Jamal Adams at the Colleyville Heritage SQT last summer - Wescott Eberts (SB Nation)
Breaking down the players Texas most needs to land in the 2014 class.
The Texas Longhorns have eight commitments in the 2014 class as other teams catch up to the early recruiting success enjoyed by the 'Horns, success achieved in large part by choosing to offer prospects before their junior season instead of waiting until the February after their third season in high school.
Things have slowed down a bit with only a couple of decisions expected in the near future, so it's time to look the top 10 players Texas needs to land in this class based on their skillset, impact on narrative, and odds that the 'Horns have of landing them, with the latter element ranking highly in the ranking decision.
10. Tony Brown, Beaumont Ozen cornerback
It might be strange to see Brown so low on this list. In fact, the truth is that it is unfortunate to see Brown so low on this list. The thought behind the placement is that he seems likely headed to the SEC -- Alabama, LSU, or Texas A&M. Not to say that Texas isn't in it or has been eliminated, it just seems like they are a long way from a leading position and even if they on equal footing with those three other schools, the odds still suggest an SEC winner.
Since those odds are against the 'Horns, more so than in many of these other recruitments that are open based on the conventional wisdom around them, Brown gets a low placement here.
9. Jermaine Roberts, New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine cornerback
Roberts briefly had the 'Horns as his leader until his visit to Alabama late last week. On the short side at 5-9, but a player who scores touchdowns when he gets the ball in his hands and uses his body well to out-position wide receivers and come up with interceptions, Roberts seems to like Texas as much or more than many of the in-state players at the position who have declined to name the 'Horns are a leader or commit to Texas.
With Alabama becoming an increasingly strong presence in the state of Texas, securing a Louisiana player and winning out over the Tide would be two significant victories for Texas.
8. Anthony Jones, New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr tight end
A flex player as a junior, Jones is now up to 230 pounds and adjusting to football after coming to the game when he realized that a college basketball career was not in his future.
He also picked up an LSU offer recently and though the status of his Texas offer is still a bit murky, the 'Horns are in excellent shape for him because of a longtime affinity for the program.
Landing an in-line blocker may be difficult at this point since the staff hasn't showed much interest in Manvel's Koda Martin throughout the process, so taking Jones and hoping that he can develop in an offense that should make better use of flex players in future years may be the best bet the Longhorns have on their radar at this point.
New running back coach Larry Porter should help the Longhorns secure a bigger footprint in the Boot. Landing Jones shouldn't be that difficult of a task given how Jones has felt about Texas for some time, but it also makes Jones a guy Porter needs to help close if or when that official offer finally comes through.
7. Jovan Pruitt, Dallas Bishop Dunne offensive tackle
Now listed at 290 pounds, Pruitt has the height and pure length to play tackle in college, so while he's a bit of a project, he may be the best tackle prospect in the state in a year that doesn't feature many.
The services aren't that high on him -- he's a consensus three-star prospect, but he does have an impressive offer list that includes Alabama, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame, so the college evaluators seem to like his upside more than the evaluators for the pay sites.
Pruitt is probably the best bet for the 'Horns in their pursuit of a tackle in the 2014 class, even though he doesn't yet have an offer and missed the second Texas Junior Day because he decided to attend a Bishop Dunne girls basketball game instead. When he does make it to campus, expect him to receive an offer.
6. Nick Watkins, Dallas Bishop Dunne cornerback
Perhaps the second-best cornerback in the state behind Beaumont Ozen's Tony Brown, Watkins is a tall corner who projects as a player who can cover an opponent's top receiver without suffering from the usual height disadvantage boundary corners typically face.
Like many of the prospects in Texas in the 2014 class, Watkins hasn't said much publicly that would suggest any school is out in front in the battle to land his signature next February, but if the 'Horns are going to land a tall in-state cornerback in this class, the odds are high that it will be Watkins and not Tony Brown.
5. A defensive tackle
Somewhere around 6-2 or 6-3 and about 280 pounds, this gap-penetrating tackle looks like a strong three-tech prospect in college. The name of this prospect is not Zaycoven Henderson or DeShawn Washington, because both of those players have already committed to schools other than Texas, with Henderson opting for TCU without even visiting for a Texas Junior Day.
There aren't any in-state offers out and Louisiana's Courtney Garrett is the only current defensive tackle with an offer, so the staff needs to start making some moves, whether that means going after more out-of-state players, which could be hard given how late it is in the process, or offer an in-state guy like Rowlett's Cedric Johnson or San Antonio Warren's Trey Lealaimatafao.
4. Otaro Alaka, Cy Falls linebacker
A lifelong Texas fan who played last season with a Texas signee, wide receiver Jacorey Warrick, the recruitment of Alaka is about more than just filling a major need at the linebacker position with a player who projects as a perfect fit for a Big 12 defense.
It's about winning a battle against Texas A&M, something Texas has struggled to do in the 2014 cycle, especially in the last several months. Not offering Alaka at the second Junior Day ensured that he would take a visit to Texas A&M, which helped put the Aggies in the mix for his services.
3. Kd Cannon, Mount Pleasant wide receiver
Texas may have found a deep threat in 2013 signee Montrel Meander, but he's still raw and that makes it difficult to rely on him to fill that role when Mike Davis departs after the 2013 signee. One player who could come in immediately and help in that regard is Cannon, the top wide receiver in the state and one of the best in the country.
Cannon has been to Baylor multiple times and was high on Oklahoma early in the process, leaving Texas with some ground to make up. It appears the Longhorns have been able to achieve that to some extent, scoring a significant victory by getting him on campus to watch the first practice at the second Junior Day.
If Texas can successfully convert the new up-tempo offense to a more high-flying offense next season, it would play well with Cannon, as being a part of such an attack is the most important element of his recruitment, by far, and a major reason why Baylor could be considered a slight favorite to land his services.
In that way, Cannon's recruitment will be an early referendum on whether or not increasing the tempo can help Texas compete with the spread offenses in the Big 12 after losing Robbie Rhodes last year in part because he wasn't interested in playing in the Boise State offense Bryan Harsin brought to Austin.
2. Solomon Thomas, Coppell defensive lineman
The 6-3, 250-pounder is already considered a strongside defensive end and could eventually grow into a swing guy in college, depending on how he develops physically. Given that Texas didn't take a single defensive end or defensive tackle in the 2013 class, the fact that Thomas can play both positions only increases his value to the class.
Thomas is one of those kids who has been extremely careful with his public comments throughout his recruitment, so it's tough to get a great feel for where exactly he stands, but the consensus seems to be that Texas is in strong shape, as evidenced by the fact that the 'Horns are the only school listed as "warmer" on his 247Sports profile page.
1. Jamal Adams, Lewisville Hebron safety
A top-10 player in the state and a player who is ranked solidly in the top 50 nationally, Adams is also a superlative leader who could become the heart, soul, and voice of whatever secondary he ends up manning in college. Scheme versatile enough to fit well in the Texas defense, Adams is a perfect fit for what defensive backs coach Duane Akina likes to do in terms of his skillset and mental makeup.
And though he hasn't been willing to name a leader, Adams did make it in for the second open practice when he received a lot of personal attention from the Texas coaching staff. The 'Horns are thought to be in good shape for him, so while the loss of players like Ed Paris to LSU and Nick Harvey to Texas A&M both stung, Texas was never considered anything close to a leader for either.
The strong position Texas has been in for Adams and the loss of other targets to other schools combine to make Adams the most must-have player in the 2014 class.