we'll get to that in a minute, but did want to point out that KAMC had video of Starts' commitment. You have to go check out the tiny screen. There was some video from ESPN and a Nike camp in Ft. Worth in April of 2011 and the very little bit of Starts' film begins at the 2:30 mark.
Scouting Report: In the above-linked ESPN article, Starts receives rave reviews:
Superstar -- Michael Starts, OT, La Vega (Waco, Texas)
Starts was the only OL in attendance with multiple offers (aside from Texas Commit Curtis Riser, who did not participate), and was very impressive all day. He certainly looks the part, standing 6-foot-4 and weighing a rock solid 281 pounds. Starts was easily the most talented OL in attendance. He’s big, strong and athletic and had great effort through all the SPARQ and position drills. Starts is very raw. He seemed to be learning a lot, which only makes him a more desirable prospect as his potential is through the roof. He looked good during one-on-ones, with an athletic pass set and a solid punch. He also displayed fantastic balance. He was easily the closest to being able to block DL MVP Hassan Ridgeway, and probably would have come home with the MVP award had he taken more reps.
And from Starts' Scout profile:
An amazing physical specimen in addition to being a player with feet and explosion good enough to play on the offensive or defensive line in college. He plays offensive tackle, but could easily slide in to play guard. He pulls well and is able to get down field to block on the second level. He is good in pass protection and super strong when making first contact. He has a wide base and will only be better as he adds weight with maturity.
From what very little that I saw Starts looks really fit for a guy his size. Adding 20 more pounds won't be a problem. I also really like his footwork, as mentioned above has pretty darned good footwork. I wish I could offer more, but without some more film, this is all I've got.
[Note by Seth C, 06/16/11 6:22 AM CDT ] I found a relatively recent article from Dave Campbell's Greg Tepper about the type of player that Starts is:
Let’s start with Starts. At 6-4 and 282 pounds, the most notable thing about Starts is how well he moves. He’s got terrific mobility for a player his size. At the 3A level, Starts can physically dominate most of the defensive ends he faces. He needs some work on his technique, but Starts has all of the physical tools to be a standout on the Red Raiders’ offensive line for years.
That said, there might be a bit of a catch. Starts plays both ways at La Vega, as he also starts on the defensive line. There are reports that Starts is set on playing defense in college, and some schools that were after him – namely Texas, Texas A&M and Auburn – weren’t willing to promise that he’d be able to compete for a defensive spot. Tommy Tuberville’s staff at Texas Tech reportedly did, which may have become one of the deciding factors. Now, do not get me wrong: I am of the opinion that Starts would be a good, potentially very good, defensive lineman. But I am also of the opinion that Starts would be a very good, potentially great, offensive lineman. I would bet that while Tech offered Starts an opportunity to compete for a spot on the defensive line, Tommy Tuberville will at some point in the future have a discussion with Starts about where he can do the most good.
Regardless of all of that, Starts is a terrific get for Tommy Tuberville and Texas Tech. The circumstances aren’t necessarily created equal, but Texas Tech beat out Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Alabama, USC and many others for the services of Starts, and that cannot be understated.
Michael, welcome to Texas Tech and Git Your Guns Up!
The 2012 Class: Still waiting on Rivals grades.