Texas Football: How 2013 Recruiting Class Will Alter Longhorns Future Success
At this day and age in college football, preparing for the future is just as important as winning on Saturday, as even the toughest of seasons can be easily forgotten by landing the game's next great group of players. The Longhorns are a great example of this adage.
Despite the decommitment from top target Ricky Seals-Jones, the Longhorns have still laid claim to a top-five recruiting class for 2013, leaving fans as excited as ever for the future of this Longhorns team.
The loss of Seals-Jones hurts, but Texas still has a significant portion of its future tied up in this group of rising high school seniors. And with Texas' commitment to being two-deep at every position, a great majority of these guys should have no problem finding a way to contribute.
Read on and see for yourself the impact this recruiting class will have on the future success of this Texas team.
Stability at Quarterback
It will have taken three full years, but 2013's recruiting class will finally bring Texas the one thing for which its fanship has been starving: a quarterback.
After being spoiled by the heroics of Texas immortals Vince Young and Colt McCoy, the Longhorns have been hampered by one of the most unpredictable and inconsistent quarterback situations in the country. After Young and McCoy handled the starting duties for the better part of seven seasons, Texas had three different starting quarterbacks just last season. But all of that is about to change with the arrival of Tyrone Swoopes.
Standing at 6'4" and weighing 220 lbs., 2013's top dual-threat quarterback may as well be Vince Jr. Like Young, Swoopes has the ability to effortlessly outrun defenders while looking like he's jogging and has a cannon for an arm. Unfortunately, Swoopes shares the same mechanical flaws as Young did with his throwing motion and resultant accuracy.
Every player has his flaws, and though Swoopes may not take over the starting job as a freshman, he will eventually give this team the playmaker it needs at the quarterback position. If Swoopes pans out the way everyone hopes, the success of the rest of this class will just be icing on the cake.
A Solid Starting Center
After the addition of JUCO transfer Donald Hawkins, Dom Espinosa at the center position is the only question mark among the big uglies. The arrival of Darius James, the top-rated center in the class, should solve that rather quickly.
Production at center has been spotty since the departure of three-year stalwart Chris Hall after the 2009 season, with the coaches now even trying out All-Big 12 guard Mason Walters at the position. Darius James could be ready to take over the position immediately.
James, like Espinosa in 2010, is the top-rated center in the class and the second-ranked player in the state, and has the quickness and size to man the position for quite some time. James is also very physical, possessing the strength and motor to play defensive tackle in high school, as well as center.
Given that the offense expected to lean on the running game at least until Tyrone Swoopes takes over at quarterback, the offensive line's ability to get push up front is paramount to this team's success. James fits that mold damn near perfectly.
The Longhorns Are Going to Be Big
When you compare Texas to SEC teams like LSU and Alabama, one thing you notice is that the likes of LSU and Alabama have more big bully-type guys than do the Longhorns, and the rest of the country, for that matter. Mack Brown and his coaching staff must have had that disparity in mind when they decided who to target for 2013.
There are very few guarantees in the recruiting process, but if one thing is guaranteed about this recruiting class, it is that they will be BIG. Of Texas' 15 commits already lined up for 2013, nine are 6'4" or taller, and five of those top nine are among our top six recruits. As a basis for comparison, only six members of the 2012 class and five members of each of 2011 and 2010's classes fit that same description. And this is after we lost the commitment of 6'5" WR Ricky Seals-Jones.
Size is only part of the equation when you talk about on-field production, but there is a decided advantage for a team that has players that are this big. They clog up lines of sight for everyone else on the field, they have an advantage when the ball is up for grabs and there is always an intimidation factor when you tower over your opponent.
And once strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie gets a hold of these guys, they are going to be the some of the scariest guys on the block. With an eye on an inevitable future matchup with an SEC school in the new bowl game, this is among my favorite traits of this group of incoming talent.
Continued Excellence in the Secondary
One of Texas' most underappreciated traits as a program is its uncanny ability to field a great secondary thanks to defensive backs coach Duane Akina. Antwuan Davis, along with hopeful additions Vonn Bell and Marcell Harris will serve to continue that tradition of excellence.
Like so many groups in the past, this season's version of the Longhorn secondary will be among the best in the country thanks to guys like Kenny Vaccaro and Quandre Diggs. At least so far in 2013, the Longhorns have gotten a commitment from one guy that can fill their shoes in the lightning-fast (runs a 4.35, see above) Antwuan Davis.
While Duane Akina is something close to drooling over the potential Davis has with that speed, the prospect of adding Vonn Bell and/or Marcell Harris to the mix would just be the icing on the cake. Bell, 2013's fifth-rated safety, is already a very complete safety with the athleticism and tenacity to excel at the position early on. Not unlike Bell, Harris is a big safety with a nose for the ball and great range. Also have to love that both of these guys really bring the wood.
Even without Bell and Harris, there is a lot to be excited about with Davis once Akina can begin to work his magic with that speed, not to mention that he has a good shot to spend a year learning from both Quandre Diggs and Carrington Byndom. Add the possibility of Bell and Harris forming a tandem similar to Vaccaro and Blake Gideon, and you have to believe Akina gets some more national recognition for his efforts.
The Best Receiving Corps in the Big 12?
This scenario would be much more likely should Ricky Seals-Jones decide he actually wants to play for Texas, but this 2013 class could legitimately give Texas the best wide receiving corps in the country.
With Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis, Cayleb Jones and Daje Johnson all in the fold come 2013, this group should already be very good. With two years under his belt by this point, Shipley should find himself among the best in the conference, and Mike Davis could be right there with him if he corrects the issues that plagued his sophomore season. Add in the polished game of Cayleb Jones and the electric speed of Daje Johnson, and the Horns have four guys that each present a totally separate set of issues for the opposing defense.
As far as Warrick and Oliver, the amount of early playing time they receive all depends on how much they absorb in the offseason. Warrick will likely see the field sooner than Oliver because of his speed and exceptional hands. Still, do not sleep on the physical 6'4" Oliver because he will be the biggest receiver on the team.
And then there's the possibility of Ricky Seals-Jones throwing his name back in the hat, as fellow recruit Jake Raulerson obviously wants him to do. According to ESPN's William Wilkerson, RSJ was on campus this week to discuss playing basketball as well as football with the coaches. Even more encouraging is that Seals-Jones told Wilkerson, "Texas is still No. 1 in my heart."
Put whatever stock you will into Seals-Jones' visit and words, either way this group still has the potential to be very good. Hopefully RSJ realizes that potential and decides to join up with Warrick and Oliver in making that potential a reality.