Texas landed a 25-player signing class today that is ranked third nationally by several college football recruiting analysts, as well as the Star-Telegram. The Longhorns signed 22 players from the S-T’s State Top 100 list to secure the top-ranked class in the Big 12. Only Florida and Southern California ranked higher nationally.
That much, you’ve probably heard already. But here are some tidbits about the Longhorns’ 2010 signing class, as well as an early look at spring football drills, which begin later this month:
-- Texas coaches offered scholarships to 30 players and 25 of them accepted. All 25 players who took official visits wound up signing with the Longhorns, marking the first 100 percent conversion rate that coach Mack Brown could remember in his tenure as a college coach.
-- Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, a five-star signee from Plano West, is toying with the idea of playing basketball as well. Jeffcoat (6-5, 235 pounds), son of former Dallas Cowboys’ standout Jim Jeffcoat, spoke with Texas men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes during the recruiting process about being a two-sport athlete.
In terms of Barnes’ input in the process, Brown said: “Rick talked to him in recruiting. The (basketball) staff talked to him in recruiting. They were very involved in helping.”
-- Jeffcoat is the only 2010 signee who has made overtures about being a two-sport athlete in college. The lone two-sport athlete on Texas’ roster, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, is enrolled on a track scholarship but made a significant impact in football last season as a freshman. Goodwin will not take part in spring football drills because he is competing on the track team.
-- Linebacker Jordan Hicks, the other five-star signee in the 2010 class, is only the second high school player from Ohio to sign with Texas. The other was RB A.J. “Jam” Jones, who played from 1978-81. Hicks was recruited by defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. But his primary hook with the school originated with Texas strength coach Jeff Madden. Hicks’ mother, Kelly Justice, worked with Madden at Colorado during Madden’s tenure as the Buffs’ strength and conditioning coach (1989-92).
-- Brown called the team’s Jan. 7 loss to Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game, when QB Colt McCoy was knocked out of the game on the fifth play, one of the most disheartening of his career.
“I don’t think I’ll ever recover from it,” Brown said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been that hurt with a football game … I thought we were in great shape (before McCoy’s injury). I thought we had a chance to win. They were prepared.”
-- Brown said a major focus of spring drills will be improving the ground game by making “some strong tweaks … to take more pressure off our quarterback.” Chris Whaley, a 2009 signee who redshirted last season, will get a long look at TB. Traylon Shead, a 2010 signee, is expected to join teammates for voluntary workouts in June and will get a long look in fall drills, along with the returnees. Brown said he is not concerned by Shead’s background as a Class 1A player from Cayuga. Instead, he focuses on the fact that Shead (6-2, 210) rushed for 2,695 yards and 39 TDs last season in leading Cayuga to a state title.
Asked if he had concerns about the small-town backgrounds of Shead and Whaley (Madisonville), Brown said: “No. We go on production. If he produces in high school, we go for it.”
Below are additional throughts from Brown on his two freshman tailbacks who will be in the mix to play next fall:
“People ask a lot about Chris Whaley. He wasn’t ready to jump in and play when he got here. He’ll be interesting to watch this spring … He’s in great shape and he had an outstanding bowl practice. He’s one that we will watch this spring.”
As for Shead, Brown said: “The most difficult thing for young running backs is pass protection. So you bring them in, you hit them and you put them in scrimmage situations (to see if they can protect the passer).”
-- Texas’ 2010 class included two signees from Tarrant County: Dunbar WR Darius White and Haltom DE Reggie Wilson. Below are some of Brown’s comments about both players:
Darius White: “Darius (who wore No. 4 at Dunbar) looks like some of the No. 4’s that we have had around here (notably NFL receivers Roy Williams and Limas Sweed). He is tall, can run, and can make a difference for you. Darius is a great basketball player. He is left handed. I think that he and (fellow WR signee) Mike Davis could both play college basketball. They are not going to, but they could. Darius has the ability to go up high and get the ball over corners.”
Reggie Wilson: “Reggie is an outstanding pass rusher. [On film] you can see, Reggie is all over the place. He can really run. He is athletic. Reggie is from the Ivory Coast ... He has a great story. He has a wonderful smile. He is really good and will be a lot of fun to watch.
_ Jimmy Burch