National Signing Day, one of the biggest days on the college football calendar, wasn’t exactly drama-filled for the Texas Longhorns this year. With many recruits verbally committed for months, there were few surprises to be had as the ink hit the paper.
“I’m excited about the kids,” head coach Mack Brown said in his press conference. “There wasn’t much drama with them. They pretty much wanted to come, overall; they were pretty honest with us. This has been a group that’s confident, they like Texas. We took a huge step with where we want to get with this class.”
Barring any cataclysmic changes, Texas will finish with the third-best class in this year’s rankings, according to ESPNU. They trail only top-ranked, reigning national champion Alabama and ACC powerhouse Florida State, who leapfrogged the Longhorns after signing two of the top-10 overall recruits to cap off a monster signing day.
It must be noted that for most colleges, finishing third in the annual rankings would be a huge accomplishment; for Texas, it comes as somewhat of a disappointment. Ranked #1 since June, Texas slipped to #2 for the first time when yesterday’s rankings were released by ESPNU, and “settled” for third once the dust settled today.
Still trying to rediscover their offensive mojo after finishing the past two seasons with records of 5-7 and 8-5, respectively, Texas will be particularly thrilled to welcome running back Jonathan Gray next year. Gray, the top-rated rusher in the country, will join a dynamic backfield that already boasts last season’s freshman standouts Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron.
Many are also interested to see how Gatorade National Player of the Year contender and Longhorn signee Connor Brewer will fare in the quarterback competition next season.
The only real disappointment of the day may have come from greedy Longhorn fans who pined for Dorial Green-Beckham, a wide receiver considered by many to be the top overall prospect because of his NFL-ready build (6’6” and 220 lb.). Green-Beckham spurned the Horns (who were considered a dark horse to snag him), Oklahoma, and Alabama in favor of his hometown Missouri Tigers.
The good news? If we can’t have him, at least Oklahoma can’t either, and with Missouri leaving the Big 12, we won’t have to worry about facing him, either.
The biggest surprise of the day was when Torshiro Davis, a four-star defensive end from Louisiana, switched his year-long commitment from the LSU Tigers to the Longhorns on signing day.
When Coach Brown was asked about Davis coming to Texas, he said, “Torshiro is excited about the ability to pass rush in this league. He knows [the Big 12] is primarily a passing league and he thinks he can showcase what he can do here. He’s a lot like a Brian Orakpo.” That’s high praise considering that Orakpo, a pro-bowler his rookie year in the NFL after leaving Texas, is one of the most feared defensive players in football. He’ll be paired on the defensive line with the Longhorns other major recruit, 280-lb. defensive tackle Malcom Brown.
These are only a few standouts of the 28 players who signed with Texas today, and many four-star prospects carry high expectations with them.
To top off all the great signing day news for Longhorn fans, our recently divorced rival, Texas A&M, finished fourteenth overall in this year’s class. Not bad, until a second glance reveals they’re still significantly trailing their new buddies Alabama (#1), Florida (#4), Georgia (#5), and LSU (#12). Yikes. Enjoy the SEC, Texas A&M. Longhorn fans will certainly have fun watching.
From top: Mack Brown with his key recruits; Connor Wood; Malcolm Brown; Torshiro Davis; Jonathan Gray. Photos courtesy UT Athletics.