Football

The Dotted Line: Texas on the verge of first top-five class since 2012

Posted February 7th, 2018

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Stay updated on latest Texas Longhorns recruiting news brought to you by Longhorns recruiting beat writer Mike Craven of Hookem.com. The Dotted Line will publish M-F at 10 a.m. each morning to provide Texas fans with an in-depth look at the latest for the Longhorns on the recruiting trail. 


Texas set to sign fourth top 10 class this decade

The Longhorns are set to sign their best class since 2012. No matter what happens on national signing day, Tom Herman will ink a top-five class. It’ll be his first and the program’s third this decade. Led by Mack Brown, the Longhorns started the decade with three consecutive top-four classes. Not one of those classes measured up to the hype.

Texas head coach Tom Herman hopes his 2018 class lives up to the hype. (Stephen Spillman)

Herman hopes his 2018 class is more substance than flash. The security of signing 19 commitments during the early signing period gives him an advantage over his predecessors. Herman and his staff didn’t need to spend January keeping players committed. Instead, the group focused on adding to the new herd.

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Texas signed the top five players on the Fabulous 55 during the early signing period, a year removed from failing to sign a single top 10 player in the state. Herman proved himself as a recruiter. His next task is to prove himself as a developer of elite talent.

The 2012 class: Heavy at the top

That 2012 class was headlined by Aledo running back Johnathan Gray and Brenham defensive tackle Malcom Brown. The Longhorns hit with both prospects. Gray was a prep legend, ending his career as the state’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns. He was never a superstar in college and injury set back his NFL prospects, but he finished as the program’s 18th player to rush for more than 2,000 career yards.

Brown played in the Super Bowl and is arguably the top player Texas has produced this decade. The Brenham star was the No. 10-ranked overall prospect in the nation and he lived up to the hype once he became a full-time starter as a sophomore. He left for the NFL Draft after his junior year and was drafted by the New England Patriots, where he still plays.

The Longhorns signed six national top 100 players in 2012, but nobody outside of Brown or Gray emerged as an elite player. Texas also failed to find any steals in a class led by names like Kennedy Estelle, Curtis Riser, Cayleb Jones and Shiro Davis. The class was ranked second in the nation.

The 2011 class: Brown, Edmond, Diggs led the way

It was 5-star San Antonio-area running back Malcolm Brown who headlined Texas’ fourth-ranked class after a stellar prep career at Cibolo Steele. He was one of four national top-100 players and seven top-150 players that Texas signed. Brown’s career at Texas was marred by injury; he’s now a second-string running back for the L.A. Rams. He ended his career as the ninth leading rusher in UT history and recorded 11 100-yard games.

Steve Edmond, a linebacker from Daingerfield, was the second-highest rated signee in the 2011 class. He was the No. 24-ranked player in the nation and the No. 2-ranked inside linebacker. The 6-3, 235-pounder was a dominant force in high school on both sides of the ball and was known as a hard-hitter with rare mobility for his size. He started 34 games in his college career.

The other names in the top 150 included Desmond Jackson, Quandre Diggs, David Ash, Sheroid Evans and Cedric Reed. Diggs was unquestionably the best player in the class. He is now a budding star with the Detroit Lions. Despite his lack of size, he was a four-year starter who ended his career with 11 interceptions and never missed a single game.

The 2010 class: Highly ranked, but short on depth

Two defenders — defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat and linebacker Jordan Hicks — led the second-ranked class in the nation. The Longhorns signed 11 national top-100 players in the cycle, but not many panned out. The list included names like Mike Davis, Reggie Wilson, Darius White, Demarco Cobbs, Tevin Jackson, Trey Hopkins, Ashton Dorsey, Chris Jones and Taylor Bible. Yeah.

SEPTEMBER 6, 2014 – Texas #3, Jordan Hicks celebrates a tackle against BYU during the first half of action held at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, September, 6, 2014.
(Rodolfo Gonzalez/Austin American-Statesman)

Jeffcoat was underrated during his career. The 5-star prospect started a pair of games as a freshman and was an honorable mention Big-12 freshman of the year. He started 12 games as a sophomore, ending the 2011 season with eight sacks and 21 tackles for loss.

It was his junior season when injury derailed his momentum, but he came back as a senior and started 13 games. Jeffcoat as an All-American as a senior after posting a team-high 13 sacks, 22 tackles for loss and 86 tackles. Injury would limit, and then end, his professional career.

Injury tarnished Hicks’ career at Texas, too. He only played in 45 games, starting 28. The former 5-star did start 13 games at outside linebacker as a senior and blossomed into a second-team All-American and a second-team All-Big 12 selection after leading the team with 147 tackles.

Quarterback Case McCoy was the second-lowest rated commit in the class, checking in at No. 655 nationally. McCoy wasn’t considered a top-100 player in the state. He ended up starting 16 games at Texas and famously leading the Longhorns to a win over Texas A&M in 2011, the last meeting between the two rivals.

Recent rankings

Texas’ 2002 class, led by Vince Young and Aaron Ross, ranked No. 1 in the country. How the Longhorns’ classes have ranked since:

2003: 8th

2004: 9th

2005: 13th

2006: 6th

2007: 3rd

2008: 8th

2009: 6th

2010: 2nd

2011: 4th

2012: 2nd

2013: 17th

2014: 16th

2015: 10th

2016: 7th

2017: 25th

 

 

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