Texas football is not adequately represented in the NFL

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guenther | Daily Texan Staff

In May, four-star defensive lineman Tunmise Adeleye sparked outrage among the Longhorn faithful when he gave his reason for verbally committing to Ohio State over Texas.

“In the past 5 years (Texas has) only sent 15% of their 4 and 5 star recruits to the NFL Draft,” Adeleye posted on his Instagram story.

Adeleye’s comments received backlash from fans who were angry with his insult and the fact that he did not commit to Texas. But perhaps the most painful part of his statement was that it was true.

Texas has produced only 11 NFL Draft picks in the last five years, with the highest selection being in the middle of the second round (Connor Williams, Cowboys). Of those 11 players, seven of them were four- or five-star recruits.

In the five recruiting classes from 2012-2016 corresponding with when these draft picks would have chosen to come to Texas, the Longhorns signed 69 four- and five-star recruits, but only 12 players were drafted. The low numbers have only continued. During the 2019 NFL season, Texas was No. 22 among colleges for the number of prospects it had in the NFL, which was 22 players.

Since 2010, the Longhorns have boasted a top-10 ranked recruiting class every year, except 2014 and 2017. However, Texas doesn’t churn out NFL prospects like the Ohio States and Alabamas of the world, despite having comparably talented rosters.

For starters, the lack of Longhorns in the NFL right now can be attributed to low team success as a result of poor coaching and development of prospects. Stability is also a factor. In the last decade, the Longhorns had three different head coaches, five defensive coordinators and six offensive coordinators. 

Ahead of Texas’ final home game against Texas Tech last fall, former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer commented on the Longhorns’ failure to maximize the potential of their players.

“(Texas is) recruiting well,” Meyer said to 247Sports following Texas’ loss to Iowa State in 2019. “You might need to look under the hood and find out what’s going on because (that ending) shouldn’t happen.”

Other schools in the Big 12 also fail to produce numerous NFL Draft picks, as they have fully embraced the run-and-gun spread offense at the expense of quality defensive play. High-scoring games in the Big 12 have resulted in relatively few defensive players to be selected in the NFL Draft. Unlike the Big Ten and SEC, the Big 12’s style of play does not translate as closely to the NFL.

Texas, a former college football juggernaut, has been lackluster in both on-field performance and prospect development for far too long for a program of its stature. If this continues, more top high school prospects such as Tunmise Adeleye could flock to greener pastures.