The Longhorns signed 28 recruits on Wednesday and were able to fill nearly all of the holes Texas had in 2011. Here’s our grade report on Mack Brown’s 15th recruiting class at UT.
Quarterback: Connor Brewer, the No. 7 prospect at his position according to ESPNU, should immediately compete with David Ash and Case McCoy for the starting job. The Arizona native is enrolled at UT and will participate in spring practice. Brewer won three straight state titles at Chaparral High, where he completed 64 percent of his passes. He has a big arm and is an effective runner. Texas also signed Jalen Overstreet from Tatum, Texas. Overstreet is an explosive athlete and has the tools to possibly run the Wild formation.
Running Back: There aren’t a lot of players like Aledo, Texas’ Johnathan Gray, who holds the all-time national record for touchdowns at 205. Gray can turn any play into six points and blends speed and power with excellent vision and quickness. He was a durable running back in high school and should combine with rising sophomores Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron to form one of the nation’s best backfields for years to come. Gray led Aledo High School to three straight state titles and was the 2011-12 Gatorade National Player of the Year. He’s the only tailback to sign with UT, and Gray is also the nation’s best.
Wide Receiver: Texas whiffed on Dorial Green-Beckham, but local product Cayleb Jones leads this group of talented wideouts. Jones, from Austin High School, creates good separation from the defender when the ball is in flight and should be a legitimate downfield threat in co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin’s offense. Texas was thin at the position last season, but adding Jones, Athens, Texas’ Kendall Sanders and Daje Johnson from Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville gives UT some depth. Johnson can play multiple positions and could see time in the backfield and as a returner.
Tight End: The Longhorns did not sign a tight end and failed to address their issues at the position. Texas experimented with lineman Luke Poehlmann as a tight end last season and will move defensive tackle Greg Daniels to the position this year. The Longhorns had some production from the tight ends in 2011, but D.J. Grant has a history of injuries and has never been healthy for a full season. UT’s top priority for the 2013 class is to find a tight end that can block inside and set the edge.
Offensive Line: Texas added experience with this class thanks to junior college transfer Donald Hawkins, a left tackle. Camrhon Hughes from Harker Heights, Texas and Kennedy Estelle from Dawson High School in Pearland, Texas are each listed at 6-foot-7-inches and still have room to grow. DeSoto, Texas’ Curtis Riser is a force inside at guard and will help Texas become a power running team. The Longhorns got tougher under first-year offensive line coach Stacy Searels in 2011 and have the pieces in place to do the same again this year.
Defensive Tackle: Brenham’s Malcolm Brown is a force inside and can dominate the line of scrimmage. Brown is UT’s only five-star recruit on defense and should help fill the void left by Kheeston Randall’s graduation and Calvin Howell’s early departure. With Greg Daniels also leaving, look for Humble, Texas’ Paul Boyette Jr. to get some playing time as well. Texas was gashed inside last season, but Brown’s addition should help shore up the interior run defense.
Defensive End: Torshiro Davis, the Longhorns’ final recruit, gives UT another dangerous pass rusher off the edge. Davis switched his commitment from LSU to Texas on Wednesday. He wants a chance to showcase his pass rush against the pass-happy teams of the Big 12 and he should team with Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor to put a lot of heat on opposing quarterbacks. Fellow defensive end Bryce Cottrell was Jeffcoat’s teammate at Plano West. Mansfield, Texas’ Hassan Ridgeway is also a force on the edge. This unit is one of the deepest on the team.
Linebacker: Texas will be young at linebacker in 2012, but the additions of Brenham, Texas’ Timothy Cole and Peter Jinkens from Skyline High School in Dallas will make it a little easier to replace Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson. UT also got a late commitment from Van High School’s Dalton Santos, who is a big hitter. Another recruit, Alex de la Torre from Ryan High School in Denton, Texas brings leadership to the next wave of Texas backers. Cole and teammate Brown will give UT a strong inside presence for the next few seasons if they can duplicate their prep success.
Defensive Backs: The youngest group on defense added even more freshman talent with Bryson Echols from Desoto, Texas and Orlando “Duke” Thomas of Copperas Cove High School in Killeen, Texas, a speedy, hard-hitting duo. Kevin Vaccaro, the younger brother of starting safety Kenny Vaccaro, brings an old school toughness to the group. And Mineral Wells product Adrian Colbert can play both safety and corner. Give defensive backs coach Duane Akina a few years with this group and they’ll likely carry on the tradition of “DBU.”
Placekicker: Texas will hand its kickoff and field goal duties to Nick Jordan from Coppell, Texas. Jordan takes over for Justin Tucker but will not punt — that will be sophomore William Russ’ job.