Texas hopes to wrap up 2014 class strongly

Drew Lieberman

National signing day for college football is Feb. 5, the day on which some high school seniors will sign their letters of intent to play at the next level.

Currently, Texas’ 2014 class sits at 21 commits, seven of which are ranked in the ESPN 300.

The class is headlined by defensive end Derick Roberson and quarterback Jerrod Heard, who are both expected to excel at Texas.

Texas has three early enrollees for the spring: offensive lineman Alex Anderson, linebacker Andrew Beck and JUCO tight end Blake Whiteley.

Looking purely from a ranking standpoint, Texas’ most recent classes — No. 16 in 2013 and, currently, No. 13 in 2014 — are disappointing in comparison to the previous four, which all finished in the top five.

Despite this, the Longhorns’ class still ranks first in the Big 12, one spot ahead of Oklahoma and two ahead of this year’s conference champion, Baylor.

Texas has been plagued by decommitments, something that wasn’t very common for most of former head coach Mack Brown’s tenure.

The 2013 class was highly touted early on, before it lost five commits, including receiver Ricky Seals-Jones to Texas A&M and defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson to Alabama. 

These decommitments led Brown to implement a no-visit policy for commits, which wasn’t a very effective deterrent, as players decommitted instead.

Since Brown’s resignation, a handful of players have decommitted, including all three defensive tackle pledges in the same week. It was a big blow since no defensive tackles were signed in 2013.

The Longhorns have serious interest in two out-of-state former Louisville commits — ESPN 300 defensive tackle Poona Ford and Florida defensive tackle Chris Nelson.  

At 6 feet tall, Ford lacks the height one would like at his position, but makes up for it with his ability to pressure the quarterback. Ford took his official visit to Texas recently and is imperative for the 2014 class.

Nelson showed ability to stop the run and plays in a position of need. He made his official visit this past weekend and would help continue new head coach Charlie Strong’s pipeline in Florida.

ESPN 300 linebacker Otaro Alaka decommited from Texas Sunday night and flipped to Texas A&M. A&M is the trendy school in Texas at the moment, and A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin is a masterful recruiter.

Many believe Texas was hurt by scheduling official visits while Brown was still in control, which meant recruits’ only chances to visit Austin with Strong were at their own expense.

Considering this and the staff’s unfamiliarity with recruits, it’s no surprise that this class is suffering with deflections.

These early struggles in recruiting should not be seen as a reflection of Strong. Texas’ 2015 class will be the first time people can truly judge Strong’s recruiting prowess, and, if he wins, Texas will recruit itself.