The 5 Recruits Who Will Make or Break Texas' National Signing Day

Jonathan Woo@woo_jonathanwooCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2014

AUSTIN, TX - JANUARY 6: The University of Texas Longhorns new head football coach Charlie Strong from Louisvillespeaks after being introduced during a press conference January 6, 2014 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

It is no news that recruiting is the lifeblood of college football, meaning that national signing day, which falls annually on the first Wednesday in February, is a time when programs across the country can hit the refresh button.

Texas head coach Charlie Strong carefully pieced together his staff as he and his colleagues attempt to put their own fingerprints on their initial recruiting class at their new school.

Two weeks before the February 5 deadline, the Longhorns sit at 22 commitments who will follow up a departing senior class of 14. And with the days dwindling until the signatures hit the letters of intent, the Texas staff has limited time to add to the incoming group.

These five prospects, if destined for Austin, will add much-needed quality to the 2014 class. But if their interests lie elsewhere, Texas will quickly look to its next haul in 2015.

Double Down on the Defensive Line

Coppell (Texas) defensive end Solomon Thomas is one of the top recruits in the country for the 2014 class, and he remains uncommitted two weeks before national signing day.

The Longhorns have had a nice string of A-list defensive ends go pro, with the most recent standouts being Brian Orakpo, Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat. Cedric Reed appears next on that list, and Texas needs to add to its stock at the position.

According to Richard Davenport of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, however, Thomas has narrowed his list to three, and Texas is not on it.

If there is a surprise to be desired come February 5, a flip from Thomas would be the most welcomed one.

Staying in the defensive trench, Hilton Head Island (S.C.) defensive tackle Poona Ford was one of several recruits courted by Strong while at Louisville.

And now that Strong is at Texas, the Longhorns have a legitimate shot to land the 6'0", 285-pound Ford, according to Jeff Howe of Horns247 (subscription required).

Strong Defense

Texas turned in awful defensive numbers in consecutive seasons, and Coach Strong has come to Austin to change that.

Thomas and Ford present big catches if Texas can manage to land both, but there are other defensive recruits who could provide plenty more to the puzzle.

Richmond (Texas) Travis cornerback Nick Harvey is a current Texas A&M commit.

Harvey recently took his official visit in College Station and will not take anymore visits before signing day, according to (via SB Nation). The 5'9", 175-pound cornerback is ranked No. 7 in the country, per 247Sports.

Is the door truly closed? We won't know until two Wednesdays from now, but if Texas can manage to steal Harvey from the Aggies, it will have been a significant flip.

Houston (Texas) Cypress Falls linebacker Otaro Alaka is a current Texas commit, but the 6'3", 205-pound talent could be in for an SEC switch to the Aggies.

Alaka had committed to the Longhorns in late-April 2013, but the recent coaching change definitely dislodged the recruitment. Alaka cancelled his official visit to LSU, largely turning his recruitment into a battle between the 'Horns and Aggies, according to Howe (via SB Nation)

The linebacker position has been a weak point defensively for Texas in recent seasons, and injuries have not helped. But if Strong can hold on to Alaka's pledge and get a signature, Texas will have landed a good prospect with size and speed.

Breaking Fort Knox

Fort Worth (Texas) All-Saints Episcopal offensive lineman Demetrius Knox was a one-time Texas pledge.

Knox flipped his commitment to Ohio State late last summer, but now that the Longhorns have a new head coach and offensive line coach in place, maybe it isn't too late to give the 6'4", 294-pound guard another look.

Mack Brown may have cared about the principles of a verbal commitment, but Coach Strong is seeking out good football players, and Knox is just that. Coupled with Texas' lack of numbers in its 2014 class, Knox has the talent (No. 6-ranked OG by 247Sports) to target for a flip (again).

With just two commitments along the offensive line, a group that loses four seniors (three starters), Texas not only needs numbers, but also needs talent.

Knox can give the 'Horns both.

The Bottom Line

It would be hard to expect Strong and his crew to make the biggest of impacts in recruiting within a month of getting hired at Texas, but if the former Louisville coach can get at least three of the above-mentioned prospects, Strong will have had a good first month in Austin.

All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports, unless otherwise noted.


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