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Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Texas instant impact recruits

By Max Olson

Here is a look at the top 10 Longhorns commits and targets who are capable of making the biggest impact in 2014:

1. CB Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen)
6-0, 188
ESPN 300 rank: 27

We’re putting Brown at the top of this list simply because of need. Texas CB Carrington Byndom is a senior, and fellow starter Quandre Diggs could have the chance to go pro early if he has a big junior season. That would give Brown, who plans to enroll early, a shot to play from day one if he ends up in Austin. Texas is battling LSU and several others for Brown’s pledge.

2. S Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron)
6-0, 199
ESPN 300 rank: 24

It’s anyone’s guess who -- between Florida, Texas and Texas A&M -- is currently in the lead for the elite defensive back, but the Longhorns have made Adams a priority, and he has the talent to get on the field right away as a freshman. Kenny Vaccaro graduated and Adrian Phillips will be a senior this fall, so Adams would be entering the program at an opportune time.

3. RB Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine)
6-1, 232
ESPN 300 rank: 1

He’d be higher on this list if Texas was more than a dark-horse candidate for the nation’s No. 1 prospect. The Longhorns have good depth at running back right now with Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron, but Fournette is an instant-impact player wherever he goes. LSU and Alabama are the favorites still, but Texas is in the mix for an official visit from Fournette.

4. DE Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell)
6-3, 256
ESPN 300 rank: 33

Texas already has two defensive end commits and could land another soon from Victor Evans (Dallas/Skyline), but the Longhorns covet Thomas and are holding a spot for him regardless. Texas has plenty of competition outside the state for Thomas, a top-five in-state prospect, but he could fill the void left by Jackson Jeffcoat and Reggie Wilson graduating and help Texas right away.

5. TE John Thomas (Bossier City, La./Trinity Valley C.C.)
6-6, 255
ESPN 300 rank: N/A

Texas has struggled to find and develop game-changing tight ends ever since Jermichael Finley left for the NFL. Thomas, a former LSU commit who the Longhorns plucked from the junior college ranks, just might be the solution. Texas doesn’t take juco transfers unless they can play right away, and they didn’t sign a tight end in last year’s class. Thomas has two seasons of eligibility and a chance to earn a big role.

6. DE Derick Roberson (San Antonio/Brennan)
6-4, 235
ESPN 300 rank: 79

Ever since Roberson committed to the Longhorns last August, he’s been told he’s going to have a chance to play right away as a freshman. The longtime commit is a big speed rusher with the talent to contribute early in his career, especially with Jeffcoat and Wilson departing. The highest ranked member of this Texas class is confident he’ll be ready to step up when he gets on campus.

7. CB Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/St. Augustine)
5-9, 166
ESPN 300 rank: 165

Texas secondary coach Duane Akina isn’t afraid to play defensive backs early in their careers if they have the requisite confidence to make plays. Roberts has that in spades and could play a number of roles for the Longhorns as a true freshman. He also scored five touchdowns on kickoff and punt returns as a junior.

8. QB Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer)
6-1, 193
ESPN 300 rank: 138

Heard should be higher on this list, right? It’s hard to say. He’s going to be groomed as the future of the program, its next great quarterback. But there’s a good chance that means a redshirt in 2014, especially if Tyrone Swoopes ends up contributing this fall. Heard will have a major impact at Texas, but it’s no sure thing that it will come as a true freshman.

9. WR Lorenzo Joe (Abilene, Texas/Cooper)
6-3, 196
ESPN 300 rank: 237

The Longhorns already have pledges from five wide receivers for their 2014 class, and Joe has the potential to be the best of the bunch -- even though he plays quarterback in high school. He’s a big-bodied, athletic and smart receiver, and those are the kind of traits you look for in an instant-impact wideout. It’s a class full of tall wideouts, and several could play early.

10. WR Roderick Bernard (Houston/Sharpstown)
5-10, 175
ESPN 300 rank: N/A

Bernard could end up being the surprise of the class. A prospect few had heard of before his commitment in January, he is the kind of weapon Texas covets for its up-tempo offense -- a speedster who can stretch the field and make plays in the open field. He showed at Texas' camp he’s the real deal. He’s small, yes, but don’t be shocked if he finds a niche role early in his career.