1. 1. Defensive Tackle
For my money this is the most important position on either side of the ball for the Longhorns in 2016.
Texas signed one DT in 2015 and he didn’t even make it to campus. While I do believe you’ll see Hassan Ridgeway return – if healthy he should be dominant next season – and I do think that Poona Ford and Paul Boyette Jr. are continuously improving, the cupboard isn’t exactly stocked.
Gerald Wilbon – UT’s lone 2016 DT commitment – is under-valued in my eyes and could be a force, with time. But Texas needs numbers at this position, which is why players like D'Andre Christmas-Giles, Handsome Tanielu, Jordan Elliott [committed to Michigan] and Mike Williams [Stanford] are so critical.
If the Longhorns miss on these guys they could be in some serious trouble.
UT needs DTs in the worst way.
The potential for what UT could do at the linebacker position in 2016 is downright scary.
You’ve got Demarco Boyd on board already. He’s going to crush heads in the ATX, just wait. Then, I don’t want to say Texas has the inside track on Dontavious Jackson and Jeffrey McCulloch, but they are right there with both elite LBs.
If Texas can get even one of those players I believe you’ve got to consider it a victory at the position.
Either one, or both of those players, would be an enormous victory for Brian Jean-Mary and Charlie Strong.
Add either of them to the mix with the group of LBs already in place – Malik Jefferson, Anthony Wheeler, Breckyn Hager, Cameron Townsend, Edwin Freeman – and you’ve got the makings of the best position unit on the program for a few years.
But Texas does need to add at least one more to the class because there is some uncertainty about who should play MLB if/when Jefferson is moved to the outside.
The more I think about it the more I find it hard to believe that Texas will not start either Jason Hall and Dylan Haines at safety in 2016. I could see one of them getting passed up by a younger player [Hall more likely IMHO], but not both.
DeShon Elliott is going to be a player Texas will talk about for a while after his time is over with [and not just for his antics on the sideline against Baylor]. He’s a player. So to is P.J. Locke. He could be the hardest hitter on the team.
The more both of those players play the better the Longhorns are going to be. But, but… what if the Longhorns were able to add someone like Brandon Jones to the mix? Then you are talking about a young core of safeties that would have to be considered in the top 2 in the Big 12 along with OU.
If you get Jones you’d also be keeping him away from Texas A&M. Winning head-to-head battles against the Aggies is always something Strong and his staff are looking to do, whether they’ll admit it or not.
Getting Elliott, Locke and Jones in back-to-back classes would further prove just how valuable Chris Vaughn is on the recruiting trail… and Jeff Traylor for that matter because he’s been on Jones for a while now given his East Texas ties.
4. Defensive end
If you look at the offers list, which is mostly in order of when Texas offered each player, you’ll see Longhorns commitments Andrew Fitzgerald and Malcolm Roach near the bottom of the DE food chain; Roach is at the bottom.
That’s not at all a knock on either player, I’m big fans of both. But it does go to show that Texas missed out on their top targets at this position. At least they have so far.
If either of those players visits between now and NSD, don’t be surprised to see them end up at UT. That’s a bit of a stretch right now, no doubt. But if they take the time to get back down to Austin this late in the game, who knows?
Texas will be OK at DE in 2016, but not enough to blow anyone away. It appears as though Bryce Cottrell is coming into his own. Naashon Hughes had a down year. He has to play better, and I believe in Charles Omenihu and Derick Roberson. I do.
But it would help if UT got one more DE to go along with Fitz and Roach.
The Longhorns are set at CB for the foreseeable future with Holton Hill and Davante Davis. Then you’ve also got Kris Boyd waiting on his chance to make a huge impact [not sold on him staying at cover corner].
Texas does have a commitment from Obi Eboh. He’s solid.
While it would help if Texas could pull someone like Eric Cuffee, I think there are other pressing needs for this coaching staff right now.