Sometimes a cycle’s best crops align perfectly with UT’s needs and the yield is high. 2015 defensive backs and 2016 defensive tackles come to mind. Other times, finding players who fit UT’s needs are much harder to come by, as is the case with 2017 cornerbacks.
There’s no getting around the fact that Texas’ problem with recruiting DL over the last few years is a real one. A look at the last five years of 247 rankings of the top five DTs in the state and where they went to school shows a disturbing trend.
So far, Texas hasn’t faced a difficult schedule. In early season RPI rankings via Warren Nolan, Texas has played teams ranked 257th, 140th, 168th, 78th, and 64th. This weekend, they’ll face LSU, Arkansas, and Missouri in Houston during the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park.
Often when I begin a rankings list I’ll mention schematic fit as something I account for. I’ll say something like, I’m not going to let a kid’s bad choice sink my evaluation. Or if they make a good decision, I’ll happily ride those coattails. Often with the elite players fit doesn’t matter as much, but I will account for how well a program has been developing talent. No fan base has learned this simple lesson harder or more resolutely than Texas: development really matters.
In the Big 12, where several of the offenses are pass-first, the run game can sometimes fall by the wayside.
I’m not a big fan of ranking players across positions. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to rank a running back next to a tight end next to a guard and so on. It does make for fun conversation, however.
Texas and head coach Tom Herman successfully navigated their way to a consensus top five recruiting class through the early signing period despite an unfamiliarity shared by all college coaches with how exactly the first National Signing Day would affect recruiting.
Much of our consternation about defensive recruiting has been focused on the Defensive Line. For good reason. It’s always crucial to get yours there every year. But even after Herman’s purging and our inability to secure 2018 DEs, the youth on our roster is more promising than the conventional wisdom holds. Holdovers like Nelson, Roach and Omenihu are proven assets. And I can make a pretty compelling argument that we’ll have good depth behind them (barring multiple injuries and bad luck) with players like Cummins, Fitzgerald, Wilbon and Graham on developmental schedule. Holes start to show up in 2019 (which is why the 2018 DL matter), but we have to trust the development process.
The 2018 class of defensive backs will very likely finish as the highest rated group the school has ever signed. Without researching it too much, it will also likely be the best position group to sign of any that routinely takes three players or more per cycle. For a school that fancies itself as DBU, that’s quite an accomplishment.
One of our favorite offseason topics every year is the numbers and allocation of the precious 85 scholarships. Where Texas should load up with talent? Where do they skimp on numbers? What kinds of talents make for the best classes and bring about future success? The fact that Texas regularly outperforms most of their competition in recruiting and yet doesn’t have much to show for it doesn’t quite get as much scrutiny as whether X or Y player/savior is likely to fax in his letter.