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2015 Texas Recruiting Class Breakdown: DB. PJ Locke, Kris Boyd, Holton Hill, DeShon Elliott, Davante Davis

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The best position group in the 2015 Texas class sparkles on film.

Kris Boyd

Boyd was a monster at state champion Gilmer.  He scored 75 touchdowns in 3 years (31 offensive touchdowns as a senior while averaging 9.8 yards per carry and 22.4 yards per catch) and played heavy snaps on defense when needed, where he erased receivers and supported against the run with gusto.  If he wasn't benched in the early 3rd quarter with a 40 point lead in most of his games, Boyd could have done real damage on the state record books.

Whenever I see a cat quick, highly skilled high school player who also has a bit of a mean streak, I can't help but think of former Longhorn great Nasty Nathan Vasher.  Though Boyd is bigger at the same age.  Kris could excel on either side of the ball (I truly believe he could excel at RB a la Mizzou's Henry Josey or be a high level slot WR - please see his cuts at 0:52 and the first run on this HUDL film - filthy), but the Horns have him slated for cornerback where his reactive agility, hips loose enough to sink ships and competitiveness will be combined with our staff's mastery of DB development to create something pretty interesting.  I like shutdown cornerbacks.  I like shutdown cornerbacks who snatch the ball instead of batting it and return it 90 yards even more.  Want to combat the modern spread?  Don't stop it. Punish it.

If we held a draft of the Longhorn prospects, I'd feel sick to my stomach if I passed up Boyd for anyone else.  His upside is that high.  Boyd hails from a tough situation and needs structure and care in his life and while I'm selfishly pleased he ended up at Texas for his athletic potential, I think this staff also has the best chance of keeping him on the right side of the decision tree.

PJ Locke

The least heralded late addition to our class is, for me, some proof of the inefficiencies of the scouting market.  Want to be overlooked?  Do the following few things: Commit early to a far away OOS school (Oregon) that typically recruits under the radar and against type despite their decade long run of on-field success, play in an under sourced region which combines the characteristics of both rural and urban desolation where Rivals types never venture (it's easier to watch Allen play Cedar Hill nine times), blossom late (1st Team All State with 7 interceptions as a senior, 1 as a junior), have a weird Earl Thomas frame and an un-sculpted body, don't make yourself an easy projection as a sophomore when opinions are already calcifying, come out in a year where it's a loaded DB class statewide and, finally, do absolutely nothing to raise your profile by working the summer camp circuits relentlessly or having a private trainer/head coach who is connected and mailing the scouts like an Amway rep.

Locke did all of that successfully.  However, his film just doesn't match up with his rating.  Vance Bedford noticed.  It's nice when your contingency plan is a better player than the guy you lost.  Though he didn't replace big safety Jamile Johnson in future role - he replaced Tim Irvin as our dedicated nickel - and I believe he's an absolutely comparable athlete.  I have no idea what his long speed is, but his short area quickness is very good and he's a real problem against the run. He'll help set the extended edge over the slot and should be able to rough up the little guys while keeping pace with their shifty feet.  I also see a ton of instincts there when we play off in Cover Three.  If you haven't figured it out yet, Strong and his staff value instincts, quickness and raw aggression over all else.  I think they may know what they're doing.

Locke is real and I'll add him to my All-Underrated Team with guys like Johnson, Lampkin and Williams without reservation. If this is supposed to be the 5th best dude in a 5 man DB class, we're straight up stealing.

Holton Hill

The NFL prototype matched potential with great production, snagging 11 interceptions as senior for a Houston Lamar program that churns out great DB prospects (and people - see Kelson and Babers) like a Manila sweatshop.  When a cornerback stands over 6 feet and can turn his hips, evaluators go nuts. They should.

I was sold on Hill the minute I saw him returning interceptions and punts - he has some wiggle and dynamism - and too often tall corners are straight liners who can't break their hips and end up being exploited by the Steve Smith/Antonio Brown receiver types. Check that - Brown schools everyone.  Hill, unsurprisingly for a Strong DB recruit, also likes to mix it up, exhibits real instincts in off coverage and is still 20 pounds shy of his collegiate playing weight.  If he doesn't stick at corner, he's an ideal FS candidate.

Such an obvious projection to the next level, his virtues don't require any hype from me.  Look at size.  Watch the film. Also, strong alliteration.  Hol-ton Hillllllll from Hewwwws-tun.  Big plus there.

DeShon Elliott

Ho-hum.  Another great evaluation from the staff.  Booooring. When we got Elliott's commitment, he was a middling 3 star who many saw as a future hybrid LB.  Not athletic enough for safety, too small for linebacker.  TCU licked their chops in anticipation and Gary Patterson fist pumped that people still don't get it.  Then things shifted.  The scramble for revisionism on Elliott over the last year is comparable to a Japanese nationalist's head spin after reading Unbroken. A strong senior year and a first hand look at his ability to run, break laterally and cover space at Under Armour practices proved that the versatile Elliott makes tweener a compliment rather than a nebulous insult.

Elliott is big-framed, aggressive and moves well laterally.  He shows well as a single high safety, in Cover 2 and 3, as a walked up strong safety and even in limited man-to-man situations underneath with help over the top.  Could Elliott play a hybrid linebacker role one day?  Sure.  Can Lebron James play power forward?  Did I just compare a high school recruit to Lebron James?  Not exactly.  But the key takeaway is that he appears to be athletic enough to do just about whatever the staff wants, wherever they want.

When Charlie Strong mentions a player by name with a little grin as someone not sleep on, we probably shouldn't take it lightly.

Davante Davis

The big Floridian has good instincts, a desire for contact and real playmaking ability.  FSU circled back on him late (they had bigger DB fish to fry) but he stuck with UT and will bring some South Florida flavor to our defensive backfield. Davis is our tallest DB recruit and while he won't be moving around like Kris Boyd out there, he covers ground surprisingly well despite measured attributes that sit in the fat middle of the bell curve.  Davis sort of glides around covering space, accelerates, then a ball gets swatted, plucked or something violent happens.  In fact, if you watch general film of his loaded Booker T Washington team, it's Davante Davis who keeps getting his number called.  He's not the most talented athlete on the field, but he makes play after play.  I think he's properly rated, but guys with his profile can totally transform with three square meals a day and a weight room.

Davis could end up in a number of roles, but a Jason Hall emulating enforcer safety makes sense to me.  I'm skeptical on cornerback unless we're moving to a heavy dose of pure zone.  If I have any concerns about Davis, it's his ability to exist in pure man coverage at the highest levels facing real quarterbacks (South Florida is loaded but their QB play is generally...interesting), but our defensive staff does such a nice job of mixing up coverages without hanging safeties out to dry that it will take some solid scheming to exploit him.  At the very minimum, Davis is going to bring high level depth and special teams help.