Texas Longhorns 2010 Class Overview: The Chosen 25

First three commitments

First Junior Day commitments link

Second Junior Day commitments link

Final LSR

QB Connor Wood, Houston Second Baptist*

Height: 6-4

Weight: 209

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (5.9)

LSR ranking: no. 15

Instant Analysis:

Before various sources started telling Texas recruiting services that Connor Wood gave his commitment to the Longhorn coaching staff on Tuesday evening, I had written a section for this Morning Coffee about other potential quarterback targets, notably Nick Montana, son of Joe and visitor to Austin this week. So much for that.

What does Connor Wood mean for Texas? Most obviously, it means that the quarterback position, assuming that Wood redshirts and then stays four more years, is set until the 2015 season. Think about that for a minute. It also means that Garrett Gilbert is unlikely to redshirt, as the coaching staff would want to separate Gilbert and Wood by the widest margin possible -- two years.

There is another storyline here as well. A few weeks ago, a rumor made the rounds that Thidodaux, LA's Trovon Reed was planning to transfer to Houston Second Baptist next season to play with Wood. Reed, of course, is close friends with Lache Seastrunk, with some talk that the two may attend the same college. While Wood's commitment doesn't guarantee anything from the other two players, it increases the possibility that Reed and Seastrunk could also find themselves in burnt orange.

The final interesting storyline concerns the turf war between Texas and Oklahoma for recruits. As the tide turned on the football field, it has also turned on the recruiting front, with the exception of Jamarkus McFarland. Even with OU offering earlier playing time and quite possibly a cushy Big Red Auto job, Wood still decided to stay in Texas -- a major loss for the Sooners, who are scrambling to find a replacement for Sam Bradford. Too bad, Stoopsie.

Instant Scouting Report:

While the number of quarterbacks taken in the 2010 class may depend on whether John Chiles decides to transfer, the Longhorns will certainly take one signal-caller and perhaps one more for pure number's sake. Foremost on the list is Houston Baptist quarterback Connor Wood, who may be more of a prototypical player for what the Longhorns ask of their quarterback than even a young Colt McCoy or Garrett Gilbert. And no, that's not hyperbole. At 6-4, 210-pounds, Wood runs a 4.6 40 and, if he commits, would possibly be the most athletically gifted Texas quarterback out of high school since Vince Young, posting a 32-inch vertical at the Scout Combine. Not to say he's Vince Young, of course, because that comparison got tired a long time ago and Wood isn't even in the same stratosphere, but Wood is a better and more athletic runner in high school than either McCoy or Gilbert.

Quick Take: Only one year after securing a commitment from Garrett Gilbert, Connor Wood becomes the heir apparent at the position and, if he does hold off the challenge for the starting job from Case McCoy, have two years as the starter at Texas. Wood's impressive athleticism -- he's known for being able to reverse dunk from the semi circle on a basketball court should help him be a threat in the zone running game and he can throw with strength on the move.

His mechanics have improved immensely over the last year in terms of shortening his motion and quickening his release, but he still throws from an unorthodox arm slot I'm not particularly fond of. Of course, neither Vince Young or Colt McCoy have particularly sound mechanics either, so it's more about getting the ball to the receivers and giving them a chance to make plays and Wood does that well.

The major question is how quickly he can adjust to the speed of the game moving from the TAPPS level to major-college football, but Jeff Howe wasn't worried last fall after seeing him in person:

If Greg Davis went into a laboratory and constructed the ideal quarterback to run a zone read scheme, it would be Wood.  He can throw it very well on the move and Davis and the offense staff will not have to worry about Wood taking shots, like they do with Colt McCoy, because physically he is big enough and strong enough to run the off tackle keep and the draw from the quarterback spot.

To repeat the final phrase from that assessment of Wood -- he's gonna be more than fine.

*Enrolled for spring

 

QB Case McCoy, Graham*

Height: 6-2

Weight: 169

Committed: 2/9/2009

Rating (Rivals): Three out of five (5.6)

LSR ranking: No. 71

Instant Analysis:

There is a fair amount of questioning surrounding Case and his ability to play at Texas, with some wondering if he is only receiving an offer because of his brother. In addition, those thinking along the same lines wonder if expectations are now too high for Case because of the improvement his brother made while at Texas. Personally, I don't agree with either one of those theories. Case will enter college with four years of high school experience and will have a chance to develop longer than Colt was able to, finally fulfilling the expected path for his older brother. And if the Longhorns need him to start at quarterback, he will be ready. He's a McCoy, with all the competitiveness and work ethic that made his older brother what he is today.

Instant Scouting Report:

Since there isn't a lot more to say than what I've already said about McCoy, I'll just re-state what I've already said (see comments) about him:

Graham rolls him out a lot in either direction and he throws well on the run, going both right and left. In terms of his arm strength and delivery, he looks much like Colt, delivering the ball from the same slot, with a wind up that’s longer than Colt because it starts lower. He doesn’t have a cannon, but he can make most throws. You probably aren’t going to ask him to throw a lot of outs to the opposite hash, but Texas doesn’t ask that of Colt either and he should have won the Heisman. Athletically, he looks pretty similar and can probably add a little speed like Colt did. His decision-making seems like it could use some work, having thrown 10 and 11 interceptions the last two years, with only 17 touchdown passes. It looks like he tries to fit the ball into some pretty tight windows, which is probably the cause of that.

Looking at McCoy, physically it's his skinniness that jumps out. His father and coach, Brad McCoy (did you know that he played at ACU with Jordan Shipley's dad? No? Didn't think so...), says that Case is further along physically ($) than his older brother at the same age. The gap might be larger, but Case plays basketball and runs track, so he doesn't have an off-season to devote solely to weight work. It might be in his best interest to drop those sports for his senior year, though he will almost certainly get a year to redshirt at Texas to hit the weights hard. There is some speculation that Case doesn't have the frame of his older brother to allow the growth that Colt experienced at Texas and from pictures it's the thinness of his joints that is a concern. Ultimately, it won't be until Case gets on a full-time weight program that questions about his ability to add muscle will be answered.

Quick Take: It's mostly been said already -- he's a McCoy and that means that he will fit throws into windows, understands how to open up passing lanes for himself -- a result of his often poor mechanics, and, in a nutshell, understands the quarterback position and what it means to be the quarterback at Texas as well as anyone possibly could at his huge.

It will take some time for him to physically mature, but he will almost certainly have more time to do so than his older brother. The bottom line -- doubt a McCoy at your own peril.

*Enrolled for spring

RB Traylon Shead, Cayuga

Height: 6-2

Weight: 215

Committed: 2/28/2009

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (5.8)

LSR ranking: No. 26

Instant Analysis (Now): Mack Brown apparently loves himself some larger running backs right now, taking Shead a year after taking Whaley. The major question with Shead is how well he can adjust to the speed of the game and whether he fits in the Texas zone running game or needs a more downhill attack. Shead isn't facing particularly high expectations coming into the program and won't be asked to contribute early due to the ascension of Tre' Newton, so he will have the opportunity to develop.

Instant Scouting Report (Now): There's not as much talk about Shead changing positions as there is with Whaley, though he certainly seems like he could play linebacker and had some experience there in high school playing both ways for Cayuga, which is 1A. He looks to have the feet to be a running back at the collegiate level and has the size to be effective in blitz pick up, while running with better pad level than Chris Whaley and possessing none of the same issues with gaining weight quickly. Vision is another strength of Shead, who also has a remarkable ability to change direction for a back with his size.

Like Wood, the major question is how quickly Shead can adjust to the speed of college football. The good news is that Shead is a winner, having gone to the state championship game in two straight season, losing the first and winning the second with a sore hamstring, rushing for 144 yards and three touchdowns. Besides being a champion, Shead was also remarkably productive, finishing as the most prolific scorer of touchdowns in Texas high school history with 147 touchdowns and finished with 10,291 yards, putting him in second place all time in Texas and only the second running back to surpass 10,000 yards in the storied history of the state.

Quick Take (Then):

The son of the school's principal, Shead was planning on waiting to make a decision ($), but, as happens with so many players courted by the Longhorns, the experience of meeting with the coaches and receiving his offer was too much for him to pass up. He made the decision quickly and began calling the other coaches who had recruited him to inform them of his commitment. At 6-2, 210 pounds, Shead is a big back, but has remarkable quickness and feet for someone his size. Coupled with decent, but not elite acceleration, those feet make Shead almost impossible to bring down for the level of competition he faces, aided by consistently running with good pad level, a notable difference from Chris Whaley. Even with that caveat about competition in mind, it's not hard to see why Texas coaches liked Shead enough to make him an offer -- the kid has incredible balance and vision. Now, even if the Longhorns miss on Lache Seastrunk, the running back class won't be a complete loss, as Shead looks like a good fit into Mack Brown's professed philosophy of a pounding ground game.

 

WR Mike Davis, Skyline

Height: 6-1

Weight: 185

Committed: 12/13/2009

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (6.0)

LSR ranking: No. 3

Instant Analysis:

Back at the first Junior Day in February, Skyline receiver Mike bore the ignominious distinction of being one of the few players not to receive a Texas offer at the event. Some speculated that Davis left unhappy and feeling disrespected about the slight. By the end of February, he had committed to LSU ($) over offers from national programs like Florida, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Stanford, and California, citing his comfort level with the program and the coaches recruiting him. However, several weeks ago, Davis re-opened his commitment.

Upon hearing that Davis was once again taking visits, the Texas coaching staff got into contact with him again and expressed their interest, led by Metroplex recruiter Bruce Chambers. Davis also communicated with Orangebloods, leading him to become the infamous "mystery recruit" until his announcement that he would visit Texas. It's not clear when Davis received his offer, though it probably happened over the phone, but he reportedly was a silent commit for some time before making it to Austin to meet with the coaching staff and make his decision official. Davis says that he will not take any other visits, per Mack Brown's policy, and will sign his letter of intent on National Signing Day.

There are several possible explanations for why Davis decided that he no longer wanted to become an LSU Tiger. Since he has been a silent commit for several weeks, it's not likely that the loss of recruiting coordinator Larry Porter to Memphis and the resignation last week of wide receivers coach DJ McCarthy, who is under investigation for making improper phone calls to a recruit, though Davis may have known of that investigation prior to his decision to re-open his recruitment. McCarthy's departure was not the only major change in the LSU program, as recruiting coordinator Larry Porter left for the Memphis head coaching position at the end of November.

The more likely reason is that Davis did not like the usage ($) of freshman Ruben Randle this season, saying that there was "something wrong" with his number of touches and felt that LSU was underutilizing all of their receivers, which, Davis said, "worries me a bit." In addition, the use of speedy freshman Russell Shepard fell short of expectations and the offense as a whole underperformed considerably, ranking near the bottom of the country in total offense.

Given the depth chart at Texas, any expectations for early playing time are probably even more slim for Davis than they would be at LSU, but Marquise Goodwin's opportunity to play this season after proving himself in fall camp no doubt influenced Davis and may continue to help the Longhorns in recruiting at the position in the future by slowing down any attempts at negative recruiting by rival programs.

All told, Davis'  decision to re-open his commitment, which led to contact from the Texas staff, and his subsequent commitment, perfectly illustrates the late momentum Texas is building as the final stretch approaches before Signing Day. It's been years since Texas has had this much going well at the end fo the recruiting process and there are still a handful of players on the board still considering donning burnt orange in college.

As mentioned in the immediate reaction to the news, Skyline has been a difficult school to recruit for the Longhorns recently, with the prevailing rumor being that the coaching staff doesn't care for Texas all that much for unknown reasons. With Christian Scott already enrolled and Mike Davis now prepared to become a Longhorn, Mack Brown and company may finally be making inroads into the talented program, which features possible 2011 targets Franklin Shannon and Anthony Wallace, with Wallace likely being one of the top targets on the board because of his ability to play either linebacker or defensive end and excel as a blitzer and/or edge rusher.

As Texas continues to secure talent in the Metroplex, Skyline may be one of the last dominoes to fall and if it does become a pipeline program, the recruiting machine that is Texas football could move from juggernaut to unstoppable behemoth. And that should strike fear into the hearts of Big 12 coaches across the conference, particularly the artist formerly known as Big Game Bob, whose program has failed to lure as many DFW prospects north of the Red River in recent years.

For all the talk about the larger implications of Davis' decision, those won't be felt until a later time if they are even felt at all. For now, perspective is necessary on just what his addition means to the program. Obviously, the major storyline is the large number of wide receiver commits in the class, as Davis joins Chris Jones and John Harris as the pure receivers in the class, with Darius Terrell a candidate for the flex tight end position and DeMarco Cobbs an athlete who will probably have an opportunity on the offensive side of the ball when he arrives.

If Cobbs ends up at safety or linebacker and Terrell is truly a flex tight end, that significantly decreases the actual number and when combined with the likely defections of a receiver or two during the offseason, it leaves the Longhorns at a manageable number and with room for Darius White. Since White projects as an outside receiver, the addition of a guy pegged for the slot or flanker position probably won't impact his decision and he's such an elite talent that the Longhorns have to find room for him as long they have a scholarship available.

Basically, the current depth at the position ensures that if there are any injuries, transfers, or out-and-out busts in the group, it won't significantly cripple production at the position -- Texas should have an elite receiving corps for years to come, making the jobs of Garrett Gilbert and Connor Wood that much easier.

Instant Scouting Report:

It's still not clear why the Longhorns didn't originally offer Davis at the first Junior Day, or what exactly changed with their evaluation of Davis during and after his senior season. Likewise, it's difficult to determine when exactly Davis re-established contact with the Texas coaching staff, so it seems unlikely that his three touchdown, 263-yard performance against Adrian White and DeSoto in the playoffs had any impact on his eventual offer. Regardless, the production has always been there for Davis and it may be that the coaching staff came to regret their early decision not to offer him.

Though Davis is not an extremely highly-ranked player at this position (18th at receiver by Rivals), he does bring several outstanding attributes to the Texas program. Foremost among them is his route running, as he runs extremely crisp routes and uses his excellent initial burst to create separation out of his breaks. Variously listed at between 6-0 and 6-1, Davis is a deep threat because of his route-running ability -- he simply eats up a defender's cushion extremely quickly. If a quarterback does happen to underthrow the pass, Davis has the body control to adjust to the ball in the air and make a play on it, using his strong hands to secure the football.

The comparison for Davis in the class is Chris Jones, as both players are major threats in the screen game and can break long plays, while both are outstanding deep threats given their respective heights and can catch the ball in traffic. Both players reach top speed extremely quickly, though Davis doesn't quite have the elite top-end speed that Jones possesses.

Like Jones, the concern with Davis is that he needs to develop the strength and ability to beat press coverage -- though he burned Adrian White in the first half of the DeSoto-Skyline playoff game this season when White was giving him a big cushion, when the DeSoto corner walked up to the line of scrimmage and began to jam him, Davis was much less productive in the second half. Though the general consensus is that beating press coverage will be a problem. IT's Jeff Howe thinks that facing cornerbacks with the speed to take away his cushion and then run with him down field may be a bigger obstacle to overcome ($) than just beating a jam at the line. However, Davis does still have a thin upper body and though he has bulked up considerably since his junior season, he needs to add strength.

The major difference between Jones and Davis is that where the Daingerfield star likes to get upfield as quickly as possible after catches, Davis has better shake in his hips to juke defenders, but is also much more likely to slow down in his attempts to avoid tacklers and is more likely to allow defenders trailing the play to catch him from behind. Ball security could also be an issue for Davis in college, as he often doesn't properly secure the football and tends to carry it in one hand like Deion Sanders used to do after interceptions, or otherwise doesn't maintain the necessary three points of contact, carrying the ball away from his body.

The addition of Davis allows the coaching staff options with Jones and Davis on the strong side of the field, as they both have the ability to play the flanker and slot positions and can be put wherever they are most comfortable and most effective. At this point, it's hard to say which player is better suited for which position, but Davis is clearly the more refined of the two as a route runner, which perhaps makes the slot a better position for him.

Overall, Davis is not quite an elite prospect like Darius White because he lacks the top-end speed and ability as a return man, but he is a highly-polished receiver who needs only to spend some time in the weight room and maximize his explosiveness to contribute at the collegiate level. Of all the receivers currently committed in the class, Davis may be the most ready to step onto the field as a freshman and contribute, although the depth chart probably precludes that opportunity with a so many players in front of him.

Much like Goodwin this season, Davis would have to surpass players like Brock Fitzhenry, DeSean Hales, and possibly DJ Monroe or even Goodwin himself to crack the rotation. In all likelihood, that rotation will consist of Malcolm Williams, James Kirkendoll, John Chiles, Brandon Collins, Goodwin, Monroe, and possibly Greg Timmons -- that's seven players in front of Davis. However, even if Davis doesn't see the field often in 2010, there is a strong chance that he will be an impact player in the Texas offense before his career on the 40 Acres ends. And that makes him a great addition to an already excellent class.

Quick Take: Davis made a big jump in both the national and state rankings after an excellent performance not only in the Under Armour game, but in practice that week, using his precise route running to create separation. The highlight catch of the game was a leaping grab Davis made in the end zone over LaMarcus Joyner, who had just been woofing with him about a pass that was intentionally thrown out of bounds. Davis ran his route, then headed for the end zone when he saw his quarterback in trouble, high pointing the ball and outjumping the undersized but athletic Joyner and using his strong hands to bring the ball in.

Davis is the most college-ready receiver in the class and has a strong chance to contribute as a freshman because of his overall polish and understanding of the position -- the only aspect of his game that could hold him back is his poor ball security, Mike, stop carrying the ball like Deion! It's not a loaf of bread.

 

WR John Harris, Garland Naaman Forest

Height: 6-2

Weight: 187

Committed: 2/7/2009

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (5.8)

LSR ranking: No. 48

Instant Analysis:

Even though Trey Hopkins' offer was unexpected, the offer to Harris is the biggest head-scratcher of the three commitments. He's probably not in the top five receivers in the state in 2010 and doesn't have much ability to make plays after the catch. There are other tall receivers who are better than Harris, so the offer to Harris wasn't just to get a tall receiver in the class. With one tall receiver in each of the classes in front of Harris, the Longhorns don't have to recruit multiple tall receivers, but may instead have been better served by recruiting some of the smaller receivers who can actually go the distance after making the catch. I guess the best thing I can say about Harris is that he's long been a Longhorn fan and was an easy get for the coaching staff.

Instant Scouting Report:

Harris' best attributes are his size and hands ($). At close to 6-3, Harris is tall enough to make himself a threat in the red zone and gives the quarterback the angle to make tight throws into traffic. Harris also catches the ball well with his hands away from his body. In addition, for a high school receiver he runs very polished routes -- no easy task for a long strider, but necessary since he doesn't have much quickness or explosion. Harris runs a 4.67 40, which is flat-out slow for a receiver. Since Harris knows how to find openings and make himself available to the quarterback, those skills probably fit better into the current Longhorn offense. Harris is pretty lanky at this point at 195 pounds and needs to get stronger to beat press coverage and has to maximize his explosiveness ($), which isn't naturally overwhelming.

Quick Take: It may take some time for Harris to learn to run the variety of routes required for the Texas offense, as he lost a year of development in that area by playing quarterback his senior season and ran mostly short routes like hitches his junior season. Harris will be well served by his ability to catch a short pass, stick his foot in the ground and avoid the first defender. Because of the depth at the position, Harris will take a redshirt season in all likelihood.

 

WR Chris Jones, Daingerfield

Height: 6-0

Weight: 172

Committed: 2/28/2009

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (5.9)

LSR ranking: No. 10

Instant Analysis (Now): Jones has remarkable speed and the willingness to take advantage of it by getting upfield as quickly as possible after catching the football and could end up being a better deep threat than originally thought -- see below. Used extensively as a running back in the jet sweep series by Daingerfield, the Texas coaches would be well advised to use Jones in the same manner in college. An under-the-radar pledge, Jones represents an excellent early evaluation by the Texas staff, as he could have been a regional prospect in high demand had the Longhorns not secured his commitment so early. Jones has the ability to become a big-time playmaker in a Texas uniform.

Instant Scouting Report:

Despite his size, the word on Jones from his coach was that he coaches the ball well in traffic. From his film, he certainly does, but someone his size doesn't project as an outside deep threat in college and the Longhorns won't ask him to do that. What Jones does well that will translate to college is adjust on the ball, using a hip fluidity that is either natural or was developed while playing some defensive back for his high school. His ability to adjust allows him to corral slightly errant throws, while still maintaining his speed. That hip fluidity also allows him to turn his shoulders and present a narrow target in traffic, making him surprisingly difficult to bring down, aided by what appears to be above-average balance, judging from the missed tackles on his film. The competition may not be great, but I honestly haven't seen any film of Lache Seastrunk that shows a lot of broken tackles, as a point of comparison. Jones' balance is really impressive for someone his size. He isn't visibly strong at this point, but any weight work in college should focus on maximizing his speed and the strength in his core and legs. Improving hs core and leg strength could make him even more difficult to bring down.

While Jones doesn't have absolutely elite top-end speed, with his 40 time listed alternatively as 4.4 or 4.5, he does have elite quickness. That quickness allows him to change plant and cut witih the ball in his hands running the sweep from the slot position that Missouri and Florida use. The ability to plant and cut doesn't mean nearly as much if the runner can't see or anticipate a hole opening up. In the wide receiver sweep play, it's usually a zone blocking play where the hole isn't pre-determined by the play. Whether receiving a hand off or catching a screen pass -- at which Jones excels -- the Daingerfield receiver has exceptional vision and knowledge of angles, an ability that effectively increases his top-end speed.

Jones is also benefited by his short stride -- which allows him to change directions quickly, shaking defenders in the open field, or making them pay for breaking down with a fake step and shoulder fake on double moves. On one play from the slot, Jones fakes a quick route into the flat before absolutely exploding in the wheel route and past defenders that appear as if in slow motion. The ability to turn the corner sharply and accelerate was extremely impressive. When he gets match ups against safeties in the slot, it's a big mismatch.

The one main area of criticism is that he doesn't have elite lateral quickness, preferring to maintain his speed and attempt to make himself small instead of changing directions laterally in the way that Jamaal Charles, for instance, was known for doing. It's a small criticism, and somewhat mitigated by maintaining his speed, which doesn't allow the pursuit to gain valuable ground were Jones to stop and attempt to juke the defender. Kid knows how to get north and south and looks like a great pick up for the wide receiver class. A track star in addition to his football exploits, his overal explosiveness will allow him to compete for a position returning kicks and punts, a true gamebreaking skill.

Quick Take (Then):

Jones is another player who wasn't known to be attending the Junior Day before showing up on campus and receiving an offer. I have been speculating for some time that the Longhorns would take a smaller, faster receiver like DeAndrew White or Trovon Reed. White, however, didn't receive a scholarship offer, likely because of some trouble with his grades, but Jones fits the mold of a slot receiver ($) -- standing at an even 6 feet and weighing 172 pounds, Jones runs a 4.4 40. Despite his relative lack of size, his coach claims that Jones isn't afraid to catch the ball in traffic ($) -- a necessity in the current iteration of the Texas offense. It's surprising that he didn't register on the recruiting radar earlier, as his junior season production is nothing short of sensational: 42 catches for 1,045 yards and 12 touchdowns, along with 21 carries for 340 yards and six touchdowns. With fans everywhere clamoring for a Percy Harvin-type threat out of the backfield and lined up as a receiver, Jones has the skill set to fit perfectly into that role.

 

WR Darius White, Fort Worth Dunbar

Height: 6-2

Weight: 205

Committed: 1/2/2010

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (6.0)

LSR ranking: No. 5

Instant Analysis (now): White's recruitment experienced some serious peaks and valleys, with the early high point a declaration during his junior season that made him sound like a virtual lock ($) for the Longhorns. The low point occurred some time in the summer when the news broke that White was less than happy with the treatment of his friends at the spring game. In the fall, however, White took his official visit as his interest became rekindled between both parties and eventually came back to the school he had always wanted to attend, announcing his commitment to Texas during the Under Armour game.

Instant Scouting Report (now): White has an incredible blend of size, strength, and speed that was enough to overwhelm most defensive backs at the high school, but he was limited by poor quarterback play at Dunbar and his route running needs polish. Not the most college-ready prospect, but all the physical skills are there and the most heartening aspect of his game is that, unlike Malcolm Williams, he actually attacks the ball and catches it well using his strong hands to secure the football. Heartening, indeed, especially after the national championship game debacle.

Quick Take: One of the Crowning Six, a Recruiting Spotlight for White is in the works. For now, let's just say that draws legitimate comparisons to Roy Williams and will likely wear no. 4 at Texas following the departure of Dan Buckner.

 

WR/Flex TE Darius Terrell, DeSoto

Height: 6-2

Weight: 213

Rating (Rivals): Four of five (5.8)

LSR ranking: No. 24

Instant Analysis:

Terrell's commitment certainly ranks as one of the most unsurprising of the 10 current Longhorn commitments for 2010. He's been a Texas lean for a long time and every recruiting service was predicting he would end the weekend as a Longhorn. Even with so many talented receivers in the state, Terrell's offer wasn't as much of a surprise as the offer extended to John Harris, simply because Terrell was a virtual lock to commit and he does rank among the best in the state. As mentioned below, Terrell could well move to tight end, so he might not necessarily count against the four wide receivers the 'Horns are expected to take in 2010.

Instant Scouting Report:

On film, Terrell doesn't seem to do anything other than catch the ball in traffic, often using his strong leaping ability to do so. His quarterback has the confidence that he can go up and get the ball, even when there isn't any separation (there often isn't) and Terrell does high point the ball particularly well. There isn't anything on his highlight film showing an ability to create much separation or make plays after the catch. The Texas coaches reportedly talked to him ($) about playing inside receiver or switching to tight end. Terrell isn't as big yet (205 pounds) as a guy like Bowie's DeAndre Perry (215 pounds), who also will probably switch to tight end in college, but Terrell does have the height (6-3) and ability to catch the ball in traffic that will serve him well if he does end up switching positions, or even if he stays at wide receiver. Like John Harris, Terrell isn't particularly explosive, but uses his body well. Also on the plus side for Terrell is that he went against the best cornerback in the state in practice when he faced off against DeSoto teammate Adrian White.

Quick Take: The big comparison here is Dan Buckner -- Terrell would be cast as an outside receiver in most offenses, but doesn't have the speed to play split end full time, making him a perfect candidate for the split tight end position, which he played at times for DeSoto his senior season. However, the major difference is that Terrell actually appears to possess some tougness and willingness to block, allowing the potential for Greg Davis to expand the position's responsibilities in the blocking game. The best-case scenario is that Terrell becomes a major threat in the seam and can also help as a blocker in the screen game and allow the Longhorns to run out of their 10 personnel package, something they were not able to do effectively much in 2009.

 

C Dominic Espinosa, Cedar Park

Height: 6-4

Weight: 295

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (5.9)

LSR ranking: No. 19

Instant Analysis (Now): Espinosa recruited Texas as much as the Longhorns recruited him -- there's no question that there is no where else he would rather play college football. Tackle seemed like a need in the class and Espinosa won't play that position in college, but he should provide a strong replacement for David Snow when the projected starter at the position in 2010 graduates in 2011. The hope is that Espinosa will provide an upgrade in the Texas reach-blocking scheme and blocking in space, as well as providing some nastiness in the middle of the line.

Instant Scouting Report (Now): A position change from tackle to center his senior season at Cedar Park helped his stock a great deal, as he showed a strong aptitude for the position and worked with former Texas center Jason Glynn on his technique and learning the position. Espinosa has excellent feet and the ability to get to the second level and execute blocks without leaving his feet. In the game against Stony Point this fall, Espinosa took the Tiger middle linebacker out of the game, a strong high school player who had no impact on the game because of Espinosa's play in space.

Quick Take (Then):

Espinosa's persistence paid off. After not hearing from the coaching staff for some time, the local lineman and top 20 player in the state called to check on the status of his recruitment, eventually drawing an invitation to the second Junior Day and giving his commitment ($) after receiving his offer, describing the moment as leaving him "speechless" and "shocked." Standing 6-3 and weighing 280 pounds, Espinosa plays on the outside in high school, but projects as a guard in college, which doesn't fill the need for a tackle in this class. Espinosa does fill a need as a capable reach blocker with good feet, the requirements for a player in a zone blocking scheme. Recruiting is probably done now at the position, except for the coaches waiting on a decision from Jake Matthews. A player like Evan Washington could receive an offer if the coaches decide they need three prospects in the class and Matthews decides to go somewhere else.

 

OG/OT Trey Hopkins, Galena Park North Shore

Height: 6-4

Weight: 275

Commitment: 2/7/2009

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (5.9)

LSR Ranking: No. 8

Instant Analysis:

As mentioned above, Hopkin's offer and commitment came as a bit of a surprise, as it seemed the coaching staff wanted to take more time evaluating the offensive lineman in the 2010 class -- none of them received early invites to the first Junior Day, leading to speculation that the Longhorns wouldn't offer any offensive lineman until late spring or early summer. With numbers tight on the offensive line, that strategy made some sense, but ended up being nothing more than speculation. Hopkins took an unofficial visit last week to Austin, so the coaches had the chance to meet with him face-to-face, preferring to meet each player in person before extending an offer. A long-time Longhorn fan, Hopkins fits the type of player Mack Brown wants -- a kid who loves the program and has for a long time, as well as a great student, currently ranking fifth in his class and having already received offers from strong academic institutions like Rice, Vanderbilt, and Stanford.

Instant Scouting Report:

At 6-4, 260 pounds, the Galena Park North Shore product needs to add some weight and strength to his frame, but the good news is that he isn't carrying excess weight around his middle, like Chad Lindsay, for instance. Though Hopkins plays tackle for North Shore ($), his future at Texas will be in the middle at guard or center, with Mac McWhorter telling Hopkins that center is a strong possibility. He's clearly talented, as the 2010 LSR ranks him as the 17th-best player in a top-heavy group. Hopkins will no doubt add some weight to his frame with two summers left until the 2010 football season, but will probably redshirt unless he manages to put on 40 pounds before enrolling. Hopkins is a tough kid ($) with unusually long arms and good feet, flexibility, and lateral movement.

Quick Take: Hopkins has long arms and operates well in space, while also possessing a lean frame that will need to add strength to compete at the college level. Conventional wisdom has him playing guard at Texas, but there is an outside possibility that he could play some right tackle at Texas, even though he doesn't have prototypical height -- his long arms may be enough to make up for his lack of pure size.

 

DT Taylor Bible, Denton Guyer

Height: 6-3

Weight: 280

Commitment: 2/7/2009

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (5.9)

LSR Ranking: No. 11

Instant Analysis:

Defensive tackle is always a position of need and Denton Guyer's Taylor Bible is probably the top at the position in the state and one of the best in the country. Even though he hadn't planned on committing ($) when offered,  Bible found himself convinced that he wanted to be a Longhorn as soon as he received his offer in person from Mack Brown and made the decision on the spot, describing an emotional scene in Brown's office:

After he offered, he basically said, 'where do we go from here?. I told him that I was coming to Texas and that I wanted to be a Longhorn. It felt pretty good because I've been going over it in my head how it would come out. When it finally was said, I felt like tons of pressure was being lifted off of me. I looked at my mom and she was tearing up. I looked at my dad and he was doing the same thing.

Hopkins is a strong player in his own right, but Bible becomes the first certifiable stud to commit in the 2010 class and was the most important target at the defensive tackle position for Texas. The Longhorns got the best and can now decide how to fill the other spot or two at defensive tackle to finish recruiting there early.

Instant Scouting Report:

The first thing that jumps out about Taylor Bible is his quickness and explosion ($) off the ball. A kid who played tight end as a sophomore shows off the athleticism that landed him on the offensive side of the ball in his earlier playing days, Bible supplements his quickness with a high motor that allows him to get into the backfield repeatedly to disrupt the running game. Though he's only a junior, he already weighs 280 pounds and uses that mass to push offensive lineman backwards, while also using his hands violently to create separation. Since he is so much faster and stronger than most opponents. Bible doesn't always play with optimal pad level, often rushing from a nearly vertical position.

Quick Take: Not to sound overly harsh, but Bible was a blob at the Under Armour game and had all the explosiveness to boot -- at times he was by far the last person off the ball, with some of his teammates on the defensive line seemingly getting a full step in before Bible came out of his crouch. Listed at 300 pounds, Bible was probably 30-40 pounds over his ideal playing weight at the event -- once a pretty lean prospect carrying mostly good weight, Bible will have to work hard this spring, summer, and fall to reshape his body, but his extremely poor conditioning may keep him from being able to contribute his freshman year, a possibility after his junior season. The major culprit was the shoulder injury that needed an operation between his junior and senior years. Bible has a lot of hard work in front of him to regain his former explosiveness.

 

DT Ashton Dorsey, Tyler John Tyler

Height: 6-2

Weight: 276

Commitment: 3/1/2009

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (5.9)

LSR Ranking: No. 17

Instant Analysis (Now): When Dorsey committed he was a bit of an afterthought since the Longhorns already had Bible and Cotton committed, but as the process moved along, it became increasingly clear just how much potential Dorsey has and it's a significant amount. Bible has struggled with injuries and now his fitness issues, so Dorsey provides insurance as a disruptive three technique at a tough position to fill. As such, Dorsey is immensely important not only to this class, but also to the Longhorns moving forward.

Instant Scouting Report (Now): With Bible's weight gain, Dorsey is currently the most explosive defensive tackle in the class and has experience dealilng with double teams at the high school level, though he projects as a three technique in college because of his ability to shoot gaps. In terms of the common problems that high school defensive tackles have, Dorsey is advanced in terms of playing with good pad level, but doesn't always use his hands as well as he could. He has a lean build and carries mostly good weight.

Quick Take (Then):

The news that Jarvis Humphrey has a kidney condition that will keep him from practicing indefinitely must be serious, because two defensive tackles received offers this weekend, even though there was some thought that recruiting was done at the position after receiving commitments from Taylor Bible and De'Aires Cotton. Clearly not the case. While Torrea Peterson received an offer but did not commit, Dorsey took advantage of the offer ($) and committed. The younger brother of Texas A&M's Adren Dorsey, the 6-3, 275 pounder is more highly rated than his brother was coming out of high school due to his great explosion off the ball and better motor. Along with his quickness, the younger Dorsey is also known for using his hands violently and understanding how to use his pad level to create leverage, leading his coach to draw a comparison to Jamarkus McFarland.

 

DT De'Aires Cotton, Alief Taylor

Height: 6-4

Weight: 275

Commitment: 2/8/2009

Rating (Rivals): Three out of five (5.6)

LSR Ranking: No. 75

Instant Analysis:

Alief Taylor's De'Aires Cotton became the second defensive tackle to commit to Texas during the Junior Day weekend, joining the more highly-ranked Taylor Bible. With both players in the fold, recruiting at the position is probably finished unless the coaches want to go after an OOS stud or decide to offer Jay Guy, a kid who really likes Texas, but doesn't seem likely to get an offer right now.

Instant Scouting Report:

Cotton is more of a space-eater than Bible inside since he doesn't have the same quickness, but has a larger frame and can add more weight than Bible. Already a solid player, Cotton's coach at Alief Taylor, Trevor White, spoke about him ($):

He plays with good leverage, gets good extension with the arms and hands, he's got good feet and he gets off blocks extremely well. One of the things is that he's an aggressive kid and a thing I'll ask him to do next year is play more laterally at the line of scrimmage. Do some squeezing. One other thing we are going to ask him to do is tie up and demand some double teams. Work on some gap control.

As far as what technique Cotton will play in college, White provides some good information:

I think he'll play a three. That's probably where he'll best be suited because he's athletic enough to expand with a gap as opposed to a zero tech where he's working to plug. I think he can do that (zero), but he has the ability to move laterally and make plays. He actually played some five tech this year for us, so he's played the nose, the three and some five. Programs that play an even and odd front are recruiting him. In an even front, he'll probably project as a three.

Good stuff, Coach White.

Quick Take: In terms of pure physical talent, Cotton probably lags behind both Bible and Dorsey, but he provies a critical component to this class as the only one fo the three who projects as having the ability to play nose tackle as a zero tech or shaded zero and being capable of taking on double teams. As Ben Alexander proved in 2009, it's extremely important to have a player or two on the roster who can fulfill that role, even in a league dominated by spread teams. The main area for improvement with Cotton is his overall technique, particularly maintaining his leverage by keeping his pads low and by shooting his hands better and more consistently.

 

DE Greg Daniels, Houston St. Pius X

Height: 6-4

Weight: 242

Commitment: 2/28/2009

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (5.8)

LSR Ranking: No. 27

Instant Analysis (Now): Like Chris Jones, Daniels flew under the radar until his commitment to the Longhorns and like his fellow commit, could have been a regional prospect had he not made his decision so early. Like Jones, Daniels represents an unqualified evaluation sucess by the Texas coaching staff and provides valuable depth at the defensive end position and should become a solid rotation player for the Longhorns before the end of his career. At this point, there aren't particularly high expecations facing him -- Daniels is set up perfectly to surprise, even though he's probably underrated and flying under the radar a bit in terms of his place in the class. It's no small honor to be ranked the 27th-best player in the state on the final LSR.

Instant Scouting Report (Now): Daniels is excellent against the run and solid against as a pass rusher, though he doesn't possess elite burst off the ball. The biggest knock on Daniels may be that he doesn't have a projectable frame, as it appears that he has already nearly maxed out at around 240 pounds.

At the same time, it means that he's as physically ready as he's going to be entering the program and will simply need to refine his technique until he can contribute -- he's not a guy like Brian Orakpo who will take two or three years working with Mad Dog to reach his maximum level of strength. Daniels will also probably provide some flexibility for the Longhorns, as he appears to have the size and strength to play some five technique in a three-down look under Will Muschamp.

Quick Take (Then):

Known as a somewhat raw but athletic prospect ($), Daniels began to draw attention in recent weeks, leading to his offer and commitment to the Longhorns. His commitment was surprising because there wasn't any information anywhere that he was even going to be in town, much less that he was on the radar. Daniels showed up to the Junior Day with his junior highlight tape, which he gave to the coaches. Judging by the fact that they watched it and then offered Daniels, the coaches might not have seen him play before he brought the highlight tape, which would seem highly unusual with the amount of resources the program devotes to identifying and recruiting players. Daniels isn't exactly an unkown, however, as Oklahoma had extended the 6-4, 240 pounder an offer. Despite his developed size for a junior defensive end, Daniels reportedly runs a 4.65 40 -- remarkably fast, though he doesn't show the same explosiveness on the field as Jackson Jeffcoat. Daniels shows good strength, as well, but doesn't use his hands violently enough to create and maintain seperation, instead using his lower body strength to knock opposing players into the backfield. The most likely reason for Daniels not receiving more attention was the broken collarbone that he played with for weeks before tellilng the coaches he was hurt. Tough kid, who also provides insurance should Jeffcoat and Reggie Wilson both decide to go elsewhere. Another factor in the lack of early interest was the huge growth spurt ($) he underwent between his sophomore year and the end of his junior campaign, as Daniels grew two inches and put on 40 pounds.

 

DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Plano West

Height: 6-4

Weight: 230

Commitment: 1/29/2010

Rating (Rivals): Five out of five (6.1)

LSR Ranking: No. 2

Instant Analysis:

Rumors swirled all Thursday that Jeffcoat was going to announce for the Longhorns, but given the overall trajectory of Jeffcoat's recruitment, it was hard to give credence to that theory. Now, it appears that those rumors were obviously correct, making the actual announcement by Jeffcoat on Friday morning somewhat anticlimactic after a recruitment that featured only minimal information emerging from the family about where Jeffcoat was going to college. Only somewhat anticlimactic though -- how could the commitment from one of the absolute best players in the country be anticlimactic?

It's another major victory over Oklahoma in a class littered with such victories. While Jordan Hicks will either end up in the Big 10 or Big 12 -- Texas wouldn't have to face him every season -- the situation with Jeffcoat was different. He had to decide which side of the Red River he wanted to be on, whether he would wear crimson or burnt orange. Whether he would be with or against his own sister. As so many other recruits did in 2010 who possessed offers from both schools, Jeffcoat decided he would be true to the state of his birth. The Texas kid, going to Texas. It's just better that way.

Jeffcoat's commitment helps push not only the class as a whole, but the defensive group that Will Muschamp is assembling, over the top. It's hard not to say at this point that the overall class is Mack Brown's best ever and the defensive group is probably without comparison. With a player like Alex Okafor already on campus and the combination of Greg Daniels, Reggie Wilson, and now Jeffcoat, the defensive end position is not only set for the next several years, but should be the strongest group in the country and it shouldn't even be close.

Really, it's almost an embarrassment of riches for Texas, as recruiting momentum continues to build as the 2010 class winds down and the class seemingly keeps adding elite talent upon elite talent -- it's really unbelievable how this class is beginning to wrap up, with the commitment of the only current five star of the group in Jeffcoat, who obviously decided that he wanted to jump on the Longhorn bandwagon that he is rolling towards numerous opportunities to compete for the national championship -- the stud defensive end decided it was indeed better to be with Texas than against Texas. Now it's simply up to Jordan Hicks to do the same.

Instant Scouting Report:

There's a reason that Jeffcoat is ranked so highly and it revolves around the remarkable refinement of his technique, a credit to the hard work both he and his father have put into learning the subtleties of the position. Make no mistake about it, Jeffcoat is an exceptional athlete, but probably falls short of being an elite edge rusher. Instead, Jeffcoat uses his strong technique to beat his opponents, both against the run and the pass.

Quick Take: Recruiting Spotlight

 

DE Reggie Wilson, Haltom

Height: 6-2

Weight: 240

Commitment: 3/20/2009

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (6.0)

LSR Ranking: No. 1

Instant Analysis:

Haltom defensive end Reggie Wilson had already gotten to sit down with Mack Brown in his office and officially receive his offer at Texas' first Junior Day. On his third visit to the Austin campus, the first with his parents, Reggie Wilson didn't even have a chance to meet with the absent Coach February, but a discussion with Will Muschamp and Mike Tolleson was enough to convince the Ivory Coast native and his parents that leaving the Forth Worth area to come to Austin was the right decision.

The journey from the Ivory Coast to New York to Forth Worth and, eventually, to Austin, has been a road traveled by few young men ($) the age of Reggie Wilson. In fact, his parents emigrated to the Ivory Coast from civil war-ravaged Liberia before Wilson's birth, then leaving for the United States when Wilson was seven to send money back in an effort to provide for their seven children and others who had no homes -- orphaned refugees. For three years, Wilson, one of the oldest, helped care for his adopted and blood siblings with money sent back by his parents, before coming to New York briefly and then to Fort Worth.

It was at that point, 11 years old and fresh from Africa, that Wilson signed up for football, expecting to play his first love, the sport Americans call soccer. Disoriented and unaware of what he had gotten himself into, Wilson had to receive help from his classmates get him his foreign pads for the first time. After ending up running the football on his first play, Wilson took a hard hit and decided it was a sport he could grow to love, a love for the game that culminated in his commitment to Texas.

His experience has given Wilson more than simply an appreciation for his opportunity -- it's also given him to desire to help out his native country, as Wilson wants to major in business to eventually earn money to send back home to the Ivory Coast. If Wilson continues to refine his raw talent, something tells me that first check that gets sent back to Africa will come from an NFL team.

In terms of Wilson's impact on recruiting, his commitment means one less spot available to the other ten players currently with an offer (Corey Nelson, Jordan Hicks, Darius White, Trovon Reed, DeMarco Cobbs, Torrea Peterson, Lache Seastrunk, Jackson Jeffcoat, and Jake Matthews). Of that group, Peterson is the most likely to be told by the coaching staff that he needs to commit soon or lose his spot. Frankly, he should be told now there isn't a spot for him because he is the least talented of the group and the class already has three other defensive tackles (Ashton Dorsey, De'Aires Cotton, and Taylor Bible).

Wilson's commitment means the Longhorns have the numbers at defensive end that they wanted (at least two) and removes the necessity of getting at least one of Wilson and Jeffcoat. In other words, Texas can be happy with their commitments at defensive end currently, making Jeffcoat a player who would simply push the recruiting class as a whole into even more rarified air.

Instant Scouting Report:

Wilson possesses a maturity level and perspective on the world molded by his experiences extremely unique for his age. Rather than viewing football and his natural ability for the game as his birth right, Wilson plays the game with an intensity revealing his understanding of just how lucky he is be talented at a game that can give him the opportunity to make a difference in life. As a result, Wilson uses his constant motor to enhance his impressive athleticism, making him a threat crashing down on the backside of running plays away from him, much like Alex Okafor.

It's easy to compare Wilson to 2010 classmate Jackson Jeffcoat, since both are elite defensive ends from the Metroplex with outstanding offers from Texas and top five players in the state, they are quite different for two elite players at the same position. While Jeffcoat would project at Texas in the Buck position, in addition to playing in a more traditional three-point stance, Wilson projects as a power end who could also spin down to the defensive tackle position in pass-rushing situations -- think Lamarr Houston as a sophomore.

That's not to say that Wilson is a candidate to permanently spin down to defensive tackle, like Tevin Mims, though Wilson does possess a similar skill set in terms of explosiveness (he runs between a 4.7 and 4.8) and change-of-direction abilities, which are remarkable for a defensive end, but not quite elite. 

It's the raw potential of Wilson that has Inside Texas currently ranking him at the top of their rankings, ahead of talents like Jeffcoat, Darius White, and Lache Seastrunk. Wilson also differs greatly from the refined Jeffcoat in terms of technique -- Wilson doesn't appear to have any developed pass-rushing moves, though he can be violent enough with his hands to shed blockers. 

Wilson also severely lacks in his tackling form. A player with the combination of Wilson's size and strength should put more big hits on opposing players. Instead, Wilson displays poor tackling form and ends relying on the strength in his hands and forearms, which is ample, to grab and throw down opposing players. In his highlight films, Wilson makes no more than a couple form tackles. There's a viciousness hitting defenders yet to be unleashed with Wilson.

The rawness in Wilson's game will likely limit his early effectiveness unless his makes big breakthroughs in technique during his senior season. Of course, the talented defensive ends in the class in front of Wilson, particularly Tevin Mims, factor into that equation. 

Besides technique, Wilson also lags behind Jeffcoat in his explosiveness. Wilson is a more compact and better built-player at this point than Jeffcoat and projects at a different position on the defensive line, alleviating any concerns that revelation might create. The concern is the difference in explosiveness between Wilson's sophomore and junior film. As a junior wearing #9, Wilson flew around the field, with an explosiveness first step that rivaled Jeffcoat or Alex Okafor. However, as a junior wearing #72, Wilson looks slower and lacks a half step on his previous highlights, while also appearing his nimble in his lateral movement and ability to change direction.

The most likely reason for Wilson's limited junior explosiveness is the number of snaps he took on the offensive side of the ball. A relentless blocker in the mold of Thomas Ashcraft and Barrett Matthews, Wilson played offensive tackle for Haltom as a junior, likely expending a great deal of his energy on that side of the ball. 

Wasting movement in his jump off the ball is one of the reasons Wilson struggles to consistently explode off the ball to the best of his abilities. Given his deep background in football and his work with his father, Jeffcoat may appear faster more consistently merely because he's using better technique to get his jump at the snap. When Wilson refines his jump off the ball, he may end up being nearly as fast as the extremely quick Jeffcoat.

In terms of his physical development, it's hard to tell how much room Wilson has on his frame to grow at this point. At 240 pounds as a junior, there's no reason that Wilson couldn't step onto the field during fall practice in 2010 and weigh 260 pounds, especially after a semester and summer in the weight program with Mad Dog (Wilson will enroll early at Texas). Physical development not being the biggest issue, Wilson should focus more on maximizing his athleticism, both in his lateral movement and his explosive off the ball than simply developing his pure size and weight.

Quick Take: Unfortunately, Wilson was not able to enroll early due to a mix up with his grades -- the NCAA does not accept the boosted grades for AP classes, instead taking the raw grade, leaving Wilson needing to score a bit higher on his ACT to become eligible and delaying his enrollment until the fall.

When he does enroll, Wilson and Jeffcoat will form the perfect bookends for the Texas defensive line moving forward. Blessed with incredible athleticism, remarkable maturity from his experiences as a young boy in Afrida, and possessing the willingness to work hard to improve, Wilson has tremendous upside. It may take some time before the Texas coaching staff can truly refine his technique, particularly as a tackler, something the Haltom coaching staff worked with him about as a senior -- Wilson didn't always wrap up well, but when he decided to do so, well, the results were nearly catastrophic for the poor ballcarrier:

UT's arm tacker? Not quite @ Yahoo! Video

 

LB Jordan Hicks, Lakota West (West Chester, OH)

Height: 6-2

Weight: 220

Commitment: 1/29/2009

Rating (Rivals): Five out of five (6.1)

LSR Ranking: N/A

Instant Analysis:

Florida began to fall by the wayside when Charlie Strong left for Louisville, but the death blow probably came when Urban Meyer didn't visit. It's hard to say what exactly happened with Ohio State, but the weather, his mother's relationship with Jeff Madden, Jordan's relationship with Will Muschamp, and his overall lack of ties to the state of Ohio helped eventually eliminate the Buckeyes from contention when Hicks sat down to make his final decision.

Even picking up Jackson Jeffcoat was an incredible get for the Longhorns to help top off an amazing recruiting class in its own right, but adding Hicks to it as well is almost unfathomable -- it will probably take some time to process everything and put it all into proper perspective, but even Bill Walton might have trouble making hyperbolic statements. The class is just that good and that the announcements of both Hicks and Jeffcoat both came within 90 minutes of each other and both favored the Longhorns is just staggering.

It's a bit of a conspiracy theory, but what are the chances that the two communicated about their decisions and decided to announce so close together as a show of solidarity for the Longhorns? That such a thing is even thinkable is almost beyond words.

Maybe it was just completely serendipitous -- both players just came to the same decision at the same time and wanted to end the process as quickly as possible before Signing Day. After all, Jeffcoat was expected to announce on Sunday night, but moved his press conference up two days.

Now, the next question is which recruit is the crown jewel of this class -- Hicks or Jeffcoat? But wait, Reggie Wilson, Tevin Jackson, Mike Davis, and Darius White all have strong claims to that title as well. Hell, why even debate something like that? They are all the crown jewels of the class. The class is the crown jewel.

And by the way, Jordan Hicks looks amazing in burnt orange. More later, of course, on the implications.

Instant Scouting Report:

Hicks is a stud. Just about everything that Coach Boom could want from a linebacker, Hicks brings to the table. Toughness. Smarts. Speed. Striking ability. The ability to read and diagnose, then make the play when he gets there. Drop into coverage. Come on now, there's a reason that he's widely considered the best linebacker in the class. At this point, there's not much more to say than that.

Quick Take: Recruiting Spotlight

 

LB Tevin Jackson, Garland

Height: 6-3

Weight: 230

Commitment: 2/8/2009

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (6.0)

LSR Ranking: No. 4

Instant Analysis:

I would put Jackson in the John Harris category of relative surprises. Obviously, once a guy gets an invite to a Junior Day, an offer is probably forthcoming to the great majority of those guys and Jackson is no exception. What Jackson's commitment means is that the Longhorns will probably offer one of the group of Caleb Lavey, Kurt Killens, Shaun Lewis, and Kris Catlin, though it doesn't look good for the first two. If Corey Nelson commits, the class could be done, but conventional wisdom is that Texas takes four linebackers, meaning another offer could go out at the next Junior Day or possibly before if a player takes a visit to campus.

Instant Scouting Report:

There isn't a lot of information out there about Jackson, but the word is that he's rising quickly and could be poised for a strong, breakout senior season. Since Corey Nelson and Aaron Benson are both six-footers, Jackson provides some size for the class, at around 6-2 and 200 pounds. He also has long arms and is nearly as fast ($) as the two more highly-ranked linebackers, running a 4.6, which isn't blazing, but certainly adequate for the position. Besides his sideline-to-sideline range, Jackson has strong pass rushing skills, notching seven sacks as a junior, while making nearly 100 tackles.

Quick Take: Tevin Jackson is one mean dude. After having played 7-on-7 all summer and not being able to hit anyone, Jackson made it quite clear in interviews that he was ready to de-cleat someone. So there's no question that he brings toughness and physicality and a mean streak to the football field, but he's also tremendously gifted. Though he may not have liked all the aspects of 7-on-7, the format gives linebackers a great opportunity to improve their ability in coverage and it was that aspect of his game that grew the most since his commitment to Texas in February. Known as a downhill player and an excellent blitzer, Jackson is now a complete linebacker and will give Jordan Hicks a strong challenge for playing time. Much like Hicks, Jackson could play the Buck position, but his actual linebacking skills are too superb to justify a position change.

Jackson is the dude at the diner with the wallet that says, "Bad mother------." Absolutely love the way he plays football.


LB Aaron Benson, Cedar Hill

Height: 6-2

Weight: 220

Commitment: 2/9/2009

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (5.8)

LSR Ranking: No, 21

Instant Analysis:

When linebacker Aaron Benson makes his commitment to Texas official nearly a year from now by signing his LOI, he will become the third player in three years to attend Texas after graduating from Cedar Hill High School, following defensive tackle Jarvis Humphrey in 2008 and guard Thomas Ashcraft in 2009. The Texas coaches and players going back and forth have no doubt blazed a path from Cedar Hill to Austin. Suffice it to say that Aaron Benson didn't have any trouble having his way to the Junior Day this weekend, giving his commitment to the Texas coaches on Monday. His family ties no doubt made the decision easier for him, as Aaron is Cedric's cousin.

Instant Scouting Report:

Benson and Corey Nelson are nearly even for the honor of being ranked as the top linebacker in their class, but any separation is probably mostly irrelevant. Bobby Bragg has a quick summary of Benson as a football player:

At a shade over 6-0 and 207 pounds, the Cedar Hill junior has the ideal frame and body type for a linebacker. Benson has the ability to turn, run and chase the ball. While he doesn't always break down at this point, he quickly makes up for mistakes with speed and a non-stop motor. Moved outside from the middle in 2008 and took off as a player.

Quick Take: Benson is perhaps the prototypical spread linebacker with his sideline to sideline speed and has excellent football instincts, though he does have a tendency to overrun plays. Physically on the small side for most of his high school career, Benson filled out his frame as a senior, increasing his weight from 205 to around 220 by adding lean muscle -- he's now close to his playing weight at Texas and should see time on special teams as a freshman.

 

DB Carrington Byndom, Lufkin

Height: 6-0

Weight: 165

Commitment: 2/23/2009

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (5.8)

LSR Ranking: No. 18

Instant Analysis: With the departure of Earl Thomas, the transfer of Marcus Davis

Instant Scouting Report:

Cornerback Carrington Byndom, of Jamarkus McFarland's alma matter, Lufkin High School, called Mack Brown on Monday evening to announce that he was becoming the 12th member of the 2010 Texas recruiting class. Even though Byndom has the preferred height to play cornerback (he plays safety in high school), at 6-0, he will need to spend significant time in the weight room before he will be ready to step on the field for the Longhorns, as he weighs only 170 pounds, currently.

Fluidity in the hips is a prerequisite for playing cornerback, and Byndom possesses it ($), as he is able to open, turn, and run with receivers, though he sometimes tackles too high in space and could use some work on his ball skills, as he dropped too many sure interceptions as a junior. Byndom is a legit Top 30 prospect in the state, as Oklahoma and LSU also offered, with 4.45 speed, long arms, and a D-I pedigree -- his father, CB, played at Houston ($) in the early 1980s. In addition to the athleticism that allows him to run track and play baseball, Byndom also excels in the classroom ($) -- making the honor roll at Lufkin and scoring a 1200 on his SAT.

Quick Take: Byndom fills a huge need as a pure cornerback in the class and though he physically may not be ready to compete at a high level until he spends some time in the Texas weight program, he may be asked to contribute as a sophomore after both Browns graduate. If Aaron Williams defies conventional wisdom and decides to return for his senior season, there would be less pressure on Byndom or White to step in an play early, but it's likely that he will. As one of the best, if not the best, cover cornerbacks in the class, the transition should be relatively smooth.

 

DB Bryant Jackson, Sulphur Springs

Height: 6-3

Weight: 175

Commitment: 2/28/2009

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (5.8)

LSR Ranking: No. 22

Instant Analysis (Now): It's same of the same deal with Jackson as with Byndom -- the Longhorns really need to find defensive backs who can contribute in 2011. Jackson may be a bit of a project, but he provides depth to the class and strong upside with his frame.

Instant Scouting Report (Now): Physically, Jackson has a ways to go before he fills out of his frame to his eventual playing weight. The kid is 6-3 and 175 pounds. The real question is whether or not he has the hips to play cornerback because he could be an excellent ball-hawking safety using the ability to track and high point the football that he developed playing wide receiver in high school.

Since the Longhorns are searching for a nickel back to eventually replace Aaron Williams, Jackson could grow into an excellent nickel back with his size -- the question, once again, is whether he has the hips to play the position and there's no definitive answer on that now.

Quick Take (Then):

A lifelong fan of the Longhorns ($), the decision to commit wasn't a hard one for the East Texas defensive back, who compared the decision to winning a state championship. Despite being limited by tonsils that needed removal and a bout with mononucleosis, Jackson still registered nearly 100 tackles as a junior, while intercepting five passes and breaking up 10 more. At 6-3 and a lanky 175 pounds, Jackson still needs to work on filling out his frame, but could play cornerback or safety at the college level -- exactly the profile of a Texas defensive back. The word from Jackson is that the Longhorns recruited him as a cornerback ($).

 

DB Adrian White, DeSoto*

Height: 5-10

Weight: 171

Commitment: 3/13/2009

Rating (Rivals): Three out of five (5.7)

LSR Ranking: No. 46

Instant Analysis: The Duality of Adrian White.

DeSoto cornerback Adrian White announced on Geoff Ketchum's radio show on Friday his intentions to become a Texas Longhorn, becoming the 20th commitment in the 2010 class and ending recruitment at the defensive back position. Five offers went out to defensive backs -- Lufkin's Carrington Byndom, Sulphur Spring's Bryant Jackson, Waco Midway's Ahmad Dixon, and Garland's Adrian Phillips, an athlete who may get a chance on the offensive side of the ball, but projects much better as a defensive back. The Longhorns have gotten almost everyone they offered so far, but have unbelievably batted 100% on the defensive backs.

Dixon and White are the jewels of the group, with Dixon by far the best safety in the state and White one of the best, if not the best, cornerbacks in the state. Gerry Hamilton says that White is "widely considered the best cornerback prospect in the state," though Geoff Ketchum ranked Carrington Byndom ahead of White in the last LSR.

 

One coach who recruited White is a fan ($):

"He has a chance to be the best defensive back in Texas. He's a kid that's committed to being a great player and that's what turned me to him. It matters to him. He's a great athlete that can do everything from the physical side. It doesn't surprise me that he ended up at Texas and I'd guess he'll do very well there."

Typical of a "Mack Brown type of kid," White trains hard off the field ($) to improve his technique and speed, working out twice a week with Super Bowl MVP Larry Brown and gold medalist sprinter Jon Drummond, while also running track for DeSoto.

The same work ethic extends into the classroom, with White earning a 3.5 GPA and graduating in December to enroll early at Texas. Whether in the classroom or in shorts training during the offseason, White is clearly intent on doing everything he can to earn early playing time at Texas.

Instant Scouting Report:

White wasn't just another body when he started out on the combine circuit as a sophomore, he consistently shines at the combines and camps -- one such performance for White came at the 2008 Forth Worth NIKE Camp when he became the only underclassman to win an award ($) at the camp (even Lache Seastrunk didn't win one), taking home the defensive MVP. And it wasn't only at the NIKE Camp that White performed well, earning second-team defensive back honors ($) at the Army Underclassman Combine, not as a junior, but as one of the few sophomores at the event.

At White's second Army All-American Combine ($), he ran a 4.5 on the notoriously slow Alamodome surface, one-tenths of a second higher than his reported 4.41 40 on his Rivals page. With the slow surface, it's not as much about how fast each player ran, but the group of players in which he finished -- White turned in one of the fastest times on a day in which even Lache Seastrunk, one of the fastest players in the state, ran in the 4.5s as well. In the drills, however, White only did enough to earn second-team defensive back honors ($) from Rivals for the second year in a row in a group that was among the deepest at the event, though Scout named him to their All-Combine Team ($).

After participating in a Texas camp last summer, White assessed his game ($):

I feel I'm pretty quick. I can be physical on the line and I have the speed to cover any receiver. I need to improve on my technique, my back pedal and my cuts.

White's physicality and speed weren't lost ($) on Sooner Scoop's Justin McCuistion, watching White on the combine circuit:

White is very physical at the line of scrimmage, repeatedly knocking receivers to the ground with his initial pop. White showed nice recovery speed and most of all the kind of attitude that generally separates a good corner from a great one; his problems didn't linger and if one mistake took place he was right back in against the receiver that beat him.

Gerry Hamilton draws similar conclusions:

He's a really physical corner who comes up and plays the run. He also has the hips. He has recovery speed. He has those qualities that all the top programs are looking for across the country.

White can effectively press receivers at the line of scrimmage because of his upper body strength and recovery speed. Texas rarely plays zone coverage, so having cornerbacks who can step up to the line of scrimmage and match up physically with big receivers is a necessity.


Quick Take: Honestly, there have been plenty of questions about Adrian White and his penchant for not maximizing his physical talents between the lines on Friday nights. The two games against Skyline when Mike Davis absolutely destroyed him. There's probably not a happier person on the planet than Adrian White that he ended up on the same team and won't have to face him against in a game environment. His struggles against Davis were largely a function of not playing to his strengths as a cornerback by pressing and instead being asked to play off in coverage. And Davis eats up cushions.

In the second half of the playoff game last fall, White slowed Davis down in the second half when he got up in Davis' face at the line of scrimmage. Davis was tired by that point from so much running, but it's still indicative of White's ability to play with confidence after giving up some big plays and how different the first half might of been had White been allowed to do what he does best.

As a guy who does excel in playing in press coverage, White is a perfect fit for Will Muschamp's defense, but needs to avoid the mental mistakes that have plagued Chykie Brown's career and surely cost him at times against Mike Davis.

When it comes down to a final evaluation of Adrian White, it's ridiculous to rank Reggie Wilson as the top player in the state and then turn around and have White at no. 46 and as a three star, as did Rivals and Orangebloods. College coaches are saying he could be the best cover corner in the state. And there's no question about that. Then, White went and held his own in the Under Armour game against the best wide receivers in the country, even doing so consistently throughout the week.

Check out this final evaluation from someone who was actually there all week ($), Jeff Howe:

The thing I liked about White is that this is the most comfortable I have ever seen him playing off in man and he really showed that he can flip his hips and run with elite receivers. Another area of his game that has improved are his ball skills and despite the fact that he dropped an interception in the game he had two pass breakups and showed a willingness to make plays on the ball all week.

 

I want to see how he works in zone situations because he didn’t do a lot of that this week and he will have to play zone and man at Texas with the way Muschamp mixes things up throughout a game. He could also work on those hands and eventually some of those pass breakups will turn into interceptions.

 

White is a guy who I have scouted as much as any commit in the class and this was the best I have seen him look. Enrolling early will help him a lot and I see him getting reps next year, especially with the departure of Marcus Davis.

Okay, so the guy had trouble with inconsistency, but now is maximizing the talent that makes real talent evaluators like a college coach say that he could be the best cornerback in the state, which should easily put him among the top 15 players? And If it's based on potential White should be a solid four and if it's based on results White should be a solid four star. It's an absolute travesty that Rivals evaluated him as a three-star player because he's not in any sense of that designation and they were just apparently too lazy to even take into account his most recent performance on a big stage. Rivals FAIL.

 

While will play some as a freshman and and has the potential to be a lockdown cornerback strong enough to match up one-on-one in the boundary against split ends. All the talent is there.

 

*Enrolled for spring

 

ATH Adrian Phillips, Garland

Height: 5-11

Weight: 190

Commitment: 2/8/2009

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (5.8)

Instant Analysis:

Phillips was a kid who was a little bit under the radar before the Junior Day, without even a lot of speculation that he would receive an offer, much less commit. So much for that. Phillips projects as a cornerback at Texas (he plays safety on defense for Garland), though the coaches will give him a chance at receiver if he wants it, offering him as an athlete. I imagine he would take a look at the numbers and head over to practice with the defensive players. The concern on the defensive side of the ball is that he didn't get a lot of reps there in high school due to his offensive duties. That probably won't be a huge problem since Adrian White, if he commits, would be the player expected to contribute early and Phillips will likely receive plenty of reps at Texas before seeing a lot of playing time.

Instant Scouting Report:

Adrian Phillips played a similar jack-of-all-trades role to the one that Trovon Reed played for his high school team, though Phillips also played some defense, in addition to his roles passing, carrying, and catching the football, accounting for more than 2,000 total yards and earning the Offensive Player of the Year award for his district. The Longhorns will probably put him on the defensive side of the ball, where he has the fluidity in his hips to be able to turn and run, the most important skill for a cornerback besides speed. He only had 17 tackles on defense as a junior, but played more on that side of the ball as a sophomore, making 32 tackles and intercepting two passes.

Quick Take: Phillips is a well built, tough kid who knows how to play a variety of positions, a trait that a lot of college coaches love, in large part because it forces the player to understand all those positions and in doing so gain an understanding of the bigger picture of the offense as a whole -- looking through the door instead of the keyhole, as Will Muschamp described it with Earl Thomas this season.

It's entirely possible that Phillips could end up end being a similar player to Thomas -- both guys played some offense in high school and with two pure cover corners in White and Byndom in the class, the coaches can afford to look at Phillips at safety exclusively. Nickel back is another possibility, but a longer, rangier player like Bryant Jackson probably fits the position better in terms of being able to take on blockers in the screen game and blitz the quarterback. Either way, Phillips has the makings of a guy who will be around the football the excellent feet that benefited him on offense with the ball in his hands help him run a wide alley as a safety.

 

ATH DeMarco Cobbs, Tulsa Central (Tulsa, OK)

Height: 6-1

Weight: 198

Commitment: 10/29/2009

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (5.8)

Instant Analysis: Twisting, turning road brings Cobbs to Texas. Or, also known as, "What could be better than stealing one of the top players from the Land Thieves instead of the other way around?"

Instant Scouting Report: A player with the athletic ability to play any number of position -- he did so in high school -- Cobbs has solid speed that is undoubtedly better than his poor testing at the Army junior combine (4.76 40) and looks absolutely explosive at times. A strong comparison might be John Chiles because both played some quarterback in high school but were raw at the position, possessed similar athleticism, though Chiles may have been slightly faster in a straight line and Cobbs possessing better feet and ability to redirect himself. There's no question that Cobbs has the tools to be an excellent safety or linebacker, but he's just too good of a playmaker to take the ball out of his hands.

Quick Take: Cobbs may be one of the most interesting players to watch in the class because it's still unclear where he's going to end up. The early word is that he still start out at running back because of his excellent feet and vision and (probably) some concerns about how natural of a pass catcher he is -- he may end up playing a wide receiver/running back hybrid, though he doesn't have the pure speed to be as effective on the jet sweep as DJ Monroe.

A redshirt year is a strong possibility, but the Texas coaches need to find ways to get him the football early on in his career. If the Longhorns decide to mess around with some Wildcat formation stuff to keep Gilbert from taking too many hits in the running game, Cobbs would be the logical successor to John Chiles and perhaps even a better option there in 2010.

The key with Cobbs is not to waste two years of eligibility at a position he won't end up playing as a senior as happened with Chiles, whose first two years on campus didn't help him much as a football player.

 

K William Russ, Shreveport Evangel Christian (Shreveport, LA)

Height: 6-4

Weight: 170

Commitment: 1/31/2009

Rating (Rivals): Three out of five (5.5)

LSR ranking: N/A

Instant Analysis:

The story arc for the 2010 recruiting class had the process all but ending on Friday with the decisions of Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks -- it was possible that the Longhorns could have continued to pursue Corey Nelson had Hicks not become a Longhorn, but he would have been the only target left on the board for Texas. However, that storyline didn't even really make it to Friday morning, as news broke on Thursday that Shreveport Evangel Christian kicker Will Russ was headed to Austin for a visit from Friday to Sunday afternoon.

Thursday evening and early Friday were filled with an erroneous report from Shreveport that Russ had already committed to the Longhorns after receiving his offer on Thursday morning -- which he had not -- and a similar report in the Statesman with a quote from Russ' head coach John Bachman that he thought Texas had already offered and that Russ would commit. All the misinformation prompted Russ to confirm his continued commitment to the Piggies in an interview with the Arkansas Rivals affiliate. That changed officially on Sunday afternoon at the end of Russ' visit to Austin -- he had officially received his Texas offer, which occurred in all likelihood on Friday evening or some time on Saturday in a meeting with Mack Brown in his office and news of his commitment broke on Sunday ($), making him the 25th and final commitment of the class.

The announcement came from Bachman, who was unable to speak for Russ when asked about why the talented kicker/punter decided to switch his commitment, which came despite Texas not having the landscape architecture program that helped draw him to Arkansas. With the Longhorns losing the incredibly reliable Hunter Lawrence and Ryan Bailey, the hero of the 2006 Nebraska game in Lincoln, the position of kicker became a serious need and the coaches simply had to make the decision about whether they would offer a kicker a scholarship or ask them to wak on with the program. Lawrence was the first kicker to receive a scholarship offer from Mack Brown, who had turned down an opportunity to offer Georgetown star Mason Crosby, and Justin Tucker was subsequently offered a scholarship as well. But Tucker hasn't kicked field goals since high school and struggled in getting the ball into the end zone on kickoffs -- Russ will compete with Tucker for both of those jobs and apparently began receiving interest from Texas several weeks ago as the numbers for the class became solidified.

Russ isn't the first prospect to attend Texas from Shreveport Evangel, one of the top football programs in the state of Louisiana -- the school also produced Phillip Geiggar, who is now a member of the football staff there, Stevie Lee, and both Pittman brothers. It's also the home of one of the top prospects in 2011, stud defensive end Jermauria Rasco, who will probably end up being ont eh to absolute top prospects in the entire country and will be a top target for the Longhorns at the position. Rasco has listed Texas as one of his two favorites for some time now.

Instant Scouting Report:

Bachman engaged in what must be a bit of hyperbole after Russ' commitment when he said that Russ was the best athlete on their campus (a statement he has made at other times ($)) -- that honor undoubtedly belongs to Rasco, but the point is clear. Some reps at wide receiver were considered for Russ by the coaching staff, a decision they ultimately decided against in an effort to help him focus on kicking. The third baseman for the Evangel baseball team, Bachman says that Russ is such a unique prospect becaue of his ability to use his athleticism to handle poor snaps and carry out fake punts, as well as use his strong leg to boom punts and long field goals.

Russ is 6-3 and 170 pounds, giving him excellent size for a kicker and he reportedly has solid speed -- he may not be able to run down talented kick returners, but there is a strong chance that if he learns how to take good angles, he could save a touchdown or two during his time at Texas. While many kickers in high school take advantage of their ability to kick field goals from a tee, Russ has been kicking from the ground -- Bachman believes that will aid his transition to college.

A top performer in Chris Sailor's kicking camp in July, the proprietor described what helped set Russ apart ($) from the crowd:

He's one of those guys that's been under the radar a little bit. He's always had a good leg but he's not one of those guys that has jumped out at you but the last two days he's really done well.

He's still a little stiff and a little raw but he had a 5.2 hang-time punt which is unbelievable. Very few guys in the country can do that. He out-punted Matt Darr and he out-punted Mike Sadler. Those are the top two guys that are here so I think he's got a real good shot at really becoming something after this camp.

The same article indicated that Russ had only begun punting some time after his sophomore season, so there is a possibility of improvement in that area, particularly as he works in the Texas strength and conditioning program and becomes stronger and, perhaps more importantly, more flexible. The hang time on his punts and the velocity with which the ball leaves his foot are strong indications of the ability to succeed at Texas and become an invaluable member of the team moving forward.

Quick Take: Don't sleep on Russ' importance to this class, as he could contribute on kickoffs, punts, and field goals in his career and is the strongest candidate to have the football on his foot if the Longhorns need to win the game late in the year in 2012, after Justin Tucker graduates.

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