Longhorn Digest Top 25, 1-5

If we were the Texas coaches, which 25 players would we recruit? All players are in-state, and are gauged both by ability and by the Longhorns' positional needs.

1) Justin Manning, DT, Dallas Kimball

Is defensive tackle the Longhorns' No. 1 need? No. But in my opinion, Manning is the state's No. 1 player, the type of defensive tackle you only see once every few years. His first step is absolute lightning, but it's more than that. That step is augmented by his ability to put blockers in bad situations, while he uses a variety of spin and rip moves — beyond what you normally see from a high school player — to break free and capture the ball-carrier. If there are any knocks on Manning, they are two-fold. First, at 6-foot-2 and 275 pounds, he's not all that big at this point. And second, he has had a few injury issues here and there. But neither is enough to scare me off from an explosive and disruptive interior player who would fit perfectly in Manny Diaz's attacking scheme.

2) Derrick Griffin, WR/TE, Rosenberg Terry

If only Griffin didn't play basketball. One of the freakiest athletes in the state, the 6-6, 220-pound Griffin has said that if he grows any more, he'll hang up his football cleats in college to focus on the hardwood. And that's a devastating thought for those of us who love the gridiron. As an offensive player, Griffin is raw, but he's athletic enough that nobody can deal with his combination of size, speed and leaping ability. Some think he'll stick as a wide receiver. Others, like Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst Greg Powers, have said he could be another Jermaine Gresham-type threat at tight end. But as long as he's playing football, Griffin represents a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, the kind of nightmare Bryan Harsin would love to be able to play with.

3) Ricky Seals-Jones, ATH, Sealy

Like Griffin, Seals-Jones is a basketball player. But Seals-Jones is expected to play football at the next level, where his frame and ability suggests that he could play a huge variety of positions. Seals-Jones (6-5 215) is a high-level prospect whether at wide receiver, tight end or even at defensive end. Personally, I think he's another version of Antonio Gates, a tall, receiving tight end with the athleticism and body control to cause all kinds of problems for opposing linebackers and safeties. Play him with a linebacker, and he'll beat you down the field. Play him with a safety, and he'll post up and use his size. Given that Texas could use a player like Seals-Jones at either wide receiver or tight end, and he's a high-priority guy.

4) Darius James, OL, Harker Heights

Imagine the following offensive line grouping on the interior in a few years: Sedrick Flowers and Curtis Riser at guard, and James at center. That thought is probably enough to make rough-and-tumble offensive line coach Stacy Searels smile. The other two were both five-star prospects, and James could be headed that way. At 6-5 315, he has A++ size for an interior position. But it's his mobility that sets him apart from the average bear. James routinely gets to the second and third levels and buries players, something not typically seen from a player his size. James has said he would like to play defense in college, but also said it's not that important. That's good, because while he has some potential on defense, he could wind up making a lot of money playing offense.

5) Jake Raulerson, OL/DL, Celina

There are probably better offensive line prospects out there than Raulerson. And there might even be better defensive end prospects in the state. But there aren't any players who can fill either need as seamlessly. Raulerson is already ranked as a four-star offensive tackle, and he would probably be a four-star defensive end as well. Considering the Longhorns need both an offensive tackle and a defensive end, getting somebody with Raulerson's frame, ability and aggressiveness would be a huge plus. And the Texas coaches saw what he could do up-close-and-personal when he came to camp and practiced against the older players, more than holding his own.

Horns Digest Top Stories