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Texas Football Recruiting: 5 Players the 'Horns Must Land to Keep No. 1 Ranking

Zach SheltonFeatured Columnist IIIJanuary 4, 2017

Texas Football Recruiting: 5 Players the 'Horns Must Land to Keep No. 1 Ranking

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    The first edition of the ESPN150 has been released with the Texas Longhorns sitting atop the class rankings with 15 commits, including two from ESPN's list. But the process is far from over, and the 'Horns have plenty of work to do if they want to maintain that distinction.

    After a tough go in 2013, the Longhorns have hit the recruiting trail with renewed vigor. The result is five more commitments than any other program in the country and two more than they brought in all of last year.

    But with players like Jamal Adams and K.D. Cannon still there to be had, plenty of work remains for the Mack Brown and his staff before the 2014 class can be called a success. Bringing those two in, along with these other three talents would just about do it though. 

S Jamal Adams

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    With Edward Paris Jr. and Dylan Sumner-Gardner off the market, it is all or nothing for the Longhorns in their pursuit of safety prospect Jamal Adams.

    If you could describe Adams in only one word, it would be "explosive." At 6'0" and 200 pounds, he already possesses prototypical size. But what is most impressive is his 40-yard dash time of 4.4 seconds, which is faster than former Longhorn and projected first-round pick Kenny Vaccaro.

    Texas basically struck out at safety in 2013 and will lose another starter at the position after this season, so hauling in Adams is a must. He has the skills against both the run and pass to contribute immediately, and he would give Texas at least two years as a starter. 

    Though he has visited Austin several times, Adams will not narrow his list of his almost 30 offers until the summer. That means a golden opportunity for Patrick Suddes to prove his worth on the recruiting trail.

CB Tony Brown

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    Tony Brown, like Adams, is a defensive back prospect that is already fielding offers from some of the best programs in the nation. Also like Adams, Brown is a player the Longhorns cannot let slip away.

    Brown has the size, the instincts and the blazing speed to play immediately in college. He also has a nose for the football and creates a lot of turnovers, something Texas will need if Quandre Diggs opts for the NFL after his junior year.

    Since Brown's sister has pledged to LSU to run track, the Tigers are the presumable favorite to land him as well. But Brown has a good relationship with defensive backs coach Duane Akina, and his commitment to 'Horns would hinge on Akina's ability to get his guys to the pros. 

    Fortunately for Texas, the similarly gifted Arrion Springs is also on Akina's radar and would be a welcome consolation prize should Brown pick elsewhere. 

WR K.D. Cannon

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    Top wideout Mike Davis graduates after the 2013 season without an obvious choice to man his spot on the outside. K.D. Cannon could be that guy if the Longhorns could bring him aboard.

    It is a little surpising to see a player as polished as Cannon outside of the top 50 on ESPN's rankings. With 4.37 speed and glue-like hands, Cannon will step in immediately as a deep threat on either the outside or inside depending on the program. But first he needs to about 20 pounds to his slight 160-pound frame.

    Cannon is a player that the Longhorns might have to flip late in the game. He is said to favor Baylor and Texas Tech's gun-slinger mentalities, so Texas needs to show it will commit to giving him his chances by stretching the field in 2013. 

DE Solomon Thomas

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    Texas has already lined up a solid replacement for Jackson Jeffcoat on the left side in Derick Roberson. Adding fellow ESPN150 prospect Solomon Thomas would be quite a nice complement.

    Thomas is not a sack master like Roberson, but he does have elite strength and can be a handful even for two blockers. His size and lack of prototypical quickness project him to slide over to tackle, but Texas' signings of Trey Lealaimatafao and Courtney Garnett might keep him at bookend.

    No matter where he ends up, Thomas is a great prospect on the defensive front and would certainly find a way to contribute for this program. His ability to eat space alone makes him a must-have for the 'Horns.

RB Leonard Fournette

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    They already have an offer out to him. They already have commitments from two of his teammates. All that is left for the Longhorns is to pull off the recruiting upset of the year and add Leonard Fournette to their 2014 class.

    If you have followed any recruiting at all this year, you know that Fournette is as sure a prospect as you can get. From a physical standpoint, he looks something like the second coming of Adrian Peterson. As far as skill, he could average over five yards a pop in college tomorrow.

    Now the odds of the Longhorns getting this kid, who is heavily leaning toward LSU, to come to Texas are somewhere between seeing Tupac at Starbucks and Keanu Reeves winning an Oscar. But this type of player is the reason Texas hired Recruiter of the Decade Larry Porter, Patrick Suddes and now Riley Dodge

    So if not Fournette, who? Because Texas has to justify spending all of these resources with one 5-star player or another.

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