Texas has looked more to the West in recent years, and the most recent example of that could be 2014 Bishop Gorman athlete Nathan Starks. Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst Brandon Huffman, who oversees the West Region, said the Longhorns offered one of the region's top athletes.
"No question, he's one of the top players in the west," Huffman said. "In fact, his kind of coming out party was against Connor Brewer's team in last season's opener. Everybody came out of that game talking about how awesome Nate Starks was."
And he's that awesome on both sides of the ball, Huffman said. Huffman put him in a league with Su'a Cravens, Robert Woods, Marquise Lee, Shaq Thompson and De'Anthony Thomas as a player who could excel in college as a player on either side of the ball.
"He's probably a top five or 10 player in the west, and the top player in Nevada for his class," Huffman said. "He's going to get offers as a safety, offers as a running back. But really, he's a football player."
Still, if Huffman had to choose a position, he said he'd put the multi-talented Starks at safety.
"I think that's his best position," Huffman said. "He has phenomenal hands, and he can run the ball, but his ball skills as a safety are fantastic. I saw him at three different tournaments, and he looked like a grown man, but he just turned 16.
"He has it all: closing speed, ball skills and the way he covers ground is just phenomenal," Huffman said. "You would think he wouldn't as good at a 7-on-7, because he's a physical guy, in that same mold of those other guys, but he just made plays in other ways, breaking up passes and intercepting passes."
But some teams — like the Texas Longhorns, who extended an early offer to the 2014 prospect — see him as a runner first. So how does he project there?
"He'd be a workhorse back, the kind of guy you'd give the ball to 20-to-25 times a game," Huffman said. "But he's not an elite speed guy. He does catch the ball really well. But he's not a Trey Williams or a Johnathan Gray, with that explosion. He'll get you the tough yards at the next level, but I don't think you'd see a lot of 55-to-60-yard runs. He's more the kind of guy who will lower his shoulder on people and take on five or six guys to get an extra couple."
Huffman went on to say that Cravens was an interesting comparison, given that both players were really good as running backs but special on defense. But in Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin's system, Huffman said Starks could develop into a standout runner, in that Harsin had success with workhorse backs at Boise.
"Honestly, this is one of those guys you just bring in regardless," Huffman said. "He's primarily an athlete, and as he gets bigger and faster, I could see him being a really good feature back. But he has higher upside at safety."