No beach rest for the weary.
Assuming 20 scholarships available (that could stretch to a couple more), Texas will need a balanced class that should focus on state elites and some supplementary national types. We won't have the luxury of attacking problems with numbers, so the staff will have to be judicious with their committable offers.
Particular care to quality and appropriate numbers will need to be paid to the DL, OT, QB, DB.
Why include DB after 2015's successful class? Because DB, always.
Our staff finished out 2015 riding Malikmentum and our head man as the late closer, but they were also playing catch-up on a serious of missteps, larger recruiting staff inefficiencies, an understandable lack of familiarity with the Texas recruiting terrain and at least two recruiting duds on the staff, at least one of whom sold Strong a fake bill of goods. The folks Strong retained and hired to create state continuity and foment opportunity for a staff alien to the Lone Star State were mistakes. We already knew that. But he found out. The staff jettisoned some bad weight, but it still needs to be infused with folks who know the Texas talent corridors cold and another rainmaker who can create opportunities rather than just engage in diligent follow through.
As a consequence, Texas is behind in 2016. Even if we consider that some of the early commitments to TCU, Baylor and ATM are just placeholders to explore other options. That ground can be made up, but certain personality types never let you in if you're not there early and your on-field product requires selling a vision over the current reality.
Tons of players will emerge - don't treat the targets as definitive - just a handful of the known knowns. I have zero grasp of our current out-of-state interests. None. They're just names to me. So I'll stick in-state.
OFFENSE - 8-12 (10 +/- 2)
QB - 1-2. Two makes sense if Locksley's passing skills don't progress in camp or we fail to nab a graduate transfer with multiple years of eligibility. If we don't hit on our guy here, it would be fairly disastrous.
Target: Shane Buechele, Arlington Lamar. Polished, smart, mobile spread QB with average size. Reminds me of JW Walsh. I like the direction he'd keep our offense moving in.
RB - 1-2. I'm fine with taking one if Kirk Johnson stays at RB. FBs just sort of happen with failed LBs, halfbacks who can't stay svelte or TEs. You could pencil in 2016 commit Demarco Boyd here though.
Target: I'm not sure we've decided on our target yet. We may not know until July. Devwah Whaley played with PJ Locke at Beaumont Central so we've seen plenty of tape and, just down the road in Port Arthur, Baylor commit Kam Martin is a good place to start for an all-purpose speedster.
WR - 2-3. We may be done with California stud Collin Johnson (click on his name for junior film) and Reggie Hemphill in the fold. That would be a damn good two man class. The addition of a third receiver depends largely on how the 2013 and 2014 classes continue to pan out (Warrick, Oliver, Gray, Leonard, Joe, Foreman, Bernard).
Target: Keep Hemphill and Johnson, monitor the half dozen receivers on roster I listed above. Devin Duvernay, Courtney Lark (TCU) and Dee Anderson (LSU) are some of the big names out there in-state.
OL - 3-4. Texas needs to focus on the elite here and landing at least two true tackles (left, preferrably) is imperative. We're behind on the identified best in-state, but fortunately OL is a position that tends to churn out late bloomers who are discovered during the summer before their senior year. We will almost certainly need to go out-of-state here.
Target: Allen's Gregory Little is committed to A&M. Jean Delance is committed to OU. We botched Silsbee's Patrick Hudson (Baylor) early, but there's time. We need to make up some ground and start identifying OOS options. Unfortunately for late starters, many OL have boxer dog dispositions - they commit early and tend not to look around.
TE - 1. We recruited well here in 2015 and we should try to do it again. If Texas can get to where it can credibly run two TE sets where each guy represents legit receiving and blocking threats, it's pretty much the Holy Grail of offensive diversity and efficiency.
Target: Flower Mound's Kaden Smith is ridiculously complete. The NFL prototype. Hands, body control, violent motion blocker, fantastic frame that will hold 250+. We're behind Stanford and Alabama right now. We should go all in on him.
The standard positional designations for Strong's preferred front 7 against different offenses can be deceiving - we're looking for certain body types and skill sets, not a perfect marriage of high school position to college. I like to think of the groups in three buckets - a true ILB (we only need 1 on the field), covered DL - this includes traditional DTs and the strong side DE - and traditional OLBs, DEs and hybrid Fox Ends who can be wildly variable types depending on their task. Fortunately, the state is brimming with quality candidates.
Covered DL - 4-5. Expect us to take three traditional DTs and at least one strong side DE that has the Cedric Reed/Alex Okafor aptitude for stalemating a double team as a 5 technique or lining up wide and getting a good pass rush when an offense goes pure spread. If this sometimes thankless position isn't manned properly, our defense takes a major schematic hit.
Targets: DTs - Ed Oliver (Houston Westfield). Kendell Jones (Killeen Shoemaker). Braylon Jones (Tyler John Tyler). Michael Williams (All Saints). SDEs - Justin Madubuike (McKinney). Isiaiah Chambers (Aldine).
Edge, DE/OLB - 2-3. Tons of excellent candidates. The hardest part will be focusing on only two, possibly three.
Targets: Jeffrey McCulloch (Aldine), Erick Fowler (Manor), Mark Jackson (Cibolo), Marvin Terry (South Oak Cliff), Brandon Bowen.
ILB - 0-1. Wheeler and Cherry have this covered from the 2015 class, but we'd take a blue chip.
DBs - 4-5. Several of the state's best safeties can play cornerback and some of the elite cornerbacks could be future free safeties. Don't sweat positional designations just yet. We need at least two of the elite.
Targets: Eric Monroe (North Shore), Deontay Anderson (Manvel), Brandon Jones (Nacogdoches), Jared Mayden (Sachse), Travon Fuller (Athens, ATM commit), Jaylon Jones (Allen).