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Morning Coffee Sees New Prospects On the Radar

Horns_bullet_mediumOn the radar: Tony Jefferson. With Ahmad Dixon switching his commitment to Baylor, the Longhorns may elect to pursue another defensive back for the 2010 class. One possibility is Chula Vista Eastside's Tony Jefferson ($), a top California prospect who plays outside linebacker and running back for his high school, but is being recruited as a safety or running back at the top level. At 6-0, 201 pounds, Jefferson is about the same size as Corey Nelson, so there is a chance that he could remain at linebacker or play the safety/linebacker hybrid position that is becoming more popular with the continued proliferation of spread offenses.

Possessing 30 offers from most of the top programs in the country, Jefferson says that he has grown up liking the Texas program and could see himself playing in Austin, but hasn't heard from the coaches besides basic form literature sent out around the country. Jefferson committed to Stanford last fall, but decided to re-open his recruitment ($) just in case he doesn't meet the stringent admissions requirements there.



As a running back, Jefferson took advantage of his 4.5 speed to gain more than 1,300 yards as a junior and score 28 touchdowns. He doesn't have breakaway speed like Lache Seastrunk, but there are observers who think that he could be a running back at the next level. Texas would recruit Jefferson as a safety, where he has some attributes similar to Ahmad Dixon -- the ability to run the alleys and play aggressively downhill, as well as use his entire body to strike opposing players with a great deal of force. His ability to run stride for stride with opposing running backs makes him projectable as a safety, as does his ability to explode downhill out of his backpedal.

In many ways, Jefferson is a similar prospect to Tyson Coleman and would become the only out-of-state player currently on the radar besides Jordan Hicks if the Longhorn staff chooses to pursue him. It's a big if, however, as the Texas coaches haven't contacted Jefferson, who needs to send them his highlight film if he is truly interested in making it down to Austin. He will take his official visits in the fall, but may need to make it down to a summer camp to really prove his interest. However, as a player with the capability of replacing Ahmad Dixon's skills, he is more intriguing than any of the in-state players who remain uncommitted.

Horns_bullet_mediumOn the radar: James Haynes. A player that many Longhorn fans thought should receive an offer, Haynes attended the second Texas Junior Day but was passed over for an offer in favor of Bryant Jackson. Now that another defensive back spot is open in the class, the Longhorns have invited Haynes to a summer camp for a second look.

The West Orange-Stark athlete plays receiver and defensive back, but would be offered as a safety. Haynes propels his 6-0, 181-pound frame at impressive speeds, clocking a 4.49 at a NUC combine ($). However, the problem with Haynes is that his measurables (his Rivals page reports a 4.36 40 and 42-inch vertical) don't always translate onto the field, as many observers want to see more on field from the talented player who is prone to disappearing at times. Of course, when the talent is there, college coaches will believe that they can maximize it, demonstrated by offers from Oklahoma, Florida, and a handful of others.

Of the three players currently on the radar to replace Dixon, Haynes has the best chance of actually receiving an offer. While Haynes says that he would love to go to LSU ($), as his family is from Louisiana, he hasn't yet been offered by the Tigers and says that he loves the coaches and facilities in Austin. If Haynes is offered by the Longhorns, they have a good chance of securing a commitment.

Horns_bullet_mediumOn the radar: Trey Franks. Size matters in sports. It's why Ryan Palmer didn't get a serous look from the NFL. It's why AJ Abrams has little shot at the NBA, despite his incredibly quick release and deep range. It's why Texas didn't offer Trey Franks after he attended the second Junior Day at the end of February. It may influence whether Texas decides to offer him after taking a second look at the West Orange-Stark star receiver/defensive back and inviting him in for a summer camp after running a wind-aided 10.39 100 in his track regional this spring.

At 5-9, 170 pounds, Franks possesses 4.48 speed, as well as remarkable quickness and change-of-direction ability. With good leaping ability and flexible hips, Franks has the tools to become a solid defensive back in college. His older brother Kerry played at Texas A&M and  another brother Jacoby plays at Texas Tech, so Franks has an athletic pedigree, but did say in an interview that he doesn't care much for bigger cities like Austin ($), despite visiting for the Junior Day and saying that he likes the fact that Texas puts defensive backs into the NFL ($). Currently, Franks reports offers from Missouri, A&M, Tech, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Baylor.

Based on his size and expressed distaste for the city, there is little chance that Franks receives an offer from the Longhorns. Texas would offer him as a defensive back and there are those who believe that he would make a better slot receiver in college than a defensive back and that just isn't a need for the 2010 class at this point.

Horns_bullet_mediumRasco one of 2011's best. Evangel Christian (La.) defensive end Jermauria Rasco is more than just one of the best defensive ends in his class -- he's one of the best players, period. On the level of a Devon Kennard or Alex Okafor, Rasco may be even more developed than either of those highly-recruited five-star studs were at the same age.

For Gerry Hamilton, one look at Rasco ($) in person and on tape was enough to drop the experienced writer's jaw. Not something that happens often. Perhaps it's the combination of 6-4, 240 pounds and "otherwordly" explosion off the ball at the snap -- he has 4.6 speed. Perhaps it's his flexibility that allows him to drop his inside shoulder to get past opposing tackles. Perhaps it's his strong and violent hands, unusual for a high school defensive end -- against Lake Travis last fall, Rasco put 2011 prospect Taylor Doyle on his backside ($) on the first play of the game. Perhaps it's the developed repertoire of bull rush, swim move, and flat-out speed rush. Perhaps it's the pure numbers ($) from his sophomore season -- 26 sacks (tying a sophomore national record) and 149 tackles.

Actually, it's all those things that have caused LSU, Alabama, UCLA, and Texas A&M to already extend offers to Rasco. Only given a cursory glance, it might seem like a difficult battle to get Rasco out of SEC country, but the Longhorns are aided by a family connection -- most of the big defensive end's family live in Houston. Of course, LSU is up there as well, right with Texas, with both schools making an impression on the young man because of the personal interest both coaches have shown him, just as concerned about his grades and who he is as a person, rather than only as a football player.

Will Muschamp and Mac McWhorter visited Rasco's high school nine days ago, an indication of just how important a target Rasco will be in the 2011 class. In fact, given that Longhorn coaches have a difficult choice to make among all the talented running backs in the class, Rasco may figure as the most easily identifiable premier targets in the class, if not the premier target with pass rushing such an important facet of playing defense in the Big 12. It will be tough to secure a commitment from Rasco, but if the Longhorns do, he could well end up being the crown jewel of the class.

Horns_bullet_mediumCleveland star another top 2011 end. He's no Jermauria Rasco. That almost goes without saying and doesn't mean that Cleveland's Cedric Reed isn't a fine football player in his own right. Few players compare to Rasco in the 2011 class or another other.

With that said, one place that Reed might be able to dominate Rasco is on the basketball court, where Reed averages nearly 20 points a game. Or maybe in track, where Reed can throw a discus 140 feet. Even on the football field Reed excels, ranking number eight on the early 2011 LSR.

Early in the recruiting process, Texas, Texas A&M, Florida, and Oklahoma are the schools that stand out ($) for the 6-6, 235-pound defensive end, who runs a 4.9 40. Reed, who has early offers from A&M and Missouri, plans to camp in Austin ($) this summer and, like Jackson Jeffcoat, wants to play basketball and football in college, though he is realistic about the possibility of having to make a choice.