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February 26, 2005For a select few of the top national prospects, a certain school just seems like a natural fit. And when that particular program comes calling with a scholarship offer, making a verbal commitment comes as naturally to the player as does tying his shoes.
For Dustin Earnest, the Texas Longhorns were that program.
The Texarkana Texas High standout had recently picked up an offer from Mack Brown and the Texas staff, and on Saturday afternoon, he personally delivered the news to the UT head coach that he'd like to spend his college life on the Forty Acres.
"It's finally official," Earnest said about his highly-anticipated commitment. "I'm happy about it."
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker prospect was in Austin on Saturday to take part in a Longhorn Junior Day, and he said his meeting with Mack Brown was enough to put the nail in the coffin on his pledge.
"We went into Mack Brown's office and it was on a really personal level. It wasn't a business thing at all," Earnest said. "He asked if that's where my heart was. They want the best for you and they made me feel like part of the family."
Earnest, who earned co-MVP honors of District 12-4A as a junior, becomes the Longhorns' second pledge, joining Wimberley offensive lineman Buck Burnette. A second-team all-state selection, Earnest is regarded my most to be one of the top linebacker prospects in the state of Texas and he was ranked No. 19 on the most recent Lone Star 100.
Blessed with 4.58 speed to go along with his size, he is one of the leaders of a Texas High defense that helped lead the school to the Class 4A regional finals last season.
"He's a natural football player. He's got great instincts and he's probably one of the hardest working young men that I've ever seen," Texas High coach Barry Norton said. "He really strives to be the very best that he can possibly be. His better days are ahead of him. He made great strides this year from his sophomore to junior year, and we really expect a lot of great things from him as a senior."
Earnest said the decision to play for Brown and the Horns was a fairly easy one, and he cited the program's family atmosphere as a factor that most impressed him on his Saturday visit.
"I've always been a fan and it's always been such a respected program." Earnest said. "And today I got to see why. It's like one big family, coach Brown and his wife treat you like you're one of their kids and it's a great place.
"It's a good feeling. That's where I wanted to go. My decision has been made and now it's official. Now I get to concentrate on our team and getting better for when I get here."
Earnest was accompanied by his family on his trip to Austin and his commitment received full approval from those closest to him.
"They take care of the players. They're just a class act all around," said his mother, Dana Kaiser.
As a junior, Earnest recorded 163 tackles in earning second-team all-state honors. His and Burnette's pledges help Texas get the 2006 recruiting year off to a strong start as the Longhorns now hold commitments from two players that are considered among the best at their position in the entire state.
Note: Orangebloods.com should have highlights of Earnest in action on Monday.