Running backs on 2011 roster -- Fozzy Whittaker (2011), Cody Johnson (2011), Jeremy Hills (2011), Tre' Newton (2012), DJ Monroe (2012), Chris Whaley (2013), Traylon Shead (2013/14), Demarco Cobbs (2013/14)
Needs -- Two or three. Texas will definitely take two running backs in this class after taking only two running backs in the last two classes and could decide to take a fullback/H-back type as well as a replacement for Barrett Matthews.
|Name||School||JD invite?||Offer?||Commitment odds||Quick take|
|Brandon Williams||Brookshire-Royal||Feb. 27||No-brainer||50%||Wow. Gimme, gimme. It doesn't take long for Williams to blow you away on film. Closest thing to Adrian Peterson since AD himself -- runs hard, has elite speed, but is probably an even more polished receiver than AD at the same age. Has the size to be effective in blitz pick up. No questions about size or speed.|
|Malcolm Brown||Cibolo Steele||Feb. 13||No-brainer||50%||Extremely solidly built back who runs with a bulldozing mentality and has plenty of speed. Elite speed? No, but plenty of speed. The concern is that he isn't a perfect fit in the Texas scheme.|
|Aaron Green||San Antonio Madison||Date unconfirmed||No-brainer||25%||A late injury and an overall subpar junior season has dropped Green's stock a bit, but his sophomore success was not a fluke -- he's an elite talent.|
|Herschel Sims||Abilene||Feb. 27||No-brainer||50%||Excellent receiver and in the return game. Perhaps best pure burst of all the backs. At around 5-8 or 5-9, his size is a concern and he may not project to be an every-down back in college and his ability to pick up the blitz is questionable at best.|
|Bradley Marquez||Odessa Permian||Feb. 27||Unlikely||25%||Big OU fan experienced as a blocker and receiver, but lacks the explosiveness and top-end speed of the top prospects in the class. Second tier.|
|Daniel Lasco||The Woodlands||Feb. 27||Unlikely||
|Burst onto the scene with a huge sophomore season and has excellent speed, but a little lanky and doesn't have a lot of shake in his hips. Questionable if he is a running back at the next level. Reportedly prefers the Florida schools. Second tier.|
|Joe Bergeron||North Mesquite||Feb. 13||Likely||90%+||Big kid with excellent feet for his size who could be the short-yardage replacement for Cody Johnson and also spend some time at fullback. Virtual lock for commitment.|
Other names to know -- Tevin Williams (Euless Trinity), Kenny Williams (Pflugerville Hendrickson), Kenneth Farrow (LD Bell), Damion Willis (McKinney)
Overview -- Wow. The talent in this class is simply unbelievable and the greatest talent of them all might be the latest addition to the list -- Brookshire-Royal's Brandon Williams. On film, he truly looks like the second coming of Adrian Peterson, meaning that he possesses the size Mack Brown seems so enamored with right now.
All the talent presents the Texas coaching staff with an extremely difficult proposition -- how to decide their top target without alienating the other top backs. Aaron Green's recruitment in particular could be a national one and extend deep into the process with his interest in USC and Nebraska.
Perhaps it's not surprising given how large he looms over the football landscape of Texas and Oklahoma, but the most important person in the entire process could be Adrian Peterson. Sims and Williams have specifically mentioned that AD is their favorite player and OU may be the top school for both of the aforementioned players, as well as Brown and Marquez, with Green having an interest in the Sooners, too. It's hard to say if any of them will commit, but the bottom line is that Oklahoma can't take all of those running backs and instead of being able to pick which running backs the Longhorns want, it may be the Sooners taking their pick and Texas trying to scrambles for the leftovers.
Now, it's hard to properly call a guy like Brown or Sims or Williams a leftover, but the early narrative suggests that Texas won't be controlling this process as they have been in Texas recruiting for the last several years and it will be telling to see how Mack Brown handles such an auxiliary position. It also seems to be the year where the loss of AD to Oklahoma comes back to potentially haunt the Longhorns in terms of the impact that he had on
In terms of which kids get offered, the elite backs in the state -- Williams, Green, Brown, and Sims -- are all probably no-brainers for offers because it's too much of a risk not to offer one and risk completing alienating them for the rest of the process. Since securing commitments from two of those four would be ideal, the coaches should group them into two categories to ensure that if two do commit that they are complementary, then tell the kids in the same group that they can only take the first one to commit. For instance, Green and Sims are the most similar, with Williams and Brown both slightly larger and more physical backs.
After understandably missing on the only home-run threat last season in Lache Seastrunk, it may be verging into the realm of hyperbole to suggest that this is a class that Texas can't afford to miss on and the emergence of DJ Monroe and rumblings that DeMarco Cobbs will start out at running back help allay those concerns, but this class remains extremely important simply because there are so many talented backs that this class will basically become a referendum on the running game -- is the scheme good enough to attract top backs? Can Major Applewhite convince top backs to come to Texas?
Wish list -- Brandon Williams, Herschel Sims, and Joe Bergeron. The skill sets of those three are as complementary as a group of running backs could possibly be and would represent an absolute triumph in recruiting at the position. Surely too much to ask. Not quite as high on Brown as some of the services because of questions about how he fits into the scheme, but Texas can't go wrong with any of the top four backs, though pairing Green and particularly Sims with a larger back would make the most sense.