Texas Longhorns: Dan Buckner

Texas recruiting misses: 2008 

January, 28, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Recruiting is all about choices.

Some are good. Some are bad. And sometimes teams don’t even get a chance to make a choice. Players just want to go elsewhere.

With all that in mind, HornsNation decided to take a look at the top players in Texas, as rated by ESPN, who did go elsewhere – aka not the Texas program -- in the past five years. It’s a look back at what could have been.
Looking back at Texas' recent recruiting misses:

[+] EnlargeGarrett Gilbert
Brendan Maloney/US PresswireQuarterback Garrett Gilbert did not pan out at Texas and is now the signal-caller at SMU.
1. Garrett Gilbert, quarterback, 2009: He was the quarterback that everyone wanted and he was in Texas’ backyard. The Lake Travis (Texas) High school product got his first shot to shine in the national title game as a true freshman. While there were some positives, the four interceptions he threw were a sign of things to come. Taking over as the starter in 2010, Gilbert led Texas to a 5-7 season and threw 17 interceptions in the process. Gilbert started the first two games of 2011. He was benched after throwing his second interception in the second quarter against BYU. He soon announced that he would transfer, ending up at SMU.

2. Ramonce Taylor, running back, 2004: Taylor was the other state of Texas back in 2004. The one not named Adrian Peterson. The one Texas could sign. But Texas never could figure out what to do with Belton (Texas) product. He was an athlete coming out of high school. Texas thought he would be ideal to give Vince Young another weapon either running the ball out of the backfield or slipping into the flat for a pass.

He rushed for 797 yards and 13 touchdowns in his Texas career. And as a sophomore he did catch 27 passes from Colt McCoy.

But the police caught Taylor in the spring of his sophomore season and charged him with felony drug possession. Shortly thereafter he elected to transfer from Texas.

(Read full post)

Texas signed 39 recruits in 2008 and 2009. Only 19 of those players made it through four years of football.

"Lot of guys didn't last in our class," senior safety Kenny Vaccaro said. "We're the proud few."

Those few -- there are 10 scholarship seniors on the roster with one, Alex King, being a transfer from Duke -- will take place in senior night tonight.

"The thing we've always said is, 'There's so much emotion. Try to keep your emotion intact and enjoy the game and play well in the ballgame. And then if you're going to cry, cry afterwards because you won. Cry because you're happy and it's your last home game,' " said Texas coach Mack Brown.

There might be a few tears shed for those players signed in 2008 or ’09 that didn’t pan out at Texas. That list includes ESPN 150 players Garrett Gilbert, Marcus Davis, Tariq Allen, Paden Kelly, Dan Buckner, Jarvis Humphrey and DeSean Hales. That’s seven ESPN 150 players Texas lost from those two signing classes for one reason or another. To put that in perspective TCU, Texas’ opponent, has only signed three ESPN 150 players since 2008.
All those fingers pointing at Bryan Harsin, Case McCoy and Davis Ash should stop and aim their pointers back at the recruiting class of 2008.

[+] EnlargeBlake Gideon
AP Photo/Charlie NeibergallBlake Gideon turned out to be one of the more consistent players from Texas' 2008 recruiting class.
That is where Texas’ failings at quarterback started. The Longhorns, who signed just 20 players in 2008, failed to sign a quarterback that year. And there were a few top prospects available in the state of Texas including Andrew Luck (Houston, Stratford), Robert Griffin III (Copperas Cove, Texas/Copperas Cove) Darron Thomas (Houston/Aldine), Kelly Page (Sunnyvale, Texas/Mesquite) and Taylor Cook (Eagle Lake, Texas/Rice).

That Texas didn’t even pursue Luck is still a sore point with many Texas faithful. That Texas is still searching for a replacement for Colt McCoy is just salt in the wound.

If Texas would have snagged just one of those guys -- even the latter two who signed with Ball State and Miami (Ohio), respectively -- it might have had a suitable backup when McCoy left. Someone who could hold things over while Garrett Gilbert redshirted, matured, learned the offense and possibly lived up to his potential.

But instead Texas chose not to take a quarterback because, even at that early stage, it had its eyes on Gilbert. It might be the biggest recruiting mistake of Mack Brown’s 14 years at Texas.

There were a few other mistakes in the class of 2008 just as there are in every class. Of the 20 signed, half became solid contributors and a few, Emmanuel Acho, Aaron Williams, David Snow, Blake Gideon and Justin Tucker became difference makers.

Most underrated: Blake Gideon
Even after starting every game of his Texas career, Gideon is a lightening rod for criticism. Sure, there were some miscues, but Gideon still was a starter on two teams that went 25-2 in his first two seasons. In his last two years he was part of a defense that ranked in the top 11 nationally in total defense in both seasons. The Leander product had 276 tackles (166 solo), 10 INTs, 20 PBU, two sacks, eight TFL, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a blocked punt in his career.

Biggest Get: David Snow
This was an underwhelming class by Texas’ standards. There were no true standouts, except for maybe D.J. Grant. But even the tight end wasn’t heralded as a difference maker.


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Texas QBs catching too much heat

January, 18, 2012
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Texas has struggled for two seasons, winning just 13 combined games when it had won 10 in nine consecutive seasons before it.

The Longhorns put their hopes in the Garrett Gilbert basket on the recruiting trail, but when Gilbert struggled in 2010 and was benched in 2011, they were left without a big-time prospect.

But has too much blame gone to the quarterbacks? They have the ball in their hands the most, but Gilbert hasn't gotten much help from his receivers.

Texas has recruited some of the nation's best over the past few years, and here's a look at how they shook out:

2008 (three ESPNU 150 receivers):
  • D.J. Grant: Grant, an Austin native, was the nation's No. 5 receiver and the best signee in the 2008 class. He moved to tight end this year after missing the 2009 and 2010 seasons with a knee injury and redshirted in 2008. He caught 13 passes for 143 yards and a team-high three touchdowns this year.
  • Dan Buckner: Buckner was the nation's No. 6 receiver, and caught 45 passes for 442 yards in Colt McCoy's senior season back in 2009, but transferred to Arizona after the season. He caught 42 passes for 606 yards and two scores for the Wildcats this year.
  • DeSean Hales: Hales was No. 95 in the ESPNU 150 and the nation's No. 17 receiver, and caught 10 passes in 2010 before catching one pass in 2011.
2009
  • Only receiver signee was Greg Timmons, who never made a catch and left the program before 2011.
2010 (Three ESPNU 150 receivers)
  • Mike Davis: Davis was the team's leading receiver in 2011 (45 rec., 609 yards, TD) after being No. 2 in 2010 with 47 catches for 479 yards.
  • Darius White: White had six catches for 71 yards in two seasons at Texas. He left the team after 2011 and plans to transfer to Missouri.
  • Chris Jones: Redshirted in 2010 before transferring in November, during the 2011 season.
2011
  • No ESPNU 150 signees but four-star recruit Jaxon Shipley emerged as one of the team's best weapons before suffering a knee injury that slowed his progress and caused him to miss three games. He finished with 44 catches for 607 yards.
  • Miles Onyegbule also caught four passes for 51 yards.

So, there you have it.

Six top-flight recruits. Zero impact players among them. Shipley looks the part of future star, and Davis did as a true freshman, but he didn't show a ton of improvement in 2011.

The quarterback play has a lot to do with it, but Texas has swung and missed on so many receivers along the recruiting trail in recent years, perhaps the blame has fallen too heavily on the quarterbacks' shoulders.

Texas lost ESPNU 150 member Thomas Johnson, and has just one receiver committed for the 2012 class, which will sign letters of intent on Feb. 1. Johnson was the nation's No. 4 wide receiver, but he's not coming. Texas is still chasing the nation's No. 1 receiver, Dorial Green-Beckham, but it seems Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri have the inside track in that race.

In 2012, ESPNU 150 recruit Cayleb Jones is set to join the Longhorns. He's the nation's No. 3 receiver.

Marcus Johnson, the nation's No. 79 receiver, and Kendall Sanders are the only other players signed up to come to Austin and play receiver in 2012. Sanders is rated as the nation's No. 10 cornerback.

Can they change the trend?

Cast blame for the receiving troubles wherever you'd like: Coaches' development, poor recruiting evaluation, poor work ethic by the receivers. You could probably come up with a few more.

But it's clear that quarterbacks haven't been the only problem at Texas the past two years.

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