Tim Cole: 2012 Texas Recruiting Spotlight

Tim Cole's stock has dropped as much as any Texas commit over the last year (Photo by the author).

Vitals

Name: Tim Cole

Position: Linebacker

Height: 6-2

Weight: 220

Speed: 5.00

High School: Brenham

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

Offers

  • Texas (committed 4/3/2011)
  • Arkansas
  • Baylor
  • Clemson
  • Florida
  • Nebraska
  • Oklahoma
  • TCU
  • Texas A&M
  • Texas Tech
  • UCLA
  • USC
  • Virginia

Overview/recruitment

Almost a year ago, when Texas started recruiting Brenham teammates Tim Cole and Malcom Brown in earnest by officially extending offers, it appeared that both were extremely likely to end up at Texas A&M, along with two 2012 classmates and 2011 commit Brandon Alexander. The high school football powerhouse looked poise to become a pipeline to College Station.

Now, a year later, one of those Brenham players is no longer committed to A&M and Cole and Brown are poised to sign with Texas on National Signing Day, tabling fears that Texas could get shut out of Brenham, a school that has sent a handful of players to Austin in recent years.

Here's the instant analysis of the commitments of Brown and Cole just before the Texas spring game:

Cole and Brown will not be joining 2011 A&M commit Brandon Alexander and 2012 commits Troy Green and Adrian Bellard in College Station and their commitments put to rest any lingering notions that Alexander's guardian, David Barham, has been working behind the scenes to turn Brenham into a bona fide Aggie pipeline.

Their commitments also help reverse the early recruiting narrative. After Texas landed only four commitments during the weekend of the first Junior Day and only two commitments on JD1 itself, the Longhorns still trail behind the torrid pace set last year in recruiting, but have recovered from the relatively slow start to land 15 commitments by the beginning of April.

Just as importantly, the hot start by the Aggies in recruiting no longer looks so threatening to the Longhorns landing most of the targeted players in state, as well as the school's overall dominance of the Texas recruiting landscape. So even though most recruits are now keeping their true feelings under the radar and declining to name favorites, the decisions by Cole and Brown serve notice once again that when Mack Brown wants a sandwich, he gets the sandwich.

And the Cole/Brown combination makes for an extremely important sandwich. Brown has been ranked as the top defensive tackle in the state for more than a year now and that isn't likely to change at any point in the recruiting process. In a deep class at linebacker, Cole is in the conversation with Rockdale's Derek David and Euless Trinity's Brian Nance as the top player in the state at that position.

Cole appeared to be the leader of the duo and his three visits to Austin in a month seemed to help put the Longhorns in serious contention for his services as he did his due diligence in recruiting. After failing to attend JD1, things looked desperate with Brown, but Cole seemed to convince him to attend JD2 and the news out of Brenham was mostly positive since that time, reaching a crescendo late last week when rumors began swirling that both of them could commit to Texas this weekend. Looks like those rumors have had some merit, no?

So what happened to compel Cole to go from a heavy Aggie lean to a Longhorn commit?

We discussed it but it wasn't completely for sure. I was like it's a possibility and I really like Texas but what sold it was yesterday and I pulled the trigger and I'll never look back.

I had glimpses of it in my mind, but really what sold me was yesterday when I first walked in and I saw all the recruits and how all them were talking to each other and it was something I really wanted to be a part of. That's what made me commit.

The three unofficial visits that Cole made probably played a large role as well, but it seems that Brown was the first one to bring up committing to Texas, raising the subject to Cole following a trip to TCU. For his part, Brown preferred Texas over A&M in the final days before his commitment because the 4-3 defense employed by the Longhorns is a better fit for his skillset than the 3-4 the Aggies used under Tim DeRuyter.

So although Cole seemed like the one who may have been pushing Brown to more seriously consider Texas after the big defensive tackle missed the first Junior Day, it sounds like it was Brown who first seriously brought up the idea of becoming a Longhorn.

Oh yeah, and this is just conjecture, but it's also possible that the fact Austin is light years more appealing than College Station could have played a role.

Scouting Report

Scouting report following his commitment:

At between 6-1 and 6-2 and around 215 pounds, Cole isn't a big-bodied linebacker like 2012 commits Steve Edmond and Kendall Thompson and is more in the mold of a player like Aaron Benson. At Texas, Cole projects as a SAM linebacker who will have some coverage responsibilities in the Manny Diaz defense, as well as blitzing at times. His sideline-to-sideline range and reputation as a heady player should help him adjust quickly to the college game.

In addition, Cole has the lateral quickness to give himself the tackling radius of a taller, longer player and shows the ability on film to sink, uncoil his hips to strike ballcarriers with some legitimate force. Faster as a junior than as a senior, Cole will need to add some strength to take on blockers at the point of attack, though he does show good overall physicality as a player and some ability to strike with his hands to win battles against opposing offensive linemen.

ESPN evaluation ($):

Cole is an athlete with the physical strength and playing speed necessary to dominate at the point of attack. Has the size and athleticism for the outside linebacker position at the major level of competition. We see a strong wrap tackler with the balance and explosion required to knock ball carriers back where they came from. These skills should serve him well as a special team's coverage player. Displays the flexibility, balance and agility necessary to change direction and play in space; does a very good job with K&D run recognition skills. This guy is a tough customer who gets a very quick downhill read against inside and off the edge running plays; is capable of taking on and defeating blockers at the point or avoiding contact with his quickness. We like the way he moves through traffic when pursuing the football. It appears this prospect has good makeup speed along with a short burst to the football. When playing the pass we see the ability to contain off the edge while applying pressure up the middle as a pass rusher. Displays good underneath route awareness and break on the ball. This guy has the physical playing strength to take on and defeat blockers in space as he works to chase down receivers. The motor and intensity displayed by this prospect is what we look for when evaluating the OLB position. In short this guy is capable of making big plays all over the field. Although Cole may need to improve his immediate coverage skills, it appears he has the athleticism and physical tools necessary to see early playing time as his collegiate career begins.

Perhaps more than any other recruit in the 2012 class, Cole's stock has taken a hit over the last year, dropping from being considered about a top-15 prospect in Texas to rankings in the 20s to 40s. The question then becomes whether Cole was exposed in some way during that time or if his drop is simply a result of exposure fatigue.

Going back and reading the evaluations above lends some credence to the latter belief, but there are also some legitimate reasons to temper expectations regarding Cole, though questioning whether he can ever contribute at Texas may be a bit extreme.

Running a 5.0 40 at The Opening was a troubling testing result for Cole back in the summer. On film, it was clear that Cole wasn't the fastest prospect around for his position, but he always made up for it with good football speed and strong instincts that allowed him to quickly read and react. Then, Cole struggled a bit transitioning from middle linebacker to outside linebacker during preparation for the Army All-American game.

And there's the issue with Cole -- he's undersized for the Mike position, so it's a virtual certainty that he'll have to move outside at Texas. However, the aforementioned speed concerns (even if he did just have a poor testing day at The Opening) will probably keep him from being an option at the strongside position, leaving the Will as seemingly the only logical place for him to play. Obviously, that projection has changed over the last year, in part due to a better understanding of what Diaz prefers at each linebacker position.

Still, the positive news is that he won't be asked to come in and contribute immediately with good depth at linebacker already on campus, so he'll be able to focus on special teams and finding a home. Perhaps if Cole can add enough strength and learn to use his hands effectively, he could play some at middle linebacker or at least not be a liability taking on blockers playing linebacker in nickel looks.

The bottom line remains that his high school film doesn't lie and it shows some tools that could still help him become an effective college player. If not? Well, at least he was a major part in bringing the best defensive tackle in the country to Austin. And that could end up being enough to justify a scholarship. Yes, Malcom Brown is that good.

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