By the numbers
Texas has 24 commitments, six of which are top 100 players. Five Longhorn commitments are five-star prospects, 11 are four-star players and seven are three-stars. There is one two-star. The Longhorns have taken 22 high school prospects and two junior college players. The average star ranking of the Longhorn commitments — 3.83 — is the highest of any school on Scout.com with 19 or more commitments. Florida State (15 commits) is higher, and Florida (18) is tied. Texas could potentially add three or four more players to the class. The race with Alabama is tight enough that one more player for the Longhorns would push them over the top (if Alabama stood pat).
Anyone watching the Longhorns this year saw that Texas struggled on the offensive side of the ball. And the class of 2012 should help dramatically in that area. Arriving in the spring is the nation's No. 11 quarterback Connor Brewer, and come this fall, he'll have Scout.com's No. 2 running back, Johnathan Gray, and No. 3 wide receiver, Cayleb Jones, to work with. Jones is one part of a stellar receiving group that also includes four-star prospects Marcus Johnson and Kendall Sanders.
The best group might be the one set to protect Brewer and more mobile QB Jalen Overstreet. Texas has commitments from two of the country's top 10 offensive tackles in Kennedy Estelle and Camrhon Hughes, and Curtis Riser ended the final rankings as the No. 2 offensive guard. Hughes is enrolling early, as is Donald Hawkins, arguably the top JUCO tackle in the nation.
But Texas didn't neglect defense, either. Malcom Brown is the No. 1 defensive tackle and cornerback Bryson Echols spent much of the Under Armour practices shutting down receivers. Peter Jinkens is among the country's fastest linebackers and has huge upside, while Adrian Colbert was a late emerging safety with great speed. JUCO transfer Brandon Moore, by way of Alabama, should also help out on the interior, projecting at defensive tackle.
The Longhorns have been bitten at times by not taking raw players with upside, instead grabbing players who might have been finished products. But in players like Orlando Thomas (cornerback), Paul Boyette and Alex Norman (defensive tackles) and Caleb Bluiett (defensive end), there's plenty of room for growth.
While Bluiett and Hassan Ridgeway are players who could emerge at defensive end, neither is a natural pass rusher at this point, a need in this class. The linebacking group is pretty solid, but arguments can be made that the Longhorns passed on some superior talents at that position. And there isn't a tight end or a fullback, though that could change in upcoming weeks. Another cornerback or safety — though Sanders and Overstreet could project defensively — would also have helped.
The Longhorns are in with five-star talents and two of the top four players in the Scout 300 in wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham and defensive end Mario Edwards. Both would fill major needs. The Longhorns are more of a longshot for Shreveport (La.) Woodlawn pass rusher Torshiro Davis, though they can't be counted out just yet.
If the Longhorns try to replace recent decommitment Thomas Johnson, the leading candidates are in-staters Daje Johnson of Pflugerville Hendrickson and Bralon Addison of Sugar Land Hightower. Also keep an eye on Vincent Hobbs, a tight end out of Mesquite Horn who has a visit to Austin set up.
Case for No. 1
As teams in the SEC have proven year-after-year, football is a line-of-scrimmage game. And if the Longhorns were able to bring in a player like Mario Edwards, they'd have the top defensive end (Edwards) and top defensive tackle (Brown) in the class, to go with one of the nation's top offensive line groups. Even without Edwards, Texas loaded up on that side, taking six players who will play defense with their hands on the ground next year.
Brewer was the quarterback the Longhorns wanted all along, and he picked Texas over an offer from Alabama. He'll have the No. 2 running back in the country, a player who set national records, in Gray, and a 6-foot-3 jump-ball specialist in Jones. Add in the athleticism that you get from players like Jinkens, Sanders, Thomas and Colbert, and the football aptitude of Echols, De La Torre, Cole and others, and you have a talented and strong group, one built on line play and speedy playmakers.
And the Longhorns did it by dominating the state of Texas. If the Longhorns can find a way to bring in Edwards, Texas will have grabbed seven of the top nine prospects in the state, according to Scout.com.
These are the kinds of classes that championships are built on, and with two of the top players still left on board, this Texas class could be one for the books.