Evaluating The 2012 Texas Longhorns Recruiting Class: Defensive End

Manny Diaz is on edge.




Hassan Ridgeway

Ridgeway is a physically imposing edge yeti with incredible natural strength and a tapered body cut from marble. Body double for UFC fighter Cheick Kongo. He has a huge frame (6-3.5, 255) that can hold 35 more pounds, strong hands, long arms, and a willing motor. Ridgeway is still learning the finer points of the game and only started playing football as a sophomore so his upside with respect to technique and recognition still hasn't been tapped. His initial get off isn't great, largely because he seems to take off when he sees his man move (it's actually kind of amusing) rather than watch the ball with his peripheral vision, but he covers ground in big chunks and can change direction well for such a big man. Ridgeway's functional strength level is off of the charts and only fellow defensive recruit Malcom Brown can compare. When his hands lock on, he's in control.

Here's a better highlight reel, sans scimitar.

Ridgeway could easily play strong side DE a la former Longhorn Tim Crowder or he could move inside. He could also be a 3 or 5 technique in a 3-4 front. If Ridgeway stays outside, he'll benefit from some flexibility work so that he can learn to dip his shoulder, present less surface area to contact, and drive off of the corner at a sharper angle. Big time athlete with unlimited physical potential. Put him in a yoga class and introduce some dynamic flexibility exercises and opponents will be calling him Heartbreak Ridge.

Bryce Cottrell

Texas pulled Cottrell late from Oregon and he's a good athlete (has run a 10.9 100 meters, 21.4 200 meters) who has played only one year at DE. Cottrell is an aggressive player who can get upfield quickly and is tenacious in pursuit. He doesn't really understand the position yet and can be seen reasoning through problems that experienced edge players react to instinctively. Like Caleb Bluiett, Cottrell will benefit from repeated reps at one position and the muscle memory it engenders. He's around 6-2, 235, but that's on a long, lean frame that should be able to hold 250+.

Cottrell compiled a solid list of offers (Oregon, Arizona St, Arkansas, Vandy) while impressing on the camp circuit and he's a high character kid. He's a solid recruiting class flyer with a perceptible upside based on his athletic ability, frame, and inexperience at the position. He needs a redshirt and some time to develop.

Torshiro Davis

Torshiro-san is a pure speed rusher (6-2, 220, 4.55 40) with the potential to turn every 3rd and 9 into a violent track meet. The #2 rated player in Louisiana and a Top 100 national prospect. Early on in his career, he'll be a situational pass rusher, but as he adds weight and strength, he'll be able to stay on the field for longer stretches as a WDE. His quickness and ability to pursue will present serious problems for running teams that leave the backside unblocked as he has the potential to run down ball carriers much like Sergio Kindle. Shiro is actually a perfect fit for the 3-4 as an OLB, but Manny Diaz is in the process of teaching us all that positions are just hooks to hang your hat on. Once you've secured the middle of the field and own the corners, everyone else is just a potential QB harasser or zone dropper.

I'm encouraged that Davis is as successful as he is without any real pass rushing moves to speak of - his efficacy will kick up a few notches when Oscar Giles teaches him to do something beyond a track stance and relentless pursuit. From a developmental standpoint, Torshiro's improvement will be centered around adding good weight and developing technical proficiency. At the very least, Davis should be a situational asset. A full realization of his talent has him playing Sundays.

Overall

We got our pure pass rusher in Davis, a solid developmental in Cottrell, and a physical freak in Ridgeway. All three are zero drama Mack Brown kids to boot. Pretty stoked about how we closed this position out late.

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