The best way to describe the receiver crop in the state of Texas in the class of 2010 would be an embarrassment of riches.
Just one year after taking a single receiver in what looked to be one of the weaker years in the decade for finding receivers within the borders of Texas, the Horns have loaded up with four receivers in what is one of the most talented and deep years that the state has seen recently.
Arlington Oak Ridge’s Ross Apo, Garland Naaman Forest’s John Harris, Daingerfield’s Chris Jones and DeSoto’s Darius Terrell all bring something different to the table and given some of the players that Texas passed on shows just how much the staff values its talent.
Ross Apo (6-3/190/4.6) Arlington Oak Ridge An interesting pick because he did not receive as much attention until right before the second Junior Day, Apo gives Texas another big target that it will look to develop on the outside.
Strengths: The biggest thing going for Apo is that he has as much raw ability as any receiver in the state. He has drawn rave reviews every time he hit the camp circuit, including last year’s NIKE Camp in Provo, Utah. He is big, he has good hands and runs clean, crisp routes and has solid speed on the outside. The tools are there for him to be a quality split end for the Longhorns. Areas to Improve: The biggest thing the Apo will need to work is playing the game against top notch competition. He will be going from playing in TAPPS to playing receiver in the Big 12, which is a huge jump in competition. He will need to work on things like fighting off press coverage, handling the playbook and all of the nuances of playing receiver in college, which proves to be a challenge for some.
Overall Assessment: I liken Apo to a guy like current Texas receiver Montre Webber. On paper he has all of the tools to be a good college receiver, but it will depend on how quickly it takes him to adjust to the college and if his raw tools can be polished. If his natural abilities can carry over to the next level and he is able to pick up the little things that he will need to pick up, the Horns could wind up with a huge steal.
John Harris (6-3/195/4.5) Garland Naaman Forest
Harris has had the eye of Texas receivers coach Bobby Kennedy since his freshman season and he was one of the first commits in the 2010 class for the Horns.
Strengths: Harris is a long, lean receiver that has really good ball skills. He is not afraid to challenge defensive backs for the ball and has the leaping ability to go get it in a crowd. For a big receiver he is also really good at coming in and out of his breaks and creating separation between himself and the defender. He really does a good job of catching the ball with his hands and not his body, he has outstanding body control and really understands how to use his body while adjusting to the ball. Once he makes the catch he looks to get up the field. Harris is a very good natural athlete who has speed and ability to be a guy that can develop into a vertical threat.
Areas to Improve: Harris is fast when he gets into high gear, which can take him a bit to get to because he is a long strider and his initial burst off of the line of scrimmage needs work. Every time I have seen him opposing defensive backs give him a huge cushion so learning to fight off the jam is something that he will need to get better at doing. Right now he is 195 pounds, but he has room to play at around 210 or 215 because his frame is pretty wiry so hitting the weight room will likely be an area of his that gets focused on when he gets to Austin.
Overall Assessment: The only thing I see that stands between Harris being an elite prospect is his ability to explode off of the line of scrimmage. There is a lot to like about Harris because his is already polished and seems like the ideal player Texas is looking for in a split end. Right now he is a possession receiver but he has what it takes to be a guy like Malcolm Williams that can stretch a defense vertically.
Chris Jones (6-0/170/4.4) Daingerfield
The Horns needed to add a smaller slot receiver to go with the big playmakers in the class and Jones fits the bill as one of the best in the state.
Strengths: Jones has a lot of pluses but the one that impresses me the most is that he is very fluid and wastes little movement when getting up the field. There’s no dancing with Jones, when he gets the ball he is looking for the straightest path to the end zone. He’s a guy much like Quan Cosby or Jordan Shipley that is smaller but will kill teams down the seam. He also does a good job adjusting to the ball when it is in the air and has a pretty good leaping ability and timing to battle defensive backs for the ball. He has that extra gear to pull away from defenders in the open field. He is really good at using double moves to get open down the field.
Areas to Improve: He will be relegated to being a slot receiver because of his size. In Daingerfield’s offense a lot of his routes are off of pick plays and quick hitters and they do a good job of isolating him, but in college he will have to learn to work on his own to get open. He does not run a lot of complex routes and that will be another area where he needs to work.
Overall Assessment: This was a great scouting job by the Texas staff. I recently saw Jones’ film and loved what I saw. I think he will be a guy that eventually fills Shipley’s role of a guy that can be used effectively both in the short passing game and in the run but also has the ability to be a vertical threat.
Darius Terrell (6-3/210/4.7)
Having been on the Horns’ radar for a very long time, it was with little surprise that Terrell committed during the weekend of the first Junior Day.
Strengths: Take one look at Terrell and it is clear to see that he already has a body that is ready for the Big 12. He has an uncanny ability of being able to put himself between the ball and the defender and always seems to come down the ball in traffic. He is probably the best receiver in the state as far as body control and balance is concerned and he makes catching the ball look effortless. A lot of his abilities on the basketball court carry over to the football field. He lacks top level speed but he does get off of the line very well for a big receiver and is money in the red zone. He is also an outstanding blocker on the perimeter and he is a very physical player.
Areas to Improve: Probably the biggest knock on Terrell is that he lacks speed. If anything his lack of speed with probably be what causes him to move from wide receiver to tight end. Among the big receivers that the Horns have signed, Ross Apo and John Harris both have better raw tools to play the split end position than Terrell.
Overall Assessment: If the Horns can successful transform someone into a tight end it would be Terrell. He will not beat college defensive backs with his speed, but his leaping ability, hands and physical play will make him a handful to deal with for linebackers. If he accepts his role as a tight end, he could have the same effect on the offense that Jermichael Finley had in 2006 and 2007.
Grading the Horns Class: A-
With the big receivers, the thing that makes this a really good class in my eyes is the addition of Chris Jones to be that smaller slot receiver who can make plays in space and work the field vertically. Terrell could be a nightmare to deal with at tight end and both Apo and Harris will have some time to develop at the split end spot with the depth on the roster. If the Horns can land any of the prospects that are currently holding offers (Demarco Cobbs, Trovon Reed, or Darius White) then class would make a strong push to be one of the best receiver classes of the Mack Brown era. Previous positions: