Slowly but surely, Mack Brown's program is losing ground on the recruiting trail. A winning season in 2013 is needed to get things back on track.
For the second straight year, the Texas Longhorns are staring at an underwhelming recruiting class that, once again, does not contain a 5-star prospect. And if they do not start winning in 2013, this disappointing trend will only get worse.
Though the 'Horns still have the nation's third-best class according to ESPN and the top-overall one according to Rivals, their average star-rating of 3.28 is far below that of teams like Texas A&M and Alabama. That is what happens when 11 of your 19 commits have a 3-star rating.
In other words, once these programs are done warring it out for the 154 uncommitted players on ESPN's list, the Longhorns will take a tumble. That is, unless they can get a few more of their own.
However, that will be a daunting task for Mack Brown and his staff. The only top prospect on their radar whom they are a near shoo-in for is Armanti Foreman, whose 2-star twin brother they will have to offer as well. The rest, such as Arrion Springs and Solomon Thomas, seem to be slipping away with each passing moment.
And do not even bring up Jamal Adams. The safety that would start immediately for this team may as well be doing donuts on Royal-Memorial with Will Muschamp riding shotgun.
Such is the state of the Texas program. Even after getting Kenny Vaccaro drafted 15th-overall, DBU itself is basically striking out with one of the best defensive back classes in recent memory—and are not exactly making up for it with the rest of the haul.
All of this because Texas is 11-15 in the Big 12 the past three seasons, on its third offensive coordinator in as many years and hardly a soul believes Mack Brown will be around in 2015. When you are competing with the SEC and its seven-consecutive national championships for every top recruit, that does not cut it.
That is not to say that Texas' current 3-star and unheralded 4-star recruits are no good. Each of them, especially the long and athletic receivers, fits the mold with the potential to become dependable BCS-level players. Many of them will also outperform their rating and/or surge up the rankings as seniors.
But only one or two projects look to make an immediate impact for the 2014 team, which will be short 12 seniors that regularly contribute and probably Quandre Diggs as well. It was fine this past year since it was returning 19 starters, but Texas will need at least three guys that have Day 1 talent, especially in the secondary.
The only way the Longhorns are going to fill the remaining spots in their class with those type of players is by getting it done in 2013. That means winning the Big 12, which is there for the taking, and possibly one last BCS bowl before the playoff system comes about.
Texas has everything else a teenager could want—location, facilities, tradition, fan base and exposure. What it does not have is proof that it can contend on a national level the way it did in the 2000s, and that is why the negative recruiting is starting to take a toll on the trail.
That all changes if the Longhorns put in that long-awaited breakthrough season in 2013. The decommitments will stop, the late coups from big programs will return and even the big-name out-of-state targets will come calling. Mainly, balance will be restored in the state with the absolute best crop of high school talent in the nation.
But only if the Longhorns get the job done, and done well, this very season.