Overall Class Rating: (B-) I've got this class ranked a little lower than most due to the lack of balance. It's an A- class on offense and a D on defense, unless we pull in some late out of state pass rushers.
Top 5 Players:
1. Jace Amaro, TE - He's probably the best receiving prospect at the position to come out of Texas since Jermicheal Finley. He'll play with his hand on the ground and flexed out wide.
2. Le'Raven Clark, LT - If you were paying appropriate attention to the Under Armor game, then you swapped Clark and Westerman on your draft board. Hence, the late push by Texas.
3. Tony Morales, C/G - Was one of the top linemen at every camp he attended.
4. Marcus Kennard, WR - A JUCO deep threat with good size and impressive offer list.
5. Ronnie Daniels, RB - The only knock on this guy is he's from New Mexico. However, when you throw the measurables and film in, you're looking at big back with some sub-10.7 hundred meter times to his name. Impressive on the hoof and could fill out to 220. Now, you're looking at Matt Forte potential. Ideal running style for zone blocking.
Most Likely Early Contributors:
TE Jace Amaro, WR Marcus Kennard - A couple of need positions for the Red Raiders and two guys with the measurables to play early.
Top Class Sleepers:
RB Ronnie Daniels - I've seen a plethora of big backs in Texas over the last decade that couldn't run. Although, his film is sometimes comical against the level of competition, make no mistake about it, he's a big-time prospect, if playing in the Metroplex.
OL Matt Wilson - No coach in the conference does a better job evaluating talent than Matt Moore. I've been informed by a fellow Raider and high school coach in Coldspring's district that there is impressive footage of Wilson throwing around Cedric Reed in their matchup. If he's good enough to whip the guys UT is signing, then he'll be good enough here.
The One That Got Away:
DB Marcus Roberson - Landing a big-time corner prospect would have been just what the doctor order. Had a chance to sky rocket his draft stock with Blackmon, Fuller, Broyles and Gordon on the schedule.
DE Cooper Washington (OU), DT James Castleman (OSU) and DE Jimmy Bean (OSU) - This is a region where Tech alums outnumber OU and OSU grads by a margin of 10:1. The inherent pull of such in-state recruits to the state of Oklahoma is intangible in value. Field a respectable unit and good Texas defensive prospects won't give you the cold shoulder anymore. Reference Spike Dykes, who was 7-3 in the Big 12 against Indian Country, by controlling the Metroplex and West Texas for these type of players.
I'm From Mizzourah:
LB Blake Dees - An Alabama kid, whose 6'0", 235-lb frame, may prevent him from being effective in coverage or spun down to DE.
Strongest Position Group:
WR/TE - Amaro and Kennard are highlights of the class. Derek Edwards has a lot of Lyle Leong qualities with an extra step. Jakeem Grant nearly made my sleeper list as he was one of the fastest players in Texas this year, despite his diminutive size.
Weakest Position Group:
DT - Once a strength of the class, the tide quickly turned with the defections of Castleman (OSU) and Jon Lewis (TCU) late in the game. Too late to scramble around and find quality replacement options at talent starved position. Sickening, how good I felt about this group at one time.
Bear in mind, that every recruiting class is never as large as perceived. Rarely has anyone batted .500, even at the historical powerhouses, and 20%-25% is closer to the standard at such places. In other words, every player signed is a project. Typically, only 4 or 5 players at most will get a shot on Sundays at places like UT, Alabama, Ohio State and OU. There aren't a ton of NFL players running around anywhere and championships are typically won by the teams, who stockpile the most over a 2 or 3 year period. With 300 million people in the country and 85 scholarships per school, evaluations have become more critical than ever.
While I feel 2011 was a solid year in-state for offensive players, this was one of the weakest years in recent memory for defensive talent. I just didn't see many difference makers on that side of the ball. More decent starters than anything, and I'm not sure we even landed one of those unless Bradley Marquez and J.J. Gaines make the switch to defense. We're re-tooling with a different personnel strategy, so the extra scholarships may come in handy for 2012. If we land the Pennsylvania pass rushing duo of Branden Jackson and Desimon Green, then my opinion changes from disappointing to good enough for me.
What I do like about this class is a few guys with NFL measurables and potential athleticism on offense, which should keep us in striking distance with our competition.