Signing Day has come and gone, with the Texas Longhorns bringing in 15 recruits in their 2013 haul. Are any of them ready to start in their freshmen season?
It has been a recruiting season full of disappointments for Texas, whose No. 15 class ranking (according to ESPN) is its worst since being ranked No. 10 in 2008, its previous low, thanks to an unprecedented five decommitments.
Although the 'Horns did bring in five great recruits along the offensive line—as well as the possible quarterback of the future in Tyrone Swoopes—theirs is a class full of holes in several key areas.
But there is good news for this Texas program. It returns 19 starters from last season's squad and, courtesy of the 2011 and 2012 classes, depth should be a non-issue once the season rolls around. That means the trend of playing over 30 freshmen the past two seasons should be significantly cut down so the team can develop its young talent.
That said, a few members of this class should find themselves in starting roles at some point or another this season, even if not on an every-week basis. Following are the players that will start and what to expect from them when fall arrives.
The no-brainer from this 2013 recruiting class is JUCO transfer Desmond Harrison, who will likely find himself protecting David Ash's blindside next season.
The 6'8" Harrison will step in immediately as Texas' best run-blocker at the tackle position, an area in which this group needs serious help. He also has the athleticism to stay in front of the better pass-rushers at the BCS level, which makes him capable of being an every-down player.
The only question with Harrison is which side he lines up on and how the rest of the line will be adjusted from there. The safe bet seems to be that Harrison will slide into former JUCO-transfer Donald Hawkins' spot on the left side, with Hawkins pushing right tackle Josh Cochran to the inside. From there Mason Walters would move Dominic Espinosa out of the starting lineup and return to center, the position he was recruited to play.
He still needs to beat out Cochran but expect to see Harrison starting from the get-go this season, making this Texas front one of the best in the conference.
Swaim will battle McFarland (pictured) for playing time in 2013.
He may not be an every-week starter, but tight end Geoff Swaim, another JUCO recruit, will certainly get some starts this season as Texas' best blocking tight end.
As of now, the battle for the starting tight end spot is between Swaim and redshirt sophomore M.J. McFarland.
McFarland is the team's best receiving tight end but has struggled with his blocking, which is Swaim's area of expertise. What is working against Swaim is that he only caught 11 passes against JUCO competition last season, whereas McFarland is a converted wide receiver.
But don't close the book on Swaim just yet. Scouting reports have indicated that he does have some receiving skills that have not been put to use. If that is the case for the early enrollee, then he very easily could become the every-down tight end that Texas has lacked since Jermichael Finley in 2008.
The only true freshman that will likely start this season for the 'Horns is Jake Raulerson, who has already emerged as the leader of this 2013 haul.
He will not be an every-week starter, but Raulerson has two things working in his favor.
The first is that he is an early enrollee and will get plenty of coaching between now and September. The second thing is that his motor and toughness would fit on either side of the ball, so he could fill a position of need at the drop of a hat.
As with Harrison, the main question surrounding him is not if he will but rather in which position. He was recruited as a tackle, started at defensive end in January, and is now being told he will play on the interior of the offensive line.
However, since Texas was unable to bring in a single recruit along the defensive line, expect Raulerson's time on offense to be short-lived, especially since Texas will already have 15 offensive linemen in 2013.
Now that A'Shawn Robinson has decommitted it would not be a surprise to see Raulerson back on defense, possibly at tackle. At 6'5" and 260 pounds with room to grow, he has the size and the motor for a position that has been a revolving door.
No matter his position, Raulerson will play this season. But if he makes the move back over to either defensive end or tackle, he should get at least a couple of starts in his freshman season.
Though few members of this 2013 class will find themselves at the top of the depth chart next season, a few of them should crack the two-deep. From there, as Johnathan Gray and Peter Jinkens showed us a year ago, anything is possible.
One player that could do what Jinkens and Gray did in jumping up into the starting lineup is Antwuan Davis.
Davis is blazing fast, has good instincts and is not afraid to hit; an area in which the Longhorn defensive backs struggled a year ago. He also has the ability to play safety, arguably Texas' most inconsistent position last season.
He needs some fine-tuning, but Davis has the raw skill and athleticism to play right away. Defensive backs coach Duane Akina is not afraid of throwing his freshmen into the fire, so he will get his shot if the players in front of him are not up to the task.