Morning Coffee Has Linebackers On the Mind

Horns_bullet_mediumCorey Nelson: the only news is no news. Recent updates on Corey Nelson have only served to confirm the long-standing notion that there will be little in the way of news from Nelson or anyone around him. Nelson reiterated that fact on Monday ($), saying that when he makes a decision, it will be a surprise to everyone. In other words, whatever rumors emerge in the next several months about where he is going are probably false.

As for the most recent list of schools under consideration, Nelson lists Texas, OU, Texas A&M, LSU, Stanford, Texas Tech, and OSU. A lot of recent reports have had Texas A&M out near the front, but Nelson claims that there is no current leader. Hard to say where the seven schools named by Nelson really stand. And don't expect that to change any time soon.

Horns_bullet_mediumStoopsy coveting his neighbor's linebacker. Early commitments are the rage in college football and the Longhorns are at the forefront of the trend. However, a major concern is that players making early decisions might be more susceptible to advances from other programs. Garland linebacker Tevin Jackson sounds solid with his commitment to Texas ($), but he is still receiving plenty of attention, including from that program to the north of the Red River. That's right, the artist formerly known as "Big-Game Bob" is trying to shark the Texas commit, continuing to send emails and letters to Jackson, along with Ole Miss and Texas Tech.

Beyond ignoring the advances of other programs, Jackson is spending the spring adding bulk (he's up to 220) and improving several aspects of his game:

I'm working on speed, agility, trying to be more of a balanced linebacker. It's a lot of work on technique. I'm trying to be better in coverage. I think I have good run stopping and pass rushing abilities, so I want to balance it out.

Indeed, Jackson does have good pass-rushing abilities, registering six sacks as a junior among his 85 tackles. Sounding like the Longhorns' pass-rushing linebacker, Jackson had this to say about the future of his 2009 opponents:

I want to kill whoever comes my way in an opposite jersey.

The next Predator, perhaps? Muschamp certainly plans on giving Jackson a chance at the "Buck" position and I have a feeling that Jackson will exceed his 2008 sack total -- I'm going with 10 or more in 2009.

Horns_bullet_mediumOn the radar: Aaron Franklin. As much as the Longhorns would love to secure commitments from guys like Darius White, Lache Seastrunk, and Jackson Jeffcoat, the only remaining glaring need is at linebacker, where the Longhorns have offers out to Corey Nelson and Jordan Hicks. Though neither one is expected to make a decision soon, if another offer goes out for 2010 it will undoubtedly be extended to a linebacker.

The foremost name on the list right now is a relatively new one -- Marshall's Aaron Franklin, an outside linebacker in the mold of Corey Nelson with better size at 6-1, 218 pounds. An excellent student who missed 2008 with an ACL tear, Franklin ran a 4.44 40 during his rehabilitation ($) and consistently clocks times in the low 4.5s. He's plenty fast and isn't quite as much of a tweener as Corey Nelson or some of the other 2010 linebackers, but he will definitely need to add some bulk before he contributes in college.

Since the offer sheet is always a good place to gain an understanding of how top programs perceive a recruit, Franklin has offers from Oklahoma, LSU, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oregon, and Texas A&M -- if quality offers makes a prospect legitimate, Franklin certainly passes that test.

Will Muschamp is reportedly visiting Marshall this week to scout Franklin himself. If Muschamp likes what he sees enough for the coaching staff to approve Franklin for an offer, the question is if he receives an offer before or after Hicks and Nelson make a decision. The Marshall product isn't planning on making a decision until later in the process, but Texas has not been a program mentioned as being in contact with him -- it's unclear how much he likes Texas and if he would consider it an affront that he hasn't received more attention at this point. His current top five ($) includes Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State.

Horns_bullet_mediumCedar Park's Moss may be best 2011 linebacker. There's still a lot of time left in the evaluation process, but if an offer from SMU ($) 21 months before he will sign a LOI is any indication, Moss will be pursued by every program in the region. He's already made seven unofficial visits in an attempt to establish early relationships with the colleges he might want to attend after bursting onto the scene as a sophomore by recording 62 tackles and three sacks in seven games.

As he mentions in interviews ($), Moss is well aware how blessed he is to have the combination of size and speed that he possesses at 6-1 and 230 pounds, while having the capability of running a 40 in the 4.55 range. No worries about being a tweener with Moss. It's that combination that makes him so special and why he will be so widely pursued when the 2011 recruiting process gets into full swing early next year.

Moss also has a close connection to the program, as his father played at Rice when Mad Dog was the S&C coach there. In addition, Texas has received a commitment from Dom Espinosa, who plays with Moss as Cedar Park, and will be pursuing another member of the 2011 class, offensive lineman Spencer Drango. Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, and Stanford are among the programs pursuing Moss the hardest right now, but the Longhorns do seem to have a special place in his heart.

Chet Moss CPHS linebacker sophomore (via 13flyfishing)

Horns_bullet_mediumLindley, Hocutt on the radar, Jackson off. The watch list ($) for 2011 linebackers is a relatively short one at this point with only five names. As far as the Longhorns are concerned, one of those names is no longer in play, as Kirbyville's Stefan Jackson is no longer enrolled at the school amid rumors of disciplinary actions taken against the outside linebacker. Among the other names still on the list are Round Rock Stony Point's PL Lindley and Killeen Ellison's Devin Hocutt.

There isn't much information out there about Lindley except for the fact that he played some wide receiver as a freshman and his measurements -- 6-3, 195 pounds. Lindley's combination of height and relatively light weight means that he has some work to do in the weight room before he's ready for college, though it's hard to tell without pictures what type of frame he has.The lack of information is probably related to his varsity playing time as a sophomore -- he only saw action in three games.

At this point in time, comparisons to Rashad Bobino will probably not endear a player to Longhorn fans. Yet, that is probably the easiest comparison to Killeen Ellison's Devon Hocutt, a 5-11, 245-pound linebacker known as a physical presence on the field ($). Like Lindley, Hocutt didn't see extensive varsity action, making 34 tackles in five games, though it was enough to lead the team in tackles (perhaps Max Preps doesn't have the stats for the whole year).

His frame certainly supports those characterizations, as Hocutt already physically looks like a college player, certainly made easier by his small stature. His size is an obvious drawback, but he isn't just as run stuffer, as his weight might suggest -- he reportedly has the hips and flexibility to turn and run with receivers and tight ends in coverage, a necessity to eventually gain a Texas offer. Despite those characterizations, his 40 speed is not the most impressive, listed as a 4.8 on his Rivals page. At his size, the question is whether Hocutt will remain at linebacker or switch positions.

Like virtually every major 2011 prospect besides Chris Barnett, Hocutt has always loved the Longhorns despite interest in Iowa State, Notre Dame, Oregon, Oklahoma, TCU and Texas A&M.

Since 2011 isn't shaping up as a strong class for linebackers in the state, the Longhorns need to make sure that they get 3-4 commitments in the deep 2010 class, since Moss may be the only true difference maker in the state. Looking out of state may also be necessary, though the Longhorns are famously reticent in that area and prefer to have a prior connection with the recruit. Given that set of criteria, there isn't anyone yet on the radar.

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