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Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Four downs: Expect a big year from Gray

By Sean Adams

Each week Sean Adams looks at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Longhorns in the NFL draft

Marquise Goodwin
Former Texas receiver Marquise Goodwin ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the 2013 NFL combine.
I never understand the NFL Combine. I understand how receiver Marquise Goodwin probably made some money with his 4.27 40-yard dash. I also wonder how Texas did not get him the ball a lot more. I understand how Kenny Vaccaro did not hurt himself at the combine and still will find himself in the middle of the first round. He could creep up toward the top 10 with a good performance at Texas pro day. I even understand how Alex Okafor not working out at the NFL Combine could hurt him down the line especially if he does not have a great workout at pro day.

Texas has struggled in the NFL draft lately but the 2013 draft could start a fairly good run of Texas sending players to the NFL again. The Longhorns could make a serious run over the next few years at offensive line, receiver, defensive line, defensive back, linebacker and running back. I think I listed every single position group save for quarterback.

Yes, the Longhorns are that talented.

Second down: The more things change, yeah, they really change ...

Texas, as far as recruiting, is in uncharted waters. It is giving out offers earlier in the recruiting process than it ever has. The Longhorns are hosting junior days and not receiving commitments. That is how much the times have changed for the once recruiting bullies in burnt orange.

It is a dangerous slope to be on thinking that Texas is far away from being back in the top five in recruiting and back in the top 10 as a football program.

There is no doubt about it that the Texas staff will have to work more and work differently than they ever have before. South Florida has has now hired a director of player personnel. Texas still does not have one (though a job posting has been made). Texas might be taking its time, but in this current climate recruiting the best of the best might take a lot more than it did over the course of the last decade.

Texas has wonderful facilities, incredible tradition, a huge brand and more resources that any other program in the country. The Longhorns better figure out how to leverage those resources if they plan get back to mountaintop anytime soon.

Third down: Gray is big in 2013

I love Texas' three running backs. Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron all bring something different to the table and all have had a measure of success.

With that said, there are going to be some tough conversations to be had over the next few months as the Texas offensive staff figures out how many carries it will have on offense and how those carries will be distributed among the three backs.

I expect Gray to have a huge year. I was posed a question on whether Gray would be over or under 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns. At first I thought under on the yards and over on the touchdowns. As I have gotten away from the question I believe he will go over on both.

Unless Gray is hurt or loses time for some other reason I would expect him to have around 1,400 yards and 13 TDs. His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield will do nothing but increase those numbers.

Fourth Down: Around the Big 12

Oklahoma State is the team that nobody is talking about. I have talked a lot about Texas probably returning the best team in 2013. I have talked about TCU and the really good team it can have, especially if it can work the quarterback position with the return of Casey Pachall.

Oklahoma State will have a very efficient offense and a solid defense and with the questions surrounding the Big 12, expect the Cowboys to make some noise.

For the first time in a long time there will not be huge expectations for Oklahoma. The Sooners will probably enter the Big 12 picked to finish third or fourth in the conference. Bob Stoops needs to have a big year in 2013 as well.

Are the tides turning in the Big 12?