Big 12: Paden Kelley
Offensive tackle Paden Kelley has decided to quit football but stay at Texas in order to pursue his degree. With that announcement, Texas has now lost two of the top three players from what was the No. 3 rated recruiting class in 2009. Kelley was also the second player from Austin’s Lake Travis High to leave the team in the last year.
Kelley’s high school teammate Garret Gilbert, the No. 2 quarterback prospect in 2009, transferred to SMU. Kelley was the No. 2 offensive tackle in the 2009 class. Neither player came close to living up to the hype that surrounded his recruitment.
His loss should not affect the offensive line. While Texas wanted him to compete for a backup tackle position, it was clear through the spring that he was unable to make the progress necessary to be a part of the rotation at that spot. Instead Texas turned to Luke Poehlmann as the backup at one spot and could use Garrett Greenlea or perhaps even freshman Camhron Hughes as the backup at the other tackle.
“After talking with my family and the UT staff, I have made the decision to take a step back from football in order to focus on family and other priorities in my life outside of athletics,” Kelley said in a release.
Kelley had one start while at Texas and played in 20 games.
“We support Paden in the decision he's made and understand his reasons," head coach Mack Brown said. “We appreciate the efforts he's given in his three years here and wish the best for him in the future.”
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Back in the day, Mack Brown used to be called "Mr. February."
That nickname has fallen in public favor in recent years as the Longhorns have claimed five straight bowl victories and eight straight 10-win seasons.
But the key for Brown's recent dominance has been attracting top recruits. Wednesday's haul was no different.
The Longhorns attracted nine players on the ESPNU 150 list. The rest of the Big 12 attracted 10 top 150 recruits on the list combined.
And while the Longhorns missed out on Dre Kirkpatrick, the nation's No. 1 cornerback prospect according to Scouts Inc.'s national list, they still added several key players.
Kirkpatrick, a native of Gadsden, Ala., decided to stay close to home by choosing Alabama over Texas in an elaborate nationally televised news conference.
During questioning, Kirkpatrick professed his love for Brown and his coaching staff shortly after dismissing a Texas hat because it "had no swagger." But it wasn't a surprise that Kirkpatrick chose the Crimson Tide, despite a recruiting trip to Austin only 10 days ago.
Texas was beaten out Wednesday by USC for linebacker Jarvis Jones of Columbus, Ga.
Despite those out-of-state misses, the Longhorns dominated recruiting inside the state with three of the nation's top 29 players. Key players included quarterback Garrett Gilbert of Austin Lake Travis (Scouts Inc.'s No. 2 quarterback, ESPNU's 11th best player), center Mason Walters of Wolfforth Frenship High School (Scouts Inc.'s No. 1 center nationally, No. 27 on ESPNU's list) and tackle Paden Kelley of Austin Lake Travis (Scouts Inc.'s No. 2 tackle, No. 29 on ESPNU list).
Most of Texas' prime recruits decided long before national signing day they wanted to play for Brown's team.
"A lot of guys want to come to Texas," Brown told ESPNU. "We have been here now for 12 recruiting classes and most of these guys [who were recruited] were in the first grade when we got started. There are 350 guys in the state who are eligible. We just have to make sure we get the right 20 or 22 for us."
The Texas recruiting class also features in-state playmakers like running back Chris Whaley of Madisonville and tight end Barrett Matthews of Galena Park North Shore.
"It's a class that spans all the positions," Brown said. "Some of the guys fill immediate needs. We have guys who will be here for four years and who will get better once they get here. It's not who we got, but what they will become."