Texas Signs 20

National Signing Day has come and gone and the Texas Longhorns came away with 20 signatures. Darrell Scott may be headed elsewhere, but Mack Brown is still quite happy with his 2008 haul.

No Darrell Scott for Texas, but it fits with the way out-of-state recruiting has gone for the Longhorns, as of late. However, much of the Horns' out-of-state woes has to do with an in-state focus. The only out-of-stater in Texas' 2008 recruiting class is safety Nolan Brewster and he grew up in Austin when his father, Tim, was the tight ends coach under Mack Brown.

But the talent-rich recruiting grounds of Texas have proven fertile for the Longhorns and this year's crop is a skilled group. By far, the majority of the class was already committed to UT last February, knowing full well where they wanted to play their college ball. Brown said that's the way he likes it.

"Texas is a different place," said Brown. "The history here, the tradition here. If you didn't grow up with our history and our tradition and you don't know how special this place is, then you're one of five (choices). I don't want us to be one of five. I want us to be one of one or one of two. Maybe that's wrong, but I want guys that love it here. I want guys crying when they walk out of that tunnel. On Senior Day, I want all moms and dads here. That's just how I am and how I feel."

It doesn't change the fact that the big fish got away, but Brown said he isn't stressed about any player he didn't get because of the players he did get.

"We try to recruit guys who want to come to Texas and if they don't want to come, that's ok," said Brown. "If they don't want to come and you force them to come by over-recruiting them, then it usually doesn't work out anyway. We like the ones we get."

So, who did Texas get?

The most obvious position that stands out is wide receiver. The Horns signed five players listed at wide out (and a corner, D.J. Monroe, who Brown mentioned could end up offense), but that doesn't necessarily mean that's where they'll all play.

While a pair of big names in the class, Dan Buckner and D.J. Grant, are destined to be receivers, the other three are known for flexibility and may end up playing elsewhere. Brock Fitzhenry and Antoine Hicks each played quarterback in high school and DeSean Hales...well, he played near about everything. Flexibility, though, is something Brown takes into consideration,

"One thing that (former Texas assistant) Dick Tomey taught me when he was here was that the more positions a guy can play, the better chance he will make it on your team. I think if you go down that group (the class), maybe a couple of offensive lineman may be limited, but the others can play many positions and that's what we like about this class, it's very versatile," said Brown.

At running back, while Scott did not choose Texas, Jeremy Hills and Tre Newton did. Jeremy, younger brother of former Texas offensive tackle Tony Hills, and Tre, the son of former Dallas Cowboy offensive guard Nate Newton, could form an effective speed (Hills) and power (Newton) tandem.

In the trenches, Texas brings in three offensive and two defensive linemen. While talented, none on the offensive side of the ball are currently expected to play in 2008 because O-line is the one of the few positions where Brown prefers players to redshirt. The exception was 2007, when three true freshmen on the line were forced into action because Texas, frankly, just ran out of offensive linemen. Mark Buchanan, Luke Poehlmann and David Snow will fill out the depth chart nicely on the Texas O-line.

Texas doesn't bring in a defensive end, but DT is a must-have position for this year's team and the Horns got a quality pair in Jarvis Humphrey and Kheeston Randall. Humphrey is a solid, three-technique style tackle (think Derek Lokey), while Randall is a taller, five-technique tackle (think Frank Okam) and they should compliment each other nicely.

At linebacker, Texas brings in a trio of 'backers, but a couple of them could end up at other positions. Brenham's Ryan Roberson has great awareness on defense, but his stout frame might make for an effective fullback and Nederland's Dravannti Johnson's larger frame could put him at defensive end. The most pure 'backer in the class is Emmanuel Acho, the younger brother of Texas sophomore defensive end Sam Acho. Brown confirmed that the younger Acho will play at outside linebacker and will compete for playing time immediately.

Defensive back is a point of strength for Texas in this class and a great deal has to do with the 2008 Longhorn recruiting class headliner, five-star DB Aaron Williams. Texas plans on Williams being at corner, but a lack of depth at safety means he could remain at the position he played for most of high school. The Horns may not need Williams to play safety if Brewster and Blake Gideon step up. The hard-hitting duo are pure safeties and have an opportunity presented to them with the position currently being so thin on the Texas roster. The aforementioned Monroe is one of the fastest players Brown has recruited will likely play corner for the Horns.

...oh, and Texas pulled in a kicker named Justin Tucker.

True, a class' kicker is usually a "foot" note, as it were, but Tucker brings a powerful leg, one capable of consistently putting kick-offs in the end-zone. Senior Ryan Bailey should maintain his hold on the position of field goal kicker, but expect Tucker to compete immediately with Hunter Lawrence for kick-off duties.

2008 Longhorn Recruiting Class

Emmanuel Acho LB 6-2 215 Dallas, Texas (St. Mark's)
Nolan Brewster DB 6-1 195 Littleton, Colo. (Mullen)
Mark Buchanan* OL 6-6 285 Austin, Texas (Austin)
Dan Buckner* WR 6-4 213 Allen, Texas (Allen)
Brock Fitzhenry* WR 5-9 171 Giddings, Texas (Giddings)
Blake Gideon* DB 6-1 197 Leander, Texas (Leander)
D.J. Grant WR 6-3 205 Austin, Texas (LBJ)
DeSean Hales WR 5-11 185 Spring, Texas (Klein Oak)
Antoine Hicks WR 6-2 193 Arlington, Texas (Timberview)
Jeremy Hills* RB 6-0 187 Houston, Texas (Alief Elsik)
Jarvis Humphrey DT 6-2 290 Cedar Hill, Texas (Cedar Hill)
Dravannti Johnson* LB 6-2 237 Nederland, Texas (Nederland)
D.J. Monroe DB 5-9 165 Angleton, Texas (Angleton)
Tre' Newton* RB 6-0 193 Southlake, Texas (Carroll)
Luke Poehlmann OL 6-6 260 Brenham, Texas (Brenham)
Kheeston Randall DT 6-5 267 Beaumont, Texas (Kelly)
Ryan Roberson RB/LB 5-10 210 Brenham, Texas (Brenham)
David Snow* OL 6-4 280 Gilmer, Texas (Gilmer)
Justin Tucker* PK 6-1 171 Austin, Texas (Westlake)
Aaron Williams DB 6-1 175 Round Rock, Texas (McNeil)

*Early enrollee

Dan Bucker, D.J. Monroe and Aaron Williams at the U.S. Army All-American Game (Photo by Will Gallagher/Inside Texas)

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