The loss of Chris Warren III revealed a lack of effective depth for the Texas Longhorns at the running back position in 2016, making it a priority for new head coach Tom Herman in the 2017 class.
D’Onta Foreman leaving for the 2017 NFL Draft, as expected, would only exacerbate that need.
The top possible target is Wylie East product Eno Benjamin, a former Iowa Hawkeyes commit Herman offered when he was with the Houston Cougars.
Interestingly enough, Longhorns cornerback commit Kobe Boyce offered this shortly after speaking with Herman for the first time:
texas fans y'all show love to the homie @eno_benjamin5 let's get him to the 40!!!— Kobe Boyce (@KobeBoyce3) November 29, 2016
A 2017 US Army All-American, Benjamin is a 5’10, 204-pounder ranked as a consensus four-star prospect, the No. 161 player nationally, the No. 10 running back, and the No. 26 player in Texas, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
In early October, Benjamin took an official visit to Arizona State before decommitting from Iowa. The Sun Devils hold two of the last three predictions in his 247Sports Crystal Ball, with the ‘Horns picking one up following Boyce’s tweet.
Why would Herman offer Benjamin for a second time?
In short, he’s incredibly productive, with more than 7,500 rushing yards and 106 rushing touchdowns in his high school career, in addition to possessing a number of important assets as a running back.
Benjamin is a bit on the short side and doesn’t possess a great deal of mass, but he does have decent speed (verified 4.70 40) and excellent short-area quickness (verified 4.10 shuttle).
In fact, saying that Benjamin has excellent short-area quickness hardly tells the full tale of what makes him special.
He has vision, exceptional balance, a reliable spin move, the ability to to stutter step in the hole, a strong jump cut, and strong stop-start quickness.
Just watch the highlights.
Projecting Benjamin to college football is the only impediment to declaring him a top-tier prospect.
Can he continue to make those cuts to finish runs? Will his spin move work in college? Can he still break tackles despite his lack of mass? Will he struggle to produce long runs because he lacks ideal top-end speed? Can he pass protect at generous 5’10?
Those are all questions that Herman will have to consider before National Signing Day.
At the least, the Longhorns need a running back in the 2017 class and Benjamin is dynamic enough that he could worth the risk.