February 12, 2008

Breaking down UT's recruiting

After landing seven commitments in less than one week, the Texas Longhorns could be nearly half way through their 2009 recruiting class. But, what do the commitments mean and what remaining needs does Mack Brown and the rest of the Texas staff still have. Here's an exclusive position-by-position breakdown of what needs the Longhorns have in the 2009 recruiting year.

Quarterbacks

Players currently on scholarship: Colt McCoy (2009), Sherrod Harris (2010), John Chiles (2010) and G.J. Kinne (2011)

Needs for this year: One

Current commitments: (1) Austin Lake Travis' Garrett Gilbert

Players still on the radar: None.

Overview: We might not have learned much over the weekend, but we certainly learned that the Longhorns have already put a ribbon and bow on their 2009 quarterback recruiting with a commitment from five-star prospect Gilbert. With four current scholarships already owned by players at the position and with all four slated to be in the program through the 2009 season there's not a great need for numbers, which is why the Longhorns told Houston Cy Ridge's Russell Shepard that they planned on offering him as an athlete. For all of the discussion that's going to take place in the next year about the way the Longhorns have attacked their needs at this position, it's important to note that the staff got the guy in Gilbert that they felt was a must-have for the future. The Longhorns haven't landed a five-star commitment from a quarterback that has actually stuck on signing day since Vince Young in 2002, which makes Gilbert's commitment one of the most important in Mack Brown's tenure in Austin.

Current recruiting grade: A+

Running backs

Players currently on scholarship: Chris Ogbonnaya (2008), Nic Redwine (2008), Vondrell McGee (2010), Antwan Cobb (2010), Cody Johnson (2011), Foswhitt Whittaker (2011), Jeremy Hills (2011), Tre Newton (2011) and Ryan Roberson

Needs for this year: One or two

Current commitments: (1) Madisonville's Chris Whaley

Players still on the radar: Navasota's Dexter Pratt, Plano's Rex Burkhead, Garland Naaman Forest's Jonathan Miller, Beaumont Westbrook's Christian Michael and Austin Westlake's Ryan Swope

Overview: Mack Brown and the rest of the Texas staff have coveted Whaley for two years and they privately rate him as high as any single player in the state of Texas for 2009, so landing an early commitment from him is a major coup. If you look at the numbers at the position, the Longhorns appear to be set for a number of years to come with five tailback prospects and two fullback prospects scheduled to be on the roster through at least the 2010 season. If there's one thing the Longhorns still need at the position, it's a raw game-breaker - someone that can go the distance every time he touches the ball. If the Longhorns take another running back, it'll likely be someone that fits that bill.

Current recruiting grade: A

Wide receivers

Players currently on scholarship: Quan Cosby (2008), Jordan Shipley (2008), Montre Webber (2010), Phillip Payne (2010), Brandon Collins (2010), James Kirkendoll (2010), Malcolm Williams (2011), Dan Buckner (2011), Brock Fitzhenry (2011), D.J. Grant (2011), DeSean Hales (2011) and Antoine Hicks (2011)

Needs for this year: One or two

Current commitments: (1) Aldine Eisenhower's Greg Timmons

Players still on the radar: Houston Cy Ridge's Russell Shepard and Austin High's Emory Blake

Overview: In case you lost count after last year's crop of wide receivers, the Longhorns currently have 10 players on the roster at the wide receiver position that will be on campus through the 2010 season. For those not quite understanding the math, that is a lot of wide receivers to have on the roster at one time. When you then consider that Shipley will likely be granted a sixth year of eligibility following this season, the Longhorns will have 11 players coming back in 2009. Therefore, something is going to have to give up at some point. As it relates to the 2009 recruiting class, there's obviously not a huge need for warm bodies, so look for the team to land one or two potential impact players and they'll close down shop after that. Landing Timmons gives the Longhorns a verbal pledge from the state's top pure wide receiver prospect and if they can find a way to close the deal with Shepard, they'll have landed two definite impact prospects at the position in a year when adding talent to the position is an outright luxury.

Current recruiting grade: A

Tight ends

Players currently on scholarship: Peter Ullman (2008), Josh Marshall (2010), Blaine Irby (2010), Ahmard Howard (2011) and Ian Harris (2011)

Needs for this year: One

Current commitments: None

Players still on the radar: (1) Klein Oak's Jordan Navar and Keller Central's Jarred Darden

Overview: There's good news and bad news at the tight end position heading into 2009. The bad news is that for the second straight year in the Lone Star State, there doesn't appear to be an impact prospect at the tight end position to recruit. The good news is that the Longhorns have enough long-term depth at the position that they have the ability to remain patient if they so chose. The staff is bringing in Navar and Darden on the 23rd and they could choose to offer one of them. Outside of those two possibilities, there's not much on the current radar and the possibility exists that the staff will pass on taking a tight end all together once again this year.

Current recruiting grade: Incomplete

Offensive Linemen

Players currently on scholarship: Cedric Dockery (2008), Adam Ulatoski (2009), Charlie Tanner (2009), Chris Hall (2009), Britt Mitchell (2010), Steve Moore (2010), Kyle Hix (2010), Tray Allen (2010), Michael Huey (2010), Buck Burnette (2010), Greg Smith (2010), Aundre McGaskey (2011), Luke Poehlmann (2012), David Snow (2012), and Mark Buchanan (2012)

Needs for this year: Three or four

Current commitments: (3) Cedar Hill's Thomas Ashcraft, Austin Lake Travis' Paden Kelley and Odessa Permian's Garrett Porter

Players still on the radar: Frenship's Mason Walters

Overview: I suppose we should be at a point where we shouldn't be surprised by the recruiting efforts of Texas offensive line coach Mac McWhorter, especially after the class he landed in 2007, but the job they've done this year on the offensive line is stunning. The Longhorns identified four players coming into the recruiting process that they labeled as must-haves and they've already walked away with commitments from three of them. If they can find a way to close the deal with Walters, they'll have completely pitched a shutout with their targets and swept up all of the state's elite talent at the offensive line position.

Current recruiting grade: A+

Defensive tackles

Players currently on scholarship: Roy Miller (2008), Ben Alexander (2009), Brian Ellis (2010), Tyrell Higgins (2011), Michael Wilcoxon (2011), Jarvis Humphrey (2011) and Kheeston Randall (2011)

Needs for this year: Two

Current commitments: None

Players still on the radar: (1) Lufkin's Jamarkus McFarland, Houston Clear Lake's Stephen Barrera, South Grand Prairie's Randall Dent

Overview: It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that McFarland is perhaps the most important prospect in the entire class. After landing Humphrey and Randall in last year's class, the Longhorns needs at the position aren't quite as dire as they were at this time last year. If they can pull in McFarland, they'll have landed the single best defensive tackle prospect from this state since Tommie Harris was coming out of Killeen Ellison at the turn of this decade. The overall numbers at the defensive tackle position are solid, so it's about landing quality this year and if we're being honest, the only player that really matters right now is McFarland.

Current recruiting grade: Incomplete

Defensive ends

Players currently on scholarship: Brian Orakpo (2008), Aaron Lewis (2008), Henry Melton (2008), Lamarr Houston (2009), Sam Acho (2010), Eddie Jones (2010) and Russell Carter (2011)

Needs for this year: Three or four

Current commitments: None

Players still on the radar: Pflugerville's Alex Okafor, Huntsville's Kirby Ellis, Phoenix (AZ) Desert Vista Devon Kennard and Port Arthur Memorial's Radermon Scypion

Overview: As far as raw numbers go, there's might not be a bigger need for the Longhorns than at the defensive end position. Okafor is an obvious target and you can pretty much label him as a must-have prospect when you consider that he's an elite-level talent from right down the street. What the Longhorns do at the position beyond Okafor remains to be seen, but with four players from the projected rotation scheduled to depart in the next two years, the staff might have to look nationally if they want to replace the talent departing with same level of performance.

Current recruiting grade: Incomplete

Linebackers

Players currently on scholarship: Rashad Bobino (2008), Roddrick Muckelroy (2009), Jared Norton (2009), Sergio Kindle (2009), Dustin Earnest (2010), Keenan Robinson (2011), Dravannti Johnson (2011) and [db]Emmanuel Acho (2011)

Needs for this year: Three

Current commitments: None

Players still on the radar: Irving MacArthur's Tariq Allen[db], Converse Judson's [db]Chris McAllister, South Garland's Austin Moss and South Grand Prairie's Patrick Nkwopara

Overview: For the last few years the Longhorns have hung their hat on the idea that they had a lot of up-and-coming talent at the linebacker position, but those up-and-comers are now upper-classmen and must be replaced in this year's recruiting class. The Longhorns need to replace the likes of Norton, Kindle and Muckelroy and that means that the talent at the linebacker class might need to come from out of state because there aren't a plethora of big-time linebacker prospects in-state this year. Regardless, the Longhorns need three linebackers in this year's class and they haven't offered anyone yet, but that will likely change soon.

Current recruiting grade: Incomplete

Defensive backs

Players currently on scholarship: Ryan Palmer (2008), Deon Beasley (2009), Ishie Oduegwu (2009), Chykie Brown (2010) and Curtis Brown (2010), Ben Wells (2011), Christian Scott (2011), Earl Thomas (2011), Aaron Williams (2011), Blake Gideon (2011), D.J. Monroe (2011), Nolan Brewster (2011)

Needs for this year: Two or three

Current commitments: (1) Houston Clear Creek's Marcus Davis

Players still on the radar: Brownwood's Kenny Vaccaro, Aldine Eisenhower's Craig Loston, Dallas South Oak Cliff's Kevin Brent, Dallas Adamson's Roderick Goodlow and Killeen Ellison's Daniel Cobb

Overview: The Longhorns have already secured a commitment from Davis and they appear to have the inside track on Vaccaro, which means they might have room for only one other player at this position for the rest of the class. Look for the Longhorns to extend offers to both Loston and Brent, with the hope that they can land one of the two big-time safety prospects in-state and shut it down after that.

Current recruiting grade: B

Kickers

\Players currently on scholarship: Ryan Bailey (2008), Hunter Lawrence (2009), Trevor Gerland (2009), and Justin Tucker (2011)

Needs for this year: None

Current commitments: None

Players still on the radar: None

Overview: The addition of Tucker in the last class gives the Longhorns four scholarship kickers for the upcoming season and three will continue to be on the books through the 2009 season. Therefore, don't look for Texas to extend any offers in the kicking game this season, no matter who might emerge on the Texas landscape.

Current recruiting grade: Incomplete



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