The Texas Longhorns will get back one half of their massively talented and productive bookend defensive ends, as junior Cedric Reed has decided to return to school for his final season, first reported by Cedric Golden of the Austin American-Statesman and then confirmed a short time later by Texas.
As expected, cornerback Quandre Diggs and running back Malcolm Brown will also return to school.
Notable in the decision by Reed is that while defensive end coach Oscar Giles is one of the few assistants expected to coach under Charlie Strong, there has been no official announcement from the school about it.
Whatever happens with Giles, however, this was an important recruiting victory for Charlie Strong. Not on the level of Mack Brown convincing Ricky Wiliams to stay, but not far off since Reed could be the team's best player in 2014.
The 6'6, 260-pound defensive end massively increased his draft stock during a breakout junior season that saw him lead the team in tackles through the season's early stretch before finishing tied for second with 75. Reed also recorded 18 tackles for loss, 18 quarterback pressure, nine sacks, four forced fumbles, and four pass break ups, including the deflected pass that Jackson Jeffcoat intercepted against Iowa State.
Only three other players in the country besides Reed totaled at least six sacks, four forced fumbles, and four passes deflected and in the month of November, the Cleveland product was a monster with six sacks and eight tackles for loss. Two of his forced fumbles came in that month as well, including the strip-sack of Jake Heaps in the Kansas game that enabled the scoop and score from defensive tackle Chris Whaley.
As a result of those strong efforts, which included 24 tackles combined in the first two games, Reed landed himself on the radar of NFL scouts by building on his success from late in his sophomore season when he replaced Jeffcoat in the line up.
CBS Sports doesn't have him on their list of the top 25 defensive ends in the 2014 NFL Draft and ranks him No. 16 among draft-eligible defensive ends for the 2015 NFL Draft.
As Reed continues to refine his signature long-arm pass rush and add even more strength to his lean frame that has filled out impressively during his first three seasons at Texas, he should have a chance to continue to improve his draft stock.
And since Torshiro Davis was the only defensive end who saw any type of serious playing time last season, getting Reed back is about more than having the team's best defensive end with eligibility return -- it's about making sure that there are enough experienced defensive ends to reduce pressure on younger players like Caleb Bluiett and Bryce Cottrell.