Texas head football coach Charlie Strong has always been known as a defensive-minded coach. Prior to his stint as head coach at Louisville from 2010-2013, Strong served as an assistant or defensive coordinator since 1983, most notably as the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida from 2003-2009. At Florida, Strong boasted a large list of accomplishments, most notably producing 13 All-Americans and a National Defensive Player of the Year.
This defensive mindset held by Strong, has been reflected in his recruitment of the Class of 2015, most notably in his recruitment of the defensive backfield. Aside from quarterback Zach Gentry, the Longhorns top recruit from the Class of 2015 is safety DeShon Elliot. Elliot, from Rockwall-Heath High School in Heath, Texas, is the number five ranked safety prospect in the nation according to ESPN.com.
At 6-2, 205 pounds, Elliot is a physical safety who excels at covering larger receivers and stopping the run. Due to this, Elliot has been compared to former Longhorn and current Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, who was the number 14 pick in the 2010 NFL draft.
To play alongside Elliot, the Longhorns have eyed two cornerback recruits; Iman Marshall from Long Beach Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, California and Kendall Sheffield from Thurgood Marshall High School in Missouri City, Texas.
Both Marshall and Sheffield are highly touted prospects, with Marshall being the top ranked corner prospect and Sheffield being the third ranked corner prospect according to rivals.com. With both prospects being ranked so high, it may be difficult for the Longhorns to compete with top flight programs such as Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State. However, the background of Strong and the success of the Texas secondary in past years should place the Longhorns in the running for the two prospects, both of whom have NFL aspirations.
One key selling point for the Longhorns is their ability to get prospects to the NFL. In the case of Marshall and Sheffield, Texas provides a uniquely impressive pitch, as the program has produced five first-round draft picks in the defensive backfield since 2006, most recently safety Kenny Vaccaro, who was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 15th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Additionally, Strong produced seven first-round draft picks during his time as defensive coordinator at Florida, including cornerback Joe Haden, who was taken by the Cleveland Browns with the seventh pick in the 2010 draft.
The Class of 2015 is Strong’s first recruiting class and his first chance to mold the team in his image. Strong is a coach who preaches physically and defense, and with the addition of Elliot and possibly Marshall and Sheffield, the Longhorns look to be improving on just that.