Texas Football: Re-Evaluating the Longhorns 2011 Recruiting Class
The Texas Longhorns 2011 recruiting class was ranked No. 3 nationally by Rivals.com. The fact that the 22 signees stuck with their commitment was a bit of a shocker, considering the Longhorns' 5-7 record in 2010. But the signees kept their word following the losing season and six coaching changes.
The No. 3 ranking appeared to be positive momentum for the Longhorns' future, but how some of the players have panned out since has not led to Texas earning a top ranking in college football.
Here's a re-evaluation of the 2011 signing class, as well as the grades the athletes have received during their three seasons at Texas.
- David Ash, 3-star
David Ash's career at Texas has not gone the way some Texas fans may have hoped. He previously said he expected to redshirt his freshman year, but those expectations were gone following the first game of the 2011 football season.
One could describe his career as a roller coaster of highs and lows. His injury-prone history has only added more lows to his career.
He received a medical redshirt after being sidelined for the majority of his junior season with recurring concussions, so he still has two seasons to prove his worth. As of now, his grade has yet to be determined.
- Joe Bergeron, 3-star
- Malcolm Brown, 5-star
The Longhorns landed the No. 1 player in the state of Texas in Malcolm Brown and the No. 63 player in Joe Bergeron.
Texas had lacked a solid running game in 2010, but that changed when Bergeron and Brown arrived in Austin. The two backs were called to duty in their first season at Texas and rushed for a combined 1,205 yards.
One could argue the ground game has been the most consistent offensive weapon since 2011, even though Bergeron and Brown have had to split carries with fellow running back Johnathan Gray.
The Longhorns have a lot of question marks from the 2011 recruiting class, but the running backs are not one of them.
- Jaxon Shipley, 4-star
- Miles Onyegbule, 3-star
The Longhorns signed the No. 9 wide receiver in the nation with Jaxon Shipley and the No. 41 with Miles Onyegbule. Shipley has panned out better than Onyegbule but has not lived up to the hype that his brother Jordan had during his time at Texas.
The reason why Jaxon hasn't met the hype is not because of anything he has or hasn't done since arriving in Austin. Jordan Shipley had one of the best college quarterbacks in the nation with Colt McCoy. Jaxon's quarterback play has been downright inconsistent and sometimes nonexistent.
But he has managed to rack up yards regardless of the inconsistent quarterback play, so he deserves a bit of a pass on the harsh grading scale.
- M.J. McFarland, 4-star
How does one evaluate a position that has been somewhat nonexistent?
M.J. McFarland has played in 23 games for Texas and had eight receptions for 125 yards in 2012, but he did not have a single reception in 2013. Is the lack of receptions his fault? Not entirely, which makes this position similar to the quarterback grade.
- DE Cedric Reed, 4-star
- DT Desmond Jackson, 4-star
- DT Quincy Russell, 4-star
The defensive line group has turned out to be one of the more consistent units for the 2011 defensive signees. Aside from Quincy Russell—who never stepped foot on the 40 acres because he failed to qualify—Desmond Jackson and Cedric Reed have become solid defensive weapons for the Longhorns.
Head coach Charlie Strong commended Reed and Jackson for being the strengths of the defense following the spring game. But he is not the only person who has noticed the strengths that these two provide.
Reed currently ranks as ESPN's Mel Kiper's (subscription required) No. 1 senior defensive end for the 2015 NFL draft.
However you spin it, the defensive linemen who actually fulfilled their 2011 commitments have been solid for the Longhorns.
- Josh Cochran, 4-star
- Taylor Doyle, 4-star
- Sedrick Flowers, 4-star
- Garrett Greenlea, 4-star
- Marcus Hutchins, 3-star
Of the five offensive linemen that the Longhorns signed in 2011, two remain on the O-line, one moved to the defensive line, and two are no longer on the team.
Taylor Doyle and Sedrick Flowers are the only two remaining offensive linemen from the 2011 class. Doyle has only seen action in two games, while Flowers has played in 18 games with one start. He could earn a spot on the line for the 2014 season, but that is probably not the case for Doyle.
Marcus Hutchins switched to the defensive line heading into the 2013 season but only saw the field in one game last year.
Josh Cochran earned valuable playing time during his first three seasons at Texas but walked away from football following recurring shoulder injuries.
In other words, the 2011 offensive line signees have not played out the way many Texas fans may have expected or hoped.
- Steve Edmond, 4-star
- Chet Moss, 4-star
- Kendall Thompson, 4-star
Steve Edmond and Kendall Thompson are the only linebackers still listed on the roster.
Strong dismissed Chet Moss from the team in March due to a violation of team rules. But his departure does not really impact the linebackers because of his lack of playing time.
Edmond and Thompson have earned a decent amount of playing time during their three years at Texas, but the outcome has not always been positive.
Edmond was forced to take over a leadership role in 2012 after Jordan Hicks went down with a season-ending hip injury. One could argue that Edmond was not ready to take over that role.
Thompson was also a key part of the defense in 2012 and picked up seven starts. Edmond ranked second on the team in tackles, while Thompson ranked fifth, but the 2012 defense was the worst statistical defense in school history. A lot of the blame of the defensive woes was pinned on the linebackers.
Edmond somewhat came into his own in 2013 but missed the final two games of the season after suffering a lacerated liver against Texas Tech.
The linebackers have not been the most consistent piece of the puzzle, but they also haven't been the worst.
- Quandre Diggs, 4-star
- Sheroid Evans, 4-star
- Leroy Scott, 3-star
- Mykkele Thompson, 4-star
- Josh Turner, 4-star
Four of the five signed defensive backs remain on the roster heading into the 2014 season. Strong dismissed 3-star Leroy Scott in March after violating team rules.
Some of the four remaining backs have been key pieces in Texas' game plan since their arrival. Cornerback Quandre Diggs has started all but two games during his three seasons at Texas and earned All-American honors in 2011 and 2012.
Safeties Mykkele Thompson and Josh Turner have also earned valuable playing time as Longhorns. Thompson earned a starting role in 2012 and 2013 but often struggled. And Turner has only started five games as a safety but could earn a larger role in 2014.
Sheroid Evans has not seen the field since early 2013 after suffering a knee injury.
Overall, the secondary group has been decent and still has potential to grow.
All recruiting rankings provided by Rivals.com.
Unless otherwise noted all quotes were obtained firsthand.
Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.