Recruiting is the lifeblood of every successful college sports team. While rankings and evaluations have developed a 24/7 following for fans of major sports (football, men’s and women’s basketball), gathering talent is no less important — in some cases, perhaps even more so — in sports with smaller followings.
Texas pulled in blue chips across the board in 2016. Based on accepted recruiting rankings from football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, volleyball, track and field and swimming and diving, here are the best recruits to land on the 40 Acres this year.
Keep in mind that these recruits are all from the Class of 2016, meaning they arrived at UT this past fall.
1. Joyner Holmes, women’s basketball, No. 2 overall
A product of Cedar Hill High School near Dallas, Holmes has made an immediate impact for No. 16-ranked Texas. Through 10 games she had started eight times, with averages of 10.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks. The 6-foot-3 forward was ranked behind only Baylor’s Lauren Cox on ESPN’s HoopGurlz rankings, and chose Texas over Notre Dame and Tennessee.
Holmes has already drawn comparisons to some of the game’s greats.
2. Claire Adams, swimming, No. 3 overall
Imagine, as a 17-year-old, being disappointed to not make an Olympic team. Adams was the 2015 United States champion in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke, but broke her hand in preparation for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials and finished 46th in the 100 back. The Carmel, Indiana, native arrived at Texas this fall and appears to be rounding back into form. At the Texas Invitational earlier this month, she helped break a seven-year-old record in the 800-yard freestyle relay — swimming a team-best 1:43.05.
3. Orie Agbaji, volleyball, No. 4 overall
How good is Texas volleyball? On their way to a national runner-up finish, the Longhorns used blue-chip recruit Orie Agbaji sparingly. The 6-foot-2 middle blocker from Kansas City appeared in 15 matches, including last week’s national championship. Longhorns coach Jerritt Elliott has mentioned Agbaji as one of the building blocks for future squads, so expect to see a lot more of her next season.
4. Alecia Sutton, women’s basketball, No. 6 overall
The only women’s basketball program to snag two of the top six recruits wasn’t UConn, Notre Dame or Baylor. Longhorns coach Karen Aston may look back on this recruiting class when cutting down the nets someday soon. Sutton, a St. Louis native and the No. 2 point guard prospect in the Class of 2016, is already seeing minutes behind All-Big 12 point guard Brooke McCarty.
5. Lauren Case, swimming, No. 7 overall
A semifinalist at the U.S. Trials in the 200-meter butterfly, Case posted the sixth-best time during the prelims in Omaha. She also qualified for Trials in the 400 free and was a two-time member of the USA Swimming Junior National Team. The Woostock, Georgia, native kicked off her Texas career with a third-place finish at the Texas Invitational.
6. Destiny Collins, track and field, No. 8
After her career concluded, a rival coach wrote on the Riverside County track and field website that “Collins will forever be the standard here in Riverside County as we don’t forsee anybody approaching her 4:40 (1,600 meters) and 9:53 (3,200) county records…. perhaps, ….ever?” That’s high praise. Even though she didn’t win state as a senior, Collins proved her status by winning at 3,000 meters in the USATF Junior Championships.
7. Jarrett Allen, men’s basketball, No. 17 overall
This name you’ve definitely heard before. It says something about the strength of Texas athletics as a whole that the most ballyhooed recruit in a major sport was actually the seventh-biggest recruit (by rankings) to land in Austin this year. So far the local product (St. Stephen’s) is averaging 9.5 points and 6.7 rebounds through 10 games.
8. Andrew Jones, men’s basketball, No. 31 overall
Not as publicized but just as crucial for Texas coach Shaka Smart as he continues to build the Longhorns program, Jones was the No. 5-ranked point guard in the 2016 class. The MacArthur (Irving, Texas) product has started six games and is averaging 9.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Just off this list was James Banks, the No. 63 overall recruit.
9. Devin Duvernay, football, No. 36 overall
Another familiar name, Duvernay (Sachse) was originally signed with Baylor before the school’s sexual assault scandal and Bears coach Art Briles’ exit led him to Austin. The Longhorns were glad to welcome him, especially once he started hauling in long touchdown passes.
10. Brandon Jones, football, No. 40 overall
The top safety in the 2016 class, Jones came to Austin as a 4-star prospect from Nacogdoches. He featured in all 12 games as a true freshman, picking up 16 total tackles and two blocked punts. He’s widely considered the future at safety alongside DeShon Elliott.