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Morning Coffee Gets Offensive

Horns_bullet_mediumDeSoto full of talent. Beyond Adrian White, beyond Darius Terrell, beyond Evan Washington, there is still talent at DeSoto High School, especially in the 2011 class. Perhaps no player in that group that includes quarterback Ryan Polite, running back Antoine Jimmerson, and wide receiver David Porter, is better than left tackle Marcus Hutchins. In fact, Hutchins is probably a more refined player at this point than the highly-coveted Washington, who plays right tackle at DeSoto as Hutchins mans the left side.

Already 6-4, 240 pounds, Hutchins will be one of the top offensive lineman ($) in the 2011 class, using his quickness to get off the line with alacrity and his long arms and nasty streak to latch onto opposing players, using his hands exceptionally well. With his ability to get to the second level easily, Hutchins would fit well in the zone-blocking scheme. While he certainly has a long way to go to add the bulk necessary to play in college, Hutchins is able to work hard in the weight room his off-season for the first time and has already made tremendous progress.

In addition, Hutchins fits the mold that the Longhorn coaching staff prefers, lineman without a great deal of bad weight coming into the program so that Mad Dog and company can mold them into a desirable size -- the dislike of bad weight lead the staff not to seriously consider players in 2010 like Chad Lindsay of The Woodlands.

Like many of the top players in the 2011 class, Hutchins already has the Longhorns near the top of the list and will almost certainly be a player invited to and offered at the first Junior Day next February.

Horns_bullet_mediumCedar Park home of talented 2011 lineman. SMU is a football program accelerating the recruiting process, having already verbally offered scholarships ($) to Cedar Park linebacker Chet Moss and offensive lineman Spencer Drango (no. 7 in the 2011 LSR 100). Of course, Drango may already be used to the attention, having already picked up offers from Baylor and Stanford, as well. Those aren't the only three schools that will be after the Cedar Park prospect, as the Longhorns are already taking a look at Drango.

After playing right tackle as a sophomore, the 6-6, 260-pound Drango will move to left tackle ($) this year, as 2010 Texas commit Dominic Espinosa will move inside to center after playing left tackle last season. Possessing quick feet for a kid his size, Drango is excellent at pulling and trapping in the Cedar Park offense, but a concern is that he does not have exceptionally wide shoulders, raising questions about whether his frame can adequately hold the extra 40 pounds or so he would need to play outside at Texas, while still maintaining his speed.

In all likelihood, that minor quibble will likely end up as exactly that, as Drango, like Hutchins, will probably receive an invitation to the first Junior Day and pick up an offer.

Horns_bullet_mediumAnother lineman on the radar. The Galena Park North Shore program has been good to the Longhorns recently, as tight end Barrett Matthews will enroll at Texas in less than a month and 2010 lineman Trey Hopkins was the first commit in his class. Primarily a running team, North Shore relied in 2008 on a talented offensive line that included 2011 prospect Sedrick Flowers ($), a 6-3, 280-pound guard ranked ninth on the first LSR 100.

Like Drango, Flowers is already starting to receive offers, with the Aggies notifying his head coach of their intention to offer way back after the last game of the 2008 season. However, Flowers has a top two right now that does not include the Aggies, with his preferences lying with the Florida Gators and Texas Longhorns.

Like most good players, Flowers is cognizant of his strengths and weaknesses:

I think my strengths are my pad level, my aggressive play, my strength. I think I need to work on keeping my feet moving while I'm blocking. I have a tendency to lunge at the defender.

Since the Longhorns will probably take 3-4 lineman in the 2011 class, Hutchins, Drango, and Flowers could be the players Mack Brown and company target first.

Horns_bullet_mediumPreliminary 2010 position rankings: offensive skill positions. Given the difficulty of comparing positions like defensive tackle and quarterback, lists like the LSR 100 don't provide the best perspective on where players stand in respect to others at their position. That's why the first position rankings released by Rivals in a recruiting class carry so much weight and provide greater perspective on where an individual player really stands in comparison to others who could have received an offer at that spot. First, the skill positions:

  • Connor Wood (no. 7 pro-style quarterback) - In a class generally regarded as lacking the talent at the quarterback position of most classes, Wood's ranking may well be lower in most years. Also, Wood plays against a poor level of competition, which may cause analysts to question his film more so than players facing greater competition. Interestingly enough, Austin Hinder is ranked second on the list and was a player who expressed interest in the Longhorns, but never received much in return.
  • Case McCoy (no. 21 dual-threat quarterback) - McCoy may be a player slated to move up the list with a strong senior season. An off-season of hard work in the weight room has helped McCoy visually bulk up a great deal from the extremely lanky kid shown in earlier pictures. His strength should help avoid injuries and maintain a consistent release point and an improved team around him will greatly increase his numbers and could help vault McCoy to a four-star rating, which would place him in the national top 10 of dual-threat quarterbacks.
  • Lache Seastrunk (no. 1 running back, no. 2 overall) - Though Seastrunk remains uncommitted, there's no question about his talent as compared to other running backs in the class and, in fact, all other players in his class in the country. 
  • Traylon Shead (no. 21 running back) - The most surprising part about Shead's ranking isn't where he comes in, but rather a player ranked in front of him -- Denison's DJ Jones at no. 16, a player the coaching staff passed on to take Shead. Known as similar runners with their blend of power and speed, it will be interesting to see if Shead can not only threaten the all-time Texas rushing record, but whether he can do enough to pass Jones. Like Wood, Shead is probably hurt by the level of competition he faces at Cayuga.
  • Darius White (no. 1 receiver) - As the nation's third-ranked prospect and the only current five-star receiver, it's no wonder that the staff has made him the priority over players like Trovon Reed and DeMarco Cobbs. Watching his highlight film, it's clear that White has no parallel in the country this season. It would be hard to consider the 2010 class an overwhelming success without him, especially given the optimism surrounding an eventual commitment.
  • Chris Jones (no. 9 receiver) - Of all the 21 current commits in the class, Jones' ranking is probably the most pleasantly surprising. Early on, many fans wanted to offer DeAndrew White and questioned the staff offering the relatively unknown Jones, but the rankings since that time have justified the Jones offer. A player who broke out late last season, Jones has some pressure to perform at a high level his senior year for a talented Daingerfield team.
  • John Harris (no. 29 receiver) - With his pending move to quarterback for his senior season, it's hard to imagine that Harris will have a chance to move up or down this list during his final high school season. Skyline's Mike Davis, passed over by the staff to offer Harris and others, comes in at no. 24.
  • Ross Apo (no. 36 receiver) - Given the fact that Apo appears to be defended by a, um, midget on his film, it's probably virtually useless as a tool for evaluation. The best chance for Apo to move up the list is by showing well in any combines he might attend this summer.
  • Darius Terrell (no. 69 receiver) - Considering how low he is on this list, below another likely future tight end in the state like Nate Askew, scouts probably question Terrell's ability to create separation at the next level as much as anything, a major part of the reason for his likely move to flex/split tight end at Texas. If Terrell can improve his straight-line speed during the off-season through his work with a speed coach, he might be able to move up the list as a senior.

Horns_bullet_mediumPreliminary 2010 position rankings: offensive line. There are certainly still questions surrounding the choices made at the receiver position, but no other position has undergone the level of scrutiny leveled at the offers out to offensive lineman, particularly the choice not to offer DeSoto's Evan Washington. As you will see below, the first position rankings affirm the choices by Mac MacWhorter and the rest of the coaching staff.

  • Trey Hopkins (no. 1 offensive guard) - A rare combination of athleticism and intelligence, Hopkins' ranking on this list reinforces the choice of the coaching staff to offer him above players like Evan Washington. However, there are still rumblings about not having a true tackle in this class.
  • Dominic Espinosa (no. 1 center) - After seemingly receiving an offer over Washington based mostly on the pro-active selling of himself to Texas coaches, Espinosa's ranking, like Hopkins' ranking, confirms the evaluation process of the Texas coaches. Since he will have a chance to play inside at center this season for Cedar Park, his success at that position will influence whether or not he remains atop the list, as his no. 1 ranking is merely a projection at this point after playing left tackle as a junior.
  • Jake Matthews (no. 11 tackle) - Perhaps it's just the rare competition from the Aggies for a recruit that has created so much consternation about Matthews' potentiail destination, but his ranking on this list, especially compared to the two current commitments on the offensive line, raises the question about what all the fuss is about. The answer to that question lies in the team's needs, as the Longhorns don't desperately need a tackle in the 2010 class, but have failed to address that position so far. Washington comes in at no. 17 on the list, two spots below Pflugerville's Tyrus Thompson, an Oklahoma commit.