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Texas Football: Summer Grades for the Longhorns' 2015 Recruiting Class

Zach SheltonFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2014

Texas Football: Summer Grades for the Longhorns' 2015 Recruiting Class

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    Quarterback Zach Gentry is a major addition to Strong's 2015 class.
    Quarterback Zach Gentry is a major addition to Strong's 2015 class.Courtesy of 247Sports

    With 10 commits, the Texas Longhorns are on the right track with their 2015 recruiting class. But Charlie Strong and his staff still have work to do at receiver and everywhere on defense.

    Even with Zach Gentry picking the 'Horns over Alabama and Tennessee, Strong still has pressing needs to fill. He hasn't picked up any type of pass-catcher or true linebacker, and both the secondary and defensive line lack players that can play right away.

    Even so, thanks to Gentry and strong pickups up front and in the backfield, this class grades out well overall based on needs and talent aggregation. Now that those spots are pretty much handled, Strong can focus on plugging the remaining holes.

    Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting stats and information courtesy of 247Sports.com.

Quarterback: A

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    Commit: Zach Gentry

    Rather than settle for three or more years of Jerrod Heard and Tyrone Swoopes, the Longhorn staff bolstered the quarterback position by securing a commitment from Zach Gentry.

    At 6'7" and 230 pounds, Gentry possesses prototypical size with some surprising athleticism that will help him frustrate defenses at the college level. As noted by Burnt Orange Nation, his level of competition does not quite match that of Heard, but his nine picks on his 567 career passing attempts suggest high potential as a passer.

    In all likelihood, the future of the position still belongs to Heard, who will arrive on campus next month. But the Longhorns have had issues with quarterback depth during the recent down seasons, and Gentry provides them with the upside to become an eventual starter.

    Almost without exception, a team should take one quarterback per season. The 'Horns did a great job of that by luring a player of Gentry's caliber.

Running Back: A-

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    Commits: Jordan Stevenson, Tristian Houston, Kirk Johnson

    The only thing holding Texas back from a perfect score here is its lack of a power runner. Then again, Kirk Johnson could emerge as the every-down solution if he keeps it up.

    Jordan Stevenson was Texas' first commit at the position back in October. The 5'8" prospect brings elite speed and quickness, running a 4.37 at last year's Dallas Nike Football Training Camp, according to SB Nation's Wescott Eberts.

    Fellow commit Tristian Houston, who joined the class last month, also projects as more of speed back but with less explosiveness than Stevenson. 

    The player to watch here is the one with the lowest composite rating of this group, Kirk Johnson. Son of Longhorn legend Johnnie Johnson, the 6'0", 191-pound athlete was named the SPARQ MVP at the Oakland NFTC after posting a 4.57 40, a 4.00 time in the shuttle and a 35.8-inch vertical leap. According to Eberts, all of those marks were improvements from last year, and he did well in the positional drills.

    Power backs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron each graduate after the 2014 season, so the Longhorns could still use a bigger ball-carrier like Soso Jamabo or Chris Warren. Still, it's tough to complain about the talent the current group brings to the table.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: Incomplete

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    Commits: None

    Not only do the Longhorns not have a commitment from any pass-catcher, but they have probably missed out on 5-star receiver Damarkus Lodge.

    Per Ryan Bartow of 247Sports (subscription required), via Tyler Donohue of Bleacher Report, Lodge left Texas out of his top three, leaving Kemah Siverand and Ryan Newsome as the program's top in-state targets. Floridian John Burt appears to be the program's last hope for a true outside threat.

Offensive Line: A

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    Tackle Ronnie Major is quickly becoming one of Texas' most prized recruits.
    Tackle Ronnie Major is quickly becoming one of Texas' most prized recruits.Courtesy of 247Sports

    Commits: Patrick Vahe, Toby Weathersby, Ronnie Major

    After moving up 40 spots in the latest Top247, Patrick Vahe has solidified his status as Texas' top recruit for its 2015 class. And with Toby Weathersby and Ronnie Major joining him, the 'Horns continue to reel in top-tier offensive linemen.

    Losing tackle Connor Lanfear and Maea Teuhema hurts, but the 'Horns have rebounded nicely by securing commitments from both Weathersby and Major. Weathersby has been a consensus 4-star tackle throughout his recruitment, while Major's athleticism has him flying up the rankings along with Vahe.

    If the Longhorns can follow through with Madison Akamnonu, another fast riser, then they will still have reeled in one of the nation's best offensive lines. Considering how talented Teuhema is, that would be an impressive feat.

Defensive Line: C-

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    Though undersized, Omenihu has been a great pickup for the Longhorns.
    Though undersized, Omenihu has been a great pickup for the Longhorns.Courtesy of 247Sports

    Commit: DE Charles Omenihu

    Defensive end Charlies Omenihu is Texas' lone commit along a defensive line that could really use some day one talent. The problem is there's just not much to be had.

    Though he is regarded as a 3-star talent, Omenihu possesses long arms and the 6'5" frame to carry plenty of weight once arrives on campus, per Burnt Orange Nation's Eberts. Also per Eberts, he is spending his offseason recruiting more players to the team and working on his pass-rushing moves.

    Given Omenihu's dedication and the lack of top-tier talent (James Lockhart is the only 4-star bookend in the state), he is among the class' most valuable members. But Texas still needs impact players, with Cedric Reed, Desmond Jackson and potentially Malcom Brown all leaving the program after this season.

    Du'Vonta Lampkin and Kingsley KeKe could fill the void at tackle, but the Longhorns have a lot of work to if they want an impact defensive end.

Linebackers: Incomplete

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    Commits: None

    The Longhorns also do not have a commitment at the linebacker position, which will lose four seniors after this season.

    Anthony Wheeler and Cameron Townsend are both projected to become Longhorns before it's all said and done, while Malik Jefferson is the crown jewel. The 5-star linebacker is the top recruit in the state and is the type of prospect that would transform the class.

Secondary: D

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    Commits: S Deshon Elliott, S Keivon Ramsey

    For the second straight year, Texas is in danger of missing out on the state's most talented defensive backs, where it is in desperate need of impact players.

    There are six Texan defensive backs in the Top247, and none are committed to Texas. Instead, the Longhorns have borderline 4-star talents Deshon Elliot and Keivon Ramsey. Both have obvious upside, especially the versatile striker Elliott, but neither seems ready for immediate action.

    A player like 5-star cornerback Kendall Sheffield would be a great start. The athletic cover man visited Texas the weekend of May 11, and 247Sports has the Longhorns trending upward in his recruitment. He will be among the program's top targets until he reaches his decision.

    The 'Horns remain in good standing with 4-star corners Holton Hill and Kris Boyd, but it's difficult to rely on that alone when starters Quandre Diggs, Josh Turner and Mykkele Thompson are all graduating.

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