March 1, 2009

Breaking down UT's recruiting after a wild weekend

Wow. Just wow.

There's really not much to say after the Texas Longhorns stunned the entire recruiting world by landing seven more commitments this weekend to push their commitment list to 19 by the end of February.

Boom goes the dynamite, indeed.

In this Orangebloods.com breakdown, we're going to try to sort everything out and make sense of a wild 24 hours of recruiting action. Here's a position-by-position breakdown of where the Longhorns are at on the first day or March and a look ahead to what's still on the table.

Quarterbacks

Players currently on scholarship: Colt McCoy (2009), Sherrod Harris (2010) and Garrett Gilbert (2012)

Needs for this year: Two

Current commitments: (2) Graham's Case McCoy and Houston Second Baptist's Connor Wood

Players still on the radar: None

Overview: There was always a sense that the Texas quarterback depth chart was going to need two quarterbacks in this class because of Gilbert's arrival and the impact that might have on the overall depth chart. With John Chiles' move to wide receiver, the needs were cemented and the good news for the Longhorns is that they've been two steps ahead of the game and they've put together a two-man combo at the quarterback position that really should be beyond anyone's expectations one year after Gilbert signed. Wood is one of the nation's elite quarterbacks and a certain national top 100 prospect, while McCoy is very similar to his older brother at the same stage. Both are hard workers and both understand that they'll have a minimum of two years to battle for the starting job after Gilbert departs at the very worst. Frankly, the Longhorns couldn't have planned things any better.

Current recruiting grade: A+

Running backs

Players currently on scholarship: Vondrell McGee (2010), Antwan Cobb (2010), Cody Johnson (2011), Foswhitt Whittaker (2011), Jeremy Hills (2011), Tre Newton (2012) and Chris Whaley (2012)

Needs for this year: One or two

Current commitments: (1) Cayuga's Traylon Shead

Players still on the radar: Temple's Lache Seastrunk (offered)

Overview: Barring injuries or off-field issues, the Longhorns will not lost anyone at this position until after the 2010 season. Therefore, with six tailbacks on the roster, the need for numbers isn't huge. What this team needs more than anything else is someone that can explosive plays out of the backfield, in the mold of a Ramonce Taylor or Jamaal Charles. That big-play pop is missing and it's one of the big reasons why Seastrunk remains a huge priority, or at least as much as any single can recruit can be a priority. In the meantime, the Longhorns landed a state top 25 prospect in Shead and a guy that possesses a lot of athletic ability and adds to what was already a strong and steady collection of players. The issue is whether they have a true difference maker in the way of speed, elite-level quickness and playmaking ability among the current group and it's something this team could certainly use. A home run hitter is still needed.

Current recruiting grade: B

Wide receivers

Players currently on scholarship: Jordan Shipley (2009), Montre Webber (2010), Phillip Payne (2010), Brandon Collins (2010), James Kirkendoll (2010), Malcolm Williams (2011), Dan Buckner (2011), Brock Fitzhenry (2012), DeSean Hales (2012), D.J. Monroe (2012) and Greg Timmons (2013)

Needs for this year: Four or five

Current commitments: (4) Arlington Oakridge's Ross Apo, Garland Naaman Forest's John Harris, Daingerfield's Chris Jones and DeSoto's Darius Terrell

Players still on the radar: Tulsa (Ok) Union's DeMarco Cobbs (offered), Channelview's Chris Hawkins, Midlothian's Eddie Johnson, Thibodeaux (La.) High's Trovon Reed (offered), Houston North Shore's DeAndrew White and Fort Worth Dunbar's Darius White (offered)

Overview: The Longhorns are looking to replace the group of four players that are scheduled to depart following the 2010 season. When you factor in that the Longhorns will also lose Shipley after the 2009 season, it's pretty obvious why this position has become such a huge priority in this class. With four commitments in the bag, the Longhorns have already assembled a class of receivers that will likely rank among the best in the nation, it would seem that the Longhorns would be in line for at least one more receiver, especially with current offers still out to Cobbs, Reed and White. The smart money says that the Longhorns will give White some time to make a decision, but the clock is ticking. With 19 commitments on the hook, the Texas staff has flexed its muscle have pretty much indicated that they aren't going to wait long with indecision. It's tough to say what will happen with Cobbs after his non-appearance this weekend at the Junior Day. My gut instinct tells me that Mack Brown will take Cobbs if he's ready and willing, but a long recruitment is unlikely, at least from Texas' side. Hawkins and Johnson were both told that from a talent standpoint they've been approved for offers and the lines of communication are still open, which means that back-up plans are in place if they cannot close the deal on Darius White. At the moment, the group has a lot of different skill sets, but it might not have the headliner superstar just yet. If they can get White, he not only gives them a cherry on top of the sundae, but his presence might make this one of the more athletic and dynamic wide receiver classes in school history. For those wondering about Reed, it's hard to believe that the Longhorns have a commitment towards a long recruitment, with so many in-state options. If were to commit in the next month, they'd take him a New York minute, but by the end of the spring game I'm guessing their focus at the receiver position will have moved on.

Current recruiting grade: B+

Tight ends

Players currently on scholarship: Josh Marshall (2010), Blaine Irby (2010 or 2011), Ian Harris (2011), Ahmard Howard (2011), D.J. Grant (2012), Trey Graham (2012 or 2013) and Barrett Matthews (2012 or 2013)

Needs for this year: None or one

Current commitments: None

Players still on the radar: Klein's Eric Tomlinson and Austin Bowie's DeAndre Perry

Overview: The numbers at the position are actually very strong after signing two players in 2009 and the Longhorns can probably escape from being forced to take someone in this class. The in-state crop of tight end prospects is not strong and if there's anything we've learned over the last few years, the staff won't be afraid to move a receiver over to the tight end position if it's needed (see Marshall and Grant). With so much size in the receiver class, it wouldn't be a shock at all if the staff just passes on a true tight end position this season. At this point, the value of the tight ends available to select from don't merit the cost of a better, higher-quality prospect available at another position.

Current recruiting grade: No grade/Incomplete

Offensive Linemen

Players currently on scholarship: Adam Ulatoski (2009), Charlie Tanner (2009), Chris Hall (2009), Britt Mitchell (2010), Steve Moore (2010), Kyle Hix (2010), Tray Allen (2010), Michael Huey (2010), Greg Smith (2010), Aundre McGaskey (2011), David Snow (2011), Luke Poehlmann (2012), Mark Buchanan (2012), Mason Walters (2012) Thomas Ashcraft (2012 or 2013), Paden Kelley (2012 or 2013) and Garrett Porter (2012 or 2013)

Needs for this year: Two or three

Current commitments: Cedar Park's Dominic Espinosa and Houston North Shore's Trey Hopkins

Players still on the radar: Fort Bend Elkins' Jake Matthews and DeSoto's Evan Washington

Overview: The Texas offensive line plans for 2010 have been much discussed over the last two months, but the bottom line is very simple: they lose six linemen following the 2010 season, leaving them with eight, and they cannot leave themselves in a position where they cannot field a two-deep roster because of a lack of numbers. It's a little bit of a pickle to be in and it goes all the way back to being forced to play so many true freshmen in 2007, while the offensive linemen from 2006 have given very little thus far. With the two commitments that they have right now, the Longhorns are scheduled to have 17 scholarship linemen on campus in the fall and 16 for 2010. Those numbers are a little high, but the program should be past the numbers grind in two seasons. Of the two commitments they have, both are state top 25 prospects and locks to be four-star prospects. If they take another lineman, it's likely to be Matthews and if he goes elsewhere, I'd bet that they sit with their pat hand, although Washington is still on the radar. As we move forward with the 85/25 numbers, keep in mind that Espinosa has already toyed with the idea of volunteering for a possible red-shirt, which would give him some space and also flatten out the o-line numbers a shade.

Current recruiting grade: A

Defensive tackles

Players currently on scholarship: Lamarr Houston (2009), Ben Alexander (2009), Tyrell Higgins (2011), Michael Wilcoxon (2011), Kheeston Randall (2011), Jarvis Humphrey (2012), Calvin Howell (2012) and Derek Johnson (2012 or 2013)

Needs for this year: Three

Current commitments: (3) Denton Guyer's Taylor Bible, Alief Taylor's DeAires Cotton and Tyler John Tyler's Ashton Dorsey

Players still on the radar: Houston Cy Creek's Will Hampton and San Antonio East Central's Torrea Peterson (offered)

Overview: This is by far and away the scariest position in terms of depth and talent in the entire program. After losing Houston and Alexander after this season, the Longhorns came into this year's recruiting cycle with six players and of that group, one is a sophomore starter, two are unproven players entering their third-season on the 40 Acres, two are true freshmen and one has a serious kidney issue forcing him to miss the spring. With the three commitments that the Longhorns have, they've been able to address the numbers issue and when you look at the trio of players that have committed (including the top two in Texas and a possible five-star prospect), the talent issue appears to have been addressed in a big way as well.

Current recruiting grade: A+

Defensive ends

Players currently on scholarship: Sergio Kindle (2009), Sam Acho (2010), Eddie Jones (2010), Russell Carter (2011), Dravannti Johnson (2012), Alex Okafor (2012), Tevin Mims (2012), Dominique Jones (2013) and Kyle Kriegel

Needs for this year: Two or three

Current commitments: (1) - Houston St. Pius' Greg Daniels

Players still on the radar:Plano West's Jackson Jeffcoat (offered), Haltom's Reggie Wilson (offered) and Jefferson's Clarence Lee

Overview: Outside of Kindle, the Longhorns don't lose anyone from the defensive end position this season, but they do lose two in 2010 and that will leave them with six scholarship ends, which means that two or three is probably the magic number in this class, with two being the most likely number. The Longhorns locked up Daniels this weekend and the word on his is that he's raw, but very athletic. The commitments of Orakpo and Mims from last season ensure that the Longhorns don't have to be desperate in their recruitment of ends this season. Look for them to focus in keenly on the two five-star possibilities and close up shop once they have both made their decisions.

Current recruiting grade: Incomplete

Linebackers

Players currently on scholarship: Roddrick Muckelroy (2009), Jared Norton (2009), Dustin Earnest (2010), Keenan Robinson (2011), Emmanuel Acho (2011) and Ryan Roberson (2012), Tariq Allen (2012 or 2013) and Patrick Nkwopara (2012 or 2013)

Needs for this year: Three of four

Current commitments: (2) - Cedar Hill's Aaron Benson and Garland's Tevin Jackson

Players still on the radar: West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West's Jordan Hicks (offered) and Dallas Skyline's Corey Nelson (offered)

Overview: It looks like the Longhorns have a much narrower focus at linebacker right now than a lot of people previously believed would be the case following the initial inspection of the numbers. With only four current scholarship linebackers scheduled to be on campus following the 2010 season, the big question moving forward is how many pure linebackers the program plans to stock with the current evolution of Big 12 offenses? The Longhorns have a base 4-3 defense, but they only played 100 snaps or so in their base defense in 2008. True middle linebacker types seem to be out, with speed, versatility and pass-rush potential being in. The first two commitments in this linebacker class are of the elite variety and you can probably bet the house on them trying to add one more linebacker, but the pool of talent they seem to have focused on is narrow. The answer to the first question will tell us the answers to where the final number lands.

Current recruiting grade: A

Defensive backs

Players currently on scholarship: Deon Beasley (2009), Chykie Brown (2010) and Curtis Brown (2010), Ben Wells (2011), Christian Scott (2011), Earl Thomas (2011), Aaron Williams (2011), Blake Gideon (2011), Nolan Brewster (2011), Marcus Davis (2012 or 2013), Eryon Barnett (2013) and Kenny Vaccaro (2013)

Needs for this year: Four or five

Current commitments: (4) Lufkin's Carrington Byndom, Waco Midway's Ahmad Dixon, Sulphur Springs' Bryant Jackson and Adrian Phillips

Players still on the radar: DeSoto's Adrian White (offered), Pearland Dawson's Darian Lazard, West Orange Stark's James Haynes, Lancaster's Quentin Hayes and Lancaster's Tyler Stephenson

Overview: From a numbers standpoint, the four commitments give the team 13 scholarship players heading into the 2011 season and on the surface that would seem to be enough, but if the linebacker numbers are going down because of more nickel and dime, then the secondary numbers will be going up. Adrian White has been on the clock for a while and the Longhorns are likely going to want an answer before the end of the spring, but they have every reason to be confident that they'll land his commitment in due time. If they decide to move on and still want another defensive back, they have a wide pool of in-state options to choose from. Of the four commitments they have right now, one is a possible five-star prospect and the other three all look like very solid bets to be four stars. Duane Akina just continues to put together one incredible defensive backfield after another. If they land White, the class will rank with the best in school history.

Current recruiting grade: A

Kickers

Players currently on scholarship: Hunter Lawrence (2009), Trevor Gerland (2009), and Justin Tucker (2011)

Needs for this year: None

Current commitments: None

Players still on the radar: None

Overview: The Longhorns will finally clear some cap space after this season and they'll have only Tucker on the scholarship books through 2011. With his ability to place-kick, punt and kickoff, there might not be a reason to have anyone else on scholarship through 2011, although the coaches will constantly look for walk-on help.

Current recruiting grade: Incomplete

Overall summery

Commitments: 19
Outstanding offers: 9
Biggest needs: RB, WR, DE and LB
Next in line: OL, DE, LB, DB, DT and Ath

Ideal closeout - If you look at the offers right now, the Longhorns would probably love to close things down with the following combination of six or seven of the following players:

Lache Seastrunk, Darius White, Jake Matthews, Reggie Wilson, Jackson Jeffcoat, Corey Nelson, Jordan Hicks and Adrian White


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