Today we'll look at the Lone Star State's top 2015 linebackers, according to National recruiting Analyst Greg Powers, and what their interest level is with the Longhorns.
1. Malik Jefferson (Mesquite, Texas/Poteet)
Greg's Evaluation: Makes a ton of plays behind the line of scrimmage. He has a long, athletic frame, but is ripped. Still has room to add some more size, which makes his physique potential even more impressive. He uses his hands well when needed to get off his blocks and has tremendous closing speed in the open field. He gets off the ball quickly and a fast first step gives him and advantage. Finishes well and rarely does a back get away after he makes contact.
Texas interest: Jefferson, who is at the top of Texas' board for 2015, was one of several recruits that visited Texas for its first full-pad practice of the spring a few weeks ago. It was a huge step in the right direction for Charlie Strong and his staff and their relationship with the top linebacker in the country.
Jefferson came away impressed with his visit saying "he really enjoyed" himself. He was especially complementary of linebacker coach Brian Jean-Mary saying he was "very hyped."
Something that could help Texas in the long run is the fact that he's known Texas commitment DeShon Elliott since Pee Wee football, and also that UT will be losing several linebackers over the next few seasons.
2. Cameron Townsend (Missouri City, Texas/Ridge Point)
Greg's Evaluation: Townsend is a linebacker who uses speed to his advantage. He is good in pass coverage assignments and can cover slot receivers. Additionally, he flies to the football and is aggressive against the run. He is a big-hitter and a sound tackler. He is that new age style of linebacker who is not a liability against the run or the pass. Will need to get bigger and stronger. He runs faster in pads than his listed 40-time of 4.7.
Texas interest: You've got the feeling that Texas will be in the mix for the four-star linebacker until the end.
He's been a frequent visitor of the Longhorns over the past two years, including also being in town for Texas' first full pads scrimmage of the spring.
Townsend also visited for one of Texas' junior days and told LonghornDigest that the Longhorns were in it for the long haul.
"I feel like there are a select few schools that are the most interested in me," Townsend said. "But right now, I still have a whole 'nother season to go. I'm not sitting here saying this school is No. 1, this school is No. 10. So not exactly a top 10, but definitely some schools that are more interested in me than others."
Townsend said you could put the Longhorns in that boat, and said they would likely be in his recruitment through its entirety.
"Definitely," Townsend said. "I can honestly say Texas will be one of the schools I favor."
3. Alec Dunham (Coldspring, Texas/Coldspring-Oakhurst)
Recruiting Interests: Committed to TCU
Greg's Evaluation: Dunham has to come back and prove that he is good to go off of an ACL injury he suffered at the start of the 2013 season. These days prospects often come back even stronger. You cannot help but fall in love with his film. He plays both ways and has the star quality on the field. He is a scrappy running back. Hits the hole hard and has some wiggle. On defense, he flies to the football and has great burst. A solid overall athlete.
Texas interest: It's not there right now from Texas' end and that could be in part because of the new staff still in the evaluation process, and also because Dunham tore his ACL in the third game of last season.
Anthony Wheeler (Dallas/Skyline)
Recruiting interest: Alabama, Baylor, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, SMU, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M
Greg's Evaluation: One of the more physically imposing players in the class at this early juncture. He looks like a kid's wrestling figurine. He lines up at defensive end and linebacker on his sophomore film and makes a good amount of plays. he runs well for a bigger framed linebacker and should be a perfect fit as a MLB unless he grows in to a true DE over the course of his natural development. Hits like a ton of bricks and ball carriers do not escape his grasp.
Texas interest: For the longest time Wheeler had the Longhorns on the top of his list. A visit to Oklahoma last month changed that though. He's got some big offers, and just had a former teammate go to Ole Miss (Victor Evans). So going out-of-state isn't out of the equation. But the Longhorns are in a good position and should continue to be as LB coach Brian Jean-Mary builds a rapport with Wheeler.