These commitment analyses are becoming nearly one and the same, because there's really only one theme that you can take from the last several commitments to the Texas program: the Longhorns are adding serious talent.
Monday, that included the addition of Darius James, arguably the top interior offensive line prospect in the state (in competition with fellow Longhorn commitment A'Shawn Robinson). Landing James wasn't much of a surprise; in fact if you've been reading our boards, this is a commitment that we've been calling for since last fall. But it was still necessary, the addition of a prototypical center to go along with outstanding guards Sedrick Flowers and Curtis Riser of the past few classes. Robinson will start off at defensive tackle, but more on that in a minute.
On a macro scale, the James commitment gives the Longhorns a whopping seven commitments (out of their current 12) who will be top-75ish players, according to Greg Powers, Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst. The top 50 players in any one class are five-stars, meaning that more than half of the current commitments — Robinson, James, Ricky Seals-Jones, Tyrone Swoopes, Jake Raulerson, Kent Perkins and Jake Oliver —are expected to be in contention for the highest honors in the Scout.com database.
On a slightly more micro scale, three of those players are likely offensive linemen in Robinson, James and Perkins, meaning that the Longhorns might just have the top, or one of the top, offensive line classes in the country, just a month after landing the country's top JUCO offensive tackle, two top-10 high school offensive tackles and arguably the best high school guard in the country. Perkins could be among the country's top tackles, while Robinson, if he finds his way to the offensive side of the ball, could be one of the elite guards in the class. James is likely the top center.
And that's where we get to this on the most micro level possible: Texas just landed a heck of a player. When I went to see James in person this fall, I was struck by a few things. The first thing that stands out is his size. At 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, he has elite size for an NFL center, much less a center playing his junior year of high school. And the second is that he doesn't move like a guy who is 6-5 320.
At the game I attended, the opposing coach admitted that he didn't want the team's nose tackle to get blown off the ball, so they left James uncovered. But all that meant was that James made it to the second level on a nearly every-play basis, and used his athleticism to bury linebackers and defensive backs all game. For a big guy to be able to play in space like that … well, let's just say that I was sold.
James isn't a perfect prospect. He gets worn out at times on film. But give Texas strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie a few years to transition his body — not necessarily make him lighter, just change its composition — and James projects as an elite center, not just in college, but potentially beyond.