Wescott Eberts - SB Nation
Checking in on the recruitments of the top five uncommitted players in the state of Texas.
Sealy athlete Ricky Seals-Jones
Favorites: LSU, Texas A&M
The Skinny: Committed to Texas from February until June, Seals-Jones opened up his recruitment at that time before being rather inexplicably dropped by the Longhorns in the middle of September.
Shortly after, the athletic future wide receiver narrowed his list to A&M and LSU, opting not to visit Oregon, which he had expressed some interest in doing after spending some time in the state for The Opening in July.
Seals-Jones has seen both the Aggies and Tigers play in recent weeks, including seeing the teams go head-to-head in College Station, though he has given no indication about which school he is leaning towards, unless one would like to make a great deal out of the fact that he wore Texas A&M gloves during the first half of his comeback game from his dislocated kneecap.
Key Factors: RSJ has said in the past that the offense run at his eventual destination will play a role in his recruitment. Right now, the Texas A&M offense under Johnny Football is putting up points and yards at an incredible rate given the defensive reputation of the SEC. Meanwhile, LSU's offense has improved somewhat since early in the season, but still remains light-years behind A&M in terms of production.
Plano Prestonwood Christian linebacker Mike Mitchell
Favorites: Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M
The Skinny: A Florida native and Gator fan growing up, Mitchell has a great deal of respect for Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, to the extent that a commitment to the Buckeyes seemed possible during the summer.
The athletic linebacker with sub-4.4 speed has visited Oklahoma and Texas A&M in recent weeks, with the Sooners in particular having a big need at linebacker.
The problem for the Aggies is that even after experiencing the electric atmosphere at Kyle Field for the LSU contest, he told 247Sports that Ohio State is "still the team to beat."
Key Factors: There were some rumblings during the spring that Ken Mitchell wanted his son to stay in state for college, but that has died down and the Urban Meyer connection, in addition to the lack of deep ties to the state of Texas, may end up being the clinching factor after Mitchell visits Columbus.
Visits: Mitchell plans to visit Ohio State and Oregon in November.
Dallas Kimball defensive tackle
Favorites: Oklahoma, TCU, Texas A&M, LSU
The Skinny: Manning would already be a Sooner like his older brother DeMarcus Granger, a former defensive tackle at Oklahoma, had Bob Stoops and company not waited until after most other schools to extend an offer.
As a result, Manning's recruitment has gone on much longer than most would have anticipated back in the spring, with visits in the fall to Oklahoma, TCU, and Texas A&M, though the Sooners are still considered the odds-on favorite.
The LSU Tigers were seemingly out of the mix after Manning cancelled a trip down to Baton Rouge at the last minute and it does not appear that the Kimball product made a tentatively-scheduled trip to Lousiana for the Alabama game. The commitment from Nebraska defensive lineman Christian Lacouture on Saturday decreased the need for Manning in the class and may have taken Manning's spot.
Key Factors: Familiarity with the Oklahoma program will weigh heavily for the Sooners when Manning finally gets down to making his decision, but he has also cited trust as a key to his recruitment. He seems to have built a strong relationship with the TCU coaching staff that could end up keeping him close to home if he doesn't end up at Oklahoma.
Visits: Manning still has an official visit left, but does not appear likely to use it.
Timetable: Manning has pushed back his decision date several times now and has backed away from setting a timetable.
Katy Seven Lakes offensive guard Caleb Benenoch
Favorites: Texas, Oklahoma, UCLA
The Skinny: The 6-5, 320-pound Benenoch committed to Michigan State in March, only to see his recruitment heat up through the spring evaluation period and summer camp season.
A Texas offer at a June camp sparked talk in the immediate aftermath that he was a silent commitment to the Longhorns, but time proved that theory wrong, even as Texas maintained the top spot on his list. A longtime Texas fan, Benenoch has been vocal throughout the process about his affinity for the Longhorns.
The Sooners followed with an offer shortly after the Longorns extended their own and made a dent in his recruitment, as the Aggies seemingly did as well before both sides moved on about a month ago. After briefly dropping from his top spot following a trip to College Station for the game against Florida, Benenoch reinserted the Longhorns as his leader after enjoying the atmosphere at the Texas-West Virginia game.
Key Factors: Though many prospects talk about the importance of academics, the actual quality of education provided by a prospective school rarely makes much of a difference in the player's recruitment. Benenoch has backed up his talk by dropping Oklahoma down his list after researching the academics in Norman.
Visits: UCLA, Baylor in December.
Waco lineman Andrew Billings
Favorites: Texas, TCU, Baylor
The Skinny: One of the strongest players in the entire state as the Texas powerlifting champion, Billings is projectable on both sides of the line of scrimmage as a prospect, which has attracted the attention of many programs within the state.
Billings and his family made some trips during the summer to schools like Mississippi State and Indiana, but is now done to the in-state schools mentioned above. Of those schools, hometown Baylor and Texas have both received multiple visits from the 6-1, 315-pounder.
Like many prospects at this point in their recruitments, Billings has said little publicly to tip his hand and does not appear to have any childhood allegiances that will impact his decision.
Key Factors: Billings and his family have maintained that academics will play a large role in his eventual decision, which bodes well for the Longhorns.
Another potential key is that Texas is recruiting the two-way high school star to play along the offensive line, while Baylor and TCU are both recruiting him as a defensive tackle. Billilngs seems open to the possibility of playing offense in college, as evidenced by the fact that Texas is still in the race for his services.
Visits: An unofficial visit to Texas is in the works, but a date has not yet been set.
Timetable: Billings has pushed his decision back several times and currently does not have a timetable to announce his commitment.