National Signing Day: The Lone Star State Led by a Five Star Class

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National Signing Day: The Lone Star State Led by a Five Star Class

As the phrase goes, "everything's bigger in Texas." The 2010 Texas Longhorns recruiting class is no different.

After a tough start to January, the Longhorns bounced back later in the month by signing two of the top recruits in the 2010 class. Jackson Jeffcoat (Defensive End/Plano, Texas) and Jordan Hicks (Outside Linebacker/West Chester, Ohio) both signed last Friday, leading Texas to one of the best recruiting classes in Mack Brown's tenure in Austin.

However, the 2010 class is far beyond two great players. The Longhorns are bringing in talent on both sides of the ball with an emphasis at wide receiver and the defensive line. 

The addition of Jeffcoat and Hicks were an added bonus to a class that had already projected to be one of the tops in the nation. With the inclusion of those two five-star prospects, the Longhorns are prepared for possibly their top recruiting class of all-time. Not only did Texas address needs at wide receiver and defensive line, but they also added much needed depth at both the quarterback and linebacker position. In total, the Longhorns are prepared for 25 new faces on campus starting this semester with three players already signed and enrolled for the spring term.

With that being said, let's meet the Longhorns class of 2010.

 

The Top Two

Jackson Jeffcoat (Defensive End/Plano, Texas)

Jackson Jeffcoat leads a talented group of defensive lineman coming into Texas in 2010. With the loss of Sergio Kindle to graduation, along with Sam Acho and Eddie Jones preparing for their final year, it was very important to bring in Jeffcoat to learn the defense and get some viable experience in 2010.

The 2010 U.S. Army All-American was a coveted five-star recruit due to his tremendous size, range and technique. Jeffcoat has a solid frame at 6'5'', 230 pounds to go along with tremendous speed in the 4.5 range. Jeffcoat comes from a family rich in football tradition. Jackson's father, Jim Jeffcoat, is a former NFL defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys and is the current defensive line coach for the University of Houston.

If there were any knocks on Jeffcoat, he will have to work on his angle to the ball at the college level is. At times, it seems that Jeffcoat was able to get away with taking a bad angle due to the competition he was facing in high school. However, at the elite college level, he will need to shore up any loose angles. Defensice coordinator Will Muschamp should be able to do right away due to Jeffcoat's ability to learn quickly.

Overall, Jeffcoat has already been compared to a younger version of Julius Peppers. While Peppers may be faster and more athletic now, Jeffcoat has the ability to gain more athleticism as he continues to grow as a player and person. With his ability to use his hands better than most defensive linemen, Jeffcoat could find himself on the field in pass rushing situations early in the 2010 season and possibly even more as the season goes on.

 

Jordan Hicks (Outside Linebacker/West Chester, Ohio)

Jordan Hicks is a special player to Mack Brown and the Texas staff. Hicks is the first top prospect out of the state of Ohio to join the Longhorns. As important as in-state prospects have become to Brown, Hicks was a can't miss prospect, and Muschamp made sure he didn't miss out.

Hicks was not only very important for the Longhorns recruiting class. He showed Brown and the Longhorn fan base that Muschamp can close the deal and has become one of the best recruiters in the nation.

Rated as high at fourth overall by ESPN U Top 150, Hicks has outstanding measurables with great size, speed and strength. Named the 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Ohio, Hicks has a great motor and is one of the best pass rushing linebackers in this class. Hicks should be able to step on the field immediately in third and long situations, along with other blitz packages for Muschamp's defense.

The High School Butkus Award winner plays faster on the field than on paper, which he proves well with tremendous change of direction and lateral movement. Hicks is successful because he plays downhill and uses his toughness and strength at the point of attack to punish ball carriers. Another major skill that Hicks will provide is his ability to play in space. The Under Armour All-American will have to play in space against many of the spread offenses in the Big 12. Showing success in that area will only get Hicks on the field sooner than later.

As any outside linebacker moving from high school to college, the one worry for Hicks is his ability to cover. However, with a great motor and an ability to learn on the fly, Hicks not only should compete for playing time as a freshman, but will have a major difference for years to come. The Longhorn defense will have to replace their top linebacker from 2009 in Roddrick Muckelroy. It wouldn't be shocking to see a player move over to the middle to allow Hicks to see more of the field.

Overall, Hicks is a top prospect in this year's class. With an ability to play downhill, fill holes and play in space, Hicks could be one of few true freshman to gain significant playing time for the Longhorns. He was a huge recruit for Brown and Muschamp. It continues to show that Texas is a top notch program and is only gaining momentum around the recruiting trail.

 

Immediate Impact Players

Taylor Bible (Defensive Tackle/Denton, Texas)

Taylor Bible knew where he wanted to go and made his decision on National Signing Day. Except, he made that decision his junior year. When Bible was able to make his decision, he did not hesitate to decide that Texas was the school for him.

The 6'3" defensive tackle is a big, strong prospect that played in high school at the size of many college defensive tackles. The 2009 Under Armour All-American plays with a good base and is great at clogging the middle as well as getting to the quarterback. Bible is known for using his technique to start off the ball, then beat his man and splits double teams as well as any defensive tackle in this class.

One major advantage for Bible is the athleticism he shows at a position that doesn't always account for the best athletes. Bible was a former First-Team All-District tight end. After putting on more weight and strength prior to his junior year, Bible became a pure defensive tackle. Although he did get bigger, Bible did not lose any athleticism, which could constitute into early experience on the field in a position Texas likes to rotate players through. The rotation at defensive tackle will open up a little bit with the loss of Lamarr Houston to graduation.

In Taylor's junior season, he suffered a bad shoulder injury that some worried could affect his strength overall. However, Bible proved those critics wrong en rout to an All-State selection. Some coordinators feel that Bible needs to show more consistency. After dominating some plays, it seems he then takes a few plays off. With an intense defensive coach like Muschamp, taking plays off will not keep players on the field. Instead, Bible could use his brute strength, explosiveness and relentless nature to prove he is ready to play consistently at the collegiate level.

Texas does have a lot of youth at defensive tackle, but many of those players have the same game experience as Bible. If Taylor can learn the defense and gain some more strength, he could have an immediate impact in the rotation.

 

DeMarco Cobbs (Athlete/Tulsa, Oklahoma)

DeMarco Cobbs is listed as an athlete. If put in the right position and works hard to learn the tangibles about that position, he could be one of the best players in this class.

Cobbs is a rare breed of size, speed and strength. The biggest advantage to Cobbs' game is his overall athletic talent and instincts. He runs in the 4.5 range and proves his strength by bench pressing over 300 pounds. As many know, Cobbs played quarterback in high school, running and throwing for over 1,000 yards. He is a gifted athlete with a thick frame who plays very fast and is one of the most elusive players in this class.

The biggest question surrounding Cobbs is what position he will play. He will most likely be worked out at both wide receiver and strong safety. For each position, there are areas in which he will have to work on to gain playing time. 

At wide receiver, Cobbs will need to become a better route runner. He will be able to run crisper routes once he gains experience and works with college coaches. As for safety, Cobbs will need to become a sure tackler. Right now, he would be average at best and would probably grade lower at the safety position. However, with work on tackling technique, he could use his tremendous quickness and change of direction to benefit the Longhorns in the secondary in the future.

Cobbs projects as an inside receiver or strong safety. He has a head up on the receiving end because he plants well and has speed to burn. He is strong enough to get off a jam at the line and could hit the field early at the H-back position, just as the Longhorns used Dan Buckner.

Cobbs will likely hit the field in the Fall at both positions and likely be used at the position in which he finds to be the most comfortable. Don't be surprised if he is used in a Wildcat formation. Current quarterback Garrett Gilbert doesn't have nearly as much speed or elusiveness that Cobbs would bring. With his experience at quarterback, Cobbs could see the field in multiple positions as a true freshman.

 

Mike Davis (Wide Receiver/Dallas, Texas)

Mike Davis is different than most recruits for Texas. Not only was he committed to another school, but he actually cancelled his official visit to Texas. Davis committed to LSU in February of 2009, but then changed his mind around the time of the 2010 BCS National Championship Game. Instead of attending LSU, Davis signed with Texas.

Davis is a big-time wide receiver who bolted up many recruiting boards after back to back tremendous seasons, where he totaled over 2,400 yards and 37 touchdowns. The 6'1" receiver is a great route runner who uses quickness to separate from defenders. Davis is known to be a very smart player who uses double moves to beat defenders down the field. As Davis could add some pounds (currently around 180), he has the frame that shows he may add height and weight in time with a college strength and conditioning coach.

Whether good or bad for Davis' high school team, he actually proved to be a better prospect by playing with only average quarterbacks. Davis proved just how good he is by competing for jump balls regularly, as well as catching many balls in traffic through multiple defenders.

Through working with a strength and conditioning coach, it is imperative for his success to get stronger to fight off press coverage. The knock on Davis is that defenders have success jamming him at the line, and he isn't a burner to make a move and sprint past them. If he can become a little stronger and complete his frame, he could become the go-to guy for Gilbert very quickly. With a better quarterback, less double teams and more bulk, the sky is the limit for Mike Davis in Austin.

 

Darius White (Wide Receiver/Fort Worth, Texas)

Going into the 2009 season, Darius White was one of the most sought out prospects in the class. Because he struggled through injuries and the flu, White didn't have as good of a year as he may have hoped. However, he did prove that he is still a top flight prospect.

The Under Armour All-American has a knack for the end zone as more than one-third of his total high school catches went for touchdowns. White is a big receiver at 6'3" and has speed and vertical ability that impresses scouts. Another major advantage for White is that he has big, strong hands, which help him attack the ball.

When White committed to Texas at the Under Armour All-American Game, the Longhorns not only got a player who can catch the ball, but one who gets plenty of yards after the catch as well. White is a successful track runner and basketball player, which helped him become one of the faster players Texas recruited this year. Along with great hands and good speed, White also has great concentration and body control, especially when going up for jump balls. White caught numerous touchdowns on goal line fades, which showcased his leaping ability, concentration and strong hands.

White did move down some boards. Hhe was rated higher, but with a disappointing senior season, White could only move down. The one knock on White is that he is not a crisp route runner. Many times Darius will round off his route, which throws the timing off between him and his quarterback. However, the ESPN U Top 20 recruit should be able to run crisper routes. With Jordan Shipley graduating and Dan Buckner transferring, White could land in three-wide and four-wide sets. Overall, he could play right away and be a star in the next few years.

 

Reggie Wilson (Defensive End/Haltom City, Texas)

One prospect who could get lost in the recruiting class is Reggie Wilson. With the signing of Jeffcoat, all of the hype on the defensive line recruiting went to him. However, Texas got a great end prospect in the signing of Wilson, as well. As Jeffcoat projected more of a down defensive lineman like Julius Peppers, Wilson projects more in the mold of Brian Orakpo—a speed rusher, who is a bit undersized.

Wilson, another prospect recruited by Muschamp, committed in March 2009. The speed rusher has great explosion off the line and is a high intensity, high effort player. Wilson is said to be one of the quickest defenders off the ball in the entire 2010 class. Like some other recruits, Wilson plays faster on the field than on paper.

A top notch defensive end, Wilson does have some holes in his game. When he fixes them, it could translate into the best defensive line in college fottball with Jeffcoat and Bible. Wilson is a bit undersized at 6'2". Opposing offenses uses his intensity and aggressiveness against him once in awhile as he can over pursue plays. 

Wilson also needs to become more consistent playing low and gaining momentum moving up instead of playing too high. Looking at the size of some college offensive linemen, if Wilson tries to play too high, he could end up flat on his back. However, he will have a year to learn from veterans Sam Acho and Eddie Jones.

With Jeffcoat in Austin, Wilson may not be able to get on the field right away. However, with a great work ethic and intense mentality, he could surprise a few and make an impact as a third-down rusher.  

 

Could Become Stars in Time

Aaron Benson (Linebacker/Cedar Hill, Texas)

Aaron Benson, cousin of former Texas star Cedric Benson, joins Jordan Hicks for one of the top linebacker classes in Texas history. Aaron has a non-stop motor and plays with tons of energy and intensity. He will be one of the more aggressive players who doesn't over pursue.

Benson is said to be good against the pass and finds the ball quickly, reading plays simultaneously. He is a physical tackler and secures ball carriers. He will need to add upper body strength, which will help him shed bigger offensive linemen. He has great instincts and should be able to help on special teams right away, as well as possibly getting time at outside linebacker as a freshman.

 

Carrington Byndom (Defensive Back/Lufkin, Texas)

Carrington Byndom is listed as a cornerback in most recruiting sources; however, he could end up at safety in Muschamp's defense. The 6'0" defensive back is great in coverage and has excellent range. With great instincts when the ball is in the air, above average speed and tremendous timing and leaping ability, Byndom could be a force at the safety position.

However, to become an elite safety, there are two things that Byndom has to do. First, he needs to add weight and strength to his lengthy frame (only 165 pounds). Second, he needs to become a sure tackler. As a corner, he can get away with being an average tackler with great coverage skills. If he is to move to safety, he would need to become a better tackler.

With his ability to breakdown plays as they happen in front of him, the sky is the limit with added size for Byndom. He will probably be a playmaker at the nickel position early in his career before being moved to one position for good. His 2010 freshman season could be vital for Byndom to see where he projects to play later in his career.

Ashton Dorsey (Defensive Tackle/Tyler, Texas)

Ashton Dorsey is another prospect who committed to the 'Horns in early 2009. Dorsey, the second defensive tackle to sign with Texas, is lean for the defensive tackle position. At 270 pounds, he is usually outweighed on the line but is very active and has a great motor, which can make up for his lean size. He uses great agility and lateral movement to push offensive linemen back and can be even more effective when he uses his hands efficiently.

However, one problem Dorsey has is that he doesn't always use his hands as effectively as he can. Without great size, it is important for him to have good technique and a good motor to finish plays. With the ability to move around the defensive line, Dorsey could see some time through his versatility.

 

Trey Hopkins (Offensive Lineman/Houston, Texas)

Trey Hopkins is a special recruit for the Longhorns; he was the first player of the 2010 class to commit in early 2009. He is a strong and intelligent offensive lineman, who projects to be a tackle at the collegiate level. 

While strength is a very important part of a solid offensive lineman, it is typical for recruiters to overlook the intelligence factor that is a necessity. Hopkins fits the bill as an ideal offensive lineman with brute strength and an excellent GPA above 3.8. He ranks in the top six of his class of over 1,000 students.

Of the major attributes that offensive linemen require, Hopkins rates great in all three major aspects (strength, intelligence and foot quickness). He is blessed with great feet, including athletic, strong legs to go with a big frame. In addition to a solid lower body, Hopkins has long arms, which helps him engage defenders early at the point of attack.

The major knock on Hopkins is that he is a bit undersized at 260 pounds. With an additional 20 pounds, the worry is that Hopkins would not play as athletic as he does at his current weight. The best bet for him would be to redshirt his freshman year, add bulk and then make a push for playing time his second year.

 

Tevin Jackson (Linebacker/Garland, Texas)

Tevin Jackson is one of the most physical players coming to Austin in 2010. The 6'2" outside linebacker is strong, physical and plays downhill. He has great agility and excellent lateral pursuit running down ball carriers from sideline to sideline shows. With good instincts and a huge frame, Jackson could play the outside or be moved to the inside in the Texas defense.

For Jackson to get on the field, he will need to play better in coverage. In high school, he blitzed off the edge more than covered in space. Also, it is imperative for Jackson to play with more balance and add lower body strength to fill out his huge frame. He gained valuable experience in high school playing special teams as well as defense. Jackson could instantly hit the field for the 'Horns in 2010 on special teams. Once he learns the defensive schemes and tweaks his game a little bit, he could also see time as a strong side linebacker or in the middle.

 

The Best of the Rest: Lookout 2012

Chris Jones (Wide Receiver/Daingerfield, Texas)

Chris Jones is another solid wide receiver prospect in the Texas class. Jones is a speed receiver who could see time as a slot receiver. With other big time playmakers competing at the wide receiver position (Mike Davis, Darius White and DeMarco Cobbs), Jones will have to really standout to prove his abilities. He controls his body well and don't be surprise any if he were added to the return game in the near future.

 

Adrian Phillips (Athlete/Garland, Texas)

Adrian Phillips is another terrific athlete who is in need of a position. Phillips played as a spread quarterback in high school who can run and pass efficiently. The 5'11" athlete is terrific in space and explosive as a runner.

If Phillips is moved to wide receiver, he would have to become a better route runner. But he does have soft hands with great speed and agility. He could get tons of yards after the catch. It will be interesting to see what Phillips can do to include his athleticism on the field for the Longhorns. Along with Cobbs, don't be surprised if he is used in a Wildcat formation at some point.

Adrian White (Defensive Back/DeSoto, Texas)

Adrian White is a defensive back that projects as a corner who can provide the Longhorns depth for the 2010 season and make an impact as a starter the following year. White played safety in high school as well, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Muschamp give him a shot to play any defensive back position. With top end speed and good tackling technique, White may see the field as a true freshman.

 

De'Aires Cotton (Defensive Tackle/Houston, Texas)

Cotton is the third defensive tackle to sign with Texas in 2010. However, he differs from Bible and Dorsey in the fact that instead of putting up huge numbers, he helped his teammates put up big numbers. In the defense he played in, he focused on his assignment and let the players around him make the big plays. With playmakers set to play around him, Cotton could enter a rotation in 2011 and help the Texas defense in an unselfish way.

 

Greg Daniels (Defensive End/Houston, Texas)

At 6'4", 250 pounds, Daniels may not be the first recruit on everyone's boards, but he may be the first player off the Texas bus come September. The physical specimen is a solid prospect at the defensive end position. Daniels had adequate speed, good burst, and solid tackling technique that could provide the Longhorns added depth in the future. Daniels has the size of a great pass rusher. If he can learn under Muschamp and other end prospects such as Jackson Jeffcoat, he could see time on the field to help the Longhorns down the road.

 

Dominic Espinosa (Center/Cedar Park, Texas)

Dominic Espinosa is a recruit on the offensive line that will line up at center for the 'Horns. While Espinosa might not be a top 10 player, he may end up just as important to the Longhorns. Over recent years, the Longhorns have been hurt on the offensive line (see Ndamukong Suh in the Big 12 title game).

Espinosa will not start as a true freshman and may be a better fit to redshirt one year to learn the offense and add upper body strength. However, once ready, he could be the anchor the 'Horns line is in desperate need.

John Harris (Wide Receiver/Garland, Texas)

John Harris is a good prospect who plays a position that is in high demand at the college level. Harris is big at 6'2" and has soft hands. One of his biggest assets is going over the middle and making tough catches in traffic. However, there are so many promising wide receivers above Harris, he will need to prove himself from day one.

 

Bryant Jackson (Safety/Sulphur Springs, Texas)

Bryant Jackson is a tall, lean safety prospect who is terrific in pass coverage. At 6'3", Jackson has long arms and an ability to get his hands on many balls with an exceptional wingspan. He takes good angles when the ball is in the air and shows a good closing burst.

Jackson will need to become more of a consistent tackler to get onto the field and make an impact. If that happens, expect Jackson to see the field in nickel and dime situations as a true freshman.

 

Case McCoy (Quarterback/Graham, Texas)

This class is led by plenty of future names that could forever be known around Austin. However, all of them hope they can have the legacy that Case McCoy's brother had at the University of Texas. Although McCoy has the same last name as a Texas legend, he will try to make his own legacy.

Case has similar mechanics to Colt to go along with an extremely fast release. Case is on campus now and will only gain experience under Major Applewhite and the Texas staff. It wouldn't surprise anyone if McCoy is redshirted like his brother was, becoming a redshirt freshman the same year as current starter Garrett Gilbert would become a junior.

McCoy has the name to be successful and will have all the support from Longhorn nation. If he can learn the offense and fix some mechanical issues, McCoy could be known for his own defining moments.

 

Traylon Shead (Running Back/Cayuga, Texas)

Traylon Shead is one of the most interesting prospects in this year's recruiting class. Shead has some of the most astounding stat lines that any prospect would dream of (committed to Texas after a junior season where he ran for over 3,000 yards and 51 touchdowns).

The problem with Shead is he comes from a small, 1-A school. He shows flashes of being able to succeed at the next level, but without breakout speed and a few questions on physical attributes, it seems it will take time for Shead to compete for playing time.

 

Darius Terrell (Wide Receiver/DeSoto, Texas)

Another wide receiver prospect that has the same problem that John Harris will have. The depth in Austin at wide out will be a major barrier for a skilled player with some speed and quickness issues. However, Terrell has something that no other wide receiver recruit has this year. He has the ability to play in the Dan Buckner mold and be moved to the H-back position.

As DeMarco Cobbs was noted above as a possible candidate for the H-back position, Terrell's future projects to be at a more athletic position. However, his size is unmatchable at 6'3", 210 pounds. With an opening at that H-back position, look for Terrell to try and make an impact in the future.

 

Connor Wood (Quarterback/Houston, Texas)

Connor Wood is currently on campus and getting ready for the spring practices. Wood is a tall prospect at 6'4" and has the ability to throw and run. He sets his feet well and shows good patience letting his receivers get open and then keeping is eyes downfield as the play progresses. As with McCoy, it wouldn't surprise many if he were to redshirt in 2010, learn the offense, then compete with McCoy for a backup role, which could turn into a starting role by 2012 or 2013.

 

William Russ (Kicker/Shreveport, Texas)

William Russ was the last addition to the Texas class as it is always important to get impact kickers and punters. Russ seems to project as a player who could help out immediately in both the kicking and punting game. He is long and lanky at 6'2" and is known to drive through the ball, which gives him excellent distance on field goals. Russ could be a major asset for years to come in the field position game as well.

 

After all is said and done, this could be the recruiting class that everyone remembers as the best ever in Texas the history. Either way, this was a huge class for head coach in waiting Will Muschamp. Critics wondered with his intense methods on the field, if he was going to be able to bring down the intensity and be able to sway kids to Texas.

Muschamp not only passed that test, but helped bring in two of the most talented players in the entire 2010 class, along with multiple players who could make an immediate impact. The question isn't if this class is going to succeed: The question is just how far will this class go?

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