National Signing Day Primer: Texas Longhorns Defensive Board

USA TODAY Sports

A look at commitments and remaining targets in the 2013 defensive class.

Even though the college football season is over, the grind never ends. National Signing Day is just around the corner (Wednesday, February 6). In case you haven't been following the Texas Longhorns' recruiting efforts in the class of 2013, here is a National Signing Day Primer talking about the offense to keep you informed.

Prospects' measurables are per 247 Sports. Star rating and national ranking are per 247 Composite.

DEFENSIVE END (Needs: 1-2)

Commitments (1):
Jake Raulerson (Celina | 6' 5" | 260 lbs | 4*, 118th)
Outstanding Offers (0)
Other Potential Targets (0)

Since Daeshon Hall (Lancaster) decommited from Texas last June, the Longhorns don't have a true defensive end in the 2013 class. I listed Jake Raulerson here because he's called the "bell cow" of the 2013 class, and he deserves special mention for that. And...J.J. Watt (fingers crossed!). Raulerson, an early enrollee, took on the "bell cow" mantle after being the first player to commit in the class. He's served as ringleader and unofficial recruiter for the class, exhibiting leadership traits that will no doubt serve him well at Texas. There's some debate as to whether he will start his collegiate career at defensive end or offensive line, but he should make an immediate impact wherever he plays.

Late last year, the Longhorns pursued junior college prospect Za'Darius Smith (East Miss. C.C.), even bringing him in for an official visit during Banquet Weekend on December 6. Unfortunately, Smith committed to Kentucky a few weeks ago. There was some scuttlebutt that Texas would make a second run at Hall, but nothing of substance has materialized.

With rising seniors Jackson Jeffcoat and Reggie Wilson going into their final year, it may seem prudent for Texas to take another defensive end this year. Right now, it appears the Longhorns are done, instead turning their eye towards multiple end prospects in the 2014 class.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE (Needs: 1-2)

Commitments (1):
A'Shawn Robinson (Fort Worth Arlington Heights | 6' 5" | 302 lbs | 5*, 34th)
Outstanding Offers (1):
Andrew Billings
(Waco | 6' 2" | 315 lbs | 4*, 143rd)
Other Potential Targets (0)

Unarguably the most only interesting position remaining on defense, the Longhorns are hoping to hold onto their big fish in the 2013 class. A'Shawn Robinson is a five-star prospect that committed to Texas last February. He shot up recruiting boards after outstanding showings at summer camps. Unfortunately, that potential lead to blue chip coaches sniffing around. Despite being "100% committed" to Texas, Robinson has kept his recruitment active. Robinson visited Florida St. during the season, tripped to USC in December and Alabama in January.

Recruitniks still expect Robinson to stay close to home, and Texas got the last official visit from Robinson when he visited this past weekend. But both Alabama and USC aren't going away. Expect this recruitment to come down to Signing Day. It's what Hookem's Gerry Hamilton likes to call a "pen to paper" recruitment.

Texas also remains a favorite for Waco's Andrew Billings. He was originally recruited by Texas as an offensive lineman, despite vocalizing a preference to play defense. Earlier this month, Texas told him that he would be recruited as a DT, a favorable sign in his recruitment.

However, Billings' recruitment remains similar to Robinson's. Billings just took two official visits to his other finalists, Baylor and TCU, and came away with positive impressions of both schools. His commitment timetable is unknown.

Next season, Texas graduates two key members of the current defensive rotation in Chris Whaley and Ashton Dorsey. In addition, the Longhorns just lost junior Brandon Moore to the NFL Draft, perhaps prompting the position change offer to Billings.

LINEBACKER (Needs: 2-3)

Commitments (2):
Deoundrei Davis (Cypress Woods | 6' 1.5" | 210 lbs | 4*, 125th)
Naashon Hughes (Harker Heights | 6' 4" | 211 lbs | 3*, 560th)
Outstanding Offers (0)
Other Potential Targets (0)

The Longhorns have two firm commitments at linebacker. Like Raulerson, Deoundrei Davis is already enrolled at Texas, though he is rehabbing from a torn ACL during his senior year and will miss spring practice. Davis is considered a spin-down candidate and may eventually wind up at defensive end.

Naashon Hughes initially committed as a grey shirt prospect, a scenario where the player enrolls in the spring after their graduation, thereby counting towards next year's class and scholarship allotment. However, Texas' coaching staff recently changed that to a full scholarship offer, rewarding Hughes' patience. Naashon is the younger brother of Texas freshman Camhron Hughes, who redshirted this year.

Texas thought they had a third commitment in De'Vondre Campbell (Hutchinson C.C.), a JUCO linebacker who visited Texas in December. However, Campbell did not graduate in time to enroll in spring ball and elected to commit to Kansas St. instead. There doesn't appear to be any other linebacker prospects on Texas' radar at this time.

The Longhorns have two rising seniors in Jordan Hicks and Demarco Cobbs. However, Hicks could apply for a medical redshirt after appearing in just three games this year.

CORNERBACK (Needs: 1-2)

Commitments (2):
Antwaun Davis (Bastrop | 6' 0" | 180 lbs | 4*, 135th)
Chevoski Collins (Livingston | 5' 11" | 185 lbs | 3*, 392nd)
Outstanding Offers (0)
Other Potential Targets (0)

Duane Akina will add two more athletes to his stable. Consistent with Akina's "Four Corners" philosophy, both Antwaun Davis and Chevoski Collins look like they could cross-train at cornerback and safety. Davis was a highly regarded sophomore, but an injury caused his stock to drop during his junior year. He appears to have fully recovered and ready to contribute to Texas.

Athlete Chevoski Collins garnered interest from schools on both sides of the ball, but will start at Texas as a defensive back. He committed in October, at which point Texas appeared to close up shop at cornerback.

Akina always seems to be reloading, not rebuilding, his secondary. Still, starting CB Carrington Byndom will be a senior next year, and his running mate, Quandre Diggs, may shift to safety to fill the role vacated by departing stud Kenny Vaccaro. Akina has been unafraid to play guys early to get them reps, and both Davis and Collins will be in the mix for immediate playing time as Texas tries to groom another "DBU" great.

SAFETY (Needs: 1-2)

Commitments (1):
Erik Huhn (Cibolo Steele | 6' 2" | 205 lbs | 3*, 412th)
Outstanding Offers (1):
Vonn Bell (Rossville (GA) Ridgeland | 5' 11.5" | 180 lbs | 5*, 27th)
Other Potential Targets (0)

The Longhorns added a "surprise" recruit in June when they took a commitment from Erik Huhn. The hard-hitting safety had not really been linked with Texas prior to his commitment. Recently, there had been rumors that Huhn may look around, especially since his high school coach had just taken a coaching job with Texas Tech. However, Huhn has shot those rumors down and plans to sign with Texas next week.

The only "outstanding" offer is a token one. Texas hasn't really been in communication with Bell since the summer, though Bell remains uncommitted going into Signing Day. Surely, the Longhorns would take a commitment from Bell if proffered. But he won't.

From a depth perspective, the Longhorns will lose rising senior Adrian Phillips, who spent time at both safety and nickel back last season. As mentioned above, Diggs may shift to safety to compensate for the loss of Vaccaro, though Diggs could be considered an NFL early entry candidate as well if he has a strong junior season.

OUTLOOK

Besides a possible commitment from Billings, the Longhorns are mostly "All Quiet on the Western Front" when it comes to the defensive side of the ball. In addition to the Billings' pursuit, the staff has been in scramble mode to keep Robinson in the fold. The coaching staff is high on the current crop of freshmen and sophomores, but a small 2013 class means Texas can't afford many misses from this group.

Holding onto Robinson is obviously priority #1 and will be the big story heading into Signing Day. Texas fans will hold off popping the champagne until Robinson signs. The Billings decision could come before, on, or after Signing Day. It's a mystery at this point. All the other positions look locked, but it's possible that a new name or two may pop up by Signing Day.

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