As the Texas Longhorns get deeper in to the 2013 football season, it's worth assessing the entire scholarship chart to take a deeper look into the immediate and distant future for the program at each position.
(Italics indicate a player who is committed but not yet signed.)
|1||Demarco Cobbs||Jordan Hicks||Dalton Santos||Tim Cole|
|2||Jordan Hicks||Steve Edmond||Peter Jinkens||Deoundrei Davis|
|3||Steve Edmond||Aaron Benson||Tim Cole||Naashon Hughes|
|4||Aaron Benson||Tevin Jackson||Deoundrei Davis||Andrew Beck|
|5||Tevin Jackson||Kendall Thompson||Naashon Hughes||Cameron Hampton|
|6||Kendall Thompson||Dalton Santos||Andrew Beck||Otaro Alaka|
|7||Dalton Santos||Peter Jinkens||Cameron Hampton|
|8||Peter Jinkens||Tim Cole||Otaro Alaka|
|9||Tim Cole||Deoundrei Davis|
|10||Deoundrei Davis||Naashon Hughes|
|11||Naashon Hughes||Andrew Beck|
There are several notes worth making about the above chart -- Cobbs has a redshirt season available to him and there hasn't really been any mention of when he could come back to practice this fall. In fact, there hasn't been a lot of information out there about what type of injury he suffered, even. It's all rather a mystery, but the guess here is that the staff doesn't exactly encourage Cobbs to stick around for another year with the scholarship chart sitting pretty heavy for 2013 as it is.
Secondly, Hicks could be eligible for another medical redshirt, which would allow him the eligibility to play in 2015. However, Hicks did technically play in more than 30% of the games, though he didn't finish it, which could mean that he wouldn't be able to recover his eligibility. And all of that assumes that he will recover sufficiently to play football again, which isn't a given with his ruptured Achilles.
Also, it looks like Aaron Benson intends to occupy a scholarship for another year. He has three career tackles in three years and has been passed on the depth chart by roughly six younger players.
In 2015, Texas will lose five players from the 2014 linebacker corps. If Jackson, Thompson, and Benson still aren't contributing much by that time, the coaching staff will need to be careful about going into the season with a group that only has Santos, Jinkens and possibly Cole as the experienced players -- that's just too far on the thin side after disastrous play from the young group in 2012.
The keys for that campaign are probably Davis and Hughes, who along with Alaka will be the most physically gifted linebackers on the team and the only three who are truly capable of doing everything required of linebackers in the Big 12 -- from beating blocks to ranging from sideline to sideline to dropping into coverage.
In 2015 recruiting, the Longhorns have been in good shape with Fort Bend Ridge Point's Cameron Townsend, but the other top target, Mesquite Poteet's Malik Jefferson, is pretty wise to the recruiting game now and has backed off of some of his early positive statements about the Longhorns. With defensive coordinator Manny Diaz gone, it remains to be seen how this season will impact Jefferson's decision.
Landing Townsend is a necessity, but Jefferson may be a little bit more of a luxury if the Horns can land him since he's a five-star prospect with a national offer list -- the fact of the matter is that Texas isn't in a great position to sell him on the future and there's plenty of competition. The good news with Jefferson is that the Crystal Ball predictions are still heavily in favor of Texas.
The other offer out is to Dallas Skyline's Anthony Wheeler, a guy who could end up as a pass-rushing specialist or even at defensive end full time and there's a big drop-off after he and Townsend at this time, as 247Sports doesn't have any other linebackers ranked in their top 56 players in the state.