How many of Texas’ recruiting class of 2015 will end up as NFL prospects?
At some point, hopefully, after you finish reading this week’s Kiss of Death, you’ll click on the “Commits” list here at HD and scribble down your answer. And then you’ll have to wait four to five years for your answer.
So write your number on your forehead in permanent ink or on a sticky note on your fridge or … well, you get the idea.
If history is any indication under Charlie Strong, the number figures to be pretty impressive.
Follow me here for a second.
Last year, Louisville had five players invited to the NFL combine.
Three were selected in the first round:
S Calvin Pryor (18th overall to the NY Jets)
DE Marcus Smith (26th overall to the Eagles)
QB Teddy Bridgewater (32nd overall to the Vikings)
This year, Louisville has 11 who have been invited to the NFL combine – second only to Florida State’s 12 – Feb. 17-23 in Indianapolis.
A further example of Strong’s ability to identify and develop talent: 6 of the 11 were a part of Strong’s first full recruiting class in 2011 - a class ranked No. 33 overall by Scout.
(FWIW, a least four were recruited by then-DL coach Clint Hurtt.)
It would have been 7 from the 2011 class but 2014 Thorpe Award winner S Gerod Holliman failed to qualify and went to prep school for a year before landing in Louisville’s 2012 class.
Here’s a look at Louisville’s 2015 combine invitees:
OG John Miller (2011 … 3-star … recruited by Clint Hurtt)
OT Jamon Brown (2011 … 3-star)
WR DaVante Parker (2011 … 4-star)
FS Gerod Holliman (2012 … 4-star … went to prep school for a year after failing to qualify at UL in 2011 … recruited by Hurtt … 2014 Thorpe Award Winner with 14 INTs)
RB Dominique Brown (2010 recruiting class … 3-star)
DE B.J. Dubose (2011 … 3-star … recruited by Hurtt)
LB Lorenzo Mauldin (2011 … 3-star … recruited by Brian Jean-Mary)
CB Charles Gaines (2011 … 3-star … recruited by Hurtt)
Expect Louisville players to be hot commodities in this year’s NFL draft again.
Calvin Pryor (3-star in 2011 class at Louisville) - finished fifth in tackles for the NY Jets with 2 INTs.
Even though Pryor was benched late in the season – the Jets see a bright future for him in a secondary that was plagued by injuries at CB last season. The injuries forced Pryor to play more zone, away from the line of scrimmage, where he earned the nickname “Louisville Slugger.”
Marcus Smith (3-star in 2010 class as a QB) - played 74 snaps for the Eagles as a rookie and didn’t post a tackle. Coaches want him to get stronger and add 15 to 20 pounds before the 2015 season.
Teddy Bridgewater (4-star in 2011 class) - got strong consideration for offensive rookie of the year with the injury/suspension-ravaged, 7-9 Vikings. After the Vikings started 1-2, Bridgewater took over as starter and went 6-7.
Preston Brown (3-star in 2010 class) - is seen as a rising star in the NFL after going to Buffalo in the third round of last year’s NFL Draft and leading the Bills’ fourth-ranked defense in tackles as a rookie.
Five players from Texas have been invited the combine:
DT Malcom Brown
LB Jordan Hicks
DE Ced Reed
Where would you draft them?
After Malcom Brown, Hicks will be the next Longhorn drafted providing everything checks out at the combine. Could it be higher than the fourth round?
Linebackers who have been coached by Strong and Co. have done well in the NFL - Preston Brown, Jelani Jenkins (leading tackler in Miami), Jonathan Bostic (second-leading tackler in Chicago), Brandon Spikes (Bills).
Hicks checks a lot of boxes for the NFL (a sideline-to-sideline, three-down player being the first). His medical history (season-ending groin and Achilles injuries) will drag him down.
Reed and Diggs are likely to be the next Longhorns off the board. Most NFL scouts I’ve talked to project them in the fifth- to seventh rounds.
So you wonder where NFL teams have Edmond after his increased productivity in 2014? And what about RB Malcolm Brown and WR John Harris – if they’re drafted at all?
All were undrafted, obviously, in the first year Texas failed to have a single player selected since 1937.
Davis was signed and waived by Oakland and remains a free-agent.
Whaley is on “reserve/non-football injury” with the Dallas Cowboys after being signed by Dallas despite his season-ending knee injury vs WVU last November. Whaley will go to camp with the Cowboys in 2015 (he’s signed through 2016).
In somewhat of a surprise, Fera was never signed by a team, not even as a training camp body and remains a free agent.
Jeffcoat was signed and waived by the Seahawks, but was signed by the Redskins, where he bounced between the practice squad and active roster.
Jeffcoat, however, was activated Dec. 16 and recorded his first sack vs the Eagles in Week 16 (in an upset that eliminated Philly from the playoffs).
Oklahoma tops the Big 12 with seven players invited to the combine:
TE Blake Bell
OG Adam Shead
DT Jordan Phillips (leaving a year early)
Baylor has four:
LB Bryce Hager
QB Bryce Petty
TCU has five:
RB B.J. Catalon (leaving a year early)
OL Tayo Fabuluje
LB Paul Dawson
FS Chris Hackett (leaving a year early)
CB Kevin White
FWIW, the Aggies have 5 going to the combine:
RB Trey Williams (leaving a year early)
K Josh Lambo
The Kiss of Death set out on this exercise to see just how many of Charlie Strong’s original signing class in 2011 ended up as NFL prospects?
The answer is 8 (if you include Pryor and Bridgewater, who left early for the NFL). In a class that ended up with 20 signees (since Holliman didn’t qualify), that’s almost half the class (40 percent to be exact).
One of the problems that plagued Texas the four years prior to Strong arriving – and even longer – was the failure to either evaluate players coming out of high school or develop them – or both.
When the NFL Draft (April 30-May 2) concludes at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in Chicago, Texas is expected to go a seventh straight year without a single offensive lineman selected in seven rounds.
Identifying and developing players haven’t been a problem for Strong and his coaching staff in his time as a head coach. Of course, Strong landed Bridgewater in his “foundation” recruiting class at Louisville.
As hungry as Kai Locksley is, no one is putting Locksley in the same class as Bridgewater coming out of high school. And Vernon Adams of Eastern Washington just decided to play his final year of eligibility at Oregon.
So as you try to project who in Texas’ 2015 class will one day end up in the NFL (I’ll say at least 6), the question is if the Longhorns are still looking for an NFL-caliber QB?
And if the bar is NFL-caliber, then the answer is undoubtedly, yes, Texas is still looking ... or looking to develop one.
So, just as Shawn Watson helped develop Bridgewater into an NFL prospect, one who dominated on the chalk board during interview sessions at the combine, Watson must do the same now with Jerrod Heard, Locksley and Tyrone Swoopes as well as maybe a QB to be named later in the 2015 class ...
And see just how far they can go and how high they can rise …
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