National Signing Day 2011: Texas Recruiting Class Part Of A Huge Year
Not many teams dropped farther than the Texas Longhorns from 2009 to 2010. After losing to Alabama in the National Title game, Texas finished the 2010 season a disappointing 5-6.
It was the worst season during the Mack Brown era. Although after losing six players to the NFL Draft, including do-it-all quarterback Colt McCoy, some setbacks were bound to happen.
The Longhorns have already come roaring back during the 2011 off-season. They look to have one of the top recruiting classes in the nation, in addition to the wealth of talent they already possess.
Scoring a Top Recruiting Class
It says a lot about a coach when he is able to pull in a consensus top five recruiting class despite finishing the previous season 5-6 and having the majority of his coaching staff turnover.
But Mack Brown got it done again.
The man responsible for the Texas Longhorns success over the past 10-plus years has managed to round up 22 commits, including one five-star and 15 four-star players.
It's plain to see that Texas is looking at last year more as a bump-in-the-road, and not the beginning of a rebuilding process. The sheer amount of talent coming into Austin should bump Texas back into the top 25 rather quickly.
Offensive Playmakers Coming in Through Recruiting
The offense seriously sagged off in 2010, dropping from 39.3 points per game in 2009 to a mere 23.8 in 2010. It was clear that the offense needed a pick-me-up during the offseason.
Enter Malcolm Brown, Jaxon Shipley, Mykkele Thompson and a whole host of offensive lineman.
Malcolm Brown looks to factor in right away as a big, bruising tailback. He has reminded some of former Longhorns great Cedric Benson. Brown has the size and strength to bowl over weak defenders, while maintaining enough speed to break off the occasional big run. And for a team that finished 66th nationally in rushing offense, that could be huge.
The Longhorns did alright for themselves with Jordan Shipley, so they figured why not bring in his younger brother Jaxon? If the younger brother can become 75 percent of what Jordan was, expect another big time receiver down in Texas. Jaxon has good hands, runs excellent routes and has a good head on his shoulders.
Thompson is coming into the Longhorn system as an athlete, so he may end up on the defensive side of the ball but he was a human highlight reel in high school. He is very quick and agile and could be a force at wide receiver if they decide to place him there.
Defense Getting a Boost As Well
According to ESPN.com, three of the top five Texas commits are on the defensive side of the ball. An already scary Longhorns defense could become even scarier.
While their offense slipped last season, the defense still held opponents to 23.7 points per game. Even with the loss of respected defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, the Longhorns are stacked with talent on the defensive side of the ball.
Now with the addition of cornerback Quandre Diggs, defensive tackle Desmond Jackson and linebacker Steve Edmond, the Longhorns hope to regain that top five defense of theirs.
Diggs is exceptionally quick and has shown big play ability throughout his high school career. He divided his time at running back, wide receiver and cornerback during high school, but will make the switch to a fulltime defensive player at college.
Jackson has shown an ability to break through the line and wreck havoc on opposing offenses, whether it be during running plays or passing downs. He already has a college-level build on him, so don't expect a radical increase in size.
Edmond has the ability to start at Texas from day one. The linebacker displayed the speed, balance and size throughout college to be a force at the college level. He is solid against both the run and the pass, making him an invaluable asset.
Garrett Gilbert Looking to Improve
A main reason for the demise of the Longhorns football program last season, was the inadequate play of quarterback Garrett Gilbert. Admittedly, Gilbert had huge shoes to fill as he attempted to take over for beloved quarterback Colt McCoy.
Gilbert showed glimpses of promise amidst a relatively ho-hum type of year. He threw too many picks and made too many bad decisions.
Although he was a highly touted high school recruit for a reason. He has a strong arm and can make throws down the field. His mobility is lacking, but the Longhorns are attempting to cover it up by deploying a new pro-style offense.
If Gilbert cuts down on the picks and becomes just a little more cautious with his throws, the Longhorns offense could rebound in a huge way.
Coaching Staff Hopes To Have Major Impact
The following coaching positions changed hands over the course of the offseason at Texas: defensive coordinator, defensive line, secondary, offensive coordinator, offensive line and wide receivers.
Now that's a huge overhaul to complete in one mere off-season. Luckily the team brought in top-notch coordinators from across the country to make the transition that much easier.
The biggest name of the bunch is new offensive coordinator Brian Harsin. Not many know that name, but most fans probably know his plays. Harsin has been with Boise State over the past 10 seasons, including offensive coordinator for the last five.
While there he has led Boise State to one of the top ranked offenses year-in and year-out, and it should be no different down in Texas. The Longhorns should score points in bunches these next few seasons.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Texas staff welcomes in former Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz to the same position. Diaz is light on experience but his results overshadow that. Dan Mullen and Diaz have helped turned Mississippi State into a serious contender again in the always tough SEC.
The rest of the staff looks to play just as big of apart in the revitalization of Texas football.
ESPN Deal Should Bring in Millions
The University of Texas made a landmark decision when they announced a partnership with ESPN, that will see them launch their very own television network.
Once considered an idiotic idea, the Big Ten proved that a television deal could provide millions of dollars to the teams in the conference. Texas hopes that logic will work out if only one team is highlighted on the station.
The network will broadcast exclusive football games, basketball games, university news, lectures and a whole slew of pre and postgame analysis.
The deal could become instrumental in spreading the Texas Longhorns brand, which would only increase the amount of money taken in by the university.
The deal is worth a reported $300 million over the course of 20 years.