"I've been asked over the last couple of days, 'Is this the best class that we've ever had?'" Brown said in his 2010 signing day press conference. "We feel like it definitely has the potential to be because from top to bottom, it covers every position and that's a very difficult thing to do."
But those recruits' journey at Texas would turn out to be much different than the recruiting classes of years past. Texas holds a 30-19 overall record since 2010. The Longhorns are 18-16 in Big 12 games and 4-13 against ranked opponents.
The senior Longhorns have faced more adversity than what they likely expected when they came to Texas: Brown's first losing season, which sparked a massive rebuild of Texas football and multiple coaching changes, three consecutive losses to rival Oklahoma, constant criticism of not being up to the Texas standard and the list continues.
All signs pointed to 2013 as the season Texas would snap out of the rebuild stage and return to national prominence. But following the Longhorns' 1-2 start to the season, the seniors took it upon themselves to prevent this season from spiraling out of control, as it did in 2010.
"We can't let it happen," senior safety Adrian Phillips said after Texas' September 14 loss to Ole Miss. "The seniors came in and went 5-7. We don't want to leave with any record like that. We have been knocked off of our horse a bit, but we have to get back on it."
The seniors called a players-only meeting after the loss to Ole Miss and reminded the team that winning the Big 12 was still within reach.
"We met with the team and told them how important it was to get our minds right," defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. "We were pissed off and we pulled together. We were tired of being known as the team that was not playing up to the Texas standard."
The team listened, and they turned what appeared to be another dreadful season into playing for a share of the Big 12 title.
"When you think about all of the people we've lost and the adversity we've faced this year, it's crazy to see where we're at right now," center Dominic Espinosa said. "I came in and we went 5-7 and had two other mediocre years after. We came here to put numbers on the wall and we finally have the opportunity to do that. My whole goal has been to get Texas back on top and that's what we're playing for Saturday."
But will a win over Baylor Saturday rewrite the seniors' legacy?
"The program has been going uphill from my freshman season," senior defensive back Carrington Byndom said. "We've been doing everything we can to get this program back to the status it once was. I think we're headed in the right direction. We're going to hopefully leave this place on a good note so the players can continue to carry the torch after us."
Mack Brown has produced many stellar seasons, BCS bowl wins and future NFL draft picks during his 16-year career in Austin. But Brown's Longhorns have only won two Big 12 titles. To put that into perspective, the Oklahoma Sooners have eight conference titles under Bob Stoops.
With everything considered, securing a share of the Big 12 title will ultimately change the seniors' legacy at Texas, since it is something that has not been done often under Mack Brown.
"We battled through the rebuilding process and we control our destiny to put numbers on the wall," senior quarterback Case McCoy said. "That's what we said we would do at the beginning of this year and that goal is still intact. We have the opportunity to put our final stamp on it."
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
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