How the tumultuous college football coaching carousel impacted Dallas-area rookies


For Landon Hullaby, all about Oregon clicked.

“It was just the perfect situation,” said Hullaby, a senior at Mansfield Timberview.

Hullaby enlisted in Oregon on February 20. He loved the Zoom calls with the coaching staff, including head coach Mario Cristobal. The current Oregon players have shown their love for him. His official visit in June confirmed his commitment. Eugene was the place to be.

It was, as Hullaby said, a perfect situation. Until it doesn’t.

Hullaby’s story – which has now prompted him to seek a new home after Cristobal left Oregon for Miami on Monday – isn’t necessarily unique. Not after the unusually loud carousel of college football coaches, at least. There have already been 28 coaching changes at the FBS level, with playoff bowl games remaining, up from 18 last season.

High school football players in the highly recruited area of ​​D-FW felt the impact. Hullaby is one example – a player who is now reducing his options on the eve of the first national signing day. For others, decisions were made on whether or not to follow a coach to a new school. In some cases, recruits may find themselves without a scholarship after a new regime does not court like the old one.

In Hullaby’s case, he first saw the rumors in early December. Cristobal, Oregon’s head coach since 2018, was linked with the Miami head coach job, which was then held by Manny Diaz. Cristobal grew up in and played for Miami.

“When I first heard it, I couldn’t believe it,” Hullaby said. “I didn’t think he would do something like that.”

Hullaby, a three-out of 247 security rookie, admits Cristobal’s decision made sense. Given her ties to her hometown – and the fact that Cristobal’s ailing mother lives in Miami – the opportunity would have been hard to turn down.

But regardless, there was Hullaby, eagerly awaiting the official news and ultimately in search of a new home.

“Just when it happened,” said Hullaby, who disengaged from Oregon on Dec. 8, “it was like, ‘Dang, I have to get back to the drawing board.’”

Hullaby was one of three players on The Dallas Morning News’ 100 best recruits list for the class of 2022 that had committed to Oregon before the change of coaches. Duncanville 13th-ranked offensive lineman Cameron Williams and 34th-ranked wide receiver DeSoto Stephon Johnson are the others.

Williams, like Hullaby, withdrew on Dec. 8, three days before Duncanville met Southlake Carroll in the 6A-I State semifinals.

Duncanville won on Saturday. Williams signed up in Texas on Sunday.

“It’s tough. It’s a little stressful,” Williams said. The news last Wednesday, shortly before his official withdrawal.

Flower Mound quarterback Nick Evers, a four-star rookie, had been signed in Florida since March. But on Nov. 21, Florida fired head coach Dan Mullen with one game left in the regular season. Evers withdrew on Dec. 7, received an offer from Oklahoma and new head coach Brent Venables on Dec. 8, visited Norman last weekend and pledged to the Sooners on Monday.

All of this happened within eight days of the first national signing day. Others were impacted mid-season.

When head coach Sonny Dykes left EMS for TCU in late November, a host of Dallas-area hopefuls who had signed up to the Mustangs – including Garland four-star safety Chace Biddle – found themselves with a decision to be made.

Biddle had been in EMS since July, but he, teammate Jordan Hudson, a four-star wide receiver rookie, Grand Prairie wide receiver Savion Red, Richland wide receiver CJ Nelson and North Mesquite junior wide receiver Cordale Russell each withdrew. November 24 – five days before the official announcement of the hiring of Dykes at TCU,

“It took me by surprise because we didn’t know he was about to leave until the minute he was about to leave,” Biddle said. “It was quite surprising, it hit us differently.”

No hard feelings for Dykes, however. Biddle, Hudson and Russell each made a commitment to TCU in early December.

“It was stressful at times,” Biddle said. “But I tried to keep a cool head, to keep my cool… Coach Dykes is a great guy, a great coach, on and off the pitch. He takes care of his players.

Of course, Hullaby, Biddle, Evers and Williams could remained committed to the respective programs. Evers, in his exit Twitter post, thanked recently hired Florida coach Billy Napier for “allowing me to be a part of his vision.” Hullaby said he hasn’t fully ruled out the Ducks either and has spoken to Dan Lanning, who Oregon hired in Georgia to replace Cristobal.

“I was definitely thinking about staying with Oregon,” said Hullaby, who visited Texas Tech this weekend. “Because it’s just Oregon. This is where I got involved. They didn’t have a coach for a while, but they have one now, but I didn’t really want to play the waiting game. I know what recruiting is.

The waiting game refers to the bet to stay engaged in a school after a change of coach. Sometimes it works. The incoming coach and a player build a strong relationship. The purse remains on the table.

Sometimes it just doesn’t work.

Cedar Hill wide receiver Xavier Brown signed to UConn in July, but head coach Randy Edsall stepped down just two weeks into the regular season following a loss to FCS Holy Cross. UConn hired former UCLA head coach Jim Mora in November, who has already made efforts to improve the program’s recruiting in the Northeast.

Brown paid an official visit to UConn on December 5. The next day, when he returned home to Texas, UConn withdrew his scholarship.

“Honestly, no one at UConn told me about it,” Cedar Hill coach Carlos Lynn said. “I don’t know if this is the type of business they want to run… I’m not sure about the details or the rationale. I know they have the power to do it. They have a job to do. But I also think there is a way to do it without harming these young men, these families, who have high hopes. Now all of a sudden you pull the rug out from under them.

Although the first National Signing Day is Wednesday, Brown can still wait until National Signing Day on February 2 to narrow down a college. Buffalo, Kansas and Colorado State also offered him.

Hullaby, who plans to sign with a school on Wednesday, may have some advice for him.

“I always believed that everything happened for a reason,” he said.

Swich place

Player Pre-change coaching engagement Post-coaching engagement change
WR Jordan Hudson Garland SMU TCU
Garland S Chace Biddle SMU TCU
Duncanville OL Cameron Williams Oregon Texas
Mansfield Timberview S Landon Hullaby Oregon To be determined
DeSoto WR Stephon Johnson Oregon Oregon
Flower Mound QB Nick Evers Florida Oklahoma
Rowlett DL Michael Ibukun-Okeyode SMU TCU
Richland WR CJ Nelson SMU To be determined
Cedar Hill WR Xavier Brown UConn To be determined

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