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Grading Texas’ 2020 recruiting class

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The Horns landed the smallest class in the top 10, but it’s full of quality.

via @bijan_robinson (Instagram)

Last Wednesday, the remainder of Tom Herman’s 2020 class put pen to paper and officially became Texas Longhorns. Collectively, Texas finished with yet another top 10 class nationally, and once again, Herman’s haul headlines the Big 12.

But how did Texas fare on a position-by-position basis?

Quarterback — A+

  • Hudson Card — 4-star — No. 2 DT-QB
  • Ja’Quinden Jackson — 4-star — No. 3 DT-QB

Recruiting the quarterback position hasn’t been an issue throughout Tom Herman’s tenure at Texas, and that proved true yet again throughout the 2020 cycle. The Horns secured their first pledge at the position more than a year and a half ago in the form of then-receiver-turned-quarterback Hudson Card, who has since proven to be one of the top signal callers in the class. Just a few days more than a full year later, dynamic Duncanville star Ja’Quinden Jackson joined Herman’s 2020 class, as well, providing Texas with the nation’s No. 2 and No. 3 dual-threat quarterbacks and a pledge from each of their top targets at the position.

Running Back — A

  • Bijan Robinson — 5-star — No. 1 RB

Texas signed only one running back last cycle, but Bijan Robinson, a five-star talent out of Tucson (Az.) Salpointe Catholic happens to be the very best running back the 2020 class had to offer, according to the 247Sports Composite. That reality, in and of itself, is praiseworthy, but another reality is that ideally, Texas looked to take two at the position and fell short of that feat. Zachary Evans (uncommitted) was the first name to know entering the cycle, but Robinson surpassed him as the top talent at the position so he more than makes up for the miss there. However, Texas did own a pledge from Ty Jordan late in the cycle prior to his flip to Utah, while others such as EJ Smith (Stanford) took their talents elsewhere. Again, when you sign the top running back in the nation, that’s worth plenty of praise, but if Texas got its way, Robinson would have had a running mate at running back to cap the class.

TE — B-

  • Jaden Hullaby — 3-star — No. 35 ATH

Technically speaking, Texas didn’t sign a tight end last cycle, but Jaden Hullaby, a Swiss Army knife talent out of Mansfield Timberview, will likely end up as an H-back in Austin. Given that he was graded as an athlete and has received multiple college positional projections, including running back, linebacker, and H-back, his frame and proven ability with the ball in his hands — as well as a junior campaign that saw Hullaby catch 33 passes for nearly 400 yards and five scores — is evidence that Texas hardly pursuing other tight ends was a justified move.

Wide Receivers — C+

  • Troy Omeire — 4-star — No. 42 WR
  • Kelvontay Dixon — 4-star — No. 15 ATH
  • Dajon Harrison — 3-star — No. 86 WR

Quite arguably Texas’ worst recruiting effort last cycle came at wide receiver, thanks in large part to former pledges electing to look — and ultimately sign — elsewhere. At one point or another, Texas held pledges from four-star talents in Mookie Cooper (Ohio State) and Quentin Johnston (flip to TCU). Not to mention, Texas missed outright on elite Oregon signee Johnny Wilson and never offered Jaxon Smith-Njiba (Ohio State), the No. 5 receiver nationally. Of course, Texas did add three receivers to the class when it was all said and done, courtesy of an NSD-eve decision from Kelvontay Dixon, the younger brother of Keaontay Ingram, but at least at this juncture, Texas lost more talent at the position than it ultimately signed.

Offensive Line — A

  • Jake Majors — 4-star — No. 5 C
  • Logan Parr — 4-star — No. 11 OG
  • Jaylen Garth — 4-star — No. 20 OT
  • Andrej Karic — 4-star — No. 26 OT

Herb Hand recruited his position group especially well in 2020. Texas missing on Chad Lindberg (Georgia), who once appeared to be a lock for the Longhorns, was a disappointing development, but elsewhere, Texas signed nearly an entire offensive line’s worth of four-star talents. Andrej Karic, who has drawn comparisons to former Longhorns star tackle Connor Williams and current star tackle Samuel Cosmi, is the lone offensive line addition who finished ranked outside of the top 260 nationally. Save for Lindberg, Texas essentially signed exactly who it wanted to along the offensive line.

Defensive Line — B+

  • Alfred Collins — 4-star — No. 2 SDE
  • Vernon Broughton — 4-star — No. 14 DT
  • Sawyer Goram-Welch — 3-star — No. 93 DT

Ideally, there was another name or two that the Longhorns would have to have included along the defensive line as part of their complete 2020 class — specifically, a pair of former pledges in Van Fillinger, who flipped to Utah, and local product Princely Umanmielen, who ultimately signed with Florida over Texas and others on National Signing Day. Texas also went after others such as Jason Harris (Colorado) and Jalen Logan-Redding (Minnesota), but nevertheless, when the class was complete, Texas signed two elite talents and arguably its top targets at two positions in Vernon Broughton and Alfred Collins, in addition to early enrollee Sawyer Goram-Welch, who totaled 15 tackles for loss and eight sacks last season.

Linebackers — C+

  • Prince Dorbah — 4-star — No. 7 OLB
  • Jaylan Ford — 3-star — No. 81 OLB

Texas’ recruiting efforts at the linebacker position last cycle were a bit intriguing. The Longhorns offered only 11 outside linebackers, and of that bunch, only three hauled from Texas — Herman’s team signed two of those in a sleeper talent in Frisco Lone Star product Jaylan Ford and Texas’ top target at the position, Prince Dorbah. In that sense, Texas recruited well, but given that lack of depth on campus, that fact that the Horns extended only five offers to inside linebackers was some evidence of an underwhelming effort in that regard. Josh White (LSU) was arguably the top target there, and Brennon Scott’s name was mentioned throughout the cycle before he committed to Kansas and ultimately signed with UNLV. So, in a sense, Texas didn’t miss on many prospects, but it also didn’t pursue many at a position that could have afforded to added an extra body or two.

Secondary — B-

  • Xavion Alford — 4-star — No. 8 S
  • Jerrin Thompson — 4-star — No. 14 S
  • Kitan Crawford — 4-star — No. 9 CB

Similar to Texas efforts recruiting wide receivers last cycle, the defensive back class may initially be judged more by who didn’t sign, as opposed to who did. Top-ranked corner Kelee Ringo (Georgia) appeared to be Texas’ to lose early in the cycle after spending an entire week on campus during the spring. Four-star corners Ethan Pouncey (Florida) and Joshua Eaton (Oklahoma) were once Texas pledges, and at one point or another, the Horns appeared to be in the lead for various other premier prospects, including Chris Thompson Jr. (Auburn), Bryson Washington (Oklahoma), and Jahari Rogers (Florida). Much more recently, Texas became a factor with rising corner Ennis Rakestraw, but essentially jumped into the mix too late before losing that recruitment to Missouri. Of course, Texas did still sign two of the nation’s top 15 safeties and a top 10 cornerback, but what’s currently a solid secondary haul once had the potential to be truly special.