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Friday, November 30, 2012
Roundtable: Texas' next safety target?

By Max Olson and William Wilkerson

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

This week's question: What does Texas do at safety now that it missed on Marcell Harris?

Shaquille Fluker
George safety commit Shaquille Fluker is taking an official visit to Texas next month.
Max Olson: Marcell Harris would’ve been one of the dream gets for this Texas recruiting class. Now it’s time to start thinking realistically.

No doubt about it, Texas did the best it could to try to win over the Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips standout. Getting an elite prospect from Florida to take three campus visits -- two of them out of his own pocket -- to Austin is about as good a shot as Texas could’ve asked for.

But now that Harris is a Gator, the fact remains UT is in need of a difference-maker at the safety position.

If you thought the loss of Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson made Texas’ linebackers look bad to start off this season, imagine the struggles the Longhorns’ returning safeties could face in 2013.

There’s just no replacing Kenny Vaccaro and all the things he brings to this defense. The physical, versatile Harris certainly could’ve helped.

On a 2013 defense that brings back veteran experience at nearly every position, the safety position appears to be the only question mark. Adrian Phillips, Mykkele Thompson and Josh Turner have all earned significant playing time but endured more than their fair share of ups and downs.

Behind them, Sheroid Evans, Adrian Colbert and Kevin Vaccaro haven’t proven much. Hard to know if they’re the answer.

You also don’t know what commit Erik Huhn can provide after recovering from a torn ACL, or where Chevoski Collins will start off his career. Another answer is undoubtedly needed.

Color me intrigued by the possibility of Georgia commit Shaquille Fluker, a junior college prospect who recently picked up a UT offer. I wouldn’t be surprised if more juco prospects get targeted in the next few months. A quick fix might be the best solution.

Best case, a junior college transfer comes in and takes over the job. And if he can’t earn a spot in the starting 11, at the very least he can push someone else to make the leap and earn that role. Going the juco route is, to me, the best way to solve the Vaccaro void.

William Wilkerson: Print out a list of the names of Georgia’s 2013 commitments and highlight each of the four other safeties the Dawgs have coming in.

And put a star next to fellow juco safety commitment Kennar Johnson (Clermont, Fla./Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College), who should be ready to play right away.

Then ask new Texas offer Shaquille Fluker (Meridian, Miss./East Mississippi Community College) if he would rather deal with that, including Tray Matthews, the No. 10 safety in the country, or ...

Follow that up by handing him a print out of Texas’ 2013 class and its lone safety commitment Erik Huhn (Cibolo, Texas/Steele), who unfortunately tore his ACL in the first game of the season.

Then take it a step further and print out a list of the safeties already on the roster – Adrian Phillips, Mykkele Thompson and Josh Turner – accompanied by their stats (highlighting missed tackles) and ask him if he’d rather compete against this.

In Georgia’s defense it is losing its starting strong safety (Shawn Williams) and free safety (Bacarri Rambo). But it seems to have more to work with in terms of its options coming in and left over from the team playing Alabama in the SEC championship on Saturday.

Once Fluker gets to Austin on Dec. 7 you sell the heck out of early playing time to him. No player wants to wait to play, especially juco kids. Use Donald Hawkins and Brandon Moore as perfect examples of the type of immediate impact juco players can have at Texas.

Then you cross your fingers, toes if you can, and hope Fluker decides to leave SEC country, which is all he’s ever known, for Austin.

After that you stay on 2014 safeties Jamal Adams and Edwin Freeman like there’s no tomorrow to assure that you aren’t having to chase a safety committed elsewhere late in the process for the third consecutive year (did so with Adrian Colbert in 2012; was once a Baylor commitment).