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Big 12 football: What does Texas' hire of Charlie Strong mean for OU, OSU?

Charlie Strong brings a reputation for toughness and defense and rebuilding a program in a basketball-crazed state. What could he do in the Texas recruiting hotbed?
BY GINA MIZELL, Staff Writer, gmizell@opubco.com Published: January 22, 2014
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Things improved when Greg Robinson replaced Manny Diaz after BYU quarterback Taysom Hill obliterated the Longhorns for 259 rushing yards. But Strong should provide an even greater upgrade.

Louisville led the nation in total defense (251.5 yards per game) and rushing defense (80.7 yards per game) in 2013 and ranked in the top 5 in scoring defense (second, 12.2 points per game) and passing defense (fifth, 170.8 yards per game).

“A very aggressive defense,” Strong told the Longhorn Network when asked to describe his style. “Very multiple, comes at you in all kinds of different ways. We're a team that loves to blitz and play a lot of man coverage.”

Strong was Florida's defensive coordinator for the Gators' two national championships under Urban Meyer. Sooner fans will remember his unit limiting Sam Bradford's dynamite 2008 offense to just 14 points in the title game.

Recruiting

Strong's comment that he wants to close the recruiting borders in Texas is, on the surface, outlandish. There's too much talent in the state for it all to wind up in Austin.

But the Texas program essentially recruits itself. The key for Strong's staff will be to identify and evaluate the right players to fit the Longhorns and then develop those guys once they get on campus.

Strong has recent examples of landing a top-notch prospect in Teddy Bridgewater and helping him evolve into a potential No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick. He also turned a three-star quarterback in Marcus Smith into a defensive end who led the nation with 14.5 sacks in 13 games (1.12 average) this past season.

“Let's not get caught up in the five stars, let's not get caught up in the four stars,” Strong said. “Let's get caught up in football players.”

Brown's staff famously whiffed on future stars like Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel. They also didn't offer notable Sooners and Cowboys like Trevor Knight and Justin Gilbert.

OSU (which had 71 players from Texas on its 2013 roster) in particular has made a habit of taking the prospects Texas didn't want and morphing them into players that beat the Longhorns three times in a row in Austin.

What happens if the Longhorn staff improves the way it evaluates?