Most Important Recruits: Defense

The in-state Class of 2014 is packed with elite defensive prospects. Which ones are most important for the Longhorns?

1) DE Solomon Thomas, Coppell

Is he an inside player or an outside player? That's the question that many will ask about Thomas over the upcoming year. At 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds, Thomas has the frame that could go either way. If he stays put, or slightly alters his body, he could stick as a strongside end with surprising straight-line speed for his size (and therefore the ideal complement to quick pass-rusher Derick Roberson). If Thomas continues to grow, he's a nasty gap-jumping three-technique in an in-state (and regional) class where there are relatively few excellent defensive tackles. Either way, he's a top recruit at a major need position.

2) S Jamal Adams, Lewisville Hebron

Some would argue for Edward Paris here, and I wouldn't necessarily disagree. In fact, it probably comes down to how you feel about either player. And I picked Adams for his versatility and range. He can do it all, and gives Duane Akina a piece that he can put anywhere in the back four (or five, if you account for the fact that his best spot might even be as a nickel safety). Adams is also incredibly competitive, and gives whichever secondary gets him a nasty edge.

3) LB Zach Whitley, Galena North Shore

Whitley is a rare talent who can play both inside or outside. And the Longhorns could use him at middle linebacker. Steve Edmond will be in his senior year, while Dalton Santos will be a junior. And Whitley's skill set is different than that of Santos's: Whitley is a faster, more fluid athlete and stands a better chance of being out there on passing downs. Some have argued that Whitley is the state's best linebacker. At worst, he's second to Hoza Scott, and with Scott off the board, Whitley offers potentially the only chance to nab an elite in-state 'backer in this class.

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