Texas recruiting: Horns stocking up at running back

Chris Warren at the Dallas NFTC in 2013 - Wescott Eberts (SB Nation)

Updating Texas recruiting efforts position by position.

Previously: QB

Needs: Three or four

Commitments:

  • Tristian Houston, Galena Park North Shore
  • Kirk Johnson, San Jose (Calif.) Valley Christian
  • Jordan Stevenson, South Oak Cliff
Offers:
  • Katy's Rodney Anderson (committed to Oklahoma)
  • McKinney North's Ronald Jones II (committed to Oklahoma State)
  • Baton Rouge (La.) University Lab's Nic Brossette (committed to LSU)
  • Baton Rouge (La.) Catholic's Derrius Guice (committed to LSU)
  • Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas' Jordan Scarlett (committed to FAU)
  • Splendora's Jay Bradford (committed to Texas A&M)
  • Rockwall's Chris Warren
  • Longview's JaMycal Hasty (committed to Baylor)
  • Plano West's Soso Jamabo

Overview: Despite the early misses on Anderson and Bradford, who were both originally committed to Texas A&M by the middle of last August, recruiting at the running back position has gone as well as it has at any position, though one of the recruitments was made significantly easier by being a Texas legacy.

Jordan Stevenson was the first pledge and one of the few original commitments under former head coach Mack Brown to end up sticking. An offer from Alabama was thought to have game-changing potential when received, but despite some talk he might take a visit or two, that hasn't happened yet and he was spotted at a recent camp talking to Johnathan Gray, so his commitment seems pretty solid right now.

Carrying the ball as an every-down back probably isn't in Stevenson's future because of his size, but he has the speed that new head coach Charlie Strong covets -- he ran a 4.37 40 at the Dallas NFTC in 2013.

What once looked like a questionable offer to Kirk Johnson has looked better and better by the day after his recruitment took off this spring following his first offer from the Longhorns. The athleticism that his father was touting at the time translated to the Oakland Nike Camp, where he posted the highest SPARQ score at the event, turning in an elite 4.00-second shuttle that would have been among the best at the NFL Combine this year.

The take of the three that was a little more surprising was that of Tristian Houston who had to wait for his offer, but opted to commit as soon as he received it in the middle of April. There's some speed and explosiveness there both on film and in track where he can run a sub 11-second 100-meter dash, so he's clearly talented and deserves his four-star rating by 247Sports. Operating mostly on jet sweeps at North Shore, Houston hasn't had the ability to show whether his vision, lateral quickness, and tackle-breaking ability are quality enough to make him a significant contributor in college.

It would have been nice to have Jones instead of Houston because many people believe that Jones has the highest upside of any of the talented in-state running backs for 2015 and the staff definitely made a mistake -- as did the previous staff -- in waiting too long to offer him.

Ultimately, though, that's a pretty small complaint at a position where the efforts have been greatly successful.

Moving forward: The situation here is pretty simple -- the Horns will continue to pursue Warren because he seems to fit what Strong wants in a running back even though he doesn't have elite speed in the 40-yard dash. Both Warren and his family seem to like the new staff and what Strong is selling.

The Rockwall product doesn't plan on making a decision until Signing Day and has had plans to narrow his list at the end of the summer. Virtually a lock to make the cut, the Horns are perceived as the leader for Warren and have been trending in his 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions, with Baylor trailing. Iowa may be another contender, as the Hawkeyes have been seriously pursuing the big Rockwall back.

Since the Horns aren't seriously pursuing Plano West's Soso Jamabo, Warren is the only prospect seriously on the radar at this point. Finishing out the class with Warren would provide some balance with a legitimate big back who could take over short-yardage duties, perhaps immediately upon reaching campus.

There's some question about whether he can stay at the position because of his size, but he hasn't been gaining much in the last year and doesn't profile as a player who will gain the type of weight that Henry Melton and Chris Whaley did.

If the Horns could add Warren to the class, it would make for a massively successful recruiting class at the position.

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