Evaluating The 2012 Texas Longhorns Recruiting Class: Athlete

I made my Athlete justifications on the WR thread, so let's dive in.

Caleb Bluiett

Brent Musberger can't wait for him to drop a touchdown pass so he can say "Bluiett...blew it!" in the same prideful tone a three year old reserves for announcing the poo-poo they made in their training toilet, but that won't dissuade us from taking this raw, multi-tool athlete who gives high effort wherever he finds himself.

Caleb played anywhere and everywhere on the Front 7 as a junior and senior at Beaumont West Brook. The first four minutes of the tape shows him @ MLB, the middle portion shows him @ DE, the final bit has him lined up @ DT.

What you see in all three sections is a quality raw athlete who is a tourist at all three positions and relies on effort and a lean 6-3, 245 pound, sub 4.8 40 athletic package to make plays all over the field. He's actually at his most consistently dominating lined up at DT as an interior pass rushing specialist. What a handful. He's way too strong and quick for any OL to handle when he decides to take a gap decisively and, interestingly, a tendency to play a bit high - which he evidences in space as a LB and DE - goes away when he's covered up. He could do interesting things with a redshirt, three years in the weight room, and a job as a 5 technique lined up in an attacking 3-4 defense.

He's clearly not a future LB, but the guy is game and productive there nonetheless, which is more than you could say for many natural DE/TE body types told "hey, go play some LB tonight - whaddya say?" As a DE, Caleb is a disruptive athlete, but you can see that he's not studied at taking an efficient route around the corner, he's still feeling his way around, and he hasn't learned to use his hands. His quick first step shows up when he's moving forward rather than at an angle and that's worth noting when you play the position projection game. That may just be a function of a lack of reps outside, too.

He's listed as an athlete because Longhorn coaches believe that Caleb's profile: built long, high effort, selfless, adaptable, physical - make him a quality TE candidate as well as a potential future DL multi-tool. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see Bluiett as a 255 pound TE who can give you the corner in the running game with enough athleticism to get you 15 yards on play action (he played TE in 7 on 7 tournaments and apparently impressed). Or as a 275 pound interior pass rushing specialist.

The recruiting class that consists solely of four and five stars doesn't and won't ever exist, and this is the kind of three star that makes sense. Maybe he's a jack of all trades master of none, who brings solid depth to us for four years or maybe he finds a focused niche and thrives. Let's 'shirt him, put him in a S&C program, and see what pops out in 2014.

Daje Johnson

Simple rule: when a young man has good character, tests off of the charts physically, and then has senior season production that dwarfs his junior year, you take him and figure it all out later.

The local product blew out a SPARQ plug at Nike camp, setting an all-time mark in their conditioning tests. Daje appears to be a straight line speedster with explosive hips (40+ inch vertical) and surprising strength (one of the SPARQ drills is a medicine ball throw and Daje eclipsed most of the linemen). Daje is a walking fast-twitch who dominated at RB, is comfortable lined up in the slot, and has intrigued at cornerback.

His film can be as impressive as it is cloudy at times - note to all film editors, if you want to show the kid's wares, don't just compile the perfectly blocked scoring runs where he goes untouched - I'd like to see a nine yard run where we see two sharp cuts, some broken tackles, and then a stumble forward while delivering a lick (see run at 3:47 mark- outstanding). Daje's pure speed doesn't translate to pads as cleanly as some and he ain't Johnathan Gray in the running instincts department, but he gets 'er done.

Daje can help us in the kickoff return game, but long term I'm not sure of his best use. He's tempting as a Wane McGarity-style slot WR convert who uses RB skills to kill secondaries after the catch, but he could certainly play as our speed back in a RB rotation down the road. Or a DJ Monroe style hybrid +20 pounds. He's also an intriguing cornerback prospect, particularly given his base of outstanding functional strength - can you say quality jam at the LOS? Can he recover on a break? Does he have flexible hips? I can't tell. I expect at least one position switch in his career.

Jalen Overstreet

The coolest thing about Jalen isn't his intelligence, leadership, program-first attitude, high character, gritty toughness, or athletic flexibility. It's that he over-layed his highlights with baby-making music.

Tracey Morgan Jalen Ova-Street highlights gonna make everrrybody preg-nant! Tracey Morgan

Jalen is an underrated passer (apparently even by me, I'm listing him as an athlete) who throws a catchable ball between the hashes and flicks 40 yard routes effortlessly (check out 5:50 mark - pretty). Though his arm is plenty strong, he'll throw a pillow soft ball when it best suits the play. However, as balls require more zip, his accuracy diminishes and he doesn't throw a lot of route diversity. Can he throw accurately against a college level pass rush in a tight window? I don't know. For a gifted runner - who is always the best athlete on the field - he can do an admirable job of sticking with the pocket and looking downfield before eventually saying "screw it" and running for 11 yards.

Jalen is an incredibly raw passer, but there is ability there. His athletic ability is such that it's not tough to imagine him rounding out his skills (he's already a sneaky ball handler and has great pocket awareness), but he's not the spawn of passing camps since 7th grade. Let's just say we've seen purer ball spinners here and I'm reminded of Gladwell's 10,000 hours admonition.

As a runner, Jalen is more about quickness and power than speed. He's 6-2, 215 and has man-strength in his hips and legs, running through tackles effortlessly after setting them up with a shake. This ability will be less pronounced against college athletes, but there's little doubt that he can humiliate a safety that comes high. He shrugs off the physical pounding of the game and he plays through injuries.

Where does Jalen project? I wouldn't be shocked to see him play QB for us early to lend depth, eventually contribute at WLB a la DeMarco Cobbs (he can roll at 230-235 easy), have a stop at big safety, chain moving WR, or be a special teams animal. He's program caulk - you use him to fill what needs filling. I don't believe he contributes the running explosiveness we want in the Wildcat package, but he'd certainly add a passing dimension. If he surprises me and sticks at QB, we've probably stumbled onto our own Bradlee Van Pelt/James Franklin.

Kendall Sanders

Pure baller. I consider him one of the best five pure athletes in the class. Sanders has elite body control, stop-start acceleration, a long, lithe frame, and good hands and ball skills. He moves well laterally and has quickness to spare. Positively sinuous. A long strider who deceives tacklers with gait, plants his foot, and strides away. Runs the same 40 in pads as he does in shorts. Athletically similar to OSU CB Justin Gilbert. Kendall is an elite cornerback prospect whose heart is set on offense. I have little doubt he could impact either side of the ball, but I can't shake the idea of Sanders ripping out an opposing wide out's will, running the receiver's route, and scoring on every third interception he gathers. See his Defensive MVP at the Army All-American game. Byndom successor?

No doubt he can contribute offensively, but early on it will be as a one trick screen game pony. He's gliding effortlessly out there and the other 21 guys on the field look like stumbling buffoons. He'll be a wicked punt returner, cut from the Aaron Ross mold. From a nitpicking perspective, Kendall's speed does top out at merely good and he's a small town East Texas kid, so it's imperative we surround him with a positive support network both socially and academically.

Summary

The staff's newfound flexibility in taking "football players" and not fretting about assigning positional responsibility right away ("well Duane, then you take him for your allotment, I'm not wasting my WR spot") - thank you from learning from the Quandre Diggs recruitment - has allowed us to take some high character, interesting athletes that would typically fall through the cracks in exchange for guys named Parker Parkington. I range from solidly OK to delighted with all four of these takes.

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