Texas Football: How Longhorns Can Turn 2016 Recruiting Class Around

Damon Sayles@@DamonSaylesNational Recruiting AnalystAugust 25, 2015

Texas is looking to turn things around with its 2016 recruiting after landing only eight commits thus far.
Texas is looking to turn things around with its 2016 recruiting after landing only eight commits thus far.Michael Thomas/Associated Press

Of the 191 teams included in 247Sports' team recruiting rankings for the Class of 2016, the University of Texas currently ranks 53rd.

That's one spot ahead of an SMU team that won one game last season, 35 spots behind the Big 12 leader in the rankings (No. 18 TCU), 25 spots behind one rival in No. 28 Texas A&M and two spots behind another in No. 51 Oklahoma.

Of the top 75 ranked teams, only three—Texas, Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh—feature a class without double-digit recruits thus far. Pittsburgh has nine commits, while Texas and Georgia Tech each have eight.

In short, things must change for the Longhorns on the recruiting front.

Fortunately for Texas fans, there is still plenty of time to make moves in the 2016 class—and there are more than enough quality athletes to land in and out of the state to quickly give Charlie Strong's new class added weight.

Texas is the primary example of the recruiting process being a marathon and not a sprint. It's in a good position to turn eight commits into 12, 15 or even 20 in a short amount of time.

Upcoming official visits—those already set and those in the works—will play a huge role from September through January.

Texas quarterback commit Shane Buechele is expected to lead the 2016 class.
Texas quarterback commit Shane Buechele is expected to lead the 2016 class.Credit: 247Sports

In the quantity-vs.-quality battle, the Longhorns are struggling with landing numbers. From a quality standpoint, the team has offensive firepower in quarterback Shane Buechele and wide receivers Tren'Davian Dickson, Collin Johnson and Reggie Hemphill-Mapps.

Texas also has a 3-star defensive tackle in Gerald Wilbon, whom the coaching staff is very high on.

Still, the Longhorns' 2016 class is looking for that run of commitments that will help it compete for a top-15 or top-20 national finish in February. Texas' target list is strong, as 5-star athletes such as offensive tackle Greg Little and safety Brandon Jones are still available and interested in playing in Austin.

Landing the nation's top-ranked tackle and safety would jumpstart Texas' class without question. Adding 4-star athletes like wide receiver Devin Duvernay, offensive tackle Jean Delance and running back Devwah Whaley would give the offense major expectations for the future.

And there's still a chance the Longhorns could flip LSU 4-star receiver commit Dee Anderson.

Texas is looking to improve on offense, but the defensive side of the ball arguably is the primary target area for this class. Along with Jones, the secondary would benefit from 4-stars Deontay Anderson and Christian Wallace playing safety and also lining up in man-to-man coverage.

Wilbon is Texas' only defensive lineman committed so far. Strong and his staff are hoping to somehow sway the No. 1 player in Arkansas in defensive end McTelvin Agim, who has Arkansas, Baylor, Ole Miss and Texas A&M in his top four. He is scheduled to announce on Sept. 5.

Working in the 11th hour is something Strong has been known to do, which is why nothing is out of the picture with athletes the Longhorns are recruiting.

Linebackers Jeffrey McCulloch (left) and Dontavious Jackson are primary Texas targets.
Linebackers Jeffrey McCulloch (left) and Dontavious Jackson are primary Texas targets.Credit: 247Sports

If Agim is unavailable, then there are still a handful of defensive prospects available.

Longhorns freshman Malik Jefferson has targeted the 4-star linebacker duo of Jeffrey McCulloch and Dontavious Jackson from a player-recruit standpoint.

While there are those who feel defensive end Justin Madubuike is leaning toward ultimately choosing Texas A&M, you can believe the defensive coaching staff in Austin is doing its part to sway the 4-star talent for when it's time to sign in February.

And let's not forget that there are out-of-state athletes willing to play for Strong. Wilbon and linebacker Shemar Smith will travel from Louisiana and Florida, respectively, to take scheduled official visits in late September.

Strong has excellent ties in the state of Florida, and 4-star receiver Darnell Salomon has expressed his interest in the Longhorns multiple times. One player Texas is hoping to impress and lure is 4-star defensive end Brian Burns, who picked up an offer in late May and has been doing research on the program since.

As the Longhorns prepare for the 2015 season, the month of September will be huge regarding the momentum of their 2016 recruiting class. Targets will be monitoring how the team opens the season and handles itself with a competitive schedule.

Landing a couple of big prospects in the next few weeks could lead to the Longhorns finishing somewhere close to where they finished last year. Texas ranked ninth nationally with its 2015 class.

The challenge right now is finding that spark to have similar success with this year's senior class.

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings and information courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Damon via Twitter @DamonSayles.


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