First in Class?

Almost anyone who has followed football recruiting has heard a coach parrot the saying "it's not the Xs and the Os, it's the Jimmies and the Joes." And, as many maxims go, it's a philosophy built on a hard line of truth.

Look across the Big 12, and you'll see a correlation between outstanding recruiting classes and outstanding runs of results.

There's the 2004 Kansas class that produced three All-Americans and helped the Jayhawks go from 4-7 to the Orange Bowl in a few seasons. There's the 2006 Oklahoma class that paved the way for a high level of Sooner success, including Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy, Trent Williams, Jermaine Gresham, DeMarco Murray and Jeremy Beal.

And of course, sandwiched between those two classes was a wonderful Texas group, the 2005 class. That group of Longhorns not only had players like Jamaal Charles, who helped the Longhorns to an immediate BCS National Championship, but others, like Colt McCoy, who took Texas to the brink of another in 2009. McCoy ended his career — aided by class of 2005 players from Quan Cosby to Roy Miller — as the winningest quarterback in FBS history.

There's another group, currently on Texas's campus, that should also garner great honors by the time their finished. No, they probably won't end up as the winningest class in college football history, but like the 2004 Kansas class, could be remembered as the one that spearheaded a massive turnaround.

Allow me to introduce, or re-introduce (as many of the players already made their debuts) the class of 2010. That group just finished its first full year on campus, completing its first full spring together. And yet they're already well ahead of schedule in terms of overall impact.

Talk to any college coach, and they'll give you two magic numbers.

The first is three, or the number of years you should recruit ahead. In other words, ideally, a player shouldn't be counted on as a major contributor until his third year on campus, be it his junior year or redshirt sophomore season. Obviously, other factors influence this, from a player's ability and aptitude to pick up college schemes to a less-than-stacked depth chart, allowing a player to find the field earlier. But three years is the expectation, or at least the goal.

The second number is 50, or the percent hit rate that successful classes have. If 50 percent of a full recruiting class's signees turn into solid contributors, the team is going to have a strong base to build from. Think about it: the Longhorns signed a whopping 111 players from 2007-2011. If Texas hits on half of those players, the Longhorns will have hit on 56 players (rounding up from a half player) over a five-year period. Considering that a two-deep is 44 players, the Longhorns would have a 12-person overflow from which players could turn pro, or not redshirt their freshman seasons. The two-deep would then be stocked with a strong depth of talent.

So why the 2010 class? First of all, the class already stands out according to both numbers listed above.

Out of the 25 signees, a whopping 12 went through last season without redshirting, meaning that 50 percent have already contributed. Three of those players — Mike Davis, Trey Hopkins and Jackson Jeffcoat — started games and are expected to start this year. Several others, including Adrian Phillips, Carrington Byndom and Jordan Hicks, are expected to find their way into the starting lineup this year. Others like Case McCoy, Darkus White and Ashton Dorsey are in position battles and could win starting spots.

And none of that counts players who redshirted a year ago, such as John Harris, Darius Terrell, Greg Daniels and Bryant Jackson, and who could play major roles this season.

In that way, they're eclipsing both figures above. Well over 50 percent of the class is slated to make an impact, and while Texas coach Mack Brown's statement that there didn't appear to be any busts in the class likely won't prove prophetic, it is a telling quote that the group has as much depth as it does raw talent. And several members of the class are already slated to make major contributions to the team well before their third year on campus.

In fact, it isn't much of a stretch to imagine at least 18 of those players fighting their way onto the two-deep by the season's start.

Ultimately, like those classes mentioned at the start, this one will be judged by results. It's unclear whether there's an All-American on deck, though there are several potential candidates. And it's also unclear whether this class will be able to put up the wins to be remembered as a great class.

But there's little doubt, for now at least, that the upside is there. The numbers are there to back that up.


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