Arlington Bowie safety Edwin Freeman could eventually grow into a linebacker (Photo by the author).
As the summer deepens, the potential targets on defense in the 2014 class are starting to come into focus, though some positions are more clear than others.
Defensive end: At no other position on the defensive side of the ball do the likely targets seem as clear as at defensive end, where San Antonio Brennan's Derick Roberson and Coppell's Solomon Thomas have separated themselves from the other prospects at their position. Both are high on Texas and since the 6-3, 215-pound Roberson is a weakside defensive end and the 6-3, 255-pound Thomas a strongside end who could grow into a three-tech defensive tackle, they have complementary skillsets. In a best-case scenario, Texas locks up both of them in February/March and shuts down recruiting at the position.
Defensive tackle: In the first edition of the 2014 LSR, there's only three defensive tackles on the list -- Denton Guyer's JT Williams, who is only 255 pounds right now, is the most highly ranked. It may turn out that it's simply a down year at the position, or more prospects could emerge during their junior seasons. Right now, however, it looks like there is some pressure for Texas to add at least one more 2013 defensive tackle simply because of the lack of top-end talent there in 2014.
Linebacker: The clear target here is LaPorte's Hoza Scott (pronounced like Jose), who is currently regarded as the top player in the state. There some talk that he might commit to Texas A&M before visiting Texas, but that didn't happen and an unofficial visit this week helped boost the Longhorns up his list, which should help Texas stay in contention for his services.
Past Scott, there's a handful of good linebackers, like Rockdale's James David (the younger brother of Logan and Derek), Klein Oak's Josh Mabin, Galena Park North Shore's Josh Whitley, and Dallas Carter's Cameron Hampton. At this point, there's no much separation between those prospects, though the struggles of both elder David boys to make it onto the football field in college (despite prodigious talent) could impact the recruitment of James by Texas, even though he may be the best athlete of that lot behind Scott and shows extremely good awareness in coverage.
Texas has also shown interest in Georgia prospect Raekwon McMillan early.
Defensive back: This position is absolutely loaded in 2014 -- there could easily be 20 or more players who are good enough to play at Texas in this group. Mansfield Timberview safety Edward Paris is among the best in the group, but he looks headed out of state, so the 'Horns probably won't recruit him heavily. Lancaster's Nick Harvey, a safety who also stars on offense in high school, is probably the only defensive back at this time who is assured of an offer.
The top two cornerbacks at this time are Dallas Skyline's Cedric Collins and Brenham's Darrion Johnson, though it's not clear whether Texas will recruit either. Collins has been turned off the early lack of interest and, like Scott, there were rumors that he could end his recruitment early as well, though that hasn't gone down yet either. Dallas Bishop Dunne's Nick Watkins is a hot commodity on the recruiting trail already and may eventually supplant Collins and Johnson as the top corner when the new rankings come out.
Other safeties like Arlington Bowie's Edwin Freeman and Lewisville Hebron's Jamal Adam were both impressive last weekend at the Colleyville Heritage 7on7 SQT and could be in the mix.
With so many strong prospects, there are a lot of moving parts at this position and it may be some time until the clear targets besides Harvey and possibly Watkins emerge.