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As we hit the home stretch for the Class of 2020 let’s check in on some future Longhorns.
QB Hudson Card, Lake Travis (Austin, TX): Hudson was injured a couple of weeks ago but thankfully not as bad as originally thought. He should return for at least some of the playoffs. Currently he doesn’t have a full Hudl clip, but his nifty slot wide receiver, Kyle Eaves, does. Who better than an athletic slot to give us an idea of what Card brings to the table? With UT’s usage of the position along with Lake Travis’ deployment of Eaves, it paints a well-rounded picture of Card’s skill-set. The first thing that stands out is touch and accuracy (68 percent passer in each of his three seasons), even when Card rolls the pocket. A tight spot in the corner of the end zone? No problem. Throwing accurately on the move so Eaves can maximize space? That’s evident as well. Hudson is at his best on short and intermediate throws. Those intermediate throws feature plenty of velocity. Jeff Luhnow is intrigued by his spin rate. Card and Eaves do a good job linking up versus zone. Here’s Card throwing to big target receiver Grayson Sandlin who plays to both the boundary and the field. There are numerous examples of Card throwing it where only his guy can catch it even if Sandlin is well covered. To top it all off, Card is a fine runner. One nit to pick is the oft-overrated downfield arm strength. I think because of his current build and body mechanics he loses a bit of power on his ball as his release gets up and away from the power source. Once S&C takes root this will probably resolve itself.
Conclusion: Card won’t be on a long growth-curve. The mechanics are good and the results better. He seems to anticipate and read defenses well. I expect Card to be heavily in the mix post-Ehlinger.
[watch Skylark Thompson this weekend. Card is the mid-engine Corvette to his Buick]
QB Ja’Quinden Jackson, Duncanville (Duncanville, TX): Easy guy to evaluate, tough guy to project. As illustrated by the clip below, he’s still big, elusive, quick, and fast for his size.
He also has a big arm for quarterback and has made strides at the position throughout the years. Does he have the softer skills Card does? Can they be developed? Time will tell on that front. Like what Charlie Strong said about Lil’Jordan Humphrey, “I don’t know what he is, but he’s something.” He’ll start off at quarterback and as well he should. He’s an uncommon prospect and it’s the highest value position. To remain there he’s going to have to put in the time on the technical aspects of the position. Interestingly enough, they could play him immediately to save carries on Ehlinger and to add a different gear to the offense. If quarterback doesn’t work out long-term, or if he simply wants to hit the field sooner, running back is an obvious option. Roschon Johnson’s success in making the transition illustrates Jackson’s high floor as a prospect. What I’m most curious about is if he’d be want to play linebacker. That could be the position that helps him find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. He’s big, physical, changes direction like a smaller player, and can run. Linebackers that can move like him are rare and we have a name for them — millionaires.
Conclusion: Jackson will be in charge of his positional destiny and very well may remain at quarterback. If it comes together for him you’d want to see him in a run, run, run, throw it deep offense a la Baylor earlier in the decade. If he transitions to running back, he could be a more productive Jacques Patrick.
RB Ty Jordan, West Mesquite (Mesquite, TX): He isn’t getting the volume of carries he has in previous years but they’ve largely been replaced by targets in the passing game. This highlights the versatility we’ve known existed but wasn’t shown much in previous years. He’s considered an APB and I won’t quibble with it much, but he can also be a volume running back thanks to his sturdy build and pinball traits. It’s hard to get a clean hit on him. The APB is justified by his ability as a receiver, where he can do damage from the slot. Because Jordan Whittington has been hurt, we haven’t seen the creativity in offensive play-calling I know exists. Jordan could be a beneficiary of an offense that puts him in motion pre-snap. It’s in the playbook.
Conclusion: Jordan projects to being a big-play threat thanks to his sprinter’s speed. He’s scoring long touchdowns at what appears to be 80 percent of his speed. I’m not sure how soon he’ll be needed, but he has the demeanor and maturity to allow him to see the field pretty early. In that way he reminds me of Eno Benjamin.
RB Bijan Robinson, Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, AZ): Two things are obvious here, he’s special and Texas has to recruit him through the whistle. It’s probably easier to make a case for him as the best back in the country than anyone else. He’s explosive in all directions, fluid, has good size, vision, patience, and top end speed. His ability to not lose speed when cutting is elite. He wastes no movements; a glider. The only thing I wonder about is how he’ll fare as a volume carrier between the tackles. Can he absorb those hits, fight through them, and move the pile? We know he can make the 50-yard gain look easy, but can he routinely get the Frank Gore yards? He certainly has the build for it.
Conclusion: Just an exceptional athlete who will get carries day-one and ascend the depth chart from there. An underrated aspect of his game are his hands. He can be used similarly to Jordan Whittington.
Hang gliding through the Grand Canyon (state)
WR Quentin Johnston, Temple (Temple, TX): Highlights aren’t readily available for Johnston. We know length and athleticism are the calling card for his game. He’s a springy, twitchy athlete who can beat defenders on the ground or in the air. We’ll circle back after his highlights post.
Conclusion: He could potentially compete pretty early at the Z field receiver currently manned by Brennan Eagles. I think Eagles is likely to end up at X.
WR Troy Omeire, Fort Bend Austin (Sugar Land, TX): He has a clear projection as an X boundary receiver. Improvement that I’ve seen from the spring is initial quickness and fluidity. The X is generally your ball-winner who is often in man coverage. The more ways you can get open, the better. Omeire always had the “post-up” skills that we see Collin Johnson use, but in time he may become a good route runner as well. He has about as good of a build as you can have and he’ll be a quick responder to S&C. At a minimum he should be able to bully corners. His size should translate to becoming an effective blocker too.
Conclusion: The X pipeline is secure with Omeire on his way in. Someone mentioned he was reminiscent of Dwayne Jarrett. I think that’s a good stylistic comp.
OL Jaylen Garth, Port Neches-Groves (Port Neches, TX): Garth lost his senior season due to injury but I heard he was looking great in August. Seeing him live last year versus T’Vondre Sweat was a great barometer, especially since our suspicions of Sweat being a gem have been confirmed. Garth has the feet, quickness, bend, and length to play left tackle. Even before the injury he was going to need quite a bit of time to develop physically, but now the priority will be to regain his movement skills first.
Conclusion: Garth’s road to college success hit a temporary snag but he’s up for the challenge and the sky is the limit.
OL Andrej Karic, Carroll (Southlake, TX): If I was @Fuddy or @matt103455 or @Ktown777 or any other of the junior evaluators I’d mention that I coveted Karic well before his “breakout” year, whenever that was. But I’m not like that. I’m just a lunch pail guy doing his job. The hold-up on Karic was lack of size but as you know that’s almost always overblown. While @Vasherized will brag he still fits in the same leather pants he wore in junior high school, most of us know how easy it is to add weight between the ages 18 and all the rest of them. Karic will be a bouncy 300 pounds in limited time. He owns all the baseline attributes to be a great left tackle: quickness from the bottom up, he plays urgently off the ball, keeps his back flat enough to shoot pool on, brings his feet with him, and looks to finish his opponent. He’ll be plenty athletic on the pull and in space.
Conclusion: The natural comparisons are Connor Williams and Sam Cosmi and I won’t lay down a spike strip. Williams was good as a freshman and Cosmi could have played in his first year. Karic should be ready to compete after a redshirt year. I’ll have him around No. 15 instate. Currently the networks have him in the 70’s. I’ll be curious to see where they slot him.
OL Jake Majors, Prosper (Prosper, TX): Jake’s another one I was high on early. Like Shackelford (and Kerstetter) he plays tackle in high school but best projects to center. Texas will need a bridge for 2020 at the position but I expect Majors should be able to compete in 2021. He’s a smart kid (Stanford wanted him) which is the first winnowing trait. Length is his only limiting factor. If he had more of it we’d be talking about another Karic. He shows good pop even in pass pro. He’s an easy mover with bad intentions which means he translates to any run scheme. The only struggles I can see him having are 1v1 against the bigger noses like Blacklock or his future teammate Coburn. I see some Joey Hunt here.
Conclusion: He’s what you’re looking for in a center but he could also play guard. For some, mental development serves as a governor but Majors will be ready after he physically matures some.
OL Logan Parr, O’Connor (San Antonio, TX): Another one whose limiting factor isn’t movement skills or bend but length. Parr was early on the scene and very highly rated. That ranking eventually dropped, perhaps because it became apparent he would be an interior player. If you rank him within the interior taxonomy you’ll have a much greater appreciation for him. First of all, he carries very little bad weight. Is he really an offensive lineman? He’s going to be in Pluckers asking for his wings to be skinned and baked. Hold the fries, extra carrots. Parr looks to me like the guy you’re going to feature on pulls (square those shoulders, Logan!). He’s also going to have the power to be a drive blocker for inside zone. I like his awareness and how he looks for work. He could be a center too, but they have Majors, and I think he can be the feature guard after Angilau.
Conclusion: Watching his senior Hudl I was reminded why I liked him so much initially. It’ll be fun to see him at 300 pounds. I don’t think he’ll need to weigh much more to get his point across.
ATH Jaden Hullaby, Mansfield Timberview (Arlington, TX): If Hullaby was having this year, last year, we’d be talking about how Texas has two Ja’Quinden Jackson type athletes coming in. I should back that up with visual evidence.
That’s not common for a 6-foot-2, 210-pound athlete. Hullaby is coming in to be a hybrid that’s all the rage right now. Hopefully he’ll unlock some creativity in the staff because he’s a player you’re going to want to get involved in numerous ways. Like with Jackson, I’d want to be a linebacker if I was Hullaby simply because he’s a 99 athletically for the position. It’ll be interesting to see how easily he puts on weight. Judging by his build, muscle will stack on quickly. He’ll have the movement skills and the size. It’ll come down to what he wants to do with it.
Conclusion: Hullaby’s commitment to Texas flew under the radar but he’s an intriguing athlete with a lot potential at numerous positions.
I’ll set the edge, contain, and tackle defense in the next installment.