By all accounts, this has to be one of the greatest Texas Longhorn recruiting classes. Ever.
Mack Brown cleans up the best in Texas every year, and this year he was able to steal a top recruit out of Jim Tressel's backyard.
With major contributors leaving for Sunday riches (or just out of eligibility) Brown, defense coordinator Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Greg Davis needed to find playmakers and depth to fill the void left by quarterback Colt McCoy, wide receiver Jordan Shipley, offensive tackle Adam Ulatoski, defensive ends Sergio Kindle and Sam Acho, defensive tackle Lamarr Houston, linebacker Rodrick Muckelroy and safety Earl Thomas.
One of the biggest questions going into 2010 pertains to the Longhorn offense. Is there life after McCoy/Shipley?
McCoy was the unquestioned leader of this team, and Shipley his clutch receiver/roommate. With the state of the passing game in flux with recent personnel problems, Mack Brown needed to pick up depth in the receiving corps.
As for the quarterback position, may we see a QB battle heading into spring practice? Texas only picked up one offensive lineman, and one running back, as Texas has quite a large amount of depth in both of those areas.
The top priority of the Longhorns for this signing day was the wide receiving corps, made an even more important priority after the recent transgressions of Brandon Collins and the arrest and subsequent transfer of Dan Buckner.
John Harris, Mike Davis, Darius White and Darius Terrell are all great four-star pickups out of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, and will make great compliments to Marquis Goodwin and James Kirkendoll, both who are expected to pick up the slack after the loss of the two mentioned above, as well as Jordan Shipley, who will most likely be playing on Sundays. Texas did a great job of addressing its receiving needs and recruiting mainly out of one area.
Both quarterbacks who signed with Texas are early enrollees. Texas picked up blue-chip recruit Connor Wood out of Houston, and Case McCoy, out of Graham, Texas, who shares the same family pedigree as a prior Texas quarterback.
While I said earlier there could be a quarterback controversy, a second glance at a report said Texas will give Wood time to develop as he adjusts to the speed of BCS college football. Wood, at 6'4" and 210 pounds, has a strong build and could be a force to reckon with in the Big 12 in a couple of years, and was rated the top quarterback in Texas for 2010.
While McCoy had a decent high school career, and is low-rated (as his brother was) I don't see him challenging either Wood nor Gilbert for a starting quarterback spot.
Texas did a great job once again keeping the top Texas talent in-state. Wood and McCoy are both great pickups, and if they can adjust from small-school football to the Big 12, Texas is in for a great next few years.
The Texas Defense held steady all year in 2009, with NFL prospects Sergio Kindle, Earl Thomas, and Lamarr Houston anchoring the D as they stymied every opponent other than Alabama.
Those three, along with Sam Acho and Rodrick Muckleroy are all preparing for the NFL Draft, and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp was faced with the unenviable task of replacing them.
The two crown jewels of the class, Jackson Jeffcoat (DE- Plano West) and Jordan Hicks (LB- Lakota West, OH) helped solidify the top 3 ranking nationally for Texas, and proved once again how effective a recruiter both Muschamp, as well as Mack Brown are.
With the losses up front of playmakers Kindle, Houston and Acho, Texas needed to find someone who could make up for their game-changing abilities. Jackson Jeffcoat fits the mold perfectly.
Though a bit undersized due to his basketball playing prowess, Jeffcoat possesses great foot agility and a great knack for the game, and has led some to compare him to a young Julius Peppers. If Jeffcoat concentrates on football full-time, he could be a great one.
Taylor Bible (DT- Denton) could also help fill the hole left by Houston as his size and power could make him an immediate contributor, if he gets over his shoulder injury. Ashton Dorsey (DT- John Tyler) is another athletic big man who could contribute if he can maintain a high intensity.
Reggie Wilson (DE-Haltom) and Greg Daniels (DE-St Pius X) both offer speed and athleticism and will compete for starting spots in the coming years. Wilson has been compared to a young Brian Orakpo and has the potential to add a bit to his 240 pound frame.
Besides Jeffcoat, all the DTs and DEs mentioned could turn out to be big-time contributors for the Longhorns in the future. Based on potential, Texas could have a scary D come 2011/2012.
Jordan Hicks was a huge pickup. HUGE.
While Mack Brown usually sticks to blue-chippers in-state, he went out of the box and stole Hicks from the hands of Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer. Though a bit undersized, Hicks is a fast, past-rushing linebacker, and has great lateral quickness to stop plays from behind.
Aaron Benson (Cedar Hill) is also a bit undersized, but is an explosive hitter and will start in 2011.
Tevin Jackson (Garland) possesses great football instincts, and is a great hitter. He will probably be an all-conference player, but needs to develop coverage skills to make himself more effective.
Once again, Texas did a great job of addressing needs and adding depth.
With Earl Thomas gone, Texas needed to find more playmakers to add depth to a secondary that includes all-Big 12 honorable mention Blake Gideon and Curtis Brown.
The Longhorns picked up some decent size and speed in newcomers Carrington Byndom (Lufkin), Bryant Jackson (Sulphur Springs), and Adrian White (Desoto, early enrollee).
The one that intrigues me the most is Jackson, who, at 6'3" and 175 pounds, is a huge cornerback. I think he has the most potential out of all of the three, and due to his size could see some playing time this year in nickel and cover three packages.
None of those mentioned above were blue-chippers, and this was the area Texas was beat in. Still, a solid trio of guys.
With Hunter Lawerence out of eligibility, the Horns needed a kicker. William Russ (Evangel Christian, LA) was one of the best in the country and switched his commitment from Arkansas.
Kickers are not necessarily blue-chip candidates, and time will tell if Russ can prove his mettle in the clutch like his predecessors Lawerence and Dusty Mangum.
Texas picked up the No. 2 ranking on Rivals.com, and what's not to like about it?
Two of the top 10 recruits in the nation and a host of players from Texas who are some of the best at their positions. This has to be one of Mack Brown's finest classes yet.
FINAL GRADE: A