Mack Hauls Quality over Quantity

Walters High Quality

Once mockingly referred to as Coach February, Mack Brown can rest just a bit easier after winning yet another January BCS bowl (third in five years). But, the real rest comes after securing yet another top ten class on national signing day, an event some seem to relish as much as the actual games in the fall!

About one month ago, Texas stood at #4 in Scout's recruiting rankings. We noted then that the reason the ‘Horns followed the lead of Ohio State and Oklahoma while being closely bumped by Texas A&M was due to pure numbers. The rankings elevate teams that sign a lot of players. When we looked solely at quality (per player average), Texas soared to #2 in the land, only behind, no surprise, USC.

Now that another fun day in early February has passed, how did Mack Brown's group come out? According to the latest, it fell just a bit to #6, because the ‘Horns stayed largely with a pat hand, only nabbing Tevin Mims (listed a two-star, though rising in many eyes) for the home stretch.

When reviewing it by per player average, the ‘Horns also end at #6. By any measure, this is at least an excellent class, though maybe not "one for the ages" at this point. Like all fans can say, we'll see in a few years just how good this 2009 crop of youngsters is.

A point of comparison is USC, with Pete Carroll holding onto the best average per signee of anyone in the country while finishing seventh in total points (Ohio State had the highest overall score nationally). Surprisingly, the Trojans only placed ninth in 2008 in overall points and third in player average. Regardless of the angle viewed, it's hard to feel any kind of sympathy for their program, and it stings just a bit to lose Georgia's Jarvis Jones in a late battle to the Trojans.

More importantly, with top rival Oklahoma ahead of Texas just a few weeks ago, how did Bob Stoops' Sooners conclude? Despite garnering several standouts, OU fell to ninth overall, 10th in per player average. A couple of surprising late decommits fueled the drop.

Let's look at the top shelf talent between the ‘Horns and Sooners. Texas signed four five-stars—Alex Okafor, Mason Walters, Greg Timmons, and Garrett Gilbert. Oklahoma signed three—Gabe Lynn (CB), Ronnell Lewis (LB), and Jamarkus McFarland (DT).

For the four-star signees, the Longhorns lassoed eight, with the Sooners snagging seven. With Oklahoma signing three more players (23 to 20), it's a further reflection on Texas possessing an edge in quality. Overall, UT averaged 3.75 stars per signee and OU 3.48. For 2008, OU held a very slight advantage, 3.76 to 3.70, but in 2007, Texas won easily with a gaping 3.84 to 3.15 edge. The ‘Horns also held a fairly good 2006 margin, 3.72 to 3.36.

As a result of these figures, we would expect Texas to have a modest talent advantage going into the Red River Rivalry in 2009.

Regarding our in-state opposition, Texas A&M, on the strength of signing half the continent (well, 27 kids), surged to #11 nationally in total points, third behind Texas and Oklahoma in the Big 12. But, when you shift to quality, the Aggies drop all the way to #22 (3.07 per player average).

Texas Tech (#30 nationally in total points) is fourth, with Nebraska (#33) and Missouri (#38) rounding the top half of the conference. Baylor had probably its best class in years, coming in #43 nationally, surprisingly just ahead of Oklahoma State. Beware of Art Briles' program in Waco in the coming years.

For Texas, it not only grabbed several highly ranked players, but also managed to spread the wealth by position. Per Mack in his press conference, "We felt like it was a class that pretty much covered the span of all positions. And that's something that's hard to do. We could lineup and probably play this as a freshman team. You've got a quarterback, a tailback, a wide receiver, you've got a couple of tight ends, you've got offensive linemen, the defensive line, linebackers and secondary. And it's unusual to be able to get somebody at every position."

Had Texas signed at least one (or both) of its final two out-of-state targets, the ‘Horns would have felt even better about a class already littered with star quality. With six national top 100 players—the most since the six in 2006—Mack Brown and staff have done a great job in continuing to haul talent to Austin.

HornsDigest.com Recommended Stories