Texas’ recruiting class this year isn’t just subpar, it’s historically subpar, as far as recent recruiting rankings are concerned. According to the 247Sports Composite (which dates back to 2000) the Longhorns have never finished outside of the top 20, and the 2017 recruiting class ranks at No. 26.
Texas will also not sign a top-10 high school player from the state of Texas for the first time in the history of the Composite rankings.
In fact, the best player the Horns will sign from the state is OT Sam Ehlinger, who is No. 20 in the state Composite. It’s got Texas in a pretty interesting spot.
Even Baylor, which had only one commit as of late November, briefly ranked ahead of UT.
Fans hating on Herman at UT are just WRONG. You can't expect a guy to come in late and then overachieve in recruiting, people! pic.twitter.com/KJYXlPbFw0— OurDailyBears (@OurDailyBears) February 1, 2017
There are a couple reasons for why this is the case, and one has to do with the nature of a transitional class.
Sure, new coach Tom Herman has baked-in relationships with coaches in the state from his time at Houston, but he doesn’t have baked-in relationships with the kids he would want to target at Texas whom he couldn’t or wouldn’t target at Houston. It’s not easy to land a class in the two months between when you take over a new job and Signing Day comes on the calendar.
The Horns are also dealing with some of the best players in the state souring on them because of how things went on the field last season.
Also notable, No. 1 defensive tackle Marvin Wilson didn’t pick Texas because the ‘Horns failed to show the improvement on the field during the fall, though the ultimate final breaking point was the termination of former head coach Charlie Strong.
In that sense, the stakes were incredibly high for the Longhorns last season. Had Strong clearly demonstrated that the program was back on track, the top recruits like Wilson likely would have flocked to Austin.
He also doesn’t seem publicly worried about the whole deal either.
Big news here: Herman says recruiting rankings "don't crack a kid's chest open and look at his heart."— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) February 1, 2017
There is also the fact that Texas’ team is stocked with talent as it is, and a team like Texas can afford a down class. As of last season, the Longhorns still had the No. 11 five-year recruiting ranking. Yes, that will change after this year, but the talent on the roster currently is still good enough to have the requisite blue chip ratio required to win a national championship. And most of it is coming back to Austin next season.
Texas is No. 6 in returning production next season bringing back 82 percent.
The Longhorns are one of only three teams (along with FIU and Tulane) to return at least 80 of their production on both sides of the ball. Charlie Strong didn't leave the cupboard empty.
In fact, that’s something Strong is very direct about saying publicly, that he left Herman a roster that’s got talent on it.
Charlie Strong compared it to baking a cake. "The cake has been baked. All you have to do is put the icing on it and slice it."— Kirk Bohls (@kbohls) November 26, 2016
Herman has proved he can elevate a roster that’s full of talent; it’s what he did when he walked into a Houston program that he took to the Peach Bowl in his first season. Now Herman has a similar task at Texas.