Thursday, February 14, 2013
Texas poised to take big 2014 class
By Max Olson
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas A&M was the talk of the state in 2013 with its 32-man recruiting class. Don’t be shocked if Texas comes close to those numbers with its 2014 class.
As always, it’s a matter of math. Texas, by rule, can sign no more than 50 recruits in any two-year period. The Longhorns inked 15 this year, so 35 is the absolute maximum for 2014.
Texas isn’t going for 35 this year. Its 2013 team will feature 15 seniors if Jordan Hicks is granted his medical redshirt. A full class of 25 signees is likely. But don’t rule out the possibility of 30.
Could Texas target another quarterback with Watch List signal-caller Jerrod Heard in the same class?
That’s because Texas should expect some attrition after spring practices end. Backups will transfer after younger players surpass them in the two-deep. Others will give up football and move on. It’s only natural at a big-time, competitive program.
That Texas had four early enrollees in its 2013 class and could have several more in this next one also gives Mack Brown and his staff flexibility when it comes to the numbers.
“When you look at what's important, the classes over the last three years have been very, very good as a group,” Mack Brown said last week. “It should give us a chance to have a really good football team next year.”
But what about the year after that? Despite those three strong classes, Texas will have depth issues that will have to get addressed with its next class. Here’s an early look at the Longhorns’ needs for 2014.
Texas has Jerrod Heard on board but will continue to scout out its options. Case McCoy graduates and it’s not unreasonable to expect either Connor Brewer or Jalen Overstreet to transfer sometime in the next 12 months if either gets buried in the depth chart.
Running back: 2-3
Not signing a back in 2013 makes this somewhat of a priority. Donald Catalon and Daniel Gresham are both important pickups and no member of the talented Texas backfield graduates after this season, but one more back would be good insurance.
Wide receiver: 3
With two early commits and only Mike Davis set to graduate after this season, Texas has to think it’s in good shape, especially if last season’s three freshman all stick around after 2013. The last-second addition of Montrel Meander means UT can get away with not taking four this time.
Tight end: 1-2
The Longhorns set out to sign two tight ends in 2012. Didn’t happen. Unless somebody like John Harris or Miles Onyegbule becomes a surprise contributor at this position, the depth is not great going forward.
Offensive line: 3-4
Texas has stockpiled a combined nine quality offensive linemen in its past two classes, so it can get away with a smaller number in 2014. Still, starters Mason Walters, Trey Hopkins and Donald Hawkins all graduate, so that will open up some spots.
Texas’ future looks bright with Desmond Jackson and Malcom Brown, and three redshirt freshman will be in the mix this spring, but the loss of A'Shawn Robinson made netting more than a few tackles in 2014 a bit of a must.
If Hicks does get his medical redshirt as expected, the Longhorns will be in great shape at linebacker going forward. Even with Demarco Cobbs graduating after this season, two more season of Hicks starting would give new signees Deoundrei Davis and Naashon Hughes more time to develop.
You have to account for the possibility that Quandre Diggs enters the draft early, and Carrington Byndom is a senior in 2013. No better time to need defensive backs than right now, because this 2014 class of prospects is ridiculously deep. Texas is in the mix for all the elite ones.
Likely starter Adrian Phillips is a senior in 2013. Beyond Mykkele Thompson and Josh Turner, there aren’t many proven commodities in the program. There are, however, several impressive options in the 2014 class.
Texas loses Anthony Fera to graduation, and he could be the starting punter in 2013. Still, Nick Jordan and Nick Rose are both young, and if the Longhorns do take any specialists it will be as preferred walk-ons.
After having to be stingy with scholarship offers while putting together a small 2013 class, Texas should have the freedom and flexibility now to pursue more prospects, make more offers and take more chances on prospects who might be considered risky or projects. Mack said it himself: Texas has built a strong foundation off its past three recruiting classes. This next one gives the Longhorns a chance to take another major step forward.