Denton Ryan receiver back on the radar? When Ross Apo de-committed from Texas back in early June, the Longhorns didn't exactly rush to fill his vacated spot. However, at the first June camp, one receiver who appeared to be lurking on the fringes of the Texas recruiting radar was Denton Ryan receiver Bud Sasser, a highly productive player perhaps a little underrated on the state high school scene given his incredible production as a junior -- 64 catches for 1,250 yards and 24 touchdowns. Sasser does have the advantage of playing with the newly-crowned top quarterback in the state for 2010 in Texas Tech commit Scotty Young, but the Denton Ryan receiver impressed at that Texas camp just days after Apo's de-commitment.
So far this season the 6-3, 200-pound receiver has picked up where he left off last season, racking up 11 touchdowns to go along with 462 yards receiving as the Denton Ryan offense has hummed along to the tune of 50 points and 500 yards per game. Along with his performance at the Texas camp, his work this season has attracted the notice of the Texas coaching staff, who spoke with the Denton Ryan coaching staff ($) several days ago according to Sasser. No word on the nature of the discussion, but Sasser did go on record as saying that he "loves Texas." Currently holding offers from schools like Arizona State, Texas Tech, and the three Big 12 North Division "powers" (Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri), the Longhorns could vault to the forefront of Sasser's mind with an offer.
White vs. White vs. Sasser. Now that there appear to be three receivers left on the radar, which one makes the most sense for the Longhorns moving forward given the receivers already on campus? Let's break down each player a little bit first:
- Bud Sasser - As mentioned above, Sasser is a player who had a blip on the radar back in June and now appears to be gaining more attention with his production and a subsequent move up the LSR 100. Once on the fringes and outside the top 100 not too long ago, Sasser is now at the 35th spot on the list, only nine players behind Ross Apo and one of the highest-rated three-star prospects in the state -- he might well be in line to receive a fourth before the end of the season. Sasser brings a combination of good size and good speed to the position, though he doesn't appear to have elite acceleration. What Sasser does have is an excellent set of hands, as he catches the ball naturally away from his body and shows a developed ability to attack the ball at its highest point and bring it in. At the next level he's probably not going to make a lot of defenders miss with his hips, but he does run solid routes. Overall, Sasser may be one of the fastest-rising receiving prospects in the class.
- DeAndrew White - Last week, Gerry Hamilton, in his new gig over at ESPN, was the first to break the news that White had finally received an offer from Texas. However, in an interview with Orangebloods several days ago, White admitted that he's not sure ($) about whether he officially has an offer from Texas, as he hasn't talked with Mack Brown about it. Following up on the initial story, IT spoke with White ($) after North Shore's game against Southlake Carroll and essentially confirmed with White what he told Orangebloods. The real news came from "sources close to the North Shore program" that the Longhorns have a scholarship available for White if he wants to go to Texas. In summary, it seems that Texas is expressing interest and telling White that there is a spot open for him. Why an official offer hasn't been made isn't clear -- perhaps Mack Brown and company simply want White to come to campus again before they make an official offer. No word yet on any official visits this fall for the North Shore star. As a receiver, White doesn't have many opportunities to catch the ball in a run-heavy offense led by a mediocre passing quarterback. However, he does have remarkable speed, sharp cuts, and the plant-and-go ability of a great running back in a zone-blocking scheme. Excellent hands help him catch the ball away from the body, but he's not as adept at going up and catching the ball in traffic as a player like Darius Terrell.
- Darius White - Like the other White, the Fort Worth Dunbar star doesn't put up the gaudy numbers of Bud Sasser because of the quarterback play on his team, which is far from elite or even adequate. Blessed with all the physical tools any coach could want in a receiver, White is a remarkable punt returner for his size (much like Dez Bryant), has excellent size, speed, and hands, including the ability to get off the line ($) incredibly well for such a tall receiver. Much more dangerous in the open field than the other White, Darius also has strong body control to allow him to catch balls in traffic, which he does consistently using his strong hands. As befits a player with his size, he's also a willing and capable blocker. The only major concern about White is that he's not a strong route runner at this point and isn't ask to run difficult routes in high school. Of course, Dez Bryant has long been known as a sub-par route runner and it hasn't hurt his effectiveness, so it's unlikely the raw route running will significantly hurt him in college or keep him from being successful.
Darius White is clearly the most talented player in this group, even though he recently lost his fifth star in the latest round of ranking updates. Still, there's little question about his ability and he's the best fit for Texas because of his ability to stretch the field and his physical presence. Since Greg Timmons looks like a redshirt this year and two other big receivers are already committed in the 2010 class in Terrell (who may get a look at split end as well as the flex position) and John Harris, the Longhorns aren't in huge need of a tall receiver just for the sake of a tall receiver. White's ability to get vertical down the field with his speed and use his size to bring the ball is what makes him special and though Timmons may develop into that type of receiver, the redshirting freshman faced questions about his ability to stretch the field coming out of high school.
The other White has a skill set very similar to Chris Jones, though he's a little bit shorter. Also, other short, quick receivers like DJ Monroe, Marquise Goodwin, DeSean Hales, and Brock Fitzhenry are all in the class in front of him, giving the Longhorns a ton of similar options -- Texas is not hurting for that type of receiver. It's questionable how much Hales and Fitzhenry will play in the future with Monroe and Goodwin appearing to pass them on the depth chart, so they could end up moving on at some point, though there haven't been any rumblings in that direction. Point being, White fills less of a need than Darius White and may even be a redundant talent.
The same is probably true for Bud Sasser -- without having a better evaluation of him than simply watching his film, it's hard to talk about the subtleties of his game, but he seems to have a similar skill set to John Harris, but could be closer to Ross Apo. Either way, he doesn't seem to bring anything new to the deep stable of receivers already at Texas or committed to become Longhorns. However, his pure production is certainly intriguing -- kid can make plays.
In the end, not even Darius White fills a huge need with other tall receivers coming into the program, but he is probably more talented than the other tall receivers, which makes him worth waiting for. However, I don't see him making or breaking this class because of the talent already assembled. If he's offered, Sasser would be a nice addition and the other White is certainly talented in his own right, but neither one fills a strong need, especially with all the options at the position in the class in front of them.
Hicks drops Georgia. The talented Ohio linebacker said during his weekly conference call that he is no longer considering Georgia ($) among his top five of Texas, Ohio State, Florida, Alabama, and USC at this time. While that is certainly good news for the Longhorns, the better news is that Will Muschamp will be making a trip up to Ohio ($) this weekend to watch Hicks play. The visit will be a chance for Muschamp to watch Hicks in person, but more importantly, to continue building a relationship that Hicks already describes in positive terms:
He's a really good guy, I like him a lot. I talk to him once a week or every other week. He's a real personable guy. He'll call me after my games just to see how everything went. I get the feeling that he really cares.
As important as Muchamp's visit will be, the official visit that Hicks will take the following weekend is even more important, as Hicks has not yet had a chance to experience a game day environment at Texas or even seen much of the campus. Considering how much Texas has always stood out to Hicks despite his relative lack of knowledge in those areas says a lot about his feelings for the school and his official visit could go a long way toward helping him feel comfortable in Austin:
I want to see the game atmosphere since I haven't seen a game yet. And get more of a tour around campus. I haven't seen the dorms and things like that, only football facilities. Get to know and talk to the players, just talk to the academic people, all the people that are going to be in my life the next four years. Try to figure out how they will affect my life and how they will be.
The Longhorns don't have quite the same need at linebacker next year as they did back in the summer with Jared Norton likely to return next season after his shoulder injury cut short this season, but Texas will be losing Roddrick Muckelroy, giving Hicks a chance to earn early playing time in a scheme similar to that run by his high school.
Suffice it to say that next weekend will be a big one in the recruitment of Jordan Hicks.
Wilson now no. 1.
Not only did Haltom defensive end Reggie Wilson earn his fifth star from Rivals the other day Jumped the gun there, but he did vault into the top position ($) in the 2010 LSR, ahead of Jackson Jeffcoat, the Temple running back, and Darius White. In some ways, it's not a surprising move, as Wilson has been dominant so far this season and has been ranked as the top player in the state by Inside Texas for some time, but the move in front of Jeffcoat is surprising. A Big 12 coach weighed in on both players:
Both are big-time, big-time players. Jeffcoat does everything really well and there's no question in my mind that he's going to play early wherever he goes. Most of the things you have to teach young players are already a part in his game. When you look at Wilson, he's such an instinctive player and that's surprising because he hasn't been playing for very long. We're talking about a guy that a little different than anyone else I've seen this season from an athletic standpoint. He has the physical tools to disrupt any offense.
The skill that eventually gained Wilson separation is his ability to explode off the football -- despite Jeffcoat's prodigious skills, Wilson has a quicker first step. As impressive as that first step is, Jeff Howe found himself, like the unnamed coach above, impressed by Wilson's instincts on the football field:
While he does have the speed, athleticism and skill to constantly be moving up the field to try and get to the quarterback, he is a lot like Alex Okafor to me because he such a disciplined and highly instinctive player who stays true to his keys and dissects the play and reacts quickly. If he is asked to stay at home and hold backside contain, he does. If he is asked to crash down inside, he does it. Basically all of the talk that he is extremely coachable holds true after watching him.
Despite all the positives, Wilson is still raw as a pass rusher and, unlike Jeffcoat, doesn't have a developed reportoire of moves, but that's truly one of the few concerns about the African immigrant at this point -- he's that good, even though he hasn't played football long. Jackson who?
What will happen at linebacker in 2011? In 2010, Aaron Benson and Tevin Jackson fill big needs at the linebacker position and the Longhorns hope to add Jordan Hicks to that mix. The question is how many linebackers Texas will take in 2011 with only Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho in the junior class that season to be replaced -- so it looks like three linebackers in 2011 at the most. The next question is which linebackers in the state fit the best playing against spread offenses, along with determining which linebackers like the Longhorns.
The two parts of that question might not necessarily meet head-to-head, as two of the linebackers that seem to like Texas the most -- Cedar Park's Chet Moss and Killeen Ellison's Devon Hocutt, seem like linebackers more capable of stopping the running game than defending from sideline to sideline. Now, that may be selling their talents a little bit short, but it's clear that both players are strong candidates to become Longhorns if offered, as Moss said this week for the first time that Texas is his favorite ($) and that he keeps in close contact with Hocutt, who has been in attendance at several Texas games already this season. Hocutt is a little bit undersized at around six feet tall, but he has tremendous strength.
Stony Point's PL Lindley may be the best combinatinon of athetlicism and coverage ability currently on the radar, but two other prospects from Clear Springs ($) may also be strong candidates for an offer -- Donnie Baggs, who is 6-2, 200 pounds and has the speed to play against spread teams, and teammate Trevon Randle, who is roughly the same size as Baggs, but perhaps a little heavier, and also has excellent speed.
Besides running back, recruiting at the linebacker position in 2011 will go the furthest of any position to demonstrating Will Muschamp's philosophy on defense moving forward and it's highly possible that he decides to pass over players like Moss and Hocutt and opt for more athleticism and sideilne-to-sideline speed and coverage ability at the position.