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June 25, 2008

Position report card 2009: Texas

National Position Grades: Offense | Defense Regional: Southeast Grades | Midwest Grades

With spring practices, camps, combines and a lot of film-watching sessions in the rear-view mirror, Rivals.com is following up pre-summer grades at each position with grades for each region. Barton Simmons breaks down Texas in this edition.

Texas 2009 Position Grades: Offense
Running Back
Whether it's elite backs or great depth, Texas' crop of pure running backs has it all. Big backs such as Knile Davis and Texas commitment Chris Whaley pack a punch, while versatile speed backs such as Hasan Lipscomb and Christine Michael provide more of a home-run threat. The crop also runs deep with prospects such as Toben Opurum, Nebraska commitment Dontrayevous Robinson and Texas A&M commitment Kalvin Guyton.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: UPGRADE
Dual-threat quarterback
In 2008, Texas had several highly rated mobile quarterbacks, but the class of 2009 has taken things to another level. The class has a gem in five-star prospect Russell Shepard. It has high-profile four-star players headed to ideal offensive systems in Michigan commitment Shavodrick Beaver and TCU commitment Casey Pachall. Finally, there are several three-star prospects with loads of upside, such as A.J. Highsmith and Jacob Karam.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: UPGRADE
Pro-style quarterback
Led by five-star prospect Garrett Gilbert and four-star guy Ryan Mossakowski, the 2009 class is strong at this position in Texas. Gilbert and Mossakowski are prototypical big, strong-armed passers who are can't miss prospects. There is tremendous depth, as well, with Drew Allen, Tennessee commit Bryce Petty and Drew Hollingshead leading a strong group of three-star players.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: UPGRADE
Tight end
Though the tight end position lacks depth nationally, there are several good prospects to choose from in Texas. The Longhorns already have landed two commitments in Trey Graham and Barrett Matthews, but there still are plenty of quality to prospects to go around. Among the others are Texas A&M commitment Hutson Prioleau and three-star prospect Jordan Najvar.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: UPGRADE
Offensive tackle
As with tight ends, any perceived lack of tackle talent nationally in the 2009 class can't be attributed to Texas. Eight of the top 30 tackles in the nation hail from the Lone Star State, including three Longhorns commitments: Thomas Ashcraft, Garrett Porter and Paden Kelley.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: UPGRADE
Wide receiver
Texas is home to an intriguing group of prospects at wide receiver. The top of the group includes Uzoma Nwachukwu, Greg Timmons and Emory Blake. Each is a strong, physical player who may lack the explosiveness of some of 2008's top targets. Further down the list, players such as Brady Brown, Aaron Fisher and Terdema Ussery are similar big targets who will be productive in college. Though it is a good group, the Texas targets lack diversity at the position and could use a boost of explosiveness (Marquise Goodwin has elite speed but may be too good on the track to ever see the college gridiron).
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: DOWNGRADE
Center
The top center in the nation (Mason Walters) calls Texas home. Beyond Walters, SMU recently picked up a good player in Ben Hughes. There's enough depth at the position in-state to compare favorably to last year.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: PUSH
Offensive guard
While Texas may be ahead of the curve at tackle, it's behind the curve in a big year nationally for guards. Only Texas A&M commitment Ivory Wade holds four-star status. Despite solid prospects such as Nick Ash and Jeramie Roberts, depth is limited.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: DOWNGRADE
All-purpose back
Following a year in which the Lone Star State was loaded with game-breaking all-purpose backs, the 2009 class still is looking for some stars to emerge. Four-star prospect Eric Stephens is a special back, but there's not much behind him.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: DOWNGRADE
Fullback
Last year's fullback class had one headliner in Texas commitment Ryan Roberson. The 2009 class has yet to see a similar prospect emerge.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: DOWNGRADE
Texas 2009 Position Grades: Defense
Cornerback
Though there is no Aaron Williams in this year's class, the state's three-star prospects are about as good as three stars come. Joshua Brown, Steven Terrell, Marcus Trice and Demontre Hurst, in particular, are terrific prospects from the three-star ranks who add a lot of depth to the group.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: UPGRADE
Safety
At the top, Texas has two of the top four safeties in the country in five-star prospect Craig Loston and Rivals100 member Kevin Brent. The presence of those players alone makes it a strong year. Prinz Kande also is among the top 20 safeties nationally, and there also are several other hard-hitting enforcers from which to choose.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: SLIGHT DOWNGRADE
Defensive tackle
Jamarkus McFarland is the best defensive tackle in the country and Calvin Howell is No. 13. Though those two are the only Texas tackles ranked as at least four-star prospects, Joey Searcy and Siosaia Tuipulotu lead a group of three-star guys with tremendous upside.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: DOWNGRADE
Inside linebacker
There are some big-bodied run-stuffers in this class, particularly at the top. Tariq Allen and Chris Williams sit inside the Rivals250 and both play at around 230 pounds in high school. Earnest Norman and Austin Moss play bigger than their size and represent a solid group of three-star players.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: UPGRADE
Athlete
Texas A&M commitment Ryan Swope gave this group a lift when he proved to be one of the top performers at the Utah Nike Camp. In a similar mold to Swope are players such as Rex Burkhead and Ross Rasner. Meanwhile, Dexter Pratt and Jurell Thompson represent the state's elite.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: DOWNGRADE
Strongside defensive end
Similar to the weakside group, the strongside class has one superstar (LSU commitment Michael Brockers), then the rest. Though no other player has Brockers' potential, there are some good players further down the list, with Nosa Eguae, Randall Dent and recent Missouri commitment Brayden Burnett among them.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: DOWNGRADE
Weakside defensive end
After impressing at the Nike Camp in Fort Worth, Alex Okafor quickly raised the stock of the entire class of Texas ends. His lofty status as the second-rated weakside end in the nation is complemented by a group of players who have promise but still have questions to answer, such as Arkansas commitment Ryan Callender and Oklahoma commitment Terry Franklin.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: SLIGHT UPGRADE
Outside linebacker
With the exception of Oklahoma commitment Tom Wort, there really hasn't been an elite prospect emerge among the outside linebacker prospects. Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma hold three-star commitments, but there are still several prospects, such as Cordarius Golston, who have yet to reach their full potential.
COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: PUSH



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