Texas National Signing Day 2014: Position-by-Position Analysis
The 2014 recruiting cycle officially came to a close Wednesday, and head coach Charlie Strong and his staff pulled in 23 new Longhorns for the coming years.
Strong and his crew had to work hard to hold together a group that had six decommitments after the coaching transition. But at the end of the day, most of the core was retained, although Texas did sustain a couple of key losses.
Nevertheless, the newcomers will serve to kickoff Strong's tenure in Austin as we will get to see the growth and development of this initial recruiting class over the next four years.
But in which positions did UT strike gold?
Commitments (1): Jerrod Heard
Top-rated pledge (per 247Sports): Jerrod Heard
Denton, Texas, dual-threat quarterback Jerrod Heard doesn't have the size of a Vince Young, but he does have the intangibles that project him to be an outstanding signal-caller for the Longhorns.
Will he be able to compete immediately for a starting job?
The traditionalists will say no because of a veteran David Ash, who has been fully cleared to return to action following a long battle with concussion symptoms last season, and sophomore Tyrone Swoopes. Will experience win out?
On the other hand, Strong's philosophies suggest that the best will play, and if Heard outshines the current group on campus, the former Louisville coach may not think twice about throwing a true freshman immediately into the fire.
This much is true, though. If Heard doesn't get consideration this fall, he will be in the running 100 percent by fall 2015.
Commitments (3): D'Onta Foreman, Kevin Shorter, Donald Catalon
Top-rated pledge (per 247Sports): Donald Catalon
The Longhorns picked up three players who project to play in the offensive backfield. However, Kevin Shorter suffered a spinal cord injury in high school, and while he is on the path to recovery, Shorter may not ever suit up for Texas.
Foreman was recruited as an athlete, but with the short numbers at running back, the brother of wide receiver Armanti Foreman is a very stout addition to the backfield.
Donald Catalon is the favorite to see the early snaps.
With Texas looking quite thin at running back, especially with Johnathan Gray on the mend from an Achilles injury, Catalon is an all-purpose back with good speed who could have an impact as a freshman. He also has some experience on special teams.
Receivers and Tight Ends
Commitments (6): Lorenzo Joe, Roderick Bernard, Armanti Foreman, Garrett Gray, Dorian Leonard, Blake Whiteley
Top-rated pledge (per 247Sports): Armanti Foreman
The Longhorns struck big in the receivers department, but all of that could mean little without consistency from the quarterback position.
Texas got a little bit of everything from its haul: size, speed, hands and flat-out playmakers.
Lorenzo Joe was the first to commit verbally to the Longhorns, and he, along with Armanti Foreman and Roderick Bernard, are the first-year players to watch for this coming season.
The trio are not the biggest ever, but they all feature speed and open-field skills after the catch. Bernard is the smallest commit listed in the class, but he is a home run threat every time he touches the ball.
Looking for size? Look no further than Dorian Leonard and Garrett Gray, listed at 6'4" and 6'4.5", respectively.
Blake Whiteley enters the fold as the lone tight end commitment in the class, but he also comes from the junior college ranks and could have an impact immediately.
Commitments (3): Terrell Cuney, Alex Anderson, Elijah Rodriguez
Top-rated pledge (per 247Sports): Terrell Cuney
Texas was sitting thin at offensive line when Charlie Strong took over as head coach.
Terrell Cuney was the only pledge at the time, but Strong and his offensive line coach Joe Wickline quickly flipped a couple of players late in the recruiting process.
Wickline got Alex Anderson away from Arizona State and secured Elijah Rodriguez from Colorado just days before signing day.
The Longhorns got no barn-burners here, but Wickline is a coach known for choosing his guys and developing them as he sees fit.
Look for these three in the coming seasons.
Commitments (4): Derick Roberson, Jake McMillon, Chris Nelson, Poona Ford
Top-rated pledge (per 247Sports): Derick Roberson
Texas had been pumping out some defensive linemen at a good clip in the latter years of the Mack Brown Era, and the trend appears to be continuing.
Jackson Jeffcoat just left, and Cedric Reed is not far behind him.
Derick Roberson has the edge speed that could pin him as another successful defensive end to come through Austin, but the real talking points are at defensive tackle, a position that yielded no recruits in Texas' 2013 class.
The coaching transition had Texas see three DTs decommit, but Strong was active on the recruiting trail, snatching up a couple of his former Louisville commits in Chris Nelson and Poona Ford, both coming out of SEC territory.
Jake McMillon comes in a little under the radar, but he is a guy who has played up and down the line, plays with a good burst off the line of scrimmage and uses his hands well to disengage from blockers and make plays in the backfield.
Commitments (3): Edwin Freeman, Andrew Beck, Cameron Hampton
Top-rated pledge (per 247Sports): Edwin Freeman
The linebacker position has been very unkind to Texas in recent seasons.
In fact, the group has been in near disarray ever since Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson graduated after the 2011 season.
Edwin Freeman comes in as perhaps the most physical player in the recruiting class, but is he destined for a role as a linebacker?
Freeman played both linebacker and safety in high school and was recruited by Texas as a safety.
Andrew Beck is a Florida product and just has a nose for the football, an asset that could have him succeed early on if the numbers play out correctly.
"Instinctive" can be a term used to describe Cameron Hampton. Quick to the ball, the Dallas, Carter High School product is a solid score for Strong's defense.
Commitments (3): John Bonney, Jermaine Roberts, Jason Hall
Top-rated pledge (per 247Sports): John Bonney
Texas has been known to field strong secondaries in the past, and it has added three new defensive backs to that cause.
John Bonney enters the fold as a straight-up ball player. Bonney chose the Longhorns despite late pushes by Auburn and Baylor.
Bonney has the physical tools to play close to the line of scrimmage, but he has the ball skills and coverage ability to matchup with virtually anyone on the opposing offense.
Jermaine Roberts and Jason Hall are cover cornerbacks who will likely have to bide their time on the 40 Acres.
Texas doesn't appear to have too many issues with depth at the position, so unless the two shine from the get-go, it may be a season or two before they can really make their presence felt.