With the first Junior Day looming Sunday, it's time to take a look at the needs and numbers Texas will be looking at on the offensive side of the ball in 2013. It's going to be a relatively small class -- somewhere in the range of 18 to 22 or so depending on what type of attrition takes place over the spring and summer months, so the coaching staff will be even more selective in extending offers than they were last season. Here's the position-by-position look:
Targets: Whitewright's Tyrone Swoopes (JD1), Wichita Falls Rider's JT Barrett (JD2), Southlake Carroll's Kenny Hill (JD2)
The skinny: Despite the JD2 invitation for Hill, this seems like a two-man race between Barrett and Swoopes, with the latter a lock to receive an offer this weekend. After that, it depends on how long Swoopes wants to draw out a national recruitment that now includes Ohio State and Alabama coming strong after the small-school star. If Swoopes does opt to take his time, the 'Horns could move on to Barrett, who seems more likely to commit early.
The fanbase seems relatively split between the more athletically-talented, but less refined Swoopes, and Barrett, who has a lower ceiling, but a higher floor. Nationally, analysts seems split as well, with Rivals ranking Swoopes an early five-star prospect and no. 11 player nationally, while 247Sports has him in the 70s and only the fourth-best dual-threat quarterback in the country.
It's the type of debate that could rage for years, but right now, it seems as if co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin is enamored with Swoopes, who spend three days at a summer camp working with Harsin and apparently impressed the co-OC.
Running back: 1-2
Targets: Cypress Ranch's Keith Ford (undecided), Pearland Dawson's James White (either date), Arlington Martin's Kyle Hicks (JD1), DeSoto's Dontre Wilson (JD1)
The skinny: The new addition here is obviously Hicks, a former cornerback who made the move to running back this season and may not be the top target on the board. At 5-10, 180 pounds, he's pretty well put together, but is far from a power back, instead using his good feet and initial burst to find success. He also has some experience as a slot receiver and probably fits better as a zone back in college as a change-of-pace guy.
Ford isn't a Texas native and appears to be looking more out of state, perhaps a result of the daunting depth chart in Austin. At this point, it might be something of an upset if he even makes it to campus. The former teammate of Kennedy Estelle, White is the taller, power back of the group if Major Applewhite decides he wants a running back more Malcom Brown-lite than Fozzy Whittaker-lite.
As for the playmaking Wilson, the all-purpose back will surely receive an offer, but he's not quite the need he was before Texas landed Daje Johnson late in the 2012 class. Wilson is also thought to favor Oregon, which he perceives (probably rightly) as the best fit for him offensively.
Wide receiver: 2-3
Targets: Dallas Jesuit's Jake Oliver (JD1), Dallas Skyline's Ra'Shaad Samples (JD1), West Mesquite's Eldridge Massington (JD2)
The skinny: It's tempting to include Sealy's Ricky Seals-Jones on this list as well, as he apparently wants the chance to play wide receiver in college -- Texas will likely allow him that opportunity if he commits -- but for now he'll remain listed as an athlete.
As for the rest, Oliver is the top target and has a ridiculous number of offers from all over the country -- 48, in fact, a substantially higher number than Jake Raulerson, even. The word on Oliver is that despite the fact he's an Aggie legacy, the treatment of Mike Sherman didn't help A&M, so Texas is squarely in the mix, as they are with Samples, who should receive an offer this weekend, too.
The intriguing guy here is Massington, a reasonably recent player to emerge on the radar. At 6-3 and about 200 pounds, he's a big-bodied target on the outside with strong ball skills and a reported 10.7 100m time that would give him one of the best size/speed combinations in the state, which might explain why he received the invite over other big receivers like Marcell Ateman. However, it's not yet clear whether Massington will receive an offer, as they may be other moving parts involved.
Tight end: 2
The targets: Belton's Durham Smythe (JD1), Red Oak's Jeremiah Gaines (JD2)
The skinny: This is a list that Seals-Jones could also end up on, depending on how much weight he puts on when he gets to college. But for now, the top targets at the single biggest position of need in the class remain Gaines, who looks more like an H-back at 6-3, and Smythe, the Baylor legacy who is one of the fastest rising prospects in the state.
A week ago, it looked like Smythe could be an early commit due to his connection with David Ash, but with the sharp spike in interest, including from schools like Stanford and Oklahoma, Smythe may now take more time in the process.
The notable omission here is the favorite of Longhorn recruitniks -- PCA tight end Christian Morgan, who is a top Stanford and Arkansas target, but has yet to hear much of anything, if anything at all, from Texas this spring. It's not clear what exactly is going on, but he has the size at 6-4, 250 to be the in-line blocker Bryan Harsin covets, while Smythe could need several years to reach a mass to be similarly effective.
Offensive line: 4
The targets: Lake Highlands' Kent Perkins (JD1), Harker Heights' Darius James (JD1), Fort Worth Arlington Heights' A'Shawn Robinson (JD1), Dallas Bishop Dunne's Ishmael Wilson (JD1), Shreveport Evangel's Josh Thomas (undecided), Denton Guyer's Patrick Morris (JD2)
The skinny: As all the names above can attest to, this is an insanely deep and talented group in the state this season -- Dallas Jesuit OL JJ Gustafson isn't even included there and he may be just as good as many of the others.
Texas is in excellent position to land Perkins and James in the near future, with Robinson being another likely candidate to end the process sooner rather than later, although buzz around a possible JD1 commitment has died significantly. Overall, it would be a major upset if Texas doesn't have three out of the needed four commits in place by the middle of March.
Besides the recent invite that went out to Morris, squatty interior line prospect with a mean streak and propensity for knocking opponents on their backside and then popping them again while they're on the ground, the major news here is the lack of offer for Wilson last weekend from LSU, as he was widely expected to at least strongly consider committing to his childhood favorite upon being offered. The 'Horns should be in the mix with him after getting him on campus.
Stay tuned for the defensive edition coming soon.