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12 Recruits Who Will Define A Successful 2017 Texas Longhorn Recruiting Class

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Finding the right intersection of talent and fit.

Predicting Charlie Strong’s most important targets in August, 2016 for a February, 2017 signing day is a perilous business for a head coach that likes to keep his own counsel and let senior seasons play out before making his move. However, after my latest HUDL recruiting dork deep dive, I have a dozen favorite recruits that I’m confident touting as the best combination of need, attainability, talent and fit to our systems.

If Strong can ink 2/3 of these athletes, Texas will have a monster class. 10/12 would put me on my fainting couch. 6/12 would be solid.

My 2017 state of Texas recruiting super targets:

  1. Baron Browning - Fox End
  2. Marvin Wilson - Defensive Tackle
  3. Lagaryonn Carson - Defensive Tackle (Texas)
  4. Walker Little - Offensive Tackle
  5. JK Dobbins - Running Back (Ohio State)
  6. Anthony Hines - Linebacker
  7. K’Lavon Chaisson - Fox End/Linebacker
  8. Paulson Adebo - Cornerback (Notre Dame)
  9. Sam Ehlinger - Quarterback (Texas)
  10. Montrell Estell - Safety (Texas)
  11. Taquon Graham - Strongside Defensive End
  12. Damion Miller - Wide Receiver (Texas)

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Baron Browning - Kennedale

When a 6-3, 230 pounder moves like a jaguar on crystal meth on film, deadlifts 600+ as a junior at a sanctioned powerlifting meet (getting three green lights is a higher standard than what you pass off as your seated curl max, bro) and exhibits top notch character traits, he’s #1 on my list. Sergio Kindle without the narcolepsy.

Why? This defense needs a difference maker on the edge.

Fit: Fox End/Linebacker

Marvin Wilson - Houston Episcopal

He’s basically Shaun Rogers. Well, we don’t know that he’s Shaun Rogers. But...he’s Shaun Rogers. He has a really high floor and his ceiling isn’t too shabby.

Why? Elite interior DL don’t require explanation.

Fit: DT.

Lagaryonn Carson - Liberty Eylau

If Wilson represents the highest DL floor of any recruit in Texas (and arguably the country) the current Longhorn commit has the highest ceiling. He’s that talented. He needs to handle his business off of the field and the on-field will take care of itself here in Austin. Given that caution, I may very well have him overrated, but it’s all right there on film. I’m a sucker for upside.

Why? See Marvin Wilson.

Fit: DT.

Walker Little - Houston Episcopal

Little doesn’t live up to his surname and he has much better athletic attributes and movement than one would expect in a young 6-6, 305 pounder. Huge, well proportioned, coordinated athletes with non-stop motors are easy evals. He’s a very rare talent.

Why? In a small 2017 OL class (3 max), hits are a must.

Fit: OT.

JK Dobbins - La Grange

If you’ve read here a while, you know I think 95% of RBs are a creation of their surrounding talent and I tend to view them as fungible commodities that fans overhype and GMs overpay. So take note of my ranking. He’s the ballcarrier I’d create in a lab for this offense. Currently an Ohio State commit, but I ain’t skerrd.

Why? We want durability, lateral agility, tackle-breaking and elusiveness in one package.

Fit: HB.

Anthony Hines - Plano East

The rarest unicorn on the board - the every down interior linebacker who can stuff the run, cover in space, get deep drops and blitz the passer. With a a high football IQ. Imagine if OU’s Rocky Calmus ran a 4.5 40. I want enlightenment points for a cross racial and rival comparison.

Why? Because three down interior linebackers in the spread era are rarer than an honest politician.

Fit: Any LB.

K’Lavon Chaisson - North Shore

Ever see Derrick Johnson play when he was at Waco High? I did. Chaisson has that level of quickness and body control. SPARQ scores don’t capture that, but film sure as hell does. This is not the guy you want to slap box with. If recruiting is about grabbing pure mayhem upside, Chaisson is your guy.

Why? Because he’s the quickest, best athlete on the field in every game he plays.

Fit: OLB or Fox DE.  Chaisson has football playerness - don’t fret position.

Paulson Adebo - Mansfield

Who? Paulson Adebo, that’s who. AKA Saiid Adebo. Adebo committed early to Notre Dame and hasn’t received the recruiting rankings or accolades he deserves. Is it his "slow" 4.5 40 time? Maybe. Now watch him move in pads. Do you care about his 40 anymore? Good. Note how impressive he is as a receiver, too. Why does Texas have a chance? Good kid, school legitimately matters to him and his hips are more fluid than Shakira’s. When we beat Notre Dame by 30, he’ll know what time it is (puts down fourth Zima).

Why? Because long cornerbacks that move, recover and break on the ball that well are obvious.

Fit: CB.

Sam Ehlinger - Austin Westlake

Ehlinger worked his way up the rankings honestly with a strong junior season and earned the nod as Charlie's single 2017 take.  Strong leadership skills, mobility, above average arm.

Why?  Strong intangibles and skills that translate well to a wide open spread offense.

Fit: QB

Montrell Estell - Hooks

I’m such a homer. Nah. Estell is really that good. Inside Texas recruiting analyst Eric Nahlin remarked to me that Estell will answer the question,"What if Mykkele Thompson had been coached by Strong for four years?" Well, we hope it’s four. Estell is a more natural, instinctive football player than Thompson at the same stage. He plays the Win The Game For Us position at Hooks and it’s almost as if his lack of specialization is held against him instead of being seen as the boon that it is.

Why? A ball hawking safety with length, balls skills and crazy lateral range is Charlie Strong’s dream.

Fit: Safety. (Athletic enough to get looks at CB, WR)

Taquon Graham - Temple

Graham combines good film with good athletic attributes, is putting on good weight and exhibits all of the soft skills one could want for our tricky SDE position. He’ll play the run, get after the passer and can play tough inside when Texas goes to a 3-3-5. DT isn’t completely out of the question if he breaks 280, but I think his sweet spot is 265-275.

Why? Perfect combination of scheme fit to talent.

Fit: SDE.

Damion Miller - Tyler John Tyler

A big strong receiver who can run and separate. The Texas commitment is a crucial keeper and the Horns need big, strong natural ball catchers to make the deep and screen games go.

Why? Texas needs physical mismatches at wide receiver, not JAGs.

Fit: WR.

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Happy to answer any questions and give my opinions on anyone else you’d like to discuss.

Where are other heralded athletes that I really like such as Jeffrey Okudah, Tyrese Robinson, Edward Ingram and Jack Anderson?  Not coming to Texas.

Obviously, there’s at least another dozen guys who just missed the list I’d be happy to talk about as well. Senior film and staff detective work will likely have us revisiting our assumptions as the season plays out.

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Read the best 2016 Texas Football Preview available.