- Carter Strickland, Reporter, HornsNation
Adrian Peterson was the prize of the state in 2004.
A sleek running back with power and agility from Palestine, Texas, Peterson was the type of player who could take a recruiting class from a top 20 ranking to a top 10.
Texas, like every other school, was desperate to get him. It never had a shot.
Peterson never made an official visit to Texas. Instead he went to Oklahoma and led them to the national title game as a freshman.
Texas, for the second year in a row signed a light class. Only 19 were inked. In fact, the Longhorns didn’t even entertain that many prospects. They used just 24 of the 56 official on-campus visits allowed by the NCAA.
What Texas did get was strong across the lines with two future NFL linemen -- Brian Orakpo and Frank Okam as well as one of the most productive receivers in Texas history, Jordan Shipley.
The one thing Texas failed to do was sign a quarterback. It had Vince Young, Chance Mock and Matt Nordgren in the fold. But neglecting to get a quarterback set the stage for some recruiting drama in 2005.
Biggest Get: Brian Orakpo
The defensive end wasn’t the most highly rated prospect in the class of 2004. That would go to defensive tackle Frank Okam. In fact, Orakpo considered himself weak when he arrived at Texas in 2004. He quickly set about to change all that. Orakpo added 50 pounds of muscle in his time at Texas. He also picked up a few honors along the way. The Lamar High (Houston) product won the Nagurski Trophy (nation's top defensive player), Lombardi Award (nation's top lineman) and Hendricks Award (nation's top defensive end).
He started 21 of his 47 games at Texas. At the end of his career he was selected 13th overall by Washington in the NFL Draft.
Most underrated: Jordan Shipley
The wide receiver appeared to be a bust. He was a Parade All-American out of tiny Burnet (Texas) High where he had been coached by his father, Bob. In his first two years at Texas, Shipley sat on the shelf. Knee injuries were the root of his problem.
By the end of his time at Texas, Shipley had earned what might be the most highly sought after nickname at Texas: “Sooner Killer.” In his four years against Oklahoma (2006-09), Texas went 3-1 and Shipley had 19 catches for 160 yards with three touchdowns plus the memorable 96-yard return for a touchdown in 2008.
Shipley finished his career with 248 receptions (No. 1 on UT's all-time list) for 3,191 yards (No. 2 on UT's all-time list). He is the only player in school history to catch 80 or more passes in two or more seasons. Shipley is also one of only two players in school history to register 1,000 or more receiving yards in two or more seasons.
Biggest Bust: Ramonce Taylor
Taylor was the other Lone Star State running back. The one not named Adrian Peterson. The one Texas could sign. But Texas never could figure out what to do with Belton (Texas) product.
He was an athlete coming out of high school. Texas thought he would be ideal to give Vince Young another weapon either running the ball out of the backfield or slipping into the flat for a pass.
Taylor wound up being more a receiver than running back. He never had a carry in his two years at Texas. As a sophomore he did catch 27 passes from Colt McCoy.
Taylor was charged with felony drug possession in the spring of his sophomore year and elected to transfer shortly thereafter.