The Ones That Got Away

Which players that got away hurt the most? Looking at the ones who got away in the Class of 2013.

In order for the player to have made the list, they must have had documented legitimate interest in attending Texas. So even though the Longhorns offered Robert Nkemdiche, and he gave a token line about liking Texas after the offer came, he wouldn't be on this list because it never went past that point. Same for a guy like Lequon Treadwell.*

1) DT A'Shawn Robinson, Arlington Heights — Alabama

Robinson has the most potential of any player on this list, a tackle with monster strength and shocking agility for a player of his size. When Robinson was dialed in, there wasn't an offensive lineman in the country who succeeded at stonewalling him at the line of scrimmage. But Robinson's loss, while unfortunate, came at a position of less need. Texas already has a four-deep for 2013 in Malcom Brown, Desmond Jackson, Ashton Dorsey and Chris Whaley, with Jackson and Brown coming in as elite guys in the last two classes. Robinson likely could have played a role similar to Brown's in 2012, that of back-end rotation guy, with more time to come in 2014. But even then, he would have had to fight through Paul Boyette and Alex Norman, and though Robinson projects as a better player, both of those two have a year's experience on him. Andrew Billings also slipped away at defensive tackle, but Robinson was a better prospect, and somebody who was committed for pretty much the entirety of the 2013 class. That sets him apart on this list.

2) DB Maurice Smith, Fort Bend Dulles — Alabama

Call this one a missed evaluation or a poor slow play. But either way, the Longhorns lost out on the best defensive back in the state and a player who was certainly attainable. Smith went to Texas's second Junior Day saying all the right things, that he was a Longhorn fan and that he would likely become a member of the Texas secondary if offered. But that offer didn't come on JD2, and before the Longhorns did step up in that department, Alabama beat Texas to the punch. Smith was probably the state's top cornerback in this class, and he could have teamed with the potential-heavy Antwuan Davis to form an outstanding young duo.

3) RB Dontre Wilson, DeSoto — Ohio State

Lost in all of the "Texas returns everybody" talk is that the Longhorns will be without two of their three offensive speed guys next year. While underutilized at times, Marquise Goodwin and D.J. Monroe each had the ability to flip the field (or the scoreboard) with one touch of the football. And even when they didn't get the ball, defenses had to account for them. Now, Texas brings back just one such player in Daje Johnson (though somebody like Kendall Sanders could also help), after whiffing on Wilson, somebody the Longhorns targeted early and received a second chance from late. Wilson wanted to leave the state, so there's nothing Texas could do about that part, but it still hurts to lose an absolute burner who could change the game with his wheels. Wilson is both faster and more skilled than the Longhorns' other options there, and he likely would have seen touches immediately.

4) DE Daeshon Hall, Lancaster — Undecided

Hall is set to make a Signing Day decision, but the Longhorns aren't among his options. That's disappointing given that Hall was one of the first players to commit to Texas in 2013, following his JD1 visit. It isn't necessarily that Hall is a can't-miss talent — he's good, really good, but not a top-10-to-15 player in the state — but he's the top defensive end in an incredibly weak in-state class for them. And his potential was incredibly high, thanks to his fluid athleticism and his 6-foot-6 frame with room to add plenty of weight. Hall decommitted over the summer to commit to Washington, though Texas A&M is now a major player for his services as well. And after he decommitted, the Longhorns struggled to get any traction with other defensive end targets.

5) WR Ricky Seals-Jones — Texas A&M

Some differ in opinions on what actually happened with RS-J. But the Longhorns backed off their one-time commitment, only to see him commit to their in-state rivals. Seals-Jones was the state's top athlete, a 6-5, 230-pound wideout with the speed to get downfield, a walking mismatch. He showed that talent at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl practices, despite playing a position he wasn't totally familiar with (he played quarterback for Sealy). Durham Smythe also deserves mention here. Texas has been missing a well-rounded tight end for several years, and Smythe was a tough guard as a receiving tight end who was also better as a blocker than most gave him credit for.

* Robbie Rhodes was certainly considered here. But since Rhodes never seemed to have a high level of interest in Texas, despite the fact that the Longhorns were on him fairly early in the process, I left him off. I also left off Mike Mitchell for another reason: the Longhorns simply never pursued him at his preferred position.

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