When Gilmer cornerback Kris Boyd and Houston Lamar cornerback Holton Hill committed to the Texas Longhorns on TWC News Austin on Friday afternoon, not only did their respective pledges regain recruiting momentum lost on Wednesday evening, it solidified an impressive defensive backs class for head coach Charlie Strong.
Just ask Rockwall-Heath safety DeShon Elliott, the longtime Texas pledge:
#DBU RT @DeShonElliott_4: WE ABOUT TO HAVE THE BEST SECONDARY IN THE COUNTRY @Hollywood__5 @kris23db— Orangebloods.com (@OBWire) January 30, 2015
Until the last two games of the season, the Texas secondary in 2014 played remarkably well considering that a lightly-regarded freshman and a former walk-on sophomore with no experienced manned both of the safety positions.
But since Quandre Diggs and Mykkele Thompson both moved on, Texas needs instant-impact players in the secondary. In the greater arc of Texas defensive back recruiting, Hill and Boyd are massively important because the Horns have struggled in recent years to land elite in-state talent at the position.
In fact, the last top-10 cornerback Texas landed was Josh Turner in 2011 and he spent most of his time in Austin playing safety before a suspension last summer relegated him to spot duty in 2014. Duke Thomas and Quandre Diggs were both classified as athletes, though Diggs would have ranked among the top four cornerbacks in the 2011 class had he been listed as such.
The last top-10 cornerback the Horns landed from the state of Texas was Adrian White in 2010. And White flamed out of the program before he could make any type of impact. So did Marcus Davis in the 2009 class, meaning that Texas hasn't landed a high-level cornerback prospect who panned out since Aaron Wililams in 2008.
That's a long time.
Since then, high-level prospects like Tony Brown, Edward Paris, Jamal Adams, Nick Harvey, and Maurice Smith all went elsewhere, leaving the Texas secondary reliant on players like Jason Hall and Dylan Haines.
What's the point behind all this? Only to say that Texas has struggled mightily to land top talent from the state and the result is a secondary that performed poorly at times over the last several years and doesn't currently feature any sure-fire contributors to step up to replace Diggs and Thompson.
To truly get back to being DBU, it's up to guys like Boyd and Hill and Miami (Fla.) Booker T Washington Davante Davis to maximize their significant talents. Sooner rather than later, too.
And Boyd is even more important to the class after the defection of safety Tim Irvin to Auburn -- it was Irvin the coaches wanted to try at nickel back in the days when he was supposed to enroll early in Austin.
With Irvin out the picture, Boyd is now the player that the coaches are pitching on playing the position that Diggs occupied the last two years in Austin. It's a critical one in a spread league, as it's the most demanding spot in the secondary that requires a number of skills. Since Boyd spent so much time playing on offense at Gilmer, it may take an adjustment period, but all of the physical tools and willingness to get physical are there.
In Hill, Texas is getting the type of size that Strong covets at the cornerback position. As tall as many outside wide receivers, Hill is capable of getting into the body of opponents with his long arms to re-route them off the line of scrimmage.
In the last 10 years, the Horns haven't had a high-level cornerback prospect with Hill's attributes.
Those jump balls that TCU won out on back on Thanksgiving? That won't be happening when the ball is in the air and Hill is around, as he's an exceptional leaper with a rare combination of height, length, and leaping ability.
What type of ball skills does Hill have? Try the type that produced 12 interceptions as a senior.
When he committed, Hill spoke of the standard he knows exists at Texas for defensive backs. It's time for the group to achieve at that level again because after an incredible drought with elite in-state defensive back prospects, Strong served notice on Friday that he's capable of bringing the best talent in the state to Austin to star on his physical defenses.
Texas hasn't yet reclaimed the title of DBU, but this is how it happens.