Headliner – Garrett Gilbert (Lake Travis)
All Garrett Gilbert has done is win back-to-back 4A state championships and take home Gatorade National Player of the Year and Parade All-American honors as a senior. Gilbert has received more publicity than any other Texas commitment in recent memory. Couple those accomplishments with Gilbert's position, quarterback, and Gilbert is clearly the headliner of an impressive class.
Instant Impact – Alex Okafor (Pflugerville High)
Okafor meets all the criteria for an immediate impact guy: early enrollee to get spring practice under his belt, a body that will be college ready with a spring and summer in the Texas strength and conditioning program, a high skill level featuring long arms and a quick first step to get up the field, and a wide open depth chart at his position. With both starting defensive ends headed to the NFL (Orakpo and Melton), Okafor has a real chance to contribute significant minutes as a true freshman on what figures to be a very good defense for a national contender.
Best Pro Prospect – Mason Walters (Wolfforth Frenship) and Alex Okafor (Pflugerville)
Mason Walters is such a physical specimen that he stands out in a crowd of college football prospects. At over 6-6 and 290-pounds proportioned perfectly, Walters already has the look of a future NFL offensive lineman. Throw in the flexibility and agility to play the center position and pull in high school and Walters is a very impressive prospect. If Walters can learn to kick set, pass protect and play backwards so to speak, the sky is the limit. Having already enrolled, the former Frenship star gets a jump on the learning curve and likely position change.
Okafor has the chance to be a 6-5, 260-pound defensive end that can play the run and rush the passer with equal success. Like Walters, Okafor has a terrific frame for his position. The ideal height, very long arms, quick first step, ability to change direction, smarts and high ceiling with his frame make him a prospect that NFL scouts may be drooling over in three or four years.
Some may say that signing with a program such as Texas, there aren't any sleeper prospects. Dominique Jones and Tevin Mims fall into that category however. Jones comes to Texas without the fanfare of former Kilgore players Eddie Jones, Michael Huey and Britt Mitchell, but the 6-3, 231-pound end with very long arms and a powerful frame can play. Jones is the most aggressive player in the 2009 singing class and plays the game with an impressive motor and desire. Like other Kilgore prospects, Jones comes from a very well coached high school program. Jones will begin his career at Texas at defensive end, but could also be an intriguing prospect at tight end with his aggressiveness and love for blocking in the run game.
Mims is a sleeper in the sense that he missed time in the spring after his junior year with shoulder surgery and somewhat flew under the radar with many college programs due to injury. Mims put together a stellar senior season for a Stony Point team that advanced to the 5A state semifinals. With the frame, quickness, top end speed, arm length and ability to play with his hands, Mims comes to Texas without the fanfare of others, but talent on par with many.
Health Check? - Eyron Barnett (Euless Trinity), Kenny Vaccaro (Early) and Dominique Jones (Kilgore)
The Texas class isn't without worries. The health of three prospects in particular is flying under the radar. Euless Trinity corner back Eyron Barnett and Early safety/corner Kenny Vaccaro both suffered season ending knee injuries as seniors and are in the rehabilitation process. Kilgore defensive end Dominique Jones will rehab a shoulder injury that requires surgery this spring.
Most Pressure – Garrett Gilbert (Lake Travis)
Pressure comes with the territory of being a quarterback. Generally, you get too much credit and too blame, but Gilbert comes to the University with tremendous fanfare and really high expectations. That happens when you win two state championships, re-write the state passing records, and are a hometown hero playing for your hometown college. Gilbert will likely follow in the footsteps of Vince Young and Colt McCoy, facing expectations higher than the two before him out of high school because of his accolades and their prior success and the expectations of the program. Not since Chris Simms has a player landed in Austin with as this type of pressure.
Offense or Defense? - Kyle Kriegel (Elysian Fields)
Kriegel is an impressive looking prospect at 6-5, 255 pounds with very long arms and impressive flexibility for a tall prospect. Kriegel played defensive end for the Yellow Jackets, but will begin his career at Texas at defensive tackle. Kriegel doesn't possess the first step quickness as others do as defensive line prospects, but plays low for a 6-5 player and has an understanding of technique. Should Kriegel fall behind others at the defensive tackle position, he could get a look at offensive tackle as he has the skill set and smarts to play the tackle position at the college level.
Biggest Loss - Jamarkus McFarland (Lufkin)
While the Longhorns signed a pair of talented defensive tackle prospects in Howell and Johnson, neither are ready to make the instant impact as McFarland could have for the Longhorns. McFarland has played top notch competition for three years at Lufkin and faced every type of game plan possible to slow him down. With Texas graduating two key contributors the need for numbers and the best chance for instant impact players was a huge need.
The 2009 Texas signing class:
QB Garrett Gilbert (Lake Travis) 6-4, 195
RB Chris Whaley (Madisonville) 6-3, 233
WR Greg Timmons (Aldine Eisenhower) 6-2, 198
TE Trey Graham (Waco Midway) 6-5, 235
TE/HB Barrett Matthews (North Shore) 6-1, 218
OT Mason Walters (Wolfforth Frenship) 6-6.5, 293
OG Thomas Ashcraft (Cedar Hill) 6-4.5, 300
OG Garrett Porter (Odessa Permian) 6-6, 305
OG Paden Kelley (Lake Travis) 6-6, 275
DT Calvin Howell (San Antonio Warren) 6-3, 280
DT Derek Johnson (Hoxie, AR) 6-2.5, 310
DT Kyle Kriegel (Elysian Fields) 6-5, 255
DE Alex Okafor (Pflugerville) 6-4.5, 232
DE Dominique Jones (Kilgore) 6-3, 231
DE Tevin Mims (Round Rock Stony Point) 6-3.5, 230
ILB Tariq Allen (Irving MacArthur) 6-1, 231
OLB Patrick Nkwopara (South Grand Prairie) 5-8.5, 202
S Marcus Davis (Clear Creek) 6-0, 193
S/CB Kenny Vaccaro (Early) 6-0, 190
CB Eyron Barnett (Euless Trinity) 6-2, 185