Kent Perkins

Stock Up: Jordan Hicks

Fifth-year senior linebacker Jordan Hicks, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week, was dominant against Kansas, recording 15 sacks and an interception. Even he acknowledged that it was probably the best game of his career. He is leading a Texas defense that is 11th in the nation in tackles for loss and eighth in sacks. This week will be a bigger challenge as he will have his hands full with Baylor’s big offensive line, which is just one of two lines in the nation that has yet to allow a single quarterback sack this year. But with Baylor’s dynamic passing game lurking behind the line, Hicks will need to put pressure on redshirt senior quarterback Bryce Petty to keep him out of his rhythm, so look for Hicks to really push the issue up front.

Stock Down: Kent Perkins

With all the injuries, suspensions and dismissals on the offensive line, sophomore Kent Perkins made the transition to tackle. With Baylor’s defensive line playing incredibly well, albeit against sub-par teams, Perkins may struggle Saturday. Baylor is fifth in the nation in tackles for loss and second in sacks. That’s not a good sign for a line that has replacements all over, and Perkins may take the bulk of the blame
this weekend.

Stock Up: Duke Thomas

After spending a week on the wrong end of this list, junior cornerback Duke Thomas came back with arguably the best game of his career against Kansas. With Quandre Diggs on the other side, Kansas tried to pick on Thomas, who was torched for a game-winning touchdown against UCLA the game prior. But Thomas was up to the challenge, recording two interceptions and helping Texas record its first shutout since early 2012. With Baylor’s top offense coming into town this week, Thomas will certainly give up more catches and won’t have nearly as clean of a game. But, if he can slow them down even a little and make a play here and there, it could give Texas a chance. If there’s one game where it helps to come in with confidence, this week’s would be the one.

Stock Down: Malcolm Brown

Since his two touchdown performance against North Texas to start the season, Brown has been inefficient. He’s averaging less than 48 yards per game while being a non-factor in the passing game. When former quarterback David Ash went out, many looked to the former five-star recruit to carry the offense, but he hasn’t lived up to the expectations. Part of the reason for his inefficiency is the rebuilt offensive line, which has struggled to get a push. Unfortunately for Brown, the offensive line isn’t going to turn it around overnight, and, with Baylor’s sixth-ranked run defense coming into town, things do not look bright for Brown at this point.

Four years from now, the nine newest members of the Texas offense will have time to consider their first seasons as Longhorns.

They will be able to think back on each game, each practice, each rep and recreate all the things they did, or perhaps didn’t do.

At this point it’s difficult to say how those memories will go, but at least one of those eight feels optimistic about them.

“People will say we accomplished everything we said we would,” Cypress Falls wide receiver and Texas verbal commitment Jacorey Warrick said. “Hopefully a Big 12 Championship, national championship and a degree from UT.”

Warrick has big plans for the offensive component of the class of 2013, which includes fellow wide receivers Jake Oliver and Montrel Meander, tight end Geoff Swaim, guard Rami Hammad, center Darius James, offensive tackles Desmond Harrison and Kent Perkins and quarterback Tyrone Swoopes.

Though Swoopes may have grabbed headlines during the season with his running ability, the class’ offensive linemen are its anchor. James, Perkins and Hammad are all rated as the best players in Texas at their respective positions by rivals.com, and Harrison should play immediately.

James missed most of his senior season with a broken foot, but still played in the Under Armour All-America Game. Though he impressed scouts and coaches, James’ most ardent supporter is his own future teammate on the offensive line.

“Darius could make the biggest impact out of anyone in this class,” Hammad said.

Hammad was not offered a scholarship by Texas until his performance at the Semper Fi All-Star Game in January, but nonetheless has some lofty expectations.

“We’ve all got one goal, and that’s to win a national title,” Hammad said. “Not nine or 10 games, but a national title.” 

For his expectations to become a reality, Hammad will need plenty of help from Perkins, another member of what he calls “the best [offensive line] class in the country.”

Perkins participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and impressed observers more with his intangibles, rather than his physical performance.

According to rivals.com, Perkins readily played center during the AAA Bowl, despite not having snapped a ball since middle school. Perkins says he will do whatever the team needs in order for it to be successful.

“I’m looking forward to being part of the team. I’m ready for [Texas] to be good again,” Perkins said.

Shoring up an offensive line is a good start, but this year’s class won’t be judged just by what happens in the trenches.

Receivers Warrick and Oliver, though vastly dissimilar in styles, will be crucial in ensuring the success of the class.

Boasting a 6-foot-4-inch, 194-pound frame and a resume that includes leading the state of Texas in career receptions, Oliver has the tools and skills to be successful immediately.

“Obviously, Jake Oliver is going to play right away,” Mike Farrell, rivals.com national recruiting analyst, said.

Warrick, meanwhile, could have an equal impact on the outside or in the kicking game, but clocks in at 5 feet 10 inches tall and 168 pounds. A shifty receiver who models his game after former West Virginia wideout Tavon Austin, Warrick suffered a meniscus tear in October that ended his senior season.

“I’m not the biggest guy, but I can hold my own,” Warrick said.

He won’t have much of a choice. With only nine members, this offensive class will need contributions from everyone to be a success.

To hear them tell it though, there’s not much chance of doing otherwise.

Illustrations by Colin Zelinski.

At the start of the 2013 recruiting cycle, Mack Brown and company knew they needed a ton of help in this class. And they got it. Almost.

1,810 pounds will have to do.

That’s the combined weight of the six 2013 linemen who have verbally committed to Texas: defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, defensive end Jake Raulerson, center Darius James, offensive tackle Kent Perkins, offensive tackle Desmond Harrison and guard Rami Hammad.

Those six will throw their weight around with the other 14 offensive lineman and 15 defensive linemen on scholarship for the 2013 season.

Consequently, it may be a while before some members of the incoming class get the chance to carry their share of the load. Even though Hammad, Robinson, James, Perkins and Raulerson are all listed by rivals.com as the best prospects in Texas at their respective positions, their playing time could be scarce.

The Texas lines are packed with more experienced commodities (the only starter Texas will lose from either line is defensive end Alex Okafor), and acclimating the incoming freshmen to the speed of the college game will take time. Hammad, James, and Perkins especially are early candidates for redshirts.    

Harrison, however, is a notable exception. A junior college transfer, Harrison has only two years of eligibility left and is under pressure to make an immediate impact. Although he may not be a starter from Day One (like fellow junior college transfer Donald Hawkins), Harrison should provide valuable depth at both tackle positions.

Although Harrison’s niche is already well established, the same cannot be said for the class’ two defensive linemen, Robinson and Raulerson.

Robinson could be the cream of the crop in their class if he indeed makes it to Austin. Even though he has been committed to Texas since Feb. 16 of last year, Robinson has taken official visits to Southern California, Florida State and as of last weekend, Alabama.

If he signs with Texas on Feb. 6, he has the talent to find playing time in a crowded Longhorn defensive front. Rated by rivals.com as the best prospect in Texas, Robinson could cause just as much disruption as Malcolm Brown or Brandon Moore did in their first years at Texas.

Alternatively, Raulerson has been committed to Texas longer than any other member of the 2013 class. He is already taking classes at UT and will participate in Spring Practice. Unlike Robinson, Raulerson’s future as a Longhorn is secure; what role he will play is murkier.

Raulerson is listed by Texas as a defensive end, but he played offensive tackle throughout high school. At 6 feet 5 inches and 262 pounds, Raulerson would need to put on considerable weight to be effective at that position at this level.

As an early enrollee, Raulerson will have a head start on learning the system as well as access to Texas’ strength and conditioning program. Even so, with all the returning talent on the defensive line, Raulerson will have to make quite an impression to avoid a redshirt position in his first season.

Although it’s always difficult to project a recruit’s impact, this is particularly true with linemen. Discerning how a recruit will develop both physically and mentally is a tricky business.

Still, the potential for this group to be a force in the Texas trenches is real. And while that opportunity may still be a few years off, the Longhorns should be optimistic about the big things coming to Austin.

This season, Texas’ offense was not one of the team’s strong points. With the twelve prospects the class of 2013 already has, it looks like that may change.

Harker Heights’ Darius James attended Texas’ first junior day on Feb. 12 and was the first offensive lineman to receive an offer. At 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds, he is one of the top linemen in the state and received offers from Baylor, LSU, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

He is the team’s eighth offensive commitment and is extremely versatile. He can play guard, center and even nose tackle. James cancelled his planned trip to Oklahoma before making his decision to play at Texas.

Richardson tackle Kent Perkins was the first offensive lineman to commit.

James is Harker Heights’ second player to commit to Texas this year. His teammate linebacker Naashon Hughes agreed to grayshirt if he was not offered a scholarship. Camrhon Hughes, Naashon’s brother, is currently an offensive tackle for Texas.

James is ranked as the top center prospect in the country by 247Sports and he could be the final offensive lineman recruited for the class of 2013. He is ranked as a four-star prospect by Hookem.com and he earned All-Central Texas honors this past season.

He joins offensive commitments wide receiver Jake Oliver, quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, lineman Jake Raulerson, running back Kyle Hicks, receiver Ricky Seals-Jones, receiver Jacorey Warrick and lineman Kent Perkins.

This recruiting class is continuing to grow with more impressive athletes. He is the seventh member of the Rivals100 to commit to Texas.

James made the decision to come to Austin and tell Texas coaches in person about his decision. In an interview with Burnt Orange Nation, James said he felt at home at Texas.

“I love everything about Texas,” James said. “There is no downfall to it. I just love Texas. It’s a big relief.”

Published on Tuesday, March 6, 2012 as: Harker Darius James becomes Horns 12th commit