The Texas Longhorns have received 7 verbal commitments towards their 2015 recruiting class. It’s difficult to look far enough ahead to see where the holes in the roster will be a year from now, but it isn’t too early to speak generally about the kind of players Texas will need to sign next February.
They have a large need on the defensive interior, and specifically the defensive tackle position, that hasn’t been adequately addressed yet. But the vast majority of Texas’ contributing seniors this year will be on the offensive side of the ball.
2014 Seniors (starters + major contributors)
QB David Ash
RB Malcolm Brown
RB Joe Bergeron
WR Jaxon Shipley
TE Geoff Swaim
C Dominic Espinosa
DE Cedric Reed
DT Desmond Jackson
LB Steve Edmond
LB Kendall Thompson
CB Quandre Diggs
FS Mykkele Thompson
There’s a lot of seniors who will be major contributors on this year’s team, but perhaps a larger issue for the team’s 2015 recruiting efforts is the players who will be first time eligible for the NFL Draft. 2012 was Mack Brown’s last top-level recruiting class, and 2014 will be the third season out of high school for players in that class, including RB Johnathan Gray, LB Peter Jinkins, LB Dalton Santos, and DT Malcolm Brown. Gray might well be the best player on the roster, and Brown is somewhere in the top five.
On one hand, Charlie Strong’s first team was a darn good one. On the other hand, the Texas roster isn’t that strong in terms of depth. Strong was able to restock a good percentage of the defensive depth coming in this year (they’ll still need a strong defensive recruiting class in 2015 to put blue chippers on the field), but the depth on the offensive side of the ball is closer to graduation than the program is comfortable with. The last two recruiting classes have produced QB Tyrone Swoopes and WR Jacorey Warrick in terms of players expected to contribute this season. They are going to need a lot more help than that.
Here are the major Longhorn needs in the 2015 recruiting class:
1) Running Back
If this ends up being Johnathan Gray’s final season at Texas because of the NFL draft, the Longhorns could lose their top three running backs. One solution is to use former QB recruit Jalen Overstreet here, but the next starting RB at Texas is likely not on the roster yet.
2) Wide Receiver
Jaxon Shipley isn’t a great college receiver, but he’s not going to be easy to replace as a guy who has been a four year starter. This season will go a long way to determining how serious of a need the receiver position is.
Texas has continued to add linebacker depth in the 2013 and 2014 classes, and they return all three starting linebackers for the 2014 season. They need to find a blue chip prospect who can come in and play a lot of snaps as a freshman in 2015.
I didn’t list QB higher on the needs list because the situation is almost destined to be settled for 2015 at some point over the course of the 2014 season, but Texas will keep it’s eye on the Elite 11. If there’s one thing that Charlie Strong can change about this program, the level of quarterback recruit that Texas gets would be a great place to start. Not only has Texas not landed a 5-star QB in quite some time, but they haven’t always been in the conversation for the top QBs in the nation.
5) Tight End
Texas loses it’s top 2 TEs after the 2014 season. They do have M.J. McFarland here, but will need to find competition for the starting role in the 2015 recruiting class.
6) Defensive Tackle
Strong has made it a point to add depth to the defensive interior, but replacing a guy like Malcolm Brown at DT will be a challenge.