What Now?

When Arrion Springs picked the Oregon Ducks at The Opening on Tuesday, it represented just the most recent example of a top-notch 2014 defensive back selecting another school over the Longhorns.

On the surface, it's certainly a worrying trend. The Longhorns have always been able to land top defensive backs, and even with Texas not having three "Texas-like" seasons in a row, defensive backs coach Duane Akina has continued to earn his DBU label, shoveling five defensive backs into the league over those three years — Aaron Williams, Curtis Brown, Chykie Brown, Blake Gideon and Kenny Vaccaro have all found roster spots. Yet in a year that has been labeled "year of the DB" within the state of Texas, the Longhorns' lone defensive back commitment is from the state of Louisiana.

There's no one issue that can be tapped as a tell-all solution. Texas has offered 11 defensive backs in-state, and of those, five have yet to make their decisions and a sixth, South Grand Prairie's Jason Hall, currently a Nebraska commitment, is expected by many to flip his commitment to the Longhorns.

Part of the struggles have come from Texas A&M's success. The Longhorns lost two of those six defensive backs — Dylan Sumner-Gardner and cornerback Nick Harvey — to their College Station rivals. But are the Aggies more of a threat than LSU, which pulled in safety Edward Paris and may lead for Tony Brown, in part because Brown's sister runs track at LSU?

Yet another player, Darrion Johnson, seemed to be pretty much a done deal for Texas before washing out at Brenham and struggling academically. While one of the state's most talented players, he isn't likely to qualify, and will probably be headed to junior college. It's unclear whether Brandon Simmons was an offer to try to get in with Paris or whether Texas would have taken him by himself, though it's a moot point, as Simmons chose Stanford.

And the first time I talked to Springs, when the talented defensive back was a sophomore at San Antonio Roosevelt, he told me that he wasn't crazy about the idea of staying in-state. The fact that the Longhorns made it such a tough decision for him is a testament to how much ground Akina was able to make up.

So what now? First, it's important to note that the Longhorns aren't out of the running for some of their top defensive back targets. Jamal Adams is still very much a possibility — multiple sources tell LonghornDigest.com that Adams will likely choose between Texas and Florida — and many believe that Harvey, though committed to Texas A&M, will visit Austin and make his final decision at a later date. Additionally, Texas sits in the mix with John Bonney, Nick Watkins and stands an excellent shot to swing Hall into the fold. The chances aren't nearly as good with Brown, though he still mentions Texas as a possibility.

If the Longhorns are somehow able to pull in a class that includes Adams and Harvey, everyone's fretting will have been for naught. That would include two of the state's top 10 players, and a pair of impact guys who were widely coveted. Of course, if Texas whiffs on both and misses on Bonney and Watkins, the Longhorns could have a class that includes Hall and a cornerback to be named later, potentially camp discovery Garrett Davis, who has yet to earn a Texas offer. While that class would offer some potential, it would have to be seen as somewhat of a missed opportunity.

Texas landed probably the state's No. 2 cornerback a year ago in Antwuan Davis, and Chevoski Collins could wind up as an outstanding safety. That means Texas wasn't dying for secondary talent, especially when those two (and safety Erik Huhn, who could grow into a linebacker spot) followed a class of Bryson Echols, Duke Thomas, Adrian Colbert and Kevin Vaccaro. But when there's such a fantastic cluster of elite talent … seemingly enough to go around … it hurts to miss on that kind of chance to add athletic playmakers to the mix.

The key here, of course, is that we're talking about this several months out from National Signing Day. Two years ago, we didn't even know who Colbert was at this point, and it's possible that a Colbert could emerge this season. More likely is the chance that Texas puts together a great season on the field, eliminating any concerns that the top recruits might have.

That's the main key here: just win. If the Longhorns can win at a high level in 2013, these July concerns about missing on quality defensive backs should become a whisper in the wind, something to laugh at when Texas grabs its share of defensive back talent in February.


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