Austin High WR Cayleb Jones, the newest Longhorn (photo by the author).
Okay, so there are Longhorn fans out there who are hard to please, pessimistic, never satisfied. To those Texas fans, I present to you a big name that surely has to make you smile, even if it's only for a minute -- Austin High WR Cayleb Jones, now a Longhorn after announcing his commitment via Facebook on Sunday.
Tabbed as a future 'Horn for some time by Recruitocosm, Jones made his pledge after taking in practice on Saturday and spending some quality time watching the installation of the new Harsinwhite offense and bonding with future teammate and potential future quarterback Connor Brewer, who was also in town visiting.
Even with his commitment going down in the spring of his junior year, Jones has been on the radar for well over a year now, making his recruitment a long one considering he committed well before many blue-chip players who will take their official visits this fall. The first scare came from Miami (his father played for the Dolphins and for Randy Shannon), but that threat faded when Randy Shannon was let go. Then it was a scare from Auburn, where his cousin Emory Blake, who never received a scholarship offer from Texas, now stars.
In the end though, Jones ended up being a Longhorn all the way, with no other schools seriously challenging Texas during the final weeks of his recruitment.
So far, Jones is the star of the Texas class and if Connor Brewer can win the quarterback job when Jones gets to campus, they could be a strong combination considering Brewer's accuracy on the deep ball. More than just his big-time talent, Jones gives the Longhorns an instant deep threat when he gets to campus, regardless of who is throwing him the football.
Combine NFL-level elite hands that can pull down one-handed catches when fully extended and the ability to change speeds when running his routes to set up and the result is an elite receiver. So while Jones isn't a burner, he is fluid and knows how to get open, aided by those hands and excellent leaping ability. Just look at that picture gracing the top of the post.
While Jones isn't the physical freak that Dorial Green-Beckham is, that's hardly a criticism of Jones given the rarity of a talent like DGB. There are, however, a couple of aspects Jones' game that could use improvement, in particular his willingness to block downfield, which is often not there, and in his willingness to run his routes hard when he's not the primary target. Both are related to effort and with some coaching and effort on the part of Jones, won't be a problem in college.
As far as his impact on the class, Jones is the best get for the Longhorns so far and the type of super-star talent that puts the rest of college football on notice that Texas may have had a bad season on the football field, but can still land elite talent.
Since he projects as an outside receiver in college, most likely a split end, Jones fits extremely well in this class with the other wide receiver commit, Skyline's Thomas Johnson, who is the prototypical speedy slot receiver. And with Texas no longer recruiting Dominique Wheeler, the Longhorns can focus their recruiting efforts at receiver on Dorial Green-Beckham, the Missouri star who will be recruited by new wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt.
The thing is, even without the mega-talented DGB, Jones and Johnson are both incredible talents and the top two receivers on the Texas board. Success.
Cayleb Jones One Hand Catches.dv (via ghostofbigroy)