2011 narrative: In the spring of 2009, the major narrative surrounding the 2011 class concerned Shreveport Evangel DE Jermauria Rasco, then thought to be one of the top prospects in the class. After the Junior Day, it mostly boiled down to Cedric Reed as Rasco's stock fell some and Reed revealed that he would make his decision before Rasco. Texas landed the top talent on their board with Reed's commitment and as the recruiting process moves on, things continue to look better and better with Rasco, especially as the depth chart clears out somewhat.
2012 projected numbers: Two or three. This is a number that could well change with attrition and possible position changes, like the moves of both Alex Okafor and Greg Daniels inside. A commitment from Jermauria Rasco could also alter the numbers.
Mario Edwards, Denton Ryan -- The first thing that you need to know about Mario Edwards is that the guy is 6-4, 250 pounds and played some split end last season for Prosper, averaging over 20 yards per catch. And he doesn't play split end just because he's big -- the kid can move, with a reported 40 time of 4.65.
The speed helps him tremendously at defensive end, where he racked up nearly 70 tackles as a sophomore. There isn't much film available on the big defensive end who will be playing his junior season at Denton Ryan, but he does have the quickness you would expect from someone with his 40 time and he has ideal lower-body thickness for the position. He also has a quick first step and elite change of direction ability, as well as the body control to make catches in traffic while being interfered with.
The few clips that are available are enough to reveal that Edwards is the freak of nature that his measurables suggest and that means that no matter how raw he is as a prospect (and he isn't that raw), there's too much upside for him not to be one of the top targets in the class. Even if he does put on the weight to become a major force at defensive tackle. Unquestionably a top-10 talent in the class -- making him a top Texas target. The guy is an absolute monster.
Gimme factor: Five Gimme's out of five
Victor Irokansi, Pflugerville Hendrickson -- If there's another player at the position who deserves the title of physical freak, it's Irokansi, who jumped over the mat during the Texas Showcase Combine when completing his broad jump. He reports a 32-inch vertical and a 4.5 40 time. A lean athlete with explosive quickness and strong ability to change direction, Irokansi struggles at times to time the snap count and often struggles getting off the ball. When he does time the snap count correctly, he's extremely difficult to stop.
Since he is so lean, Irokansi doesn't have ideal lower body strength and it impacts his tackling ability -- he's pretty much a drag-down guy at this point and often doesn't bring his hips and lower body on tackles. Of course, Reggie Wilson fixed that pretty quickly with some prompting from his coaching staff last season, so Irokansi may be able to as well.
Irokansi does a solid job of using his hands, showing some ability to bull rush opponents and to try play opponents who try to cut at his legs. Like most high school defensive ends not named Jackson Jeffcoat, Irokansi is raw as a pass rusher and uses eitehr his speed off the edge or a bullrush to pressure the quarterback.
The major concern with Irokansi is whether or not he can put on the necessary weight to play as a true defensive end in college -- if he struggles to get to 240 pounds or more, he could play as stand-up pass rusher at the Buck position. Let's just say this, if Irokansi makes the short trip down 35 to Austin to play college football, Coach Boom will find a way to use him effectively.
A big Texas fan, Irokansi is on record as saying that he would commit on the spot if offered.
Gimme factor: Three Gimme's out of five
Victor Irokansi (via hhorne)
Michael Richardson, DeSoto -- A bit undersized at around 6-2 and 220 pounds, Richardson could end up as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme or a Buck type in the Texas defense. After watching Richardson in the DeSoto game against Leander early in the season, there wasn't anything particularly impressive to report.
Part of that had to do with the fact that Richardson often played as a 3-4 defensive end, which does not suit his strength at this point -- his speed off the edge. Basically, he looked like just another guy in that game -- a similar assessment to this one from Recruitocosm.
In a scrimmage against Tyler John Tyler ($), though, the report was that Richardson was dominant on the evening, collecting three sacks and terrorizing the opposing offensive line off the edge. The issue is that Richardson doesn't have a lot of explosive quickness to his game for his size, although his is a better than average striker and overall a physical player.
Gimme Factor: Two Gimme's out of five
Eric Davis, Tyler John Tyler -- Another player who has some work to do in adding mass, Davis is another quick pass rusher (4.65 reported 40 time) off the edge who benefited as a sophomore from playing with Ashton Dorsey, the freshman defensive tackle for Texas. As a sophomore, Davis recorded 46 tackles, six sacks, and two fumble recoveries.
Gimme Factor: Two Gimme's out of five
All about Mario Edwards -- the early narrative at defensive end is much like the narrative for defensive tackle with Brenham's Malcolm Brown. It all starts with the Denton Ryan star, whose father played defensive back at Florida State and in the NFL for the Cowboys. Despite the connection to Florida State, the early word is that Edwards is high on Texas. There is almost no doubt at this point that the top priority is landing Edwards in the class -- everything else will move from there.
The athletic upside and commitability of Irokansi helps keep him on the Wish portion of this list, but in all truthfulness, he's much closer to being on the Watch list with Davis and Richardson than being an absolute top target like Edwards. Like defensive tackle, this is a position where there will probably be some names that pop up later in the recruiting process.