HD Mailbag: Shaka; Emerging Talent for Strong

In this week's HD Mailbag I answer questions about Shaka Smart and the next core players for Charlie

QUESTION FROM HD SUBSCRIBER UTBondman:

How will Shaka Smart's arrival affect the current walk-ons for the Longhorns? With the pressing style, will he need more or different bodies?

ANSWER:

That’s a really good question. That’s definitely not an immediate concern of his right now. He is trying to get a few more bodies for the 2015 class first.

But once it comes down to rounding out the roster I think he could get creative for how he looks for walk-ons, and gets a couple of ballers to join the fold that can – at the very least – test this team in practice.

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QUESTION FROM HD SUBSCRIBER HookedonHorns2797:

How good of a recruiter do you think Smart will be? Who are the next wave of young core players you see for our football team?

ANSWER:

He’s hit the ground running since he got to Austin. He was front and center watching five-star center Jarrett Allen at the recent Adidas Gauntlet.

He immediately offered a player I thought Rick Barnes should have a long time ago in Terrance Ferguson. He already has national appeal and will be able to recruit from coast to coast like Barnes did.

This is one of the smartest coaches in America, period. He got accepted into several Ivy League schools. He’s a businessman who knows how to run a program properly and has an eye for the talent to get the job done, and a way with relating to them to get them on campus to allow them to do the job.

Texas is in great hands here. I don’t think Steve Patterson could have picked a better man for the job.

The next wave of core players I see for UT’s football team that are on campus now: Jason Hall, Dorian Leonard, Malik Jefferson, Connor Williams, Naashon Hughes, Poona Ford, Edwin Freeman.

There are so many freshmen not yet on campus that I think could make a long-standing impact: Cecil Cherry, Anthony Wheeler, Cameron Townsend, Charles Omenihu, Holton Hill, Kris Boyd, Ryan Newsome, Davante Davis, John Burt, Chris Warren, DeAndre McNeal, Kai Locksley, Devonaire Clarington, Patrick Vahe, DeShon Elliott, and Kirk Johnson.

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QUESTION FROM HD SUBSCRIBER Bigdaddy6363:

I have an over or under question just based off of what you've heard regarding spring practices. Over or under that the longhorns finish in the top 25 at the end of the football season.

ANSWER:

There are a bunch of you on this board that have said you believe the offense might come around a little faster than the defense simply because of the comfort level of the new offense and the fact that the defense has to replace so much, and I happen to agree with you.

At the end of the day I think Texas’ offense is going to be fine. I think the offensive line will be improved enough to allow whoever is at QB to put up decent numbers. There will be many more big plays/quicker scores in this offense than there was a season ago.

I’d be a little concerned with WR. That’s not to say that there isn’t talent there (there is and will get exponentially better when the freshmen get to Austin). But they’ve got to prove it (Marcus Johnson included). If they can find viable replacements for Jaxon Shipley and John Harris, I think this offense will be just fine.

And while it might take the defense a little while to adjust to all the new bodies, especially at middle linebacker, I think they’ll be fine. Vance Bedford won’t let this unit slack off. He’ll get the best out of them.

I think there are several players poised for major breakout seasons (Hassan Ridgeway, Naashon Hughes, Shiro Davis, Jason Hall, John Bonney, Malik Jefferson, Edwin Freeman). If these guys can live up to their potential and stay healthy, I don’t see why this team couldn’t finish the season in the Top 25. I’ll say they will.

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