Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Texas Longhorns [Print without images]

Friday, February 21, 2014
Incoming impact countdown: Nos. 1-3

By Max Olson

Now that they’ve signed their letters of intent, Texas’ incoming recruits can officially toss their stars in the trash. They don’t matter now.

While such ratings and rankings are helpful throughout the recruiting process, they mean nothing once a kid sets foot on campus and joins the program.

Gold stars won’t decide who gets to play as a freshman. Preparation, fit, need, raw talent, confidence, some good fortune -- a whole lot of real stuff matters now. Which members of Texas’ 2014 class have a chance to help out the Longhorns from Day 1.

This week we broke down the Texas signees by their ability to make an early impact during their time on the 40 Acres, counting down from No. 23 to No. 1. Here are our final three.

Edwin Freeman
Edwin Freeman should make an immediate impact on Texas' defense.
3. LB Edwin Freeman
Arlington Bowie | 6-1, 215


2013: 101 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 12 TFLs, 5 forced fumbles, 3 pass breakups

When Freeman arrives at Texas, he’ll have to face a question that has followed him throughout his recruitment: Is he a safety or a linebacker? We say linebacker, because it seems like an obvious outcome for his growth, but the truth is the answer might be somewhere in the middle. Finding a more hybrid-type role might make sense here.

But regardless, Freeman has some nice tools and a real knack for stripping the ball, which will come in handy when competing with so many veteran Longhorn linebackers. Easy to see him getting his first shot as a special teams enforcer before moving up to bigger responsibilities. This was a big-time get for Charlie Strong and one who should pay dividends right away.

2. WR Armanti Foreman
Texas City | 6-0, 180

2013: 42 receptions, 750 receiving yards, 9 receiving TDs, 182 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD, 20 tackles, 6 interceptions, 3 INTs returning for TDs, 1 fumble recovery, 1 punt return TD

As you can see from the above résumé, Foreman is a young man of many talents. Getting him to stick with Texas and sign wasn’t an easy task for this new coaching staff, but he was worth the challenge. “Money,” as he calls himself, can change games in a variety of ways and was right up there with K.D. Cannon as one of the state’s most explosive receivers.

Whether he can put in the hard work required to see the field this fall is the real question. After his years of stardom in Texas City, it might take a bit of an attitude adjustment before Foreman earns the full trust of his coaches and gets his big break. But if you want someone capable of scoring at any moment, here’s your guy.

1. DE Derick Roberson
San Antonio Brennan | 6-3, 235


2013: 111 tackles, 20 sacks, 39 TFLs, 39 QB pressures, 4 pass deflections, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble

What a phenomenal senior season, which ended with a trip to the state title game against Jerrod Heard and Denton Guyer. Roberson played like an absolute freak, and it’s easy to see why he can be a pass-rushing specialist as a freshman who enters the game in opportune situations and creates havoc.

A skeptic might look at Roberson and believe a year in the weight program is a must if he wants to thrive early on. He’s going to grow into his big frame nicely in time under new strength coach Pat Moorer, and that growth will be a priority. There are promising options at defensive end alongside Cedric Reed, most notably Shiro Davis and the third-year guys from his class, but Roberson has proven he’ll be an instant impact talent. That’s why he’s No. 1 on our list.

The final list

1. DE Derick Roberson
2. WR Armanti Foreman
3. LB Edwin Freeman
4. DT Poona Ford
5. QB Jerrod Heard
6. RB Donald Catalon
7. CB Jermaine Roberts
8. WR Lorenzo Joe
9. TE Blake Whiteley
10. S John Bonney
11. LB Andrew Beck
12. LB Cameron Hampton
13. WR Garrett Gray
14. WR Dorian Leonard
15. OG Alex Anderson
16. C Terrell Cuney
17. ATH Roderick Bernard
18. DT Chris Nelson
19. DT Jake McMillon
20. S Jason Hall
21. RB D’Onta Foreman
22. OT Elijah Rodriguez
23. RB Kevin Shorter