National Signing Day is officially over. The Longhorns had a lot to be happy about, but success should come with caution. Texas had a wild, thrilling finish to the recruiting season by snagging seven players on National Signing Day, five of which were four-star recruits. But now is not the time to lose a level head regarding expectations for next season.
Texas head coach Charlie Strong is no stranger to recruiting success. Last year he landed the No. 10 class in the nation, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. This year, his class lands at No. 11, narrowly behind the previous year. Longhorns fans should be excited — bringing in more talent is never a bad thing. But anyone expecting Texas to contend for a national championship immediately may want to rethink their logic.
Following the recruitment of last year’s No. 10 class, the team went 5–7 in 2015. Inexperience from the freshmen class greatly contributed to the sub .500 record. While last year’s freshmen should develop into better players for the upcoming season, the need for Strong to complete his roster might bring result similar issues.
With defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway heading to the NFL, Strong and his staff knew they had to shore up the defensive line. They went out and signed five DTs in this class alone, three of which are four-star recruits. This should be considered good news, but any expectation that any of these freshmen could immediately replace an NFL-level talent would be misguided.
Recruitment rankings aren’t exactly a crystal ball. Texas’s 2009 recruiting class ranked sixth in the nation based on the 247Sports composite rankings. The class featured two five-star recruits, one of whom was Garrett Gilbert, the No. 1 overall quarterback in the class. Texas finished the 2009 season with a loss in the national championship. They followed the loss by recruiting the second best class in the nation for 2010.
The combination of the No. 6 and No. 2 classes was not enough for Texas to return to the national championship in 2010. In fact, it was not even enough for the Longhorns to return with a winning season; the Longhorns finished 5–7 that year. Gilbert, the top quarterback, had a lackluster season and eventually transferred to SMU.
Texas fans should be excited that talent is returning to Austin, but they should also allow Charlie Strong and his staff time to mold these young recruits before expecting a 10-win season. When it comes to recruiting, nothing is certain. The one thing we do know is that Strong has put together an outstanding class in exciting fashion. What he can do with that class won’t be evident till kickoff next season.