Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Texas QBs catching too much heat
By David Ubben
Texas has struggled for two seasons, winning just 13 combined games when it had won 10 in nine consecutive seasons before it.
The Longhorns put their hopes in the Garrett Gilbert basket on the recruiting trail, but when Gilbert struggled in 2010 and was benched in 2011, they were left without a big-time prospect.
But has too much blame gone to the quarterbacks? They have the ball in their hands the most, but Gilbert hasn't gotten much help from his receivers.
Texas has recruited some of the nation's best over the past few years, and here's a look at how they shook out:
2008 (three ESPNU 150 receivers):
- D.J. Grant: Grant, an Austin native, was the nation's No. 5 receiver and the best signee in the 2008 class. He moved to tight end this year after missing the 2009 and 2010 seasons with a knee injury and redshirted in 2008. He caught 13 passes for 143 yards and a team-high three touchdowns this year.
- Dan Buckner: Buckner was the nation's No. 6 receiver, and caught 45 passes for 442 yards in Colt McCoy's senior season back in 2009, but transferred to Arizona after the season. He caught 42 passes for 606 yards and two scores for the Wildcats this year.
- DeSean Hales: Hales was No. 95 in the ESPNU 150 and the nation's No. 17 receiver, and caught 10 passes in 2010 before catching one pass in 2011.
2010 (Three ESPNU 150 receivers)
- Only receiver signee was Greg Timmons, who never made a catch and left the program before 2011.
- Mike Davis: Davis was the team's leading receiver in 2011 (45 rec., 609 yards, TD) after being No. 2 in 2010 with 47 catches for 479 yards.
- Darius White: White had six catches for 71 yards in two seasons at Texas. He left the team after 2011 and plans to transfer to Missouri.
- Chris Jones: Redshirted in 2010 before transferring in November, during the 2011 season.
- No ESPNU 150 signees but four-star recruit Jaxon Shipley emerged as one of the team's best weapons before suffering a knee injury that slowed his progress and caused him to miss three games. He finished with 44 catches for 607 yards.
- Miles Onyegbule also caught four passes for 51 yards.
So, there you have it.
Six top-flight recruits. Zero impact players among them, though Davis has the most upside of the group and led the team in 2011. Shipley looks the part of future star, and Davis did as a true freshman, but he didn't show a ton of improvement in 2011.
The quarterback play has a lot to do with it, but Texas has swung and missed on so many receivers along the recruiting trail in recent years, perhaps the blame has fallen too heavily on the quarterbacks' shoulders.
Texas lost ESPNU 150 member Thomas Johnson, and has just one receiver committed for the 2012 class, which will sign letters of intent on Feb. 1. Johnson was the nation's No. 4 wide receiver, but he's not coming. Texas is still chasing the nation's No. 1 receiver, Dorial Green-Beckham, but it seems Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri have the inside track in that race.
In 2012, ESPNU 150 recruit Cayleb Jones is set to join the Longhorns. He's the nation's No. 3 receiver.
Marcus Johnson, the nation's No. 79 receiver, and Kendall Sanders are the only other players signed up to come to Austin and play receiver in 2012. Sanders is rated as the nation's No. 10 cornerback.
Can they change the trend?
Cast blame for the receiving troubles wherever you'd like: Coaches' development, poor recruiting evaluation, poor work ethic by the receivers. You could probably come up with a few more.
But it's clear that quarterbacks haven't been the only problem at Texas the past two years.