The Texas Longhorns 2013 recruiting class signed on Wednesday, which means only one thing -- it's time to hand out the GoBRs.
Darius James, Harker Heights lineman
A rather obvious choice since James is the only consensus five-star prospect left in a class that once boasted three. The fact that he can play at least three positions on the line and probably four makes him the most versatile lineman in the star-studded offensive line class and one who can bring some serious attitude to the Texas offensive line.
Most likely to contribute (offense)
Desmond Harrison, Contra Costa CC offensive tackle
The list of potential early contributors is not a long one, partly because of the losses to the class, but in large part because of the two prior classes that have flooded the Texas roster with talent.
As a result, the tallest player in the class at 6-7 is also the one who looms above the rest of the class in terms of instant-impact ability. It's no secret to readers around these parts, but Harrison is expected by the coaching staff to challenge for a starting job, which may make him the starting college-ready offensive linemanhas ever recruited.
Most likely to contribute (defense)
Deoundrei Davis, Cy Woods linebacker
This was a much more difficult choice than picking Harrison, who is rather obvious as the most likely to contribute offensively. Davis would be a much easier choice if he hadn't torn his ACL last fall, but as it is, his skillset is one that the Texas coaches need after the struggles of Kendall Thompson and Steven Edmond last season paved the way for Peter Jinkens and Tevin Jackson to earn more playing time late in the season.
Most likely to contribute (special teams)
Deoundrei Davis, Cy Woods linebacker
Another tough call because most of the defenders in the class will probably redshirt with so much depth in front of them, so the impact player on defense has to be the impact player on special teams.
Most critical position for future success
This subject has also been discussed to a significant extent, so it's probably not worth re-hashing things other than to say that much of the offense's future in the 2014 season and beyond will hinge on how many of these players end up becoming good college offensive linemen.
With so many misses in front of them and so many offensive linemen in the program who haven't developed in the past, the odds are against all five becoming contributors, but with a thin group in the state in 2014, the 'Horns will need at least three of the five to end up hitting.
Most explosive (offense)
Montrel Meander, Amarillo Palo Duro
The final addition to the 2013 class, Meander is a strong 200m runner who can eat up large amounts of ground in a hurry with his long strides. In short areas, he may not be the best prospect on offense -- that would be Cy Falls wide receiver Jacorey Warrick, but once Meander reaches top speed, he's one of the fastest prospects in the state in the 200m.
Most explosive (defense)
Antwuan Davis, Bastrop cornerback
The kid nearly won the 3A state title last spring with a 10.36 100m and earns this nod in a landslide. His recovery speed is top notch. Does anything more need to be said than that? Kid can fly.
Jake Raulerson, Celina offensive guard
This is a tough pick between Raulerson and Irving offensive guard Rami Hammad, but the nod goes to Maulerson for this:
The Hit (via Gatordaze123)
Jake Raulerson's commitment
Jake commits to Texas (via Gatordaze123)
The Raulerson family provided a rare glimpse into the commitment of a college player in this video of the call that Raulerson placed to the Texas coaching staff to officially give them the news of commitment. It was the start of a heady February that left the Longhorns with the makings of what could have been a Dream Team class.
And it's also easy to forget that Raulerson's commitment, which was barely a secret publicly and not at all secret in the industry, came from a player who was highly considered across the country and chose Texas only after doing his due diligence and traveling virtually everywhere to make sure that Austin was the right place for him.
As much as it feels like a long time ago as the sting of the decommitments still linger, it's still worth remembering how much that moment meant for the class.
Jake Oliver, Dallas Jesuit wide receiver
While there were compelling personal stories like Darius James overcoming the loss of his grandmother as a sophomore, the woman who was his guardian, or Naashon Hughes and his family having to endure the loss of their house in a fire, in football terms the most interesting story is that of Oliver.
When I first saw Oliver play it was in the 7on7 state championship in 2011 and in talking to one of the Aggie recruiting analysts there, the word was that Oliver's dad played football at A&M and that his older brother was at Oklahoma.
It seemed like long odds for Texas, even though Oliver was maintaining that he was open in the process. He also turned in one of the performances that I saw that year, consistently getting open and especially showing off his leaping ability on a play that can be found on the bottom right of his 247Sports photo page.
In other words, Oliver stood out as the polished receiver that he still is, with no sign of the questions about his ability to separate that can to dog him later on in the process, as he still managed to get open with ease against high school cornerbacks, and only struggled
But all that is rambling and distracting from the point here -- at that point in the process, Oliver ending up anywhere other than Texas A&M seemed like it would be an upset. And even with all of his other options, he decided he wanted to be a Longhorn and never wavered even a little bit.
Jake Raulerson, Celina offensive lineman
This is starting to get a little bit redundant here, but Raulerson really is that important to the Texas class, even if all the questions about his future position helped drive down his stock. Some of the prospects that he helped to recruit ended up decommitting, sure, but it wasn't for a lack of effort from the class leader and first commit, who was an outstanding ambassador for the university throughout his recruitment and will surely to continue to represent Texas as a student-athlete as well as he did as the first Texas pledge in the class.
Most underrated (offense)
Montrel Meander, Amarillo Palo Duro wide receiver
Meander wasn't entirely underrated at the end of the process because he earned his fourth star late from 247Sports. He's underrated because he was still underrecruited until near the end of the recruiting process -- even Washington State was rather late getting in on him.
Most underrated (defense)
Naashon Hughes, Harker Heights linebacker
One of the few three-star prospects in the class, Hughes has all the measurables at an athletic 6-4, 215 pounds. In fact, when he went to the Semper Fi game, that was one of the biggest takeaways -- how good he looks physically, with a frame that can add weight, perhaps as much as 20 or more pounds once he gets in the weight program at Texas.
Hughes was also impressive in person last fall at the game in which Darius James broke his foot. Hughes never quite came up with a game-changing play, but he was active and fluid in coverage, made the tackles he should have made, and was impactful as an edge rusher, where he looked as natural heading towards the quarterback as he did playing in space.
Whatever the star designation associated with Hughes right now, he has four-star upside.
Rami Hammad, Irving offensive guard
The former Baylor and Oklahoma State commit made a meteoric rise both on team's recruiting boards and in the rankings following a Semper Fi performance that was so dominant the game officials declined to release the game footage in order to protect those dominated.
Tyrone Swoopes, Whitewright quarterback
Now, this is a stock down pick based on what the services think about Swoopes, not the opinion held here. Why hold off on the worrying with Swoopes, despite his classification as an athlete by some and some rather relentless criticism from certain analysts in the industry.
Because he's not and he turned in the best effort in his final practice at the Army Bowl that anyone has seen from him and has consistently evidenced the ability to rise to the occasion after some struggles, even if he didn't always have the experience and refinement necessary to dominate.
Biggest recruiting miss (offense)
Ricky Seals-Jones, Sealy athlete
Dontre Wilson, DeSoto running back
There's a tie here, as each would have represented a major coup and filled need for Texas.
Seals-Jones is just a freakish athlete for his size, convincing one notable NFL observer to compare him to wide receivers like Calvin Johnson at The Opening. Regardless of whether he ends up at tight end or stays outside as a jumbo wide receiver, Seals-Jones has difference-making ability with his leaping ability and lateral agility, which are both absolutely elite.
Speaking of elite, Wilson is an elite all-purpose back who provides extra value as an excellent kick and punt returner. The Longhorns didn't have much of a shot at flipping late, despite the best efforts of Major Applewhite attempting to make an extremely difficult sell. Had Wilson ended up on the 40 Acres, he would have solved the problem of less than ideal depth at running back in the near term, while providing long-term home-run ability in the perimeter run game.
Biggest recruiting miss (defense)
A'Shawn Robinson, Fort Worth Arlington Heights defensive tackle
As much as some bitter and petty Texas fans want to bag on Robinson for changing his mind late in the process, that doesn't change the fact that Robinson simply made what he considered the best decision for himself.
Beyond the perceptions of scorned Longhorn fans, the reality remains that Robinson is in the conversation with Malcom Brown for the top defensive tackle Texas has recruited for some time -- he has prototypical size, strong quickness, and unreal strength. It may not be strength that translates to squatting 700 pounds like Andrew Billings, it's strength that allows him to pick up smaller offensive linemen and plant them. Bigger linemen? Well, on one notable play in Army Bowl practice, Robinson walked back a 320-pound lineman like he was 260. With one hand.
Most impressive national player
Robert Nkemdiche, Grayson (Ga.)
Like Jadaveon Clowney two years ago, Nkemdiche is an absolute physical freak and went wire-to-wire as the top prospect in the class. Already at 260 pounds, Nkemdiche will probably reach defensive tackle weight at some point during his Ole Miss career, though that weight gain is unlikely to push him inside, because he's a player who should still move at 280 pounds like he's 260. Or 240.
My only regret is that I never got to see him in person, but unfortunately he didn't attend The Opening.