It's never too early to start talking about the next recruiting class and the debut release of the Lone Star Recruiting's Top 100 by Orangebloods is a fantastic opportunity to start doing so, especially since Texas has already filled more than half of the 2013 class.
All the normal caveats apply for a ranking this early and hardly even seem worth mentioning, though the fact that OB has this out two months earlier than last year is impressive, even if the early nature does result in more drastic changes -- it's still the best compilation out there of the top juniors-to-be, so it's time to start the film watching on these kids. Which is exciting. It's a resource.
The first name to know is one is that of LaPorte linebacker Hoza Scott, who has been on the radar since starring as a freshman. At 6-3, 215, he's a rangy kid with a good build, but what really stands out is his pure playmaking ability, which turns possible turnovers into turnovers and then into touchdowns. If there's one absolute early must-have in the class, it's Scott.
Without going through and listing all the top guys, players of note include Dallas Skyline's Cedric Collins, a kid who has started there since his freshman year and locked down 2013 pledge Jake Oliver last year, no easy task given Oliver's overall polish and feel for creating separation. He's also one of many top defensive backs in the state -- it's a strong year at the position early.
Lancaster's Nick Harvey is a guy who could play either direction in college -- he has excellent feet and ability after the catch on offense and also delivers some big shots from his safety position. He's currently at number three and though his highlights are impressive, he seems more like the type of guy who will eventually end up closer to no. 10 in the state, depending on how many serious talents continue to emerge. The versatility is a plus and as good as he is with the ball in his hands, Texas defensive backs coach Duane Akina would probably fight for Harvey as a defensive player after seeing how hard he hits.
If there's another obvious must-have, though, it's probably San Antonio Brennan's Derick Roberson, a 6-3, 220-pound beast off the edge, who has the look of a guy who may be as good right now as current Texas commit Daeshon Hall and Texas target Torrodney Prevot. Roberson is that good. Not Mario Edwards good, but in contention as the top player in the state right now.
His highlight film starts with a sick shoulder fake inside and then a lateral burst around the edge for a sack. Great endzone angle on it and the perfect start for a potential blue-chip's highlight reel. Besides his athleticism, Roberson is also a strong tackler who wraps up and finishes with ferocity. There's evidence that he can fight through traffic to make hard tackles, as well as break down in space and change direction well. His height is not quite elite, but there are plenty of good college defensive ends.
Quarterback is always a position that will draw plenty of discussion. The top two early are Denton Guyer's Jerrod Heard, the replacement for Oklahoma State's starting contender JW Walsh, a GoBR favorite at this same point in the process back in 2009, and Richmond Bush's Ronald Monroe, more recent to the spotlight. Thoughts on both later.
Lake Travis running back Varshaun Nixon is in contention at the moment for the top running back spot and he looked faster on film at the top end as a sophomore than I thought he did in 7on7. He probably fits into more of a change-of-pace/utility guy because of his size, which hurts his value a little bit, but his sophomore film is really strong.
It will be interesting to see what type of back Texas targets in the class after landing three guys in Johnathan Gray, Daje Johnson, and Kyle Hicks who are all on the smaller side and don't project as bruisers in college. Do the 'Horns opt for a bruiser instead, like Pflugerville Hendrickson's Samaje Perine, a guy who has a nice combination of lower-body thickness, speed, and quick feet and was impressive in a viewing of Daje Johnson last season.
Perhaps the major weakness of the class is that there aren't any top-flight offensive linemen. In fact, the highest-rated player at the position in the debut rankings comes in a no. 34, Jacob Bragg of Nacogdoches, and he's only listed at 6-3, which makes him an interior guy all the way. It's a strong group in-state in 2013, so the 'Horns may want to add another in the current class. Even a guy like Denton Guyer's Patrick Morris, hardly a top prospect in 2013, might be worth a serious look just because 2014 looks so poor early.
The same is essentially true at defensive tackle, where the current top prospect Cedric Johnson checks in at no. 44.
Further thoughts later, of course, but that's probably enough for now. Welcome to the newest shiny objects, now brought to you earlier than ever.