With junior days looming and with it looking like the Horns are down to a few prospects in the 2012 class, we thought we’d get some introductory thoughts up on the biggest prizes of 2013. We’re not saying all of these guys will get offered, much less invited to a junior day, but here are our thoughts on who the “war daddies” are for 2013. Included are the chances that Texas has with each, based on talking to a wide array of sources from Cigars, assets and, in many cases, the players themselves.
To clarify, percentages are predicated on the player receiving an offer so if Texas does its part, this is where things stand.
QUARTERBACK With this position currently in a state of flux who knows which direction the staff will go when allocating slots for the 2013 cycle. Who would have believed that we would have taken two in 2012 after the staff prioritized Connor Brewer? If the staff hedges on the coin flip between Tyrone Swoopes and JT Barrett, offer both and take the first one to commit. By most accounts, it’s that close. Tyrone Swoopes (Whitewright / Whitewright, Tex.) – Perhaps the player with the highest ceiling in the class, he also has a long way to go before he’s college ready. He was at the three day camp in June and Bryan Harsin went to watch him play during the Longhorn’s first bye week. That means the interest is definitely high. JT Barrett (Rider / Wichita Falls, Tex.) – While he’s a more polished passer than Swoopes and a well-above average athlete, Barrett doesn’t possess the same size or ‘WOW’ factor. Despite what many recruiting fans think, football isn’t determined by ‘WOW’ factor. Barrett is the safer bet of the two. Percentages: If one is prioritized over the other, the disparity in the percentages will be great. For now, let’s just say that the percentages of landing either prioritized signal caller is over 80 percent. If we go the ‘first come first served’ route, I think Barrett’s more likely to throw the Hook ‘Em first. RUNNING BACKIf a running back wants to immediately be the man, then joining a depth chart with ‘Johnmalcothan Braygeron’ in front of him isn’t ideal. It would be tough enough to pull a Longhorn die-hard with that type of traffic jam on the 40, much less a kid who originally hails from Florida. Unfortunately for Texas, the top running back in the state next year isn’t a Texas homer. Keith Ford (Cy Ranch / Cypress, Tex.) – Luckily for Texas, however, Major Applewhite is on the case and Ford appears to be priority number one. Assuming Mack allows him to, Major gets his man. Let’s hope that’s the case once again with Ford, because he’s versatile enough to find a home sooner rather than later, despite the future NFLers in front of him. If I’m the staff, I sell Ford on a Selvin Young type role, where Ford wets his beak by returning kicks and by factoring in during third down situations. Along with the fact Gray, Bergeron, and Brown might not exhaust their eligibility in college with big NFL dollars waiting. It worked for USC, Alabama and Miami, so why not Texas? Dontre Wilson (DeSoto / DeSoto, Tex.) – I saw Wilson play against the vaunted Dallas Skyline defense and I was enthused to see that his athleticism is matched by his will. He runs hard despite his lean build. For you hopeless Ramontics yearning for the halcyon days of Ramonce Taylor, yes, he provides that type of versatility, but with better power. Wilson may be a tick slower than Ramonce, but most are. Percentages: Ford already has offers from The Gipper and John David Crow, but you can bet that he’ll have many more coming in the near future. At this point I’d say Texas has a fair shot with Ford, but we’ll know more after the Horns get him on campus. Let’s call it 50 percebt. With Texas being one of DeSoto’s main benefactors you have to like Mack’s chances with the playmaker. Unfortunately, the kid understands a good fit better than Cinderella and is said to prefer Eugene to Austin. Call it 45 percent now, but expect this number to rise dramatically as the staff gives him forty minutes of hell. It will be a full court press, in my opinion. WIDE RECEIVERI’ve long maintained that recruiting players with complementary traits is the way to go when recruiting skill positions. Nowhere has this been personified better than with the Horns recruiting of the wide receiver position the past few years. Mixing and matching of skill sets is the way to go as the Shipley and Onyegbule combination has shown and as Cayleb Jones and Thomas Johnson will illustrate. There’s no doubt that the current position coach, Darrell Wyatt, gets that part of the gig. In keeping with that tradition, the two receivers I believe with the highest probability of getting offered at a junior day are both Jake Oliver and Ra’Shaad Samples. Jake Oliver (Jesuit / Dallas, Tex.) – A reader over on the ‘Cosm likens Oliver to former Notre Damer Jeff Smardzija. While many may make the claim simply because they’re both white, I challenge you to find anywhere else in athletics where a Brit is compared to a Serb. I like the comparsion actually. Both have great hands, size and coordination, while lacking elite speed. Lacking elite speed doesn’t mean you can’t house a 60 yarder, either. Through excellent route running and high pointing ability both are capable of making a big play. Ra’Shaad Samples (Skyline / Dallas, Tex.) – While checking on Dontre Wilson, I was also able to check out Samples and he gave me much more than a sample of his ability. On a field absolutely loaded with future collegians, Samples was the player of the game. He was so good, that DeSoto head coach Claude Mathis had to pull LSU commit Jalen Mills off of Samples and put the more technically sound UT commit Bryson Echols on him. Though Samples needs to add some muscle, he does have great hands and the uncanny ability to get open. Percentages: Yes Oliver is an Aggie legacy, but expect Texas to give him the hard sell regardless. From multiple accounts he’s been receptive. We’ll know more in the coming months, but for now mark us down at an optimistic 65 percent. As for Samples, he has stated to me numerous times that he likes Cal and would like to visit over the summer, but I think Texas has him verballed by then. Call it 80 percent. Having Mike Davis, Peter Jinkens and Thomas Johnson on board as lead recruiters won’t hurt. TIGHT ENDLong maligned as the ‘black hole’ on the roster, the staff has the perfect opportunity to overhaul the position with a couple of stellar prospects in 2013. You may be wondering why on Earth Texas would want to take two when their numbers are still large. My answer would be, ‘versatility.’ Both Ricky Seals-Jones and Christian Morgan could end up at defensive end, but I think they should both start off at tight end. Ricky Seals-Jones (Sealy / Sealy, Tex.) – One of my favorite prospects of the class, RS-J is simply going to be a nightmare for linebackers to stay with while running seams. He’s currently a lean 225-pounds, but will easily pack on 20 to 30 pounds of muscle. Don’t confuse Seals-Jones with the flex types we’ve been taking, he’s also physical. Christian Morgan (Prestonwood / Plano, Tex.) – If the ‘Luke Poehlmann Project’ has taught me anything, it’s that Coach Harsin would love to have a tight end with enough strength to seal defensive ends while staying with the play and then having the feet to get to the next level. Enter Christian Morgan, a guy who can do that plus exploit open spaces and make plays. He has great hands to go with that 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame. After he was extended an offer to LSU’s junior day he told me, “I feel like I would be a great fit for them as far as just lining up and running people over.” Percentages: One factor to consider with RS-J could be the potential he has to play basketball in college. He’s told me that he’s wide open, but some close to him have told me they think it’s a Texas/LSU battle. LSU would be the more likely destination if he was intent on playing basketball, but Texas’ hole card is his mother. While his father doesn’t have a preference where he goes, his mother wants him close to home and, from what I’ve gathered, that means Texas. I’ll put it at 65 percent. We’ll try and get an interview with Ricky in the coming days and we’ll try to keep close tabs on his recruitment, because he’s perhaps THE must-get in this class. As for Christian Morgan, if he’s offered, he’s going to Texas. Assuming he gets offered, 99 percent. OFFENSIVE LINE I think four should be the minimum when it comes to renting out space on the offensive line. With three tackles in the fold for 2012, and only Curtis Riser slated for the interior, conventional wisdom might be to flip flop those numbers for 2013. After examining the 2012 class, I humbly disagree. Tackles that don’t start can often become guards, especially when they carry the size of Camrhon Hughes and Kennedy Estelle. Also keep in mind that Donald Hawkins is only a two year player. As for the 2013 prospects to watch for Texas, it goes thusly: Darius James (Harker Heights / Harker Heights, Tex.) – Of the interior linemen in next year’s crop, James is the must have. He defies science by both being tall and having a low center of gravity. It probably doesn’t hurt that he’s 6-foot-5 and 310-pounds. He’s your prototypical mauler, but he’s got the kind of feet as a puller to wreck shop on the edge in Harsin’s running schemes. Kent Perkins (Lake Highlands / Dallas, Tex.) – With the most impressive tackle film from the last few classes, Perkins is the bookend ‘must have’ of the class. It’s one thing to play mean; it’s another to play mean while also being this athletic. With that mean streak it’s no surprise that he also loves playing on the defensive side of the ball. Kent is probably going to be a consensus top 50 national type of player and his rankings will be well deserved. A’Shawn Robinson (Arlington Heights / Fort Worth, Tex.) – Another guy who likes playing D is Robinson. His ability on the basketball court translates well in his movement on the field. He combines excellent feet with college ready size. He’ll be looked at as an offensive tackle first, but he could also move over a spot and play guard. He’s another jumbo athlete with a football player’s mindset. He loves to be physical. Percentages: James is a virtual lock to Texas, having been a fan of UT since he was in middle school. Couple that knowledge with friend and former high school teammate Camrhon Hughes heading to UT in the coming weeks, and this one isn’t hard to figure out. 90 percent. Like James, Perkins is a longtime fan of Texas. Though he’s expressed fondness for A&M and the chance to play defense in the past, I still think this one gets done. 80 percent. How about some more good news? Robinson has expressed to us that he prefers a bigger university with a good post-graduate law school. He’s also stated that, even though he’s hearing from all of the regional players, he’s not really interested in them AND he wants to stay close to home. Oh, and he’d like to end the process early. The amount of heavyweights from coast to coast pursuing him is the only thing keeping him from being a 90 percenter. Let’s put this one at 85 percent. If you’re scoring at home, Texas should mop up along the O-line with high four and a couple of potential 5-star OT’s for Stacey Searels to gorge himself on. This isn’t your father’s O-line recruiting of grabbing every pass-pro prospect out of central Texas and then calling it a day. Searels is going after uber-athletes that don’t like people.THE RUNDOWN:At the skill positions outside of QB, it’s going to be interesting because of the sick recruiting hauls at those respective positions in 2011 and 2012. Texas has the chance to be cherry picking in every sense of the word. Tight end is perhaps the most important position to get right on the offensive side of the ball, just ahead of quarterback. The Horns need a couple of hits at the position and RSJ and Christian Morgan seem to fit the bill. As for QB, you can’t go wrong with Barrett or Swoopes. Regardless it will be an interesting story to follow into junior days. We’ll go into much more depth over each player in the coming weeks to not only update Texas’ standing, but also provide analysis on what each potential difference maker brings to the field. Those are our thoughts as of today on the Earl Campbell side of the ball. Stay tuned for our thoughts on the Tommy Nobis side.