Texas Football: Power Ranking Longhorns' 5 Best Classes of the BCS Era
The Texas Longhorns were always synonymous with success in terms of recruiting under former head coach Mack Brown.
During his 16-year career in Austin, Brown signed an average top-10 recruiting class, according to Rivals, and helped lead 59 Longhorns to the NFL draft. Brown earned the name "Coach February" due to his vast success signing the top football prospects.
But the Brown era has come to an end. And as Texas fans bid adieu to Brown and the BCS, it's time to take a look back at the top five classes Brown signed throughout the 1998-2013 BCS era.
Three-year record: 25-14
NFL draft picks: N/A
The 2011 Texas signing class was considered the best of college football, according to Rivals. But the importance of the class was about much more than numbers.
The Longhorns 2011 class stuck together following a 5-7 season and the replacment of six assistant coaches, which is not an easy thing to do. But the pledges in the class felt a connection to Texas that was not going to be changed by one poor season.
"I was just telling guys to be patient," defensive back Quandre Diggs told Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com. "Things worked out exactly the way we wanted them to. We were able to hold the class together with the exception of maybe one guy. I feel like we had a great recruiting class, and I just couldn't let that go. I feel like we have a chance to be one of the best classes to come through here."
The 2011 class may not have the best record, but in terms of allegiance, this class ranks among the top of the Mack Brown era.
Four-year record: 40-12
NFL draft picks: 5
The 1999 recruiting class was one the first of the Mack Brown era, and it was a doozy. The Longhorns topped the recruiting charts, ranking No. 1 overall with the 28-signee class, according to Sports Illustrated.
Quarterback Chris Simms, defensive end Cory Redding, offensive guard Derrick Dockery and cornerback Rod Babers were all selected in the 2003 NFL draft, followed by tight end Bo Scaife in the 2005 draft.
The 1999 signing class did not have the best record for the Longhorns during the BCS era, but it set the standard for the success that would soon follow.
"This class sends a message nationally that we're really serious about being a top program again," Brown said of his 1999 recruiting class. "It's a class that can jump-start us back to where we want to be—the elite of college football."
Four-year record: 43-8
NFL draft picks: 5
The Longhorns class of 2001 consisted of names like Cedric Benson, Cedric Griffin, Michael Huff and Derrick Johnson, but the foundation the 2001 class laid for Texas topping the college football ranks was uncanny.
Benson and Johnson helped lead Texas in the 38-37 Rose Bowl game against Michigan to give the Longhorns their first BCS bowl victory, while Griffin and Huff were key components to Texas' first-ever BCS National Championship title following the 2005 season.
However you spin it, the Longhorns' 2001 recruiting class helped pave the way for the great brand of Texas football in the years that would soon follow.
Four-year record: 45-7
NFL draft picks: 6
Rewind to February 2, 2005. Texas' signing class was one of the smallest in the Mack Brown era, the lowest ranked since 2002 at No. 20 and without any 5-star recruits, according to Rivals.com.
Sounds like a bust, right?
The 2005 recruiting class is arguably one of the most successful in the Brown era. According to the Texas Longhorns' official website, Mack Brown had this to say about the class:
Each of our classes has been critical in helping us build Texas into one of the nation's top programs year in and year out. Now that our program is firmly established, it will be rare to see us have the large number of signees that we have had in the past. We are in a position now where each year we are filling needs. I feel really good about the quality of this class. On a per player basis, this is one of the best classes we've had.
Of the 15 signees, eight eventually went on to play in the NFL, which makes the '05 class one of the premier units of the BCS era.
Four-year record: 45-6
NFL draft picks: 7
The Texas Longhorns' 2002 recruiting class is arguably the best class in all of college football. The big name in the 2002 class was the Rivals No. 1 overall prospect Vince Young, who proved to be worth the elite ranking for college football quarterbacks, but one of the most underrated players was Splendora, Texas linebacker Brian Robison.
Robison was a Rivals 3-star prospect but was drafted in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL draft and has had a successful seven-year career with the Minnesota Vikings.
"We have worked extremely hard to build a winning program with nice kids that are graduating and I believe the 27 student-athletes that signed with us today will continue that trend," Brown said. "These are all outstanding young men that we believe can be great representatives of our program and help us continue to improve as a football team."
This group was the core of the 2005 BCS National Championship team.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar