Texas Football: Best and Worst of National Signing Day

Zach Shelton@@zachisagingerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2014

Texas Football: Best and Worst of National Signing Day

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    Wednesday signaled the conclusion of Charlie Strong's first recruiting class at Texas.
    Wednesday signaled the conclusion of Charlie Strong's first recruiting class at Texas.Eric Gay/Associated Press

    National Signing Day has come and gone, leaving the Texas Longhorns with 23 total commits for its 17th-ranked 2014 class.

    The final day of the recruiting cycle treated Texas much better than the rest of the process. Just in the past month, Charlie Strong and his new staff have seen six commitments flip to other schools. But on the last day of the season, every remaining commit followed through as Strong added two more to his haul.

    Highlighted by those signings, signing day can be considered a general success for the 'Horns. However, the fact that so many commits and other in-state talents chose to go elsewhere shows that this program still has plenty of room for improvement.

    All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.

Best: Landing Much-Needed Defensive Tackles

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    After a month of speculation, former Louisville commits Poona Ford and Chris Nelson have both signed with Texas, filling a massive void at defensive tackle.

    Both of these players were must-haves for the Longhorns, who were in danger of coming up empty-handed at the position. All three of their other pledges elected to go elsewhere after Strong was hired, which would have left the team with just four tackles on the roster.

    Depth is still a concern, but both of these players have solid futures ahead of them, thanks to their quickness. At 6'2" and 295 pounds, Nelson fits the mold but will take some time to develop his raw talent. The 6'0" Ford, on the other hand, should see some early action, thanks to his motor and ability to shed blocks. Based on need, he will see action as soon as he proves he is ready.

    Nelson and Ford are just the second and third signing-day commits of the past decade, and they could not have come at a better time.

Worst: Losing the Teuhema Brothers

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    Sione (left) and Maea Teuhema (right) each committed to LSU on Wednesday.
    Sione (left) and Maea Teuhema (right) each committed to LSU on Wednesday.Courtesy of 247Sports

    Tuesday's troubling news officially became bad for the Longhorns on national signing day, as brothers Sione and Maea Teuhema flipped to the LSU Tigers according to Andrew Lopez of the Louisiana Times-Picayune.

    Older brother Sione is considered a 3-star defensive end and was committed to play for Texas since May 2013. At 217 pounds, he has a lot of bulking up to do before he becomes an impact player for a major program, but he certainly has the potential, thanks to his height and overall quickness. That said, his is not a crushing loss but one that still hurts this 2014 class.

    The real gut punch is what Sione's pledge to the Tigers means for his 5-star brother, Maea. At almost 6'5" and 350 pounds, the monstrous offensive tackle is one of 2015's best overall prospects, thanks to his college-ready body and surprising footwork. He, too, has committed to the Tigers, which is all but a done deal now that his brother has signed.

    The chain reaction of losing Sione could even reach further into Texas' next recruiting class. Offensive guard Patrick Vahe is a 4-star cousin of the Teuhema brothers, meaning his decommitment could be coming shortly. This is tough situation for the 'Horns no matter how you slice it.

Best: No Last-Minute Decommits

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    Jerrod Heard is officially a Longhorn, which is reason enough to get excited.
    Jerrod Heard is officially a Longhorn, which is reason enough to get excited.Courtesy of 247Sports

    The Longhorns accomplished everything they needed to on national signing day. Their day started with 18 unsigned commits, and they ended up with 20, thanks to the additions of Ford and Nelson.

    It's easy to look at the six commits Texas lost in the past month and get pessimistic, but there is plenty to be happy about.

    Jerrod Heard, the nation's No. 1 dual-threat quarterback, is still on board along with top-rated recruit Derick Roberson. 

    Lorenzo Joe's visit to TCU proved innocuous, as he was the first recruit to fax his letter of intent, per Wescott Eberts of SB Nation's Burnt Orange Nation. Twins Armanti and D'Onta Foreman elected to stick around after a visit to Missouri, while top-rated defensive back John Bonney passed on Auburn and Baylor.

    Had any of those recruits decided to go elsewhere at the last minute, this class could have easily lost its remaining luster. Instead, the 'Horns kept everybody they started the day with and added two of their biggest targets.

    With that said, the day was a success. 

Worst: Failing to Flip Nick Harvey

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    After he took as many as four visits to Texas throughout his recruitment, there was hope that Nick Harvey would flip on signing day. Now that he has officially signed with Texas A&M, that window of opportunity has closed.

    Landing Harvey would have been an enormous coup for Texas. The 4-star corner is one of the most versatile prospects in the state, and he would have filled a major hole in the secondary as a potential freshman starter. Not to mention, flipping him would have been sweet revenge after the Aggies snatched Otaro Alaka just a week ago.

    Instead, the Longhorns' chief recruiting competition ended the year with both recruits signed to a fifth-rated class that already boasted three 5-star prospects. Texas still has its prizes, but the Aggies have won this round.

Best: Honoring Kevin Shorter's Scholarship

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    Almost four months ago, Texas commit Kevin Shorter suffered a career-threatening injury on a kickoff. Though he may never play football again, his scholarship was still honored on signing day.

    According to ESPN's Max Olson, Shorter's signing had a lot to do with Mack Brown's remaining influence within the university. There was ample doubt whether the 4-star athlete would even sign with a program, and now he gets to attend classes in the fall with a full scholarship.

    A national letter of intent is just a one-year contract, so there is no telling where Shorter will be a year from now. But honoring this scholarship gives an explosive athlete a chance to regain his health, as well as an opportunity to attend one of the nation's best public universities.

Best: The Possible Arrival of Max Wittek

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    Could Max Wittek be Texas' next starting quarterback?
    Could Max Wittek be Texas' next starting quarterback?Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    While recruits were choosing their first college, word was spreading that former USC quarterback Max Wittek is looking at Texas to be the second stop of his college career, per a report by Horns247, via Wescott Eberts.

    Bringing on Wittek will be met with some resistance. His six career interceptions against just three touchdowns don't paint the picture of a player who can help turn the program around. Second, he could get in the way of sophomore Tyrone Swoopes and the incoming Jerrod Heard.

    In spite of those concerns, Texas has to consider the consequences of not adding some experience to the position.

    Behind Swoopes and David Ash, there is nobody on the Texas roster who has thrown a collegiate pass. Should anything happen to either, then Heard would be a play away from starting as a true freshman. Then Texas is right back to throwing a first-year quarterback into the deep end and hoping he can swim.

    Instead, bring in a guy like Wittek so that Heard can soak up everything he can as a redshirt freshman. It's unlikely that he becomes a star, but at the very worse, Wittek gives Texas an experienced third-stringer as well as somebody to push the incumbents in practice—two things the program hasn't had in a while.