Gems of the Class
Malcom Brown, DT, Brenham — Brown might be the best player in a class stacked with talent. He's up already over 290 pounds, and linemen have loads of trouble containing Brown because of his strength, quickness and motor.
Johnathan Gray, RB, Aledo — But Gray is the player most will mention about this class. A home run threat, he scored more touchdowns than any player in high school history (206). Gray's acceleration will allow him to fit seamlessly with the growing stable of Longhorn backs.
Cayleb Jones, WR, Austin — Sometimes gets forgotten, but shouldn't be because the Longhorns are in need of more outside receivers, and nabbed an elite one in the local product. Jones might not have 4.4 speed, but he does have outstanding hands, route-running and jumping ability.
Diamond in the Rough
Caleb Bluiett, DE, Beaumont West Brook — I tried to confine this to real "roughers", so four-star players that most people overlook, like Marcus Johnson, are off the list. That leaves nine three-stars to choose from, and I didn't want to go with a JUCO, because for a JUCO player, three stars means they're pretty good. So I went with Bluiett over Hassan Ridgeway, Alex Norman and Alex De La Torre. Bluiett figures to factor in somewhere. He's a long 6-foot-3 and an excellent, fluid athlete who is extremely coachable. Give him time to settle in at one position (he was at about five as a senior at West Brook), and he'll take off.
Hardest Recruiting Battle Won
Torshiro Davis, DE, Woodlawn (La.) — This would seem to be the no-brainer, as Davis's recruitment went right up until the final bell, and quite a few people didn't think the Longhorns would be able to win the LSU commitment's signature. But that's precisely what Texas did, thanks to Bo Davis's relationship with the player. It was a big win too, as Davis filled one of the last few needs in the class, adding an elite pass-rusher to the fold.
One That Got Away
Dorial Green-Beckham, Hillcrest (Mo.) — This isn't as easy a pick as you would think, because DGB wasn't a need as much as some other players on the recruiting list. But in the end, he's the easy pick because he was the nation's No. 1 recruit, a playmaking wide receiver who could have plugged into the lineup immediately to give the Longhorns more oomph in their receiving corps. As it is though, Jones, Johnson and Kendall Sanders aren't bad consolation prizes.
Should Have Taken a Longer Look At
LaDarrell McNeil, S, WIlmer Hutchins — It's funny, because if you look at the list of players I would have had here two months ago, the Longhorns came around on just about all of them. I didn't understand the lack of interest in Sanders. Then Texas offered, and got him. Same for Dalton Santos, and some others. Javonte Magee could be here as well, but the Longhorns probably didn't feel like they were in a great position there. Brian Nance, who also went to Baylor, might have been the state's top linebacker in terms of ability. But there were grades there. Same with Devonte Fields of Arlington Martin. But Texas never really showed interest in McNeil, a freakish safety who could stick there, or bulk into a nasty linebacker. Given that the Longhorns are short a bit at safety, McNeil would have been an ideal complement to Adrian Colbert.
Best Job on a Position
Offensive Line — Simply put, Texas grabbed four players, and they were the four players Texas wanted. Camrhon Hughes emerged as potentially the best get out of all of them, a mean 6-7, 320-pound guy who shows potential as a left tackle. Kennedy Estelle is even higher rated, and once he fills out his basketball-player-like frame, could be special. Both are top-10 prospects at offensive tackle. Add in a third tackle in Donald Hawkins, the top tackle from the JUCO ranks and somebody who should be able to plug in immediately. Then, Texas lands one of the top couple interior linemen in the country in Curtis Riser of DeSoto, an outstanding offensive guard. So to recap: four players, two of whom might be the top at their spot in the country (Hawkins as JUCO OT, Riser at OG), and two more 6-7 offensive tackles who are top-10 guys. That's outstanding.
Biggest Need Filled
Quarterback — This is a no-brainer. The biggest need in this class was quarterback, a need that grew even more when both Connor Wood and Garrett Gilbert left the program, leaving the Longhorns with two scholarship quarterbacks on roster. So Texas landed its top quarterback target in Connor Brewer, who had interest from the nation's top schools. Brewer, an accurate pocket passer with savvy and leadership, is exactly what the doctor ordered. And credit the Longhorns for going a bit of a different direction once Gilbert transferred, offering athletic dual-threat Jalen Overstreet. Overstreet is more athletic than any quarterback on roster, something which he might be able to parlay into his own specific package of plays even if he doesn't win the job outright. The staff grabbed its top target, then nabbed a second player who offers more scheme versatility.
Biggest Need Left Unfilled
Tight End — Texas coach Mack Brown even touched on this one at the Signing Day press conference. The Longhorns evaluated a number of players for this position, offering Griffin Gilbert a grayshirt offer and bringing Vincent Hobbs in on a visit. But the Longhorns didn't pull the full trigger on either player, and neither necessarily fits what Texas is looking for, with regard to a blocker who can set the edge, because Texas has some guys on roster who can go out and catch a pass. But also credit the staff with not reaching to get 'a guy', rather than 'the guy'. That extra scholarship can go toward an ace tight end in 2013, a class that is much stronger at the position, and more specifically, with what Texas is looking for out of the position. Safety potentially could have used another player, but that could get solved if Kevin Vaccaro has a late growth spurt, as his brother did.
The goal at Texas is to compete for national championships. In order to win those, you have to be good up front and fast on the edges, and Texas accomplished both of those. The Longhorns took 12 linemen (four offensive, eight defensive), including immediate help in a pair of JUCO players on both sides. And players like Daje Johnson, Kendall Sanders, Torshiro Davis, Peter Jinkens and Adrian Colbert all run exceptionally well for their positions. Add in playmakers like Malcom Brown, Johnathan Gray and Cayleb Jones (all of whom might be among the state's top five players), and a steadying quarterback in Connor Brewer, and the Longhorns put together a balanced class that should fill pretty much any holes left over by the last two superb groups.