Jake Raulerson, Max Browne lead top NCAA recruits turned recruiters
Several early college football pledges are serving as recruiters for their programs
OT Jake Raulerson has been tenacious reaching out to Texas targets and commits
Max Browne, Shane Morris are also contacting prospects for their future schools
Celina (Texas) offensive tackle Jake Raulerson needed no time to process the news. Once he found out that four-star receiver Ricky Seals-Jones decommitted from Texas last month, Raulerson jumped into action. He estimates that no more than five minutes passed before he sent a text to the No. 1 wideout in the class of 2013 to see what he was thinking.
"As soon as I heard, I texted him and asked what was wrong," Raulerson said.
Seals-Jones shouldn't have been surprised. Ever since Raulerson became the first verbal pledge in Texas' 2013 class on Feb. 3, he has taken it upon himself to sell the program to other top prospects. Though Bruce Chambers and Darrell Wyatt are the official recruiting co-coordinators on Mack Brown's staff, Raulerson deserves at least partial credit for the crop of talent -- 14 commitments, 10 rated four-stars or higher -- that the Longhorns have landed so far.
"I'm just trying to get the best guys to come to Texas," Raulerson said. "I'm trying to be that guy, that leader."
Other schools around the country have heralded recruits filling similar roles: Warren (Mich.) De La Salle quarterback Shane Morris has played a vital role in helping the Wolverines surge to the top of the 2013 recruiting rankings, and Sammamich (Wash.) Skyline quarterback Max Browne has made it his goal to help USC land enough elite prospects to have the nation's No. 1 recruiting class.
Of course, it's not unusual for a quarterback to make the immediate transition from recruit to recruiter. What makes Texas' situation unique is that five-star quarterback commit Tyrone Swoopes has willingly ceded that role to his future teammate.
"I think that Jake Raulerson has that locked up pretty well," Swoopes said.
These recruits-turned-recruiters have different ways of going about their business.
Since Browne's commitment to USC on April 4, the Trojans have secured verbal pledges from five-star safety Su'a Cravens and seven four-star prospects. Browne said the soft-sell approach has worked for him thus far.
"I've kind of hung back a little bit," Browne said. "I don't text as much just because I know how annoying it can get with various media guys and text messages from friends and family constantly. I kind of shoot a text every once in a while. Once they go on a visit to SC, I have full confidence in the coaching staff and the product that USC has to offer. I don't really need to do too much because it's a lot to offer."
Raulerson has been more active in his pursuit of Texas targets. At last week's Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in Atlanta, the two-way player turned some heads with his willingness to work out at both center and defensive end. He has shown a similar tenacity in his approach to recruiting.
"That's totally his personality," Rivals' recruiting analyst Brian Perroni said. "He's been coming to every camp and combine that would have him for three years now. He's always the most talkative one and the most competitive one. It doesn't surprise me at all."
Even a medical setback couldn't slow him down. After getting his tonsils removed and having surgery on a deviated septum earlier this year, Raulerson was recovering at approximately the same time Texas stepped up its pursuit of Seals-Jones. Raulerson took the time to make a sign with the message "Hook 'em, RSJ." He then took a picture of himself holding the sign and put it on his Twitter account.
"It just kind of shows how dedicated he is," Seals-Jones said.
Less than three weeks after Raulerson committed to Texas, Seals-Jones followed suit. And when Seals-Jones reopened his recruitment earlier this month, Raulerson wasted no time taking action.
"I just asked him what was going on, and he said he still liked Texas," Raulerson said. "It's a life decision. It's a big deal. I'm not going to pressure anybody. I was just going to talk to him and tell him we still wanted him here and to encourage him.
"I'm not going to tear anybody down. That's not how you get commitments."
Seals-Jones, who remains uncommitted, isn't the only Texas target to hear the Raulerson pitch.
"If you see a recruit, you see Jake -- every time," said Cypress Woods (Texas) linebacker Deoundrei Davis said. "He's everywhere. ... If you see somebody Texas is looking to recruit, Jake will be right there, right in their ear."
Davis discovered that firsthand while visiting Texas for a Junior Day event in mid-February. As soon as Davis arrived on campus, Raulerson introduced himself.
"I didn't even know who he was, and he knew who I was," said Davis, the No. 6 outside linebacker and No. 46 overall prospect in the 2013 class. "He came up to me, and we clicked like that."
Said Raulerson: "I've always tried to be a leader in everything I do. That's just the way I am. I'm a winner. I don't like losing. ... so I'm going to try my best in everything I do."
And Raulerson isn't merely focusing on uncommitted players. He also keeps tabs with the committed prospects in Texas' current class. Even though Bastrop (Texas) cornerback Antwuan Davis committed to the Longhorns last month, he said that he still hears from Raulerson quite often. They spent plenty of time together at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, and Davis noted that Raulerson joked around with him and even got him interested in some television shows.
"You could say he's like the leader of our class," Antwuan Davis said. "He definitely does the recruiting."
Raulerson's efforts have helped Texas to the nation's No. 8 class thus far, but the Longhorns suffered a setback Friday when Lancaster (Texas) High defensive end Daeshon Hall switched his commitment from Texas to Washington.
Hall's flip likely makes room for one more spot in Texas' recruiting class. And that means it may be time for Raulerson to work the phones again.
For more recruiting coverage, visit the Rivals.com football recruiting hub.
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