Imagining What Texas' Starting Lineup Will Look Like in 3 Years
Springtime is always a lull when it comes to football, but it means that much more time for wandering thoughts and speculation.
The Texas Longhorns will be a program to watch in the coming seasons, as head coach Charlie Strong will attempt to do what Mack Brown couldn't: inject some much-needed life and change into the program.
The 2014 season is a huge first stepping stone for Strong, as a big season could translate to even bigger successes down the road. But a poor maiden year could spell disaster, again.
But it won't be 2014 that ultimately decides Strong's achievement in Austin. Rather, the 2016 and 2017 seasons will be the anchor points.
The future of the Texas program, at least in the short term, is already in the works, as the 2013, 2014 and 2015 recruiting classes will provide the backbone to the Longhorns' tomorrow.
There isn't another position that holds as much weight as the quarterback, and Texas is no exception.
Mediocrity, and perhaps even worse, has plagued the Longhorns at that position since 2009, the days of Colt McCoy.
But looking far down the road, the 2016 season could possibly have a senior Tyrone Swoopes and a junior or redshirt sophomore Jerrod Heard at signal-caller.
Will it get to that point? Maybe.
But the fact of the matter is, the leader of the team come 2016 will be on campus this fall, meaning the upward growth begins very soon.
So whether it's Heard or Swoopes at the helm, the Longhorns will need to get something great out of one of them.
Texas has been quite steady at running back since bringing in Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron in 2011.
The 'Horns added Johnathan Gray in 2012, and he has contributed to a trio of very capable tailbacks. Do not forget about Jalen Overstreet, either, who will be a senior going into 2016.
But with nothing to show for its 2013 class, Texas added two running backs with Donald Catalon and D'Onta Foreman in 2014. The duo will be juniors or redshirt sophomores in 2016.
Jordan Stevenson is the lone 2015 running back commit, for now. The Longhorns could take up to three running backs if they wanted, so look for more names to emerge soon.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
The receivers at Texas, including tight end, have been inconsistent at best over the past four years.
There has been almost nothing to show at tight end, with player after player falling well short of the expectations and production.
The Longhorns have gone to the junior college ranks in consecutive recruiting seasons in search of a plug-and-play tight end and have found short-term success with it, at least in the 2013-14 season. But there is little on the horizon, as the position still appears to be in shambles.
But at wideout, the future is bright.
Dorian Leonard, Armanti Foreman, Lorenzo Joe and Roderick Bernard are all playmakers and will all be juniors or redshirt sophomores come 2016. A slot option in Jacorey Warrick, who will be a senior that year, is also in play.
But it all won't matter unless Texas gets a big answer at quarterback.
This is a group that many thought would shine deep into former offensive line coach Stacy Searels' three-year stint in Austin. But like most of the program's output, the results were simply acceptable.
By 2016, the pieces that Searels recruited to Texas will be upperclassmen and will likely make up a huge portion of the two-deep.
Kent Perkins, Curtis Riser and Camrhon Hughes will be seniors as contributors from the 2012 and 2013 classes.
Darius James, Rami Hammad and Jake Raulerson all figure to be big rotation players by the 2015 season and project to have huge roles in 2016.
Rounding out the two-deep will probably be the pieces put together in Texas' recent 2014 class, Elijah Rodriguez, Alex Anderson and Terrell Cuney.
The defensive front for the Longhorns has actually been very good to great in the past couple of seasons, but today's contributors will be recent memories by 2016.
Texas failed to secure any defensive linemen in its 2013 class, and it signed just three in its 2014 group.
The good news, however, is that the three who signed earlier in February—DE Derick Roberson and DTs Poona Ford and Chris Nelson—should all become heavy contributors, at the least, in 2016.
Caleb Bluiett, Bryce Cottrell, Hassan Ridgeway, Alex Norman and Paul Boyette will all be seniors in 2016, but some attrition should be expected.
The Longhorns will need to add a handful of players along the defensive line in their 2015 and 2016 classes, but the projected two-deep will be on campus this fall.
Texas has had trouble staying healthy and productive at linebacker since 2011, and it doesn't appear to be getting better.
Charlie Strong will have to recruit well, no doubt, but three potential contributors for 2016 may already be on campus.
Deoundrei Davis took a redshirt in 2013, but health could be a concern.
Tim Cole has only started to emerge as a potential player, and he will be a senior in 2016.
Lastly, Andrew Beck, part of the 2014 class, may have to contribute early in the middle of the defense.
Naashon Hughes still appears to be a project, but until the Longhorns add some more names to their 2015 and 2016 classes, thin is the word.
The secondary will be a huge part of Strong's 3-3-5 defense, and Texas' reputation as DBU should help fortify the results.
Compared to last season, the 2016 secondary figures to be comprised of mostly all new names, with Antwuan Davis projected as the star of the group as a junior.
Bryson Echols and Adrian Colbert will be the seniors and should have a season or two of experience under their belts.
Filling out the two-deep should be Jermaine Roberts, Edwin Freeman and John Bonney, all signees from Texas' 2014 class.