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Evaluating the 2012 Texas Longhorns Recruiting Class: Wide Receiver

I should have known better than to try to categorize incoming players to my liking at a university with great engineering and accounting programs.

These are my things. They must be in a certain way! Scipio is willy-nilly!

My opinions of the film and athlete are the same, irrespective of what sub-heading a player finds himself under, so if you think Jalen Overstreet is a crypto-Peyton Manning or Daje Johnson is a future punter, that's cool. I acknowledge your freak out in advance and I share your frustration that my thoughtless categorization may sabotage the 2015 depth chart collage you're making.

gentle voice YOU ARE HEARD AND UNDERSTOOD gentle voice

I'll talk about Kendall Sanders, Jalen Overstreet, Caleb Bluiett, and Daje Johnson under the ATHLETE heading. //ducks//

Wide Receiver

Cayleb Jones

Son of former Cowboy LB Robert Jones and graduate of Austin Hiiiii! Opinions diverge on his ultimate college efficacy (steady possession receiver or Crabtree Part II?) and one can find substantiating evidence in the same highlight reel.

It doesn't take much viewing to realize that Jones has elite level ball skills and small space athleticism in a flexible 6-2, 200 pound frame. Strong, reliable hands that pluck the ball from the air far from his body, good spatial awareness, and a solid ability to get upfield after the catch. These are underrated attributes that big body receivers torture college football with annually.

Cayleb is quicker than he is fast and look at the 0:46 mark for an example of how that quickness serves him in creating separation - motion to the slot, a slow initial step to conceal route intention, and then a burst into his lateral break with two powerful strides; snatches the ball, explodes into the end zone. That's directly translatable to college football. You'll find similar evidence of his ability to accelerate out of a lateral break (then level out with no top gear) at 3:15.

The 2:04 mark is the counterpoint. Jones gets separation, hits the gas, and...drops a muffler. The safety walks him down sixty yards downfield. So he's a 4.65 40 guy. Can he be effective in college football? Of course. And 18 year olds get faster. Many of his type flatten out the NFL level, but I'm not sure why any college level evaluator cares. If you don't want Rashaun Woods on your college team, I'll take him, Mel Kiper Jr.

The other X factor for Jones is occasional immaturity paired with a knack for acquiring nagging injuries. As to the former, I expect most wide receivers to be moderate sociopaths, but the issue is how they channel it. Michael Irvin wore fur coats to court dates, but he also ran sprints after every Cowboy practice until he vomited.

For Jones to maximize at Texas, he'll need to develop upper body power, quickness, and Greco-Roman style leverage to separate from the press coverage he'll inevitably see when teams grow tired of him working the intermediate middle and striding clean releases to torture smaller cornerbacks on jump ball fades. Jones has serious athletic gifts - in the top 1/10th of 1% in some categories - but they'll stay wrapped under the tree against quality corners if he can't solve the first five yards. An accurate QB who can hit him on the move and allow him to post defenders on his back hip would also be nice.

Go get some Cris Carter film, Cayleb. He is your Obi-Wan.

Marcus Johnson

I knew very little about Marcus Johnson when he committed, but tracking his many verbal commitments is a pretty good indication of how his stock progressed in his senior season: Tech in the summer, A&M around Thanksgiving, Texas in December. Had his season continued, he may have been signed by the Houston Texans. Marcus may not be able to make up his mind on where he wants to go to school, but he looks pretty decisive on a football field. Johnson is a 6-1, 185 pound loooong strider with deceptive speed who reminds me a little of former KU WR Dez Briscoe. He's all legs and change of pace.

Unlike many long striders, Johnson has good balance - able to reverse field with a quick jab pivot - and has good body control. He takes a nice release on deep routes and though he doesn't have elite top end speed, he strikes me as a legit 4.5 guy, and he excels at getting downfield - his long strides eat up DB cushion deceptively fast and, time and again, you see cornerbacks playing well off still reacting late and safeties losing angles. It's a weird, sneaky athleticism and I have no idea how it translates to the next level. It's like the Viet Cong created a wide out.

He's not exactly a study in route diversity and I have no idea what leaves of the route tree he's familiar with, but he seems like a very solid addition to the 2012 class.


This class has other possibilities at wideout (Kendall Sanders) or maybe even in the slot (Daje Johnson) and though Thomas Johnson's pure speed and playmaking ability may be missed, both of these receiver takes certainly work for me.