Texas football lands athletic, powerful 4-Star IOL Daniel Cruz

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The most recent addition to the 2024 Texas football recruiting class arrived on the evening of June 28, with the highly touted four-star North Richland Hills (TX) Richland interior offensive lineman Daniel Cruz. Texas and offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Kyle Flood landed their second interior offensive lineman commit in the last four days. Cruz joined the class with four-star Humble (TX) Atascocita product Nate Kibble.

Kibble committed to the Longhorns 2024 class just after the conclusion of his official visit on June 25.

Texas landed Cruz’s commitment over offers from nearly 30 other schools, including the Oklahoma Sooners, Texas A&M Aggies, Ohio State Buckeyes, and Alabama Crimson Tide.

Cruz also visited Texas officially last weekend (specifically from June 23-25). Flood and the Longhorns knocked it out of the park with Cruz during his fourth trip to campus since the first Junior Day of the offseason on Jan. 21.

Flood has long made Cruz one of the top interior offensive line targets in the 2024 class. Texas offered Cruz more than one year ago. And he was one of the most frequent visitors among the interior offensive line offers in the 2024 class since Texas offered him in early June 2022.

Texas football gets its top center target in the 2024 class in 4-Star IOL Daniel Cruz

Flood identified Cruz early on in this cycle as the top center target for the Longhorns in the 2024 class. Cruz isn’t necessarily from that traditional “big human” type mold that Flood likes to recruit along the offensive line.

But the 6-foot-3 and 295-pound interior offensive lineman out of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is still a strong player that can effectively move bodies off the line of scrimmage. Cruz is also the type of body-mover Texas needs at the center position to more effectively run the ball and avoid the pocket from collapsing up the middle in pass protection.

Cruz is an excellent athlete with quick feet and explosive drive off the line of scrimmage. There aren’t many defensive or nose tackles that will beat Cruz off the ball rushing the passer or in the ground game. Cruz’s quick hands also prevent any interior defensive linemen from getting free once he gets squared up.

Size won’t be an issue for Cruz

And while Cruz isn’t as big as some of the other interior offensive linemen Flood has recruited to the Longhorns in the last couple of cycles, he still has more than adequate size and a large enough wingspan to be effective at center against Power Five competition. He could top out around 6-foot-4 and 315 or 320-pounds at the collegiate level, which is a good-size frame for a center.

Cruz also plays bigger than his frame would otherwise indicate. He plays with tremendous pad-level technique with the right hip and knee bend to get the proper leverage on opposing linemen at the line of scrimmage.

It also helps that Cruz has good balance and is so agile. He can keep his balance and finish blocks, which allows him to easily climb to the next level to create running lanes down the field in run blocking.

Cruz will be a consistent and reliable force in run blocking and pass pro

Texas is getting the type of reliable and consistent presence it needs to stabilize the interior offensive line in pass pro and get a bigger push to move bodies off the line of scrimmage along the interior in run blocking with Cruz. The athletic center out of DFW has the good hands and quick first step off the line of scrimmage necessary to win battles in run blocking.

He also takes the proper angles and knows where to be to complete his blocking assignments effectively in pass pro.

Areas of improvement

This will be one of the shorter “areas of improvement” sections I’ll write this cycle for a commitment breakdown. The only broad area Cruz needs to improve is adding size. He needs to add around 15 or 20 more pounds in muscle mass before he’ll be ready to compete in the trenches against Power Five-level linemen.

Another finer point of Cruz’s game that he could improve upon is the angles he takes approaching blocks a few levels deep against opposing defenses. For him to become a more complete and dominant run blocker, Cruz will be able to need to finish those blocks down the field.

Cruz’s trajectory and fit at Texas

There’s a good chance that Cruz could wind up being the best offensive lineman that Flood and the Longhorns sign in the 2024 class. While most of the recruiting services do peg him as a mid-tier four-star prospect, I could easily see us looking back on this class with the hindsight of him being one of the 10 or 15 best interior offensive linemen in the mix.

Cruz is a well-rounded and effective interior offensive lineman helping to fill a future position of need on the Forty Acres at center. Cruz could push for a spot on the two-deep in his first year on campus if he gets his frame ready to compete against SEC linemen in the next 18 months.

I would expect Cruz to be a multi-year starter that could anchor the Texas offensive line well into the future.

Next. 3 summer enrollees impressing in workouts for Texas. dark

Texas is now up to eight commits in the 2024 class after landing Cruz on June 28. According to the 247Sports Team Composite Rankings, the 2024 Texas recruiting class ranks No. 47 in the nation.

More commitments are expected to follow Cruz in the Longhorns 2024 class shortly. Stay tuned with Hook’em Headlines to keep up with all the action and recruiting analyses for Longhorns football this summer.