Top Targets for 2008: Offense

Is Todd Dodge's son, Riley, in Texas' sights?

With the 2007 recruiting class drawing to a close, the Texas Longhorn coaching staff has shifted much of its attention to next year's group. With only 15 seniors on the roster next year, we expect the Longhorns to sign between 17 and 19 kids for the 2008 class. Which prospects will Texas go after?

Quarterback

The Longhorns have signed two quarterback prospects each of the last two years but don't expect that to happen again in 2008. They will probably only sign one quarterback and perhaps the best in the state is Houston Stratford's Andrew Luck. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Luck has great size and is a high character kid that Texas always looks for.

"He has a great arm and can make all the throws. The biggest thing he brings is his competitiveness and his accuracy," Houston Stratford Head Coach Eliot Allen told Inside Texas in October.

Probably the most polished passer in the state of Texas is Southlake Carroll's Riley Dodge. The 6-foot (that's his listed height, we measured him at our Waco combine as 5-foot-10), 180-pound Dodge may not be considered a top tier target by the Longhorns because of his height. However, he is a tremendous athlete and is dangerous both with his arm and legs. He helped lead Southlake Carroll to its second consecutive state championship in 2006. Todd Dodge, Riley's father, played his college ball at the University of Texas and recently took the head coaching job at North Texas.

"Riley's biggest upside is being a dual-threat quarterback," Todd Dodge told Inside Texas in October. "He can move the ball with his feet and can put the ball in the end zone through the air."

Running Back

The state of Texas has always been known for producing great running backs, including LaDainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson and Cedric Benson in recent years. It's no surprise that the class of 2008 is also loaded with running back talent. Expect the Longhorns to go after two backs in '08.

Van High School's Jermie Calhoun is arguably the top back in the state. The 6-foot, 205-pound Calhoun has great size and is a leader on the football field. Calhoun has made it no secret that Texas is his top school early in the recruiting process.

"He is our go to guy," Van Head Coach Brady Pennington told Inside Texas in October. "He catches the ball well. He is a leader and is very vocal. He is one of the big reasons that we are so successful. He takes little things and makes them into big things."

Probably the most publicized junior running back in Texas is Gilmer's Justin Johnson. The Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns appear to be on the top of Johnson's list. G.J. Kinne and Curtis Brown, Johnson's high school teammates, are already on their way to Austin, but early playing time could be more important to him. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Johnson could play linebacker on the next level as well.

"It doesn't matter where I play really. I'm pretty athletic and I can play anywhere the coaches put me," Johnson told Inside Texas in August.

Alief Elsik's Jeremy Hills is another running back that might get some play from Texas. He is the brother of current Texas standout left tackle Tony Hills. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Hills rushed for 1,328 yards with 15 touchdowns during the regular season this year. He also showcased his speed and pass catching ability at the U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio two weeks ago.

"You never see him get caught," Alief Elsik Head Coach Bill Barron told Inside Texas in November. "He is a great asset. He is a real runner. He has great open speed and vision."

The Longhorns are likely to also evaluate Southlake Carroll's Tre Newton, De Soto's Cyrus Gray and Katy's Aundre Dean.

Wide Receiver

The Longhorns will probably look to bring in two wide receivers in 2008 and Allen's Dan Buckner is on the top of their wish list. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Buckner has great size like former Longhorn great Roy Williams and current Longhorn Limas Sweed. He uses his body well and has great hands. Buckner really likes both Texas and Notre Dame right now. Expect the Longhorns to go after McKinney Boyd's Jeffrey Fuller or Brenham's Lester Ward to fill their big receiver void if Buckner decides to go elsewhere.

Klein Oak made a deep run into the playoffs this year behind the strong performance of DeSean Hales and company. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Hales is a great athlete and played both running back and wide receiver this year.

"He makes some spectacular catches and has great hands," Klein Oak Head Coach David Smith told Inside Texas in October. "He is very ellusive. If he doesn't want you to touch him, you probably won't."

Offensive Line

The Lone Star State is once again loaded with offensive line talent. Before the discovery of Matt Nader's heart condition and the recent decommitment of Jerrod Gooch, we projected the Longhorns to go after three offensive linemen in 2008, but that number might rise.

Klein offensive tackle J.B. Shugarts is arguably the best of the bunch. The 6-foot-7, 295-pound Shugarts already has the look of an NFL offensive lineman and has the potential to be dominant in college. He has already compiled almost 20 scholarship offers from various schools across the nation and recently named his top six schools at the U.S. Army National Combine: Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan, Florida and LSU.

Paris offensive lineman Stephen Good has blossomed into a dominant force along the offensive line over the last two years. He will probably end up playing guard on the collegiate level. He has great technique and can flat out run people over. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound Good was named First Team All-State for his performance as a junior. His top five schools include Texas, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Michigan and Nebraska.

Aldine offensive tackle Daniel Campbell is the biggest of the bunch. The 6-foot-6, 325-pound Campbell is elusively quick for a kid his size. He lists Texas as his top school at this point in time.

"He is very quick for his size," Aldine Head Coach Bob Jones told Inside Texas in August. "He has small ankles and quick feet. He is just now starting to grow into his body. He is a big guy and his body is finally starting to take shape."

It's no secret that Gilmer offensive guard David Snow likes the Longhorns. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Snow has been in contact with the Texas coaching staff for quite some time. He has a very good attitude and should only get better as he matures physically. Many scouts believe that he is the top true guard in the state of Texas.

Fullback/Tight End

The Texas Longhorns like to recruit kids that can play both tight end and fullback. They will probably look to bring in two kids that fit that mold in 2008. At this point in time, nobody really sticks out inside the state of Texas. The Longhorns might look out of state to fill the tight end void like they did with Blaine Irby in 2007.

HornsDigest.com Recommended Stories