Charlie Strong and his new Texas staff will have a lot of work to do between January 15th when the dead period ends and national signing day on February 5th. They'll need to retain key commitments, evaluate the current class, expand recruiting breadth and width, and skillfully encourage attrition among the kinds of projects that Strong and his staff don't want to take on while managing the potential outrage from Mackolytes who have been trained to settle.
Here's the current class of 21 courtesy of Orangebloods.
25-40% of this class needs to be upgraded or at least reconsidered. The remainder is either quality or at least intriguing in a real football program that develops talent instead of eternally focusing on the next plug and play high school savior. We badly need difference makers and to retain the top half of the class (note: my top half may vary slightly from the paysites, but the 4 stars are a good half dozen to start with).
Some attrition will likely occur over the next few weeks. Some of that attrition is positive. Bodies don't address depth issues. Good players do. Consider who that player is before panicking.
Should Texas Honor All Commitments?
Yes. With a caveat.
For those that don't fit into our plans, inform them that we're opening up recruiting at their position, show them how they fit into our new philosophy and provide them with an honest appraisal of prospective playing time. Then focus time and effort elsewhere. A couple might still come to Austin (as Texas is by far their best option), but most will move on where they feel wanted.
Kevin Shorter's scholarship is obviously honored.
Mack Brown and his staff did a poor job of balancing need vs. available talent in 2014. We loaded up where the state was middling and failed at the positions where it was strong. We also went out of state in unhelpful, nearly random ways.
I'm not going to doubt the last staff's effort or intelligence on the recruiting trail, but...I seriously doubt their effort and intelligence on the recruiting trail.
Texas lost three defensive tackle recruits today. None of them blew me away and one of them wasn't going to qualify. Unfortunately, it's a major need. Longview's Zaycoven Henderson managed the impressive feat of making four pledges to three different schools in one day (Texas, Texas Tech, back to Texas, Texas A&M). He was, of course, originally a TCU commit. Must be a nightmare at Nordstrom.
We'll have to consider JUCO, re-examine Texas, hit Florida, check out Louisville recruits, and post ads in Defensive Line Daily under help wanted. There are always late movers and repositioning possibilities (check out Trey Carter highlights, Dallas Pinkston) and fresh eyes may help.
We have three and they none of them will be confused with Earl Thomas. Given the deep bench of 2014 Texas DB talent, that's negligence. Strong and Vance Bedford need to approach every good to elite DB in the state. Start with Jamal Adams and work down. Maybe new management will kindle an interest.
Jerrod Heard is a great prospect, but the depth situation on campus is potentially dire. The JUCO ranks are said to be barren. We need a transfer. Florida's Tyler Murphy represents an immediately eligible option (however limited an option he is) while Georgia Tech's Vad Lee would have to sit out a year. Where is the next Russell Wilson?
It's not like we're loaded anywhere. RB is potentially alarming if Gray doesn't fully recover from his Achilles. So any impact player is welcome. In-state studs like DE Solomon Thomas and LB/S Edwin Freeman are still uncommitted and should be priorities, with Thomas possibly even solving interior DL issues down the road.
Recruiting vs. Development
While Brown should be excoriated for a subpar 2014 class, the program had bigger issues with on-campus development. Strong represents an interesting experiment with respect to maximization - what can he do with some of these guys? The problem is that not all three stars are created equal and these aren't Strong guys.
What coaches like Strong tend to value in a three star is what I value - raw untapped potential, a frame that hasn't filled out because they don't lift or get good nutrition, late bloomers who were off of the camp circuits or have an idiot high school coach, late adoption of football (basketball power forward takes up football as a senior), or a physical deficiency that evaluators overplay etc. Brown and company tended towards maxed out program kids, legacies, the easy yes, or position switch projections where the attitudinal attributes for success may not be present at their new home.
Bottom line: Charlie Strong's idea of a promising three star will be different from Mack Brown. Mike Gundy and Art Briles certainly differed from Brown, too. So my hopes of truly running the Charlie Strong developmental experiment may have to wait until 2015.
Eager to hear your thoughts.