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February 3, 2012

Raulerson becomes UT's first commit

On Wednesday, Texas put the finishing touches on a stellar 2012 recruiting class that ranked No. 2 nationally.

Roughly 48 hours later, the Longhorns are off and running with the class of 2013, landing the program's first commitment of the year from one of the nation's hottest prospects.

Texas Longhorn fans, you can officially welcome Jake Raulerson to the family. The Celina standout put in the call to the UT coaches on Friday morning, becoming the first Texas pledge of the 2013 class.

"It's great to finally have it done. I'm beyond belief to have this opportunity. I'm happy to say I'm a Longhorn," Raulerson said. "The stress is gone right now and I'm very, very happy."

Initially, Raulerson thought he would take his time with the recruiting process and not commit early. Like some others, he dreamed of making a nationally-televised announcement close to signing day but after thinking things over, he decided to go with a much more low-key approach.

Instead of waiting, the draw to Texas was too strong to pass up. The 6-5, 250-pound Raulerson has made multiple trips to the UT camps over the last couple years. Two weeks ago, he spent the day in Austin meeting with the Texas coaches, football support staff and academic support staff. When he looked at the big picture, Raulerson said there was a lot that led him to choose the Longhorns.

"The coaching staff is great. They've been recruiting me at both positions (offensive line and defensive line) so there's a very good chance at some point of getting early playing time. Early playing time was not a factor at all but it's always good to have that option," Raulerson said. "They're one of the few that did recruit me at both offensive tackle and defensive end and they're even thinking about tight end. All that together works great.

"I think they're going to win the title in the next few years. They have a great recruiting class right now and they're getting better and I think they're a great program. One of the keys is coach (Bennie) Wylie, the strength and conditioning coach. He's one of the best in the country. Me and him really clicked when we started talking. He's just a guy you want to be with working hard in the weight room. He's working with you so you know he's doing everything he can to make you better. He's a great coach and knows exactly how to make you better. I mean look at the guy. He's huge."

Raulerson already held offers from more than 25 programs when he decided on Texas. Schools like Florida, Stanford, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and UCLA (to name but a few) had extended formal scholarship offers. Raulerson grew up watching Florida and had Stanford high on his list after a January visit to Palo Alto. Those two, along with Texas, Arkansas and Ohio State rounded out Raulerson's final top five.

Now that his decision is made, the blue-chip Raulerson said he'll shut down the recruiting process and he has no plans to rethink his decision.

"I think if I'm committed to a school then that's where I need to be," Raulerson said". I've visited every school you can think of so it's not like I don't have a clear view of every school. I've looked everywhere around the country and I know everything about them."

After his recent trip to Stanford, Raulerson did give the Cardinal strong consideration, but staying close to home was a factor that helped tilt the scales in UT's favor. Raulerson is close with his family and the ability of his parents to jump in a car and make the drive to Austin helped seal the deal for Texas.

"I checked out Stanford just to see how it was and I loved Stanford and everything about it. But the distance … it's California and my parents can't go all the way out there. I definitely want my parents to come out and see me. Four hours to Austin is not that bad," Raulerson said. "Everyone can come and see me. Not everyone can buy a plane ticket to California to watch me. It's a combination of everything. It's not one key thing that drew me to Texas, but I'm from the state of Texas and I love the school."

As the first commitment of the Longhorns' class, Raulerson joins a select few who have committed to Mack Brown and the Longhorns prior to the program's first junior day of the recruiting year. Garrett Gilbert did it in 2009 and Connor Brewer committed early last year. Both players set the tone for successful recruiting classes and the Texas coaches are hoping Raulerson can do the same for the 2013 group. As one of the most talented and most recognizable prospects in the state, Raulerson is a player who is quick to make friends with other recruits and he'll know turn his attention towards helping Texas secure commitments from other blue-chip prospects. Raulerson's first chance will be next weekend when he's in Austin for UT's first junior day.


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