Texas Football: 4 Recruits That Charlie Strong Will Immediately Lure to Texas

Zach SheltonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2014

Among Charlie Strong's first jobs at Texas will be to finish off its 2014 recruiting class.
Among Charlie Strong's first jobs at Texas will be to finish off its 2014 recruiting class.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Chief among reasons that Charlie Strong has been hired to be Texas' next head coach is his ability to recruit. The program could use an early return on its decision.

The Longhorns' class is currently ranked No. 12 according to Rivals, sporting major holes at key positions of need, the main ones being at defensive back and defensive end.

Those holes provide Strong with a perfect opportunity to make a quick statement on the job. Signing day is less than a month away, so many of the nation's big-name recruits have already chosen where they will play their college ball.

Still, there is plenty of talent that is still waiting to be snatched up. Given his reputation as a defensive guru, as well as his ability to mine talent from the state of Florida, Strong should have no problem adding these recruits to his first Longhorn class.


DE Solomon Thomas

The Longhorns have been pursuing 4-star defensive end Solomon Thomas for quite some time, and the Strong hire should finally put them over the hump.

With Jackson Jeffcoat graduating and Cedric Reed potentially bolting for the NFL, Texas needs an impact end like Thomas. At 6'3" and 265 pounds, he has the size to immediately make an impact on the strong side.

The Coppell product has paid visits to Stanford, Ohio State, UCLA and Arkansas, but has kept Texas in his top five. After producing his second All-American defensive end, Strong should make a compelling case for Thomas' commitment.


S Edwin Freeman

After missing out on Jamal Adams, the Longhorns remain starved for a blue chip safety recruit for its 2014 secondary. For now, Edwin Freeman might be their last hope.

Currently projected to play on the back end, Freeman also has the ability to play outside linebacker. His 6'1" frame has room for added bulk, but has the requisite speed to play at safety. It all depends on what his coaches determine.

But based on Texas' need at safety, it's hard to imagine him not getting a look there. Adrian Phillips is graduating, leaving them with unproven and inconsistent options at both spots. Luckily for them, Quandre Diggs has decided to stay for his senior season and could slide over if needed.

Reeling in Freeman is among the program's highest priorities. However, Strong would be wise to check on Adams, as well as former Texas A&M commit Dylan Sumner-Gardner. All three have the ability to play meaningful snaps early on.


DT Travonte Valentine

Fresh off of his decommitment from Miami, Florida native Travonte Valentine is well within Strong's wheelhouse and would fill a need for the 'Horns.

Sure, Texas already has three defensive tackles committed for 2014. But Trey Lealaimatafao has taken three visits in the past month, while Courtney Garnett seems destined for a redshirt season. Zaycoven Henderson, a 4-star prospect, will also need time to develop his raw talent.

Valentine is a similar raw talent, but would easily be the leader of Texas' new crop of tackles. He has great size at 6'3" and 305 pounds, possessing the burst to create havoc in the backfield.

Alex Norman and Paul Boyette Jr. have not panned out for the Longhorns, who need depth behind upperclassmen Malcom Brown and Desmond Jackson. Valentine gives them a player that will be ready to take over once they depart. 


RB D'Ernest Johnson

Like Valentine, D'Ernest Johnson is a Florida native that should be on Strong's radar. Texas could use him to add some depth at running back.

Johnathan Gray could be out until August with an Achilles injury. Commit Kevin Shorter is dealing with a potentially career-threatening spine injury. Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron are both rising seniors.

Does Texas need any other reason to add another running back to its 2014 haul?

Johnson, who has an offer from Louisville, would give Texas a shifty back that can catch passes out of the backfield. And if he doesn't work out there, he projects well as a defensive back.

Another name to watch at tailback is former Texas pledge and current Louisville commit Daniel Gresham. He is as likely as any to follow Strong to Austin and would project to be the team's power back once Bergeron graduates.