The 2009 class is all but complete and will sign on Wednesday. With Texas' first Junior Day happening on Sunday, the first offers for the 2010 class will be handed out next weekend. Here's a look at who the Longhorns will target on offense, with defensive targets appearing in Thursday's Morning Coffee.
2010 targets: Wide receiver (in state). Unlike the 2009 class, which did not feature many game-breaking talents, the 2010 wide receiver class in Texas is absolutely loaded with talent, good news for a year the Longhorns will take three or four receivers, after only taking Greg Timmons in the 2009 class. Not only are the best receivers in the state talented, many of them also feature great size. Darius Terrell and Darius White both fit that mold, with Terrell standing 6-3 and White checking in at 6-4, and are the most talented of the tall wide receivers. John Harris is as tall as Terrell, as are Austin Bowie's DeAndre Perry and Midlothian's Eddie Johnson, but aren't as well-regarded as White and Terrell. Only slightly smaller is Skyline's Mike Davis, at 6-2, 180 pounds.
Scout ranks ($) Davis as the best wide receiver invited to the Texas Junior Days, citing his polished route running and soft hands. Like other players in the class, Davis goes up well in traffic to catch the ball, but like Terrell he isn't a burner, probably necessitating taking one or two smaller, faster receivers in the class.
Terrell has already been approved for an offer by the coaching staff and does a sensational job of going up in traffic to catch the ball, but it doesn't seem like he does anything else on film, which raises questions about how well he runs routes. With his ability to go across the middle and his large frame, there is some speculation that Terrell could end up at tight end. Running a 4.6 in the 40, Terrell doesn't have great speed and might receive his offer as a tight end. With his speed and questions about his route running ability, it doesn't make any sense to me to offer him as a receiver, especially considering the talent in the rest of the class.
White is the most athletic and explosive of the group, with a combination of size and speed that is very much like Malcolm Williams, though White has the shiftiness and feet that Williams hasn't shown much of yet. While he doesn't run routes with the same polish as other members of the class, he does have explosive leaping ability and falls under the gamebreaker classification. From his film, there isn't any doubt that he is the best of the large receivers and will surely receive a Texas offer. Frankly, he's my favorite of the group after watching them all on film.
After Terrell and White, the other receivers seem more like fall-back options, especially if the out-of-state players choose other schools. They might actually end up as fall-back options for players from Texas if the coaching staff wants a mix of large receivers and smaller receivers. Eddie Johnson and Naaman Forest's John Harris fit into that category of fall-back options, due largely to their somewhat one-dimensional natures. Harris isn't explosive, but runs good routes and makes good plays in traffic, while Johnson has a similar skill set. Cobi Hamilton is faster and more talented than players like Harris and Johnson -- so even though in-state talent at the wide receiver position is deep, after the top couple players they are serious questions about the ability of the rest to produce at a high level in college.
2010 targets: Wide receiver (out-of-state). Despite prodigious talent in the state of Texas in 2010, the coaching staff looked to neighboring states to bring in more receivers, all of the gamebreaking variety, from outside of Texas: Tulsa's Demarco Cobbs, Gainesville, GA's Tai-ler Jones, and Thibodaux, LA's Trovon Reed. With so many large receivers in the state who project as outside receivers, the Texas coaching staff seems to be looking for smaller guys who can operate out of the slot to compliment the larger receivers and make plays after the catch.
Cobbs plays quarterback in high school and is a physical specimen at 6-2, 195-pounds, with speed to burn, highlighted by his 4.5 40. The obvious comparison is Michael Crabtree, since both played quarterback in high school and are around the same height and build. Like with Crabtree, it's a little bit difficult to project Cobbs as a wide receiver since he doesn't play that position in high school, but he turned in an impressive showing at the Junior Combine in San Antonio during the week of the Army All-American game to allay those concerns. Cobbs has the talent to play other positions, but his combination of size, strength, speed, and elusiveness gives him the perfect skill set to play wide receiver, even showing soft hands. He will receive a Texas offer this weekend, but is a national recruit and won't be easy to land.
Jones is another smaller receiver with big-time elusiveness and offers from all over the country. The same size as Reed, Jones has great feet and projects as a slot receiver capable of making big plays on screen passes, reverses, and short or intermediate routes, filling a similar role as Brandon Collins did for the Longhorns in 2008. Helping his cause tremendously is his ability to run crisp routes, a skill much easier to develop in smaller receivers that generally have shorter strides than taller receivers with long strides. Jones also returns punts and kicks for his high school team and has the skill set to become an excellent return man in college. And if there is one thing that Jordan Shipley showed this season, it was the incredible game-changing nature of returning punts and kickoffs for touchdowns. Though Jones is a great talent, it's not clear what connection Jones has to Texas that would help land his commitment. As such, he seems a long shot.
Despite playing running back, quarterback, and wide receiver for his team (leading in all three categories), Reed is somewhat less difficult to project than Cobbs because he does have some film at receiver and displays the type of speed, feet, and elusiveness that make him a threat to score from anywhere on the field, whenever he touches the ball. Texas hasn't recruited many smaller receivers like Reed, who stands at an even 6 feet, but may be starting to realize the importance of having receivers who can make plays after the catch. Reed certainly fits that mold. Talks about Reed transferring to Houston Baptist to play with Connor Wood have subsided ($), but Reed is good friends with Lache Seastrunk and they have talked about going to college together. Such talk occurs frequently with high school players and rarely comes to fruition, though the Longhorns look to be in good shape if it does happen, as both seem to be seriously considering coming to Austin.
It's nice to see the coaching staff go out of state to target players with a specific skill set that can't be found in state this season. How successful those efforts ultimately are remains to be seen, of course, as the Longhorns are probably a long shot to land any of the three. Securing a commitment from even one of the three is probably a major success, though I certainly agree with what they are doing.
2010 targets: Tight end. With DJ Grant moving to tight end and two tight ends in the 2009 class, the Longhorns may not offer a true tight end in this class, particularly since most of the talented tight ends in Texas have academic or character issues. It hasn't been easy to find tight ends in the state recently and coaches may have to start turning to other areas to fill out the tight end position in upcoming classes.
If the Longhorns do decide to offer a tight end in this class, it will likely be Austin Bowie's DeAndre Perry, who plays wide receiver in high school, but has the height at 6-3 and the bulk at 215 pounds to make the move. With tight end depth not the problem it was this season, Perry could take the time to grow into his frame without any pressure to contribute immediately. As mentioned earlier, Darius Terrell could also change positions once on campus if he commits to Texas.
The tight end position will be a major storyline in this class for the reasons already mentioned. It's conceivable that the Longhorns don't take a tight end in this class, but an offer and commitment from Perry seems most likely.
2010 targets: Offensive line. The offensive line is another interesting position to follow in the 2010 class. With four offensive lineman in the 2009 class and a glut at the guard position already, the Longhorn coaching staff has not yet given out any invitations to either of the Junior Days to any offensive lineman. Think about that for a minute. There is talent in the state, but with the numbers currently on campus or enrolling soon, the Longhorns will probably only take two lineman in the class and could draw out their evaluation period into summer camps. Some of the names on the board will surely have committed by that time. It's hard to understand why the coaches are so intent on waiting, because they don't have any more film from the high school football season to evaluate, so it's not really clear what they are waiting for.
There are some good lineman in the state, so it's not a problem of there being too little talent. Jake Matthews is perhaps the most talented, the son of former NFL lineman Bruce Matthews and the nephew of Clay. As a national recruit, Matthews will be difficult to gain a commitment from, especially considering his family connections to A&M (older brother) and USC (cousins). That being said, Matthews is so talented that it makes sense to offer him, even if the coaches don't think there is a good chance he commits.
The Woodlands' Chad Lindsay is a highly-regarded guard prospect being pursued by major programs and doesn't have the body type Texas coaches normally look for, as he already has a significant amount of fat on his frame. Since the need is more at tackle for this class, an offer for Lindsay doesn't look likely.
Since the Texas coaches are looking for tackle prospects, Aleon Calhoun is a potential target and the best run blocker at the position in the state. DeSoto's Evan Washington is another interesting guy who likes Texas and is a former basketball player who just started playing football, making his upside considerable and relatively untapped.
Offensive line might be the most interesting position to follow in terms of how Texas coaches handle the recruiting process. The top players could be put off by not receiving early offers, or the suspense of waiting for a Texas offer could make it more valuable in their eyes and help vault Texas to the top of their lists when they finally do receive one. Either way, there doesn't seem to be much middle ground here in terms of perception by recruits and may either work out well for the coaches or work out not well at all. Stay tuned.