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Incoming impact countdown: Nos. 1-3

2/20/2014

Now that they’ve signed their letters of intent, Texas’ incoming recruits can officially toss their stars in the trash. They don’t matter now.

While such ratings and rankings are helpful throughout the recruiting process, they mean nothing once a kid sets foot on campus and joins the program.

Gold stars won’t decide who gets to play as a freshman. Preparation, fit, need, raw talent, confidence, some good fortune -- a whole lot of real stuff matters now. Which members of Texas’ 2014 class have a chance to help out the Longhorns from Day 1.

This week we broke down the Texas signees by their ability to make an early impact during their time on the 40 Acres, counting down from No. 23 to No. 1. Here are our final three.

3. LB Edwin Freeman

Arlington Bowie | 6-1, 215

2013: 101 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 12 TFLs, 5 forced fumbles, 3 pass breakups

When Freeman arrives at Texas, he’ll have to face a question that has followed him throughout his recruitment: Is he a safety or a linebacker? We say linebacker, because it seems like an obvious outcome for his growth, but the truth is the answer might be somewhere in the middle. Finding a more hybrid-type role might make sense here.

But regardless, Freeman has some nice tools and a real knack for stripping the ball, which will come in handy when competing with so many veteran Longhorn linebackers. Easy to see him getting his first shot as a special teams enforcer before moving up to bigger responsibilities. This was a big-time get for Charlie Strong and one who should pay dividends right away.

2. WR Armanti Foreman

Texas City | 6-0, 180

2013: 42 receptions, 750 receiving yards, 9 receiving TDs, 182 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD, 20 tackles, 6 interceptions, 3 INTs returning for TDs, 1 fumble recovery, 1 punt return TD

As you can see from the above résumé, Foreman is a young man of many talents. Getting him to stick with Texas and sign wasn’t an easy task for this new coaching staff, but he was worth the challenge. “Money,” as he calls himself, can change games in a variety of ways and was right up there with K.D. Cannon as one of the state’s most explosive receivers.

Whether he can put in the hard work required to see the field this fall is the real question. After his years of stardom in Texas City, it might take a bit of an attitude adjustment before Foreman earns the full trust of his coaches and gets his big break. But if you want someone capable of scoring at any moment, here’s your guy.

1. DE Derick Roberson

San Antonio Brennan | 6-3, 235

2013: 111 tackles, 20 sacks, 39 TFLs, 39 QB pressures, 4 pass deflections, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble

What a phenomenal senior season, which ended with a trip to the state title game against Jerrod Heard and Denton Guyer. Roberson played like an absolute freak, and it’s easy to see why he can be a pass-rushing specialist as a freshman who enters the game in opportune situations and creates havoc.

A skeptic might look at Roberson and believe a year in the weight program is a must if he wants to thrive early on. He’s going to grow into his big frame nicely in time under new strength coach Pat Moorer, and that growth will be a priority. There are promising options at defensive end alongside Cedric Reed, most notably Shiro Davis and the third-year guys from his class, but Roberson has proven he’ll be an instant impact talent. That’s why he’s No. 1 on our list.

The final list

1. DE Derick Roberson

2. WR Armanti Foreman

3. LB Edwin Freeman

4. DT Poona Ford

5. QB Jerrod Heard

6. RB Donald Catalon

7. CB Jermaine Roberts

8. WR Lorenzo Joe

9. TE Blake Whiteley

10. S John Bonney

11. LB Andrew Beck

12. LB Cameron Hampton

13. WR Garrett Gray

14. WR Dorian Leonard

15. OG Alex Anderson

16. C Terrell Cuney

17. ATH Roderick Bernard

18. DT Chris Nelson

19. DT Jake McMillon

20. S Jason Hall

21. RB D’Onta Foreman

22. OT Elijah Rodriguez

23. RB Kevin Shorter