November 29, 2007

Breaking down recruiting: The defense

As the Texas Longhorns get knee deep in trying to finish off the 2008 recruiting class, we at Orangebloods.com thought it was time to break down the current commitment list, while also providing a very extensive look at what needs the Longhorns still have to fill.

What positions do the Longhorns need to continue to seek? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current class? Here's a full position-by-position breakdown of UT's recruiting class with just over two months until signing day. Today we look at the defense.

Defensive tackles

Players currently on scholarship: Roy Miller (2008), Ben Alexander (2009), Brian Ellis (2010) and Tyrell Higgins (2011) and Michael Wilcoxon (2011)

Needs for this year: Two or three

Current commitments: (2) Cedar Hill's Jarvis Humphrey and Beaumont Kelly's Kheeston Randall

Players still on the radar: None.

Overview: It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that this position could be a problem spot down the road, possibly as soon as next season. While Miller gives the Longhorns an All-Big 12 caliber talent at one spot, there's not a sure fire difference maker in the rest of the group, although Ellis has the potential to be a breakout performer. While the Longhorns have four players that are scheduled to remain on the roster for at least two more years, this group needs a boost in talent and landing Humphrey and Randall will help considerably. The Longhorns are rumored to be looking for another defensive tackle, but no names have popped up as strong targets. Don't be surprised if a name or two shows up in the next week or two. This could serve as protection in the event that Randall leaves for LSU or they might simply feel like they need another player to add to the mix. Regardless, they reportedly aren't standing pat.

Current recruiting grade: A-

Defensive ends

Players currently on scholarship: Brian Orakpo (2008), Aaron Lewis (2008), Henry Melton (2008), Lamarr Houston (2009), Sam Acho (2010), Eddie Jones (2010) and Russell Carter (2011)

Needs for this year: One or two

Current commitments: None

Players still on the radar: Denton Ryan's Josh Williams

Overview: The goal each year should always be to land as many edge rushers as possible. If you see a potential difference maker at defensive end, you take him regardless of the numbers. This year the Longhorns are in a position of having great young talent in the program, so the need for a dynamic talent is extreme, but it always exists. Adding Williams would help offset the loss of five-star R.J. Washington because he probably has the second best set off edge skills in the state.

Current recruiting grade: B

Linebackers

Players currently on scholarship: Rashad Bobino (2008), Roddrick Muckelroy (2009), Jared Norton (2009), Sergio Kindle (2009), Dustin Earnest (2010) and Keenan Robinson (2011)

Needs for this year: Two or three

Current commitments: (2) Dallas St. Mark's Emmanuel Acho and Nederland's Dravannti Johnson

Players still on the radar: None

Overview: This has been a position that has haunted the Longhorns for the last two decade, but the program would appear to be in great shape, at least in the starting line-up, for at least the next couple pf years. However, the overall numbers in the program need a boost, so adding several players to the mix was a must. The Longhorns landed their top two targets in-state, but neither is a national top 100 player. Also, Johnson is going to start out at linebacker, but he might eventually become a guy that spins down to end. If that's the case, the coaches might be undersigning at the position by one or two. Of course, it's not as if elite linebackers grow on trees in this state and the staff is unwilling to test the waters too much out of state.

Current recruiting grade: B-

Cornerbacks

Players currently on scholarship: Ryan Palmer (2008), Deon Beasley (2009), Chykie Brown (2010) and Curtis Brown (2010),

Needs for this year: Two

Current commitments: (2) Angleton's D.J. Monroe and Round Rock McNeil's Aaron Williams

Players still on the radar: None

Overview: You'd be hard-pressed to find a position where the Longhorns have recruited better in the last couple of years. Williams is arguably the state's top player/prospect and Monroe is a consensus top ten guy and a slam-dunk national top 100 choice. You won't find a school in the country that landed two better corners.

Current recruiting grade: A+

Safeties

Players currently on scholarship: Ishie Oduegwu (2009), Ben Wells (2011), Christian Scott (2011), and Earl Thomas (2011)

Needs for this year: Two

Current commitments: (2) Denver Mullen's Nolan Brewster and Leander's Blake Gideon

Players still on the radar: Los Angeles (Ca.) Dorsey's Rahim Moore

Overview: This is a bit of shaky position right now because there's a strong vibe out there that Brewster will soon change his commitment from Texas to Minnesota. If that happens, the Longhorns will be in a tight spot because their only other safety commitment isn't as highly regarded as Williams or Monroe at corner. The word on the street is that the Longhorns are looking very hard at possible safety prospects and you can pretty much bet the house that the team will make a very strong attempt to bring in another safety into this class.

Current recruiting grade: Incomplete


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