Texas Football: Analyzing the Longhorns' Top 5 2015 Recruiting Targets
The summer is prime time for enjoying the outdoors, barbecuing and pursuing the nation's best recruits. For the Texas Longhorns, that means giving Kendall Sheffield and Malik Jefferson the full-court press.
After a rough start, Charlie Strong and his staff are gaining some steam on the recruiting trail at just the right time. Having reeled in four commits since April, the 11th-ranked class is starting to take shape, allowing the staff to spend the summer focusing on filling the remaining holes.
Based on need, talent level and availability, the emphasis for that time frame should be on adding Kendall Sheffield, Malik Jefferson, John Burt, Chris Warren and at least of the state's better defensive tackles.
1. CB Kendall Sheffield
Based on need and ability, no player would be a bigger boon to Texas' 2015 class than 5-star corner Kendall Sheffield.
Sheffield is a difference-maker, plain and simple. He's not as big or physical as recent offer Iman Marshall, but he does everything well and at a speed with which his current competition cannot contend.
Turning in a 4.48 40 and a 41-inch vertical leap at the Nike Houston Combine, this is a player who should crack the two-deep just by showing up. That's a good thing, because Quandre Diggs will be off to the NFL next season and the 'Horns will probably need a freshman to start at corner.
If that freshman is Sheffield, losing Diggs won't hurt as bad.
2. LB Malik Jefferson
Just a hair behind Sheffield on the target list is Malik Jefferson, an absolute specimen of an outside linebacker.
A 5-star prospect as one of the top 20 recruits in the country, Jefferson's offer list reads like a Who's Who of the biggest programs in the FBS. An MVP at the Dallas NFTC (via StudentSports.com), the state's top player checks in at 6'2", 225 with 4.57 speed and a knack for making plays everywhere on the field.
Even with the 'Horns in good shape with both Anthony Wheeler and Cameron Townsend, Jefferson will be a top target until the bitter end. Not only would he fill a need with four linebackers graduating next season, but he would represent a much-needed coup from the Aggies.
Jefferson likes Texas, but Strong and his staff have a lot of work to do before they become major players in his recruitment. Pulling it off would give them a three-year starter.
3. DT Du'Vonta Lampkin/DT Kingsley KeKe
Both Lampkin and KeKe are fringe high-end 3-star players that come in around the 6'3", 290-pound mark. That designation would likely have them headed for redshirts, but Texas will need whatever it can get should Malcom Brown elect to enter the draft as a junior.
Lampkin has named Texas as one of his top three schools since decommitting from Oklahoma, while KeKe is expected to pick the Longhorns over A&M. Landing both and another defensive end would significantly improve the team's situation up front.
4. WR John Burt
The state lacks bigger receiving threats this cycle, which is bad news for every team that fails to land Damarkus Lodge. Fortunately, Texas has a great shot of landing long Florida receiver John Burt.
Whoever gets a commitment from Burt is going to end up with a solid deep threat that can kill teams in the red zone. He's a long 6'3" with the frame to get up over 200 pounds, runs a 4.59 and possesses a 34-inch vertical, according to Burnt Orange Nation's Wescott Eberts.
As of now, it seems Texas will be the team that gets to field those abilities. The Opening invitee told 247Sports.com's Luke Stampini (subscription required) that the 'Horns hold the lead after impressing him at their junior day.
Lodge remains high on the radar because of his ridiculous talent, but Burt would make for an enviable consolation prize and serve as proof that Strong still knows how to work the state of Florida.
5. RB/ATH Chris Warren
The Longhorns already have three ball-carriers committed to their 2015 class, but they need to make room for one more by the name of Chris Warren.
Warren is a power back, through and through. He has college-ready size at 6'2" and 242 pounds, but he still carries some burst with 4.62 speed with an even more impressive 36-inch vertical leap, per Eberts.
The knock on Warren is he may be almost too big to play running back. He continues to pile muscle onto an already massive frame, which is why he has been classified as an athlete by the recruitniks. Then again, Texas could hardly complain if that meant Warren had to switch over to defensive end, another position of need.
But as a tailback, the Rockwall product would step in immediately as the team's short-yardage back with the ability to contribute on all three downs before his time is done.
Others to Watch
WR Damarkus Lodge
The Alshon Jeffery clone is one of the absolute best players in the state and one on which the Longhorns should never give up. But Texas being left out of his top 10 does not bode well for the team's prospects.
The only 4-star defensive end in the state, Lockhart has already fielded 24 offers due to a weak crop of pass-rushers. The Longhorns could use him, with Cedric Reed being NFL-bound, though his interest is considered lukewarm at best.
Boyd brings good height and speed to the cornerback position, and he could probably start as a freshman at Texas. His Crystal Ball is a 50-50 split between the Longhorns and the Aggies.
Boasting cornerback speed with a safety's body, Hill is another freshman defensive back who would get every opportunity to play as a frosh. Current signee John Bonney is a former teammate of his, and he appears to have the 6'2" defensive back favoring the burnt orange.