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Brian Jean-Mary expects every 2016 Texas Longhorns pledge to qualify

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Barring "unforeseen circumstances," the Longhorns shouldn't experience a repeat of 2015's pre-enrollment grades attrition.

Brian Jean-Mary
Brian Jean-Mary

By the early part of June, the Texas Longhorns will hopefully have every member of the 2016 Texas Longhorns recruiting class on campus, as linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary told the media on Wednesday that he expects all 24 to qualify.

"I feel pretty confident," he said. "Now, we're not in the high schools with them. There are some guys on paper who are qualified, but they have to complete their senior year. They're on track to graduate and qualify, but there's always unforeseen circumstances like what happened to us in the past that we didn't account for. We feel confident on all 24 of these guys qualifying."

Certainly, there aren't any guarantees when it comes to ensuing that signees take care of their business in the classroom for the next several months, but the assessment of the Texas recruiting coordinator is an important one after three members of the 2015 recruiting class never made it to Austin because of eligibility issues.

In the end, the pre-enrollment attrition (and the quick transfer of linebacker Cecil Cherry after only three practices) ended up significantly hurting the class -- what was a top-10 group nationally would probably have dropped back several slots when assessing it compared to other classes at the start of the season.

Some of the losses were impactful to the class in much larger ways, too -- tight end Devonaire Clarington was the highest-rated pledge at the position in about a decade for the Longhorns, but he went through a long, drawn-out saga with the NCAA after his ACT score got flagged as being out of line with his high school grades. Upon re-taking it, he was unable to score highly enough to qualify and eventually parted ways with Texas.

As a result, Texas missed out on a field-stretching tight end with upside as a blocker because of his proven ability playing defensive end in high school. And hasn't yet been able to find anyone with an approximate skill set after New Orleans (La.) Brother Martin product Irvin Smith opted for Alabama late in the process after looking set to sign with Texas following a decommitment from Texas A&M.

There were certainly red flags when the Longhorns took him, as most people connected to recruiting in the Miami area that Clarington came from knew that he would have issues getting into school, but that didn't make the ultimately result any less disappointing or hurtful to the class.

The Florida Five now only features one player currently on campus because another member of the group also failed to qualify. Since wide receiver Gilbert Johnson had to attend prep school, he was always a grades risk, too, and he couldn't make the necessary progress to enroll at Texas, either.

All the eligibility drama didn't just come from Sunshine State players hailing from Strong's former stomping grounds, either -- Cypress Falls defensive tackle Du'Vonta Lampkin was the only signee at his position and an important member of the class for that reason. While there was some discussion that he might have some issues getting into Texas, he didn't seem like as big of a risk as Clarington and Johnson.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, as Lampkin wasn't able to secure the foreign language credits necessary to enroll at Texas, sparking his own drama when some Texas fans felt that he made less than good-faith efforts to pass the classes he needed. And since he was a full qualifier according to the NCAA, the result was that he was able to enroll at Oklahoma without going to junior college or losing any eligibility, further spurring some bad feelings.

Another signee, offensive tackle Buck Major, had to attend summer school in order to meet the requirements necessary to enroll and was not able to do so until midway through fall camp in August.

So if the current group can avoid those "unforeseen circumstances" and make it to Austin for summer school or at least the start of fall camp, it would definitely be a welcome change after head coach Charlie Strong opted to assume a fair amount of risk last year and only narrowly escaped losing out in all four instances.