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Friday, February 15, 2013
Roundtable: Texas' biggest needs for 2014

By Max Olson and William Wilkerson

Every Friday, HornsNation recruiting writers William Wilkerson and Max Olson answer a question about the Longhorns.

This week’s question: Which position is Texas’ biggest need for its 2014 class?

William Wilkerson: This comes down to a few positions for me.

Jamal Adams
Watch List defensive back Jamal Adams will be at Texas junior day on Feb. 23.
Cornerback is one of them due to the fact that Quandre Diggs could possibly enter the NFL draft early and Carrington Byndom will be a senior in 2013.

Duke Thomas looks like he’ll have a promising future, as does Bryson Echols and freshly signed U.S. Army All-American Antwuan Davis. But you just never know.

Texas has aligned itself in decent positions with several of the top cornerbacks in the state, which is as deep a class at this position as I can remember.

The Longhorns seem to be in good shape with Darrion Johnson (Brenham, Texas/Brenham) and Nick Watkins (Dallas, Texas/Bishop Dunne). And while Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) and Ed Paris (Arlington, Texas/Timberview) seem to be long shots, they did spend Sunday in Austin at Texas’ junior day.

Defensive end is another position that I think is of supreme importance in 2014 given the loss of Jackson Jeffcoat and Reggie Wilson that will occur after 2013. Shiro Davis, Caleb Bluiett, Bryce Cottrell and Hassan Ridgeway give the Longhorns numbers but not much experience.

Texas has already offered seven DEs with one commitment in Derick Roberson. It is in hot pursuit of Solomon Thomas and Jarrett Johnson.

All that said, I’m not going with cornerback or defensive end here. Instead I’m going defensive tackle.

Desmond Jackson and Malcom Brown are fantastic players in the middle of that line. Ridgeway could slide inside to give them another body in the future and I think Alex Norman will work his way into the mix at some point.

But losing A'Shawn Robinson to Alabama and not getting Andrew Billings, who chose Baylor, put DT at the top of the list. Question is: Who are Texas’ top targets?

The Longhorns haven’t offered anyone in 2014 yet, though Daylon Mack has one for 2015. But someone like Zaycoven Henderson could get one at junior day on Feb. 23. He was the most dominant interior linemen at the Next Level Athlete camp in Lancaster a few weeks ago.

Max Olson: William is right. With six offensive recruits already committed and a new boatload of mammoth, quick offensive linemen arriving in Austin this summer, you have to look at the defensive side of the ball as the priority at the moment.

This defensive backs class is tremendous. We’ve been saying that for, what, a year now? I agree that the Longhorns appear to be in good shape for several big names there -- Johnson, Watkins, Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) -- but in a weird way you have to admit Texas would still be in fine shape if they don’t get the superstars like Brown and Paris.

Veteran secondary coach Duane Akina is a pro at turning kids of all shapes, sizes and star ratings into top Texas corners and safeties. Not trying to spout sunshine here, but Akina’s track record suggests whoever Texas takes in this class will be highly coachable with strong potential. So you don’t need to worry about those spots as much.

The defensive tackle depth in the next few years is somewhat of a concern, but I’m going with the defensive ends today.

The days of Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat lining up together as bookends are over, and those days may have spoiled Texas fans. Jeffcoat is back, but in setting his expectations for 2013 it’s hard to overlook the ailments he’s dealt with the past two seasons. After this season, he and Reggie Wilson both depart.

That leaves Cedric Reed and … well, somebody has to establish himself. The safe bet is Shiro Davis, and I’m intrigued to see how the long, lean speed rusher transforms with another year in Texas’ weight training program.

Texas has a very real chance of solving any questions at defensive end with a stunning haul in 2014: Derick Roberson, Solomon Thomas and Jarrett Johnson.

Roberson is already in the class, but the UT staff could face a serious fight for him in the next year. Thomas has plenty of love for programs on the West Coast, but Texas has to like its chances with the Coppell, Texas, star now. Same goes for Johnson, a Katy (Texas) Seven Lakes end who picked up Oklahoma and Texas A&M offers on Thursday and is becoming one of the hotter names in the Houston area right now.

There’s other intriguing names out there, but these are the three Texas ought to focus on. Lock them up and Texas' pass-rushing future starts looking awful bright.