Despite contending with the Oklahoma Sooners for the top class in the Big 12, the Texas Longhorns came out of National Signing Day feeling disappointed about their class overall. It's a small class, with only 15 commitments, and defined by misses and losses -- the Longhorns lost five prospects who were committed at some point in the process, more than they had in the last several years combined, leaving them with the smallest class since taking 15 in 2005, too.
But that class featured 10 eventual All-Big 12 selections, setting an incredibly high standard in comparison, one that the 2013 prospects will be hard-pressed to meet.
The bigger long-term concern is that those decommitments left the Longhorns without a single commit along the defensive line, a blocking tight end at a position where they need difference-makers, and no running backs.
However, the offensive line class was called the best of the Mack Brown era by the head coach himself and includes the top three prospects in the entire class. The 'Horns will count on those five players as the future of the Texas offensive line.
Bud Elliott’s grade
C-. Texas has a top-20 class, which for a lot of places would be good. But this is Texas. And with major misses at defensive line (including losing out on A'Shawn Robinson and Billings), tight end, and running back, it's simply not very good. Offensive line is a position of great strength, but this class is a serious disappointment.
Top three players
A center for Harker Heights (as well as a defensive tackle and defensive end), James could play any of the three interior positions for the Longhorns. In high school, he rarely saw players lined up at nose tackle, so he was consistently able to show off his agility at the second level taking on smaller defenders. For someone his size, it's truly remarkable how well he can move despite carrying extra weight. Other than his movement ability, James impresses with his flexibility, coming off the ball low and hard consistently to win leverage battles.
At 6'6 and 300 lean pounds, Perkins looks like a prototypical tackle prospect and held offers from the likes of Arkansas, Baylor, LSU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M.
Ranked as the top junior college offensive tackle by 247Sports, Harrison held offers from 13 total schools, including Arkansas, California, North Carolina State, and Washington. 247Sports has him as a four-star prospect, while the other services consider him a three-star recruit.
Top three rival classes
The Aggies surged in the 2013 cycle with their SEC recruiting boost and the Heisman-winning season from Johnny Manziel. Last February, the Longhorns lost out on several prospects to the Aggies that they may have offered had those players made it to Junior Days. Instead, Isaiah Golden, Kerrick Huggins, and Ishmael Wilson never made it to Austin, but committed to A&M early.
The Sooners signed a close that may be ranked higher by some services, but had a lower average star rating and lost out on a number of prospects to the Longhorns, while the only prospects Texas lost out on to Oklahoma were several receivers the coaches reached out to late in desperation for another body.
Meanwhile, the Baylor Bears nabbed two recruits the Longhorns wanted in Robbie Rhodes and Andrew Billings, a rare feat, and one that illustrates the differing trajectories of the two programs -- Baylor surging as a program, while the Longhorns remained mostly mired in the mediocrity that has defined the last three football seasons.
Biggest National Signing Day drama
While the Longhorns didn't exactly lose out on any prospects on Signing Day, they did have five-star defensive tackle prospect A'Shawn Robinson sign with Alabama after news broke on Saturday that he had would not ink with the 'Horns. Meanwhile, Tuesday was the day that Texas missed on Billings, the state powerlifting champ who can squat 700 pounds.
Notes from SB Nation blogs
Burnt Orange Nation on Brown's new policy against allowing commits to visit:
No more committed recruits will be allowed to take visits to other schools while still pledged to Texas.
In recent years, the Texas Longhorns have taken a more open approach in allowing committed prospects to take other visits, but Brown reversed course after the 'Horns suffered through five decommitments in the 2013 recruiting cycle, including the late and painful loss of five-star defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson.
In previous classes, the Longhorns weren't as lenient on players taking visits as they were with Robinson, notably telling Thomas Johnson last year that he had to decommit to take a visit to Oregon in January.
Look through SB Nation's many excellent college football blogs to find your team's community.