It should be noted that both times I saw Reggie Hemphill in person, he went against a high-level BCS cornerback recruit and dominated the older players. At Texas's summer camp, Hemphill competed against, and largely controlled, his battles with 2014 Longhorn commitment Jermaine Roberts, who is touted for his more developed cornerback skills. And while I really anticipated his battle at Texas State 7-on-7 against Pflugerville Hendrickson's Trai Mosley, a Nebraska commitment, Hemphill won yet again, playing well against Mosley, who had excelled in CenTex 7-on-7s this summer with his explosive athleticism.
The best way that I can describe Hemphill's playing style is actually to use a basketball analogy. You know the really annoying guy you hate to play at the 'Y'? The guy who can't run, can't jump but who can change speeds, has an old-school hook shot and generally is craftier than everyone on the court? Hemphill is like that … only he also happens to be 6-foot-1 and runs in the mid-4.4 range. Even with those physical tools, there's a deceptiveness to him. He changes gears, gets defensive backs to put their weight on their wrong foot before cutting across them and generally puts his body between the defender and the ball.
It's that skill set that makes Hemphill such an amazing prospect. He's tall, sure. Fast? Absolutely. He can jump, and he high-points the ball in situations where he doesn't create separation. But probably his biggest strength at this point is that he does create separation so easily, and at a level higher than you would expect for a player of his age.
Taking a look at the big picture, Hemphill gives the Longhorns a chance to rebuild their receiving corps after Mike Davis, Jaxon Shipley and Kendall Sanders all leave. Barring an unforeseen redshirt year or an early entry, Sanders's senior year will be 2015, the year before Hemphill arrives. And now, Hemphill gives Texas a chance to ensure that its legacy at receiver lives on. Think about it: the Davis/Shipley/Sanders trio projects as one of the top receiver groups in the Big 12. How did the Longhorns get there? By landing elite-level talent at the position. Davis was the state's top wide receiver and a five-star in 2010. Shipley was the state's No. 2 receiver and a five-star in 2011. And Sanders was a top 10-15 overall prospect in the state when he came out in 2012.
Three classes in a row, the Longhorns landed at least one high-level talent at receiver. And Texas has a chance to do so yet again. Emanuel Porter is likely a top 10-15 level prospect in the Class of 2014, and I believe he's the state's No. 2 receiver. The Longhorns seem to lead for the state's top 2015 receiver in DaMarkus Lodge of Cedar Hill. And while it's impossible to tell just how highly ranked Hemphill will be in 2016 — remember, Scout.com just released its 2015 five-star players this week — I feel relatively safe in projecting that he'll be among the top receivers in the country.
In that respect, Hemphill was an important recruit. He's an elite talent who will help the Longhorns continue to roll at the skill positions moving forward. And though it's way, way early, don't be surprised if a year from now, Scout.com is announcing Hemphill as a potential five-star guy.