Ranked 25th nationally in the 247Sports Composite team rankings and without the services of consensus five-star pass rusher K’Lavon Chaison, the 2017 Texas Longhorns recruiting class didn’t receive much praise as a group, even though it ranked No. 2 in the conference.
Yet, head coach Tom Herman and his staff did their best to fill needs down the stretch, securing key flips from prospects like tight end Cade Brewer, offensive lineman Derek Kerstetter, and running back Daniel Young, along with benefiting from Georgia not having a spot for running back Toneil Carter.
As a video from the school highlights, those players are all making contributions on offense, in addition to quarterback Sam Ehlinger, defensive end Ta’Quon Graham, and cornerback Josh Thompson:
Ehlinger nearly led the team to three victories over top-10 opponents and delivered the season’s defining highlight in running over a Kansas State defender late in the double-overtime thriller.
Meanwhile, Brewer has become the starting tight end after injuries to senior Andrew Beck and junior Garrett Gray, emerging as a high-effort blocker and athlete capable of hurdling defenders.
At the right tackle position, Kerstetter has emerged as an unlikely starter due to injuries and received praise from his head coach due to his toughness.
Running behind Kerstetter and the depleted offensive line, Carter and Young keyed the second-half surge against Baylor, with both scoring touchdowns.
Graham has become a rotation player with five tackles, confirming the upside that made him the third-ranked prospect in the class.
Despite an early setback due to an injury, Thompson has 11 tackles, with most of them coming on special teams, where he is a key contributor.
The group wasn’t supposed to provide a lot of instant-impact players other than junior college linebacker Gary Johnson, but the class has surpassed expectations early and will clearly provide a foundation for Herman to build upon in coming years.