Texas Football Recruiting: Grading the Longhorns' 2013 Class
National signing day is here, and for hundreds of players across the country, it means the beginning of a new journey under some of the biggest microscopes in the world of sports.
The Texas Longhorns typically rank very well at the end of the signing period, but with a small class that hopes to show quality over quantity, Mack Brown and his staff will have to extract every ounce of talent from each of their 15 commitments.
Some off-the-field issues have marred the Texas program in the days leading up to NSD, but it has not stopped the Horns from bringing in a class complete with projects, immediate contributors and a whole bunch of homegrown talent.
Texas appears done with its 2013 class, so what better time than now to evaluate just how much quality the Longhorns have managed to reel into the 40 Acres for the next handful of years?
Commits: Tyrone Swoopes
The 6'5", 230-pound quarterback out of Whitewright, Texas, has captivated many over the course of several camps, combines and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
At first glance, Swoopes' athleticism and movement catch your eye as he draws some comparisons to Texas great Vince Young. But while he has the arm strength to make virtually every throw, his mechanics will need the most work before earning playing time.
Swoopes started out the year as a highly touted recruit, but began toppling down the rankings after showing some signs of struggle during various camps.
Texas is set at quarterback next season with David Ash entering a critical junior year, but Swoopes is a name to watch for in the coming years as he develops as a college quarterback.
The Longhorns flirted with the idea of taking a JUCO quarterback, but when Nick Marshall fell to Auburn, the Horns shut down their recruitment of the position.
Swoopes isn't a home run by any stretch, but he has the athleticism at the right position to be a huge game-changer if he develops properly.
The Longhorns came up empty at running back in 2013 after securing the state's top-rated backs in 2012 (Johnathan Gray) and 2011 (Malcolm Brown).
Texas did have a commit from Arlington product Kyle Hicks, but after he flipped his pledge to TCU, it left the Horns without a running back in their class.
The Horns made a late and convincing push for DeSoto speedster Dontre Wilson, but even after getting him on campus for a visit late in the period, Wilson eventually signed with Ohio State.
Nothing to grade here, but if the Horns had been able to hold onto Hicks and steal Wilson late in the game, they would have earned a solid B+ for their efforts.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Commits: Jake Oliver, Jacorey Warrick, Montrel Meander, Geoff Swaim
Jake Oliver and Jacorey Warrick have been long-time receiver commitments, bringing strong route-running, hands and athleticism to a position group that has lacked playmakers.
Montrel Meander, a two-way player in high school, picked up a late offer from the Longhorns, enticing the Amarillo native to flip his pledge from Washington State to Texas.
Geoff Swaim, a JUCO tight end out of Butte C.C. in Oroville, Calif., has the look of a player ready to come in and contribute immediately. With the underperformance of the group already on campus, Swaim has an opportunity to grab the starting position from the get-go.
No war daddies here. Instead, the Horns picked up a number of potential contributors down the road with plenty of upside. Additionally, Swaim enters the fold as an impact player from day one.
Commits: Kent Perkins, Darius James, Rami Hammad, Desmond Harrison
The Longhorns put together a strong offensive line class that didn't really come together until very late in the recruiting process.
Long-time commits Kent Perkins and Darius James are the kind of athletic bodies needed up front, and the late additions of Rami Hammad and JUCO recruit Desmond Harrison bring the size and strength that offensive line coach Stacy Searels has been hoping for since joining the fold at Texas two seasons ago.
It is no secret that depth has been a problem up front for Texas after poorly developing a number of offensive linemen, and this group will have Searels' prints all over it. More importantly, Harrison could step in immediately and give the front five a "Donald Hawkins" treatment by providing experience and performance right away.
A borderline A-; the Horns did themselves well after getting signatures from Hammad and Harrison.
Commits: Jake Raulerson
Jake Raulerson may be one of the Longhorns' most committed pledges of this class as his efforts to help recruit his fellow athletes never went unnoticed.
A two-way player in high school, Raulerson will start his career at center, but for the sake of argument, the Celina product has had plenty of experience along the defensive line.
Accordingly, should the coaching staff require his services on that side of the ball, Raulerson definitely has the familiarity across the trench.
Raulerson is a strong signature, but losing the likes of A'Shawn Robinson, the top-rated player in the state of Texas, according to Rivals.com, is a sincere hit to the report card.
Commits: Deoundrei Davis, Naashon Hughes
Linebacker was a position of weakness last season for the Longhorns, and the hope is that the group on campus will progress into strengths as they mature.
Never satisfied with the current contributors, the Longhorns secured a huge athlete in Deoundrei Davis who has the measurables and speed to play effectively in the Big 12.
Naashon Hughes, the younger brother of Camrhon Hughes, a Texas offensive lineman, is no war daddy, but the Horns need all the bodies they can get to solidify their linebacker play.
The addition of Davis is a strong one, but not one that commands major attention. If the linebackers struggle again in 2013, Davis could easily be on the shortlist of players waiting in the wings.
Commits: Antwuan Davis, Chevoski Collins, Erik Huhn
Texas and defensive backs go together like peas and carrots, according to recent memory.
The Horns do not always get the right pieces in the secondary, but Bastrop native Antwuan Davis looks to be the next in line as a speedy and powerful cornerback who looks to get physical.
Duane Akina, perhaps one of the best defensive backs coaches in the country, will have plenty of new and very capable bodies to work with, just a season after his secondary vastly underperformed.
Until otherwise, Akina gets the benefit of the doubt when recruiting his kind of guys.
A 15-man class is definitely on the small side, but it hopes to complement the large number of returning players very well.
Nevertheless, it is hard to overlook the whiffs in recent weeks.
Defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson's flip to Alabama hurts the most, and it only gets compounded with a miss on Waco defensive tackle Andrew Billings.
Moreover, missing on eventual Notre Dame commitment in tight end Durham Smythe, who has the look of a pure tight end, is a hit that the Longhorns simply could not afford in the bigger picture at the position.
Quality over quantity is the hope for this class. The reports from the 2011 and 2012 recruiting classes have yielded some nice results, a testament to the new direction brought about by the new coaching staff introduced in 2011.
At the end of the day, missing on the likes of Robinson, Billings, Wilson, Smythe and Hicks is plenty to overcome.