We can *almost* officially put a bow on the 2023 recruiting class with National Signing Day delayed until further. Steve Sarkisian and the Texas Longhorns appear to be close to finishing with a consensus top-five class but are waiting on the decision from four-star safety Warren Roberson. If Texas flips the TCU commit, which is expected, what letter grade would you give this year’s class?
Daniel Seahorn (@DanielSeahorn) - Solid B+ for me given that I think they needed a real receiving threat at TE this cycle with how the position room has shaped up. That’s no knock on the two guys they signed this cycle, but I think as things sit right now neither tight end take projects as the type of player you can flex out and personnel packages. Outside of that I think the staff did a really good job checking a lot of boxes that were pegged as a need and they also dipped into the portal to add veterans that will likely start come the fall.
Gerald Goodridge (@ghgoodridge) - Hard not to give it anything but an A. Texas landed everything that would have been considered a priority in this class, including Arch Manninng who has the potential to be a generational talent at quarterback. Going into Florida to land the No. 1 RB, Louisiana to grab a potential Day 1 stater at safety, and the best linebacker and wide receiver in the state of Texas is a championship-level haul. Now, can they take advantage of the talent and development in the trenches to match with the elite skill talent? Only time will tell.
Cameron Parker (@camerondparker) - Solid A from me. The one position group I was worried about coming into this week was the safety spot and Sark addressed that in the portal and with the potential flip of Roberson. It also doesn’t hurt when you add the #1 QB, #1 RB, and #1 LB.
Wescott Eberts (@SBN_Wescott) - Considering that Texas was coming off a 5-7 season and still had some frustrating losses while the class was coming together, I think it deserves a solid A grade overall. Landing a prospect like five-star defensive lineman David Hicks or the final remaining target on the board, No. 1 tight end Duce Robinson, would land this class a perfect grade, but securing the nation’s top prospect in quarterback Arch Manning, No. 1 running back Cedric Baxter Jr., and former No. 1 linebacker Anthony Hill were all huge. Manning and Baxter are both from out of state and Hill was formerly committed to Texas A&M. Throw in the flip of talented local edge Colton Vasek and Texas not only filled needs, but kept fighting for some key targets and were able to secure their signatures.
There were a few misses in the 2023 cycle, including 5-star TE Duce Robinson. Robinson has not signed as of Friday, but is expected to land in Athens. Are you concerned about the depth and future of the TE spot with Robinson likely spurning the Longhorns?
Daniel - With the way this staff has been working the portal I’m not too concerned at the moment. Texas landing Robinson would have been the cherry on top of an already really good class and they were playing from behind for most of this recruitment.
Gerald - It’s hard to call a kid with the ceiling of Robinson a “nice to have,” but with the way that Texas has constructed that group and the class overall it feels like it’s probably not a big miss. Especially given the fact that we don’t even know that Robinson will play college football, I am not losing a ton of sleep.
Cameron - Overall, the depth is in a good place but there isn’t a pass-catching TE behind Sanders and we saw last year how big of a part he played in Sark’s offense. Texas was late to the Duce Robinson party but the transfer portal is there for a lifeline.
Wescott - I am a little bit concerned. Ja’Tavion Sanders is on track to declare early for the 2024 NFL Draft if his current trajectory continues and there aren’t any potential difference makers behind him. If the 2023 signees become contributors, that will be a success considering their rankings, but they just don’t have the upside to become plus players. There’s some definite pressure to get lucky and land Robinson or find a big-timej prospect in the 2024 class. Otherwise the Longhorns will have to address the position in the transfer portal in the near future.
The Big 12 football schedule is out for 2023 and it appears Texas somehow has a…favorable schedule? What are you initial reactions to the schedule release?
Daniel - Seems like a solid draw all around all things considered. The toughest road games on the schedule are at Alabama and TCU and both teams will be resetting at quarterback. If Texas can take the step forward at quarterback with Quinn Ewers this team will have a shot at 10 wins and competing for the Big 12 championship.
Gerald - It definitely feels like it sets up decently for Texas, although I always prefer the bye before OU rather than after it. Them coming off of Cinci and Iowa State could definitely set up favorably for Texas. Going to Houston might be tough but I could see that moving to a neutral site and bringing BYU to Austin rather than Provo seems like a win. Ther’s definitely a scenario in which Texas can turn the corner and hit 10 games in the regular season.
Cameron - Avoided the trip to Provo and Cincinnati which is a big win.
Wescott - Definitely strange that it took so long, and it’s unsurprising that Houston would land a home game against Texas, a former conference opponent it hasn’t played since 2002. The home schedule is disappointing, but that’s a big reason why the Longhorns are leaving the conference – after the Aggies left the Big 12 and with the rivalry against the Sooners always happening off campus, the home schedule has always been reliant on a marquee out-of-conference opponent. Playing home-and-home series with schools like Alabama, LSU, and USC is the scheduling response to that from the school. But from the standpoint of the conference possibly punishing Texas and Oklahoma for leaving, I don’t think there’s any evidence of that happening.
Out of the new conference additions that are on the Longhorns schedule (BYU/Houston) and the subtractions (Oklahoma State/West Virginia), are you excited to see or not see any of them?
Daniel - It’s going to be weird not having to play Oklahoma State or West Virginia in the upcoming season, but I’m intrigued by how the new additions will stack up against the rest of the Big 12. BYU does a pretty solid job of producing NFL players and have Texas fits in the latter part of the Mack Brown era (Taysom Hill still haunts Longhorn fans and players alike) and Houston is finally getting their shot in the big time so I’m curious to see how they fit in on the Power 5 level.
Gerald - I think it will be nice to hopefully get the BYU stink off of Texas and it will be cool to see someof the old SWC teams squaring off once again will be nice.
Cameron - With news that Texas and OU are expected to stay in the Big 12 until 2025, I’m glad we’ll get one more crack at Oklahoma State.
Wescott - I haven’t had any emotional investment in playing the new schools and I’m not sure if any Longhorns fans are particularly interested in playing Cougar High. As for the other Cougars, that just brings up a bunch of old trauma from 2013 and 2014, although I suppose there is some value in a chance to improve on that 1-4 all-time record against BYU. At least Taysom Hill can’t hurt us any more, right? :sobs quietly:
We’ll end with Texas Basketball as both men’s and women’s program sit atop the conference standings halfway through Big 12 play. Will either one capture the regular season Big 12 Championship?
Daniel - If I had to pick one to capture the regular season crown I’d probably pick the Lady Horns with them looking to be hitting their stride and playing well. While the men aren’t playing bad by any stretch I think their challenge of staying on top is a lot more daunting with how loaded the Big 12 is this year and they have a tough stretch of games on deck.
Gerald - The ladies are in a strong position to do so. I’ve been saying it for a while that I expected this team to peak in Jan/Feb and make a run at both conference titles and I’m not going to back off of it now.
Cameron - The Men’s slate is so tough it’s hard to gauge but I think Vic and the Horns are hitting their stride and will pull away from the pack.
Wescott - For the men’s team, I feel like next week will provide a key insight into that getting into “Separation Month” and ending the four-game stretch against ranked opponents. But I would lean against the men’s team winning it because it’s just so difficult to do. The women, however, have a less daunting task, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt despite the injury issues this year.