2010 sleeper emerges. Seemingly every season, a player emerges with a standout senior campaign -- last year, it was Stony Point's Tevin Mims, who become a Longhorn shortly after receiving his Texas offer. The sleeper who has burst onto the scene ($) this season is Eric Humphrey, a 6-4, 275-pound defensive tackle out of Dallas Parish Episcopal. After his coaches sent out his senior film, interest in the explosive senior has absolutely exploded, with teams like Oklahoma, Florida State, Nebraska, Oregon, Arkansas, and UCLA entering his recruitment, with more surely soon to follow. Currently, the standout private school player has official visits planned to Baylor, Texas Tech, and Kansas in the coming weeks and plans to take all five visits. Competition for those visits is fierce and getting fiercer.
What has college coaches salivating is his incredible explosiveness off the ball, as Humphrey possesses every bit of the quickness that studs like Ashton Dorsey and Taylor Bible show off on a regular basis underneath the Friday night lights. Despite his size, he plays a lot of defensive end for Episcopal and is an impressive edge rusher, making his projection as a defensive tackle all the more astounding. He could probably to play defensive end, especially in a 3-4 alignment, but his explosiveness is so rare for a kid his size and after spending some time in a college weight program, Humphrey appears capable of being a gap-shooting defensive tackle who can pressure the quarterback and cause havoc in offensive backfields -- watching him move, he looks like Lamarr Houston and though his reported 40 time is 4.89 (about the range of defensive ends in the 2011 class like Nathan Hughes and Cedric Reed), he comes off the ball extremely well, making him appear faster than his reported time. Even the pure numbers are spectacular ($) -- 77 tackles, 18 sacks, 27 tackles for loss, 6 forced fumbles, 1 interception and 3 defensive touchdowns.
So, the question becomes, why did it take so long for Humphrey to gain notice and is it a concern that he plays against a low level of competition? Addressing the latter question, it might slow his development at the collegiate level, but the burst that he shows isn't dependent on the competition and, in fact, renders it largely irrelevant because Humphrey would show the same skill set against better players. Take into account the fact that the Acho brothers came from a similar situation and both became acclimated to the college game extremely quickly, so playing at a small private school is far from the developmental kiss of death its sometimes bad out to be.
As for the first question, the lack of attention until recently stemmed from several factors: he didn't participate on the camp circuit, didn't send out his junior film, and plays at such a small school. In addition, much like Tevin Mims and Greg Daniels, a player who burst onto the scene much earlier than Humphrey, but was still a relative unknown when the Longhorns scooped him up, Humphrey put on 35 pounds in the last year and the proverbial light switch went on for him.
It looks like the Longhorns have entered the recruitment of Humphrey, who maintains that he didn't follow any particular teams growing up and is open at this point. In fact, he said this week that he is "very interested ($)" in Texas. Furthermore, he indicated that Bobby Kennedy, the recruiter for his area, invited him down for an official visit and Humphrey agreed to come down, though he has to speak with Kennedy later this week to set up the trip, so stay tuned about that.
Does Texas need to add another defensive tackle to the class? Some of that consideration may come down to where the coaches see him playing -- if they see him as a defensive end in the 3-4 and as a pass-rushing interior linemen, then it makes sense to offer him even though there are already two gap-shooting tackles in the class in Dorsey and Bible. The key here is that defensive tackles are hard to come by and the Longhorns have had bad luck in recent years, losing players like Brian Ellis, Andre Jones, Michael Wilcoxon, and Jarvis Humphrey for various reasons. Basically, it's hard to have too much depth at the position, so it makes sense to offer Humphrey and see what happens.
Thoughts on White, Jeffcoat, and the "Mystery Recruit." Both Darius White and Jackson Jeffcoat made it down for the Kansas game on Saturday night and witnessed just about everything that is positive about the Texas program right now, most importantly the heartflet and emotional honoring of the senior leaders of the team -- Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley, Sergio Kindle, and Lamarr Houston, first and foremost. They saw Texas fans at their best, as well as the deep and genuine bonds that those players have formed with their coaches. In contrast to the coach across the field, it was obvious from the Senior Night festitivites that players leaving Texas will never tell stories about their coaches using their personal lives to attack them in misguided attempts to motivate them.
For Jeffcoat and White, it must have been abundantly clear that the famous "family atmosphere" at Texas clearly is that. Perhaps White also was able to clear the air with the coaches about the incident at the spring game involving his close friend Rashod Favors. The Dunbar star obviously did not commit to Texas this week and still plans on visiting Norman again this weekend, so the Sooners will likely have the last say in this one unless White makes a decision in a next several days to become a Longhorn, which is doubtful. The best case scenario here is that White remembered all the reasons he talked so much about coming to Texas early in the process, but it's impossible to say right now whether or not that happened. The main thing to remember here is that things look infinitely better with White than they did before he announced his official visit to Austin.
As for Jeffcoat, he didn't get to see the best performance by the Texas defense this season and didn't get to see anything paritcularly exotic from the Buck package. However, if he can talk with Muschamp and not want to be a part of the Texas defense, then USC or Oklahoma would probably be a better fit for him. Jeffcoat reveals so little about his recruitment, there probably won't be an update this week about him, so Texas fans will just have to feel thankful that Jeffcoat did make it down to Austin and did so an a great night to see the program cast in an extremely positive light.
Since the talk about the "Mystery Recruit" began in a War Room more than a week ago, I don't want to get into much discussion about because of the BON policy of not talking about uncomfirmed content from that feature on Orangebloods. Until the prospect visits Austin, it's pretty much all speculation and I'm sure the other boards like Hornfans and Shaggy Bevo are well into it. As I mentioned in the thread on the topic, it's not worth discussing Mike Davis in regards to being the "Mystery Recruit" because he doesn't have a Texas offer and isn't likely to receive one. If Darius White goes to Oklahoma, recruiting at the receiving position will be finished. The Longhorns already have a log jam at the position that will probably lead to some attrition this spring. Other players without offers like Evan Washington are also not worth talking about, because they don't have an offer. Texas might offer Eric Humphrey, but they won't be offering any players committed to other schools. Obviously, that's just my opinion, but I just can't see it happening.
On the 2011 radar: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. Since the position isn't deep in talent again in 2011, the Longhorns may have to look out of state, just as they did with Blaine Irby several years ago. The name is Austin Seferian-Jenkins, from Gig Harbor, Washington and he's a mammoth target at 6-7 and 250 pounds. Like the other two, Seferian-Jenkins is an excellent basketball player, but he's more of a national recruit than the other two, having received offers ($) from Washington, Washington State, and Stanford before his junior season and now has more than 20 ($). Miami is reported to have been his childhood favorite, with Oklahoma and USC also in the mix in the early going.
It's too early in the process to gauge if his interest in Texas is significant, but he did visit during the spring -- the first necessary sign. However, the Texas visit was just one of many cross-country trips for Seferian-Jenkins, who has also visited USC and Florida, among other schools. For him to receive an offer, he would have to make it down for a Junior Day or otherwise make a trip to Austin in the spring.
Known as a good student and as someone who has began to work harder in the weight room, Seferia-Jenkins says that he takes pride in his blocking ($) and his work to become a complete tight end, evident at one point in his second highlight reel when he absolutely and viciously decleats ($) some poor opponent. At this point, he needs to work on keeping his pads low, a common problem for young players, but it's his athleticism and size ($) that truly sets him apart for a player his size. When he comes off the ball low, he can blow opponents off the ball and he has the thickness in his lower body that could eventually make him into an excellent tackle, though he's too fast to move from tight end unless he really packs on the weight. He's not as fast as a guy like Jermichael Finley, but he is a pure tight end with his huge frame and does appear to have the speed to stretch the seam. If there's a major complaint, it's that his highlights show little vareity in route running and it's hard to tell if he can make opponents miss in space or even run them over, though he clearly has a lot of experience not only blocking in space, but also lining up split wide as a receiver.
Given that he didn't grow up a Texas fan and isn't particularly high on the Longhorns at this point, he will have to make a visit to Austin to not only confirm his interest in the Longhorns, but also to grow more comfortable with the Texas program and coaches. The Longhorns would have to make a strong impression on him during any potential visit to have any chance in his recruitment. Since Seferian-Jenkins has already shown interest in Texas, it makes him a worthwhile target, even if the chances of landing him are small.
On the 2011 radar: MJ McFarland. It's no secret that tight ends have been hard to find recently in the state of Texas, leading the Longhorns to move Jordan Shipley into the flex tight end position lat year after numerous injuries and Dan Buckner into the position this year. The early name from the 2011 class at the tight end position is Chris Barnett, the younger brother of Eryon Barnett and it's already been a strange recruitment -- at first Barnett said that wanted to go out-of-state, before news surfaced later that the Longhorns are his top team, with Barnett sounding like a virtual lock ($) if Texas offers. There are two issues with Barnett, however -- the first being that he might not be a tight end at all. He plays some defensive end for his high school team and may end up there in college and the second that his film is not particularly impressive. In fairness to the younger Barnett, it's hard to tell much about his explosiveness or his route runner, which is elsewhere described as needing more polish.
Much like Everett Pleasant, who also stars on the basketball court, as well as playing tight end, El Dorado's MJ McFarland stars on both the gridiron and the hardwood ($). Standing 6-5 and weighing 220 pounds, McFarland caught 56 passes this season, picking up 987 yards in the process. He also has an offer from UTEP and is drawing interest from the Longhorns, Kasnas, Texas Tech, and Baylor. There isn't a lot of information out there on McFarland, as well as no evaluations either, so he's just another name for the radar at this point.
What in the heck does "pro-style" mean? As mentioned in the Kansas Five Things to Watch post, Aaron Green made the trip to Austin for the game, one of the few visits he has made this season. Most of the discussion on the Five Things thread focused on Green's comments about wanting to play in a "pro-style" offense. As it was pointed out, it's hard to say what a pro-style offense even is with the success of the Patriots throwing the ball around the field out of the shotgun and the Wildcat offense even spreading around the read. The Eagles run the zone read with Michael Vick when he enters the game, something Tennessee did occasionally several years ago with Vince Young.
Most likely, though, what Green means is that he wants to play in an offense that features running from under center, rather than from the shotgun, possibly with a fullback in front of him. Whether that means he prefers a drive blocking scheme or zone blocking scheme isn't clear, since many teams in the NFL run the zone blocking scheme -- Indianapolis has run the stretch play for years and Gary Kubiak has been famous for his zone blocking in Denver and Houston.
Are the Longhorns a fit, then, if Green does want to have a head start when he gets the ball and run behind a fullback? On the first count, the Longhorns will probably continue to use their jet tempo look next season, which primarily features running the ball from under center, with the possibility of moving back to a Chris Simms-style offense, which could probably best be described as pro style, although it's worth pointing out that Garrett Gilbert played in shotgun, spread offenses in high school, so he may have to work on his footwork a bit if Texas decides to go under center more often. Fortunately, the last half of this season has allayed concerns about effectively running play action out of the shotgun.
Using more I formation is probably less likely than going under center because it doesn't make much sense right now to take wide receivers off the field considering the depth at the position. Basically, even if the Longhorns go under center more often, they will still most likely focus on spreading the field with three receivers, a tight end, and a running back, whie still using the four-wide look as a change of pace and on passing downs.
Here's a question, though -- if Green doesn't want to run zone plays from the shotgun, do the Longhorns tell him that they will adjust the scheme for him, or do they simply move on and target Malcolm Brown and Herschel Sims?