Big 12: Tony Jones
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The spot for college football's best 18-yard touchdown ever goes to a dramatic score for the Longhorns a few decades ago.
Nov. 17, 1987: Trailing Arkansas 14-10 with 1:58 remaining in the fourth quarter, Texas started an 11-play, 56-yard drive. On the final play, Brett Stafford hit Tony Jones just inside the goal line. Jones was immediately met by two Arkansas defenders, but after withstanding two power hits, he fell into the end zone, clutching the ball with no time left to give the Longhorns the 16-14 upset victory over the 15th-ranked Razorbacks.
-- Edward Aschoff
Total class: 21
ESPN 150: 0
By position: TE 3, RB 3, ATH 2, WR 2, OT 2, G 2, LB 2, DE 2, QB 1, CB 1, K 1
By state: California 8, Colorado 2, Texas 2, Hawaii 1, Ohio 1, New Jersey 1, Louisiana 1, Arizona 1, Alabama 1, Florida 1, North Carolina 1, Maryland 1.
Already enrolled in school: 2.
The big ones: QB Nick Hirschman, the nation’s No. 26 quarterback, has already enrolled in college with hopes of getting a head start at playing time. WR Harold Mobley, the nation’s No. 64 wide receiver, is the physical kind of pass-catcher who will mesh well with Marques Simas as a pair of bookend receivers.
Sleeper: K Justin Castor will receive the chance to contend for immediate playing time as he battles slump-ridden Aric Goodman for playing time.
Needs met: After losing Darrell Scott and Demetrius Sumler, the Buffaloes needed depth at running back and met it with the addition of underrated Tony Jones and sleepers Trea Jones and Justin Torres. Six tight ends or H-backs graduated from the team last year and coach Dan Hawkins addressed the need with three players keyed by three-star recruit Justin Favors, the nation's No. 38 tight end. Hirschman will help at quarterback, but the Buffaloes missed out on Munchie Legaux, a late defection to Cincinnati.
Analysis: The critics are out after Hawkins’ class, which featured no recruits with more than three stars and only two players from Colorado. It was the first time in Hawkins’ tenure the Buffaloes failed to crack the top 50 nationally in recruiting rankings. And they were hurt by the defection of RB Mister Jones (Texas A&M) and QB Danny Spond (Notre Dame), two top in-state prospects who both chose to go elsewhere after originally committing to the Buffaloes.
What Dan Hawkins said: "Athletically, top to bottom, they might be the most-athletic class we have had. ... There are a ton of guys you miss on. There are always guys that you don't get and that's the nature every year. ... Everyone around America is fired up on signing day with optimism. I think with this class, there is just a tremendous amount of quality there and I am very impressed by the kind of people they are."
Scouts Inc. grade/rankings: C-minus, ninth in Big 12.
Here's a look at what immediate recruiting needs each North Division team must address first.
Running back: With the departure of Darrell Scott and Demetrius Sumler, Dan Hawkins needs to find some talent at running back. With only three scholarship backs on the roster, an immediate talent infusion is needed. Tony Jones is the only commitment and the Buffaloes could use size from a bigger back.
Tight end/H-back: All of the positions are important in Kent Riddle’s offense, and six players graduated from those positions in December. The only player who will return with experience includes junior tight end Ryan Deehan, so Hawkins needs players at the position who can help immediately.
Quarterback: With Tyler Hansen set at quarterback and Cody Hawkins set to graduate after next season, the Buffaloes still would like to add some depth at the position. Nick Hirschman has enrolled early to get a head start on his development, and Josh Moten appears ready to enroll after failing to make his grades before last season.
Across the board talent infusion: The Cyclones already have added 24 commitments for the upcoming season. Junior college players like massive offensive lineman Jon Caspers, defensive end Rony Nelson, wide receiver Anthony Young and tight end Ricky Howard should provide an immediate lift. And look for coach Paul Rhoads to add a couple of more to capitalize on the late momentum from the Insight Bowl victory.
Running back: Preparing for the future will be important as Alexander Robinson will be entering his senior season. Freshmen Beau Blankenship still has some developing to do and Jeremiah Schwartz has left the program. The Cyclones have added depth with the addition of Duran Hollis and Shontrelle Johnson. Don’t be surprised if Hollis moves positions once he comes to college if Johnson develops as expected.
Wide receiver: The Cyclones had trouble making big plays and could use a talent boost at the position. Leading 2009 receiver Marquis Hamilton has graduated and Jake Williams will be a senior next season. Recruits Jarvis West and Chris Young appear to have addressed those needs.
Defensive end: The Jayhawks could use a talent upgrade here with occasional starters Jeff Wheeler and Maxwell Onyegbule graduated, and Jake Laptad and Quintin Woods entering their senior seasons in 2010. It became more of a need after Oklahoma beat out the Jayhawks for top defensive end prospect Geneo Grissom earlier this week.
Quarterback: With unproven Kale Pick set to take over for Todd Reesing, the Jayhawks have added junior college transfer Quinn Mecham of Snow Junior College to immediately contend for playing time. Meacham threw for 3,091 yards and 40 touchdowns last season and has already captured the attention of new offensive coordinator Chuck Long because of his experience in the spread offense.
Secondary: New coach Turner Gill also needs help in the secondary where starters Darrell Stuckey and Justin Thornton were seniors and Philip Strozier, Chris Harris and Calvin Rubles will be seniors next season.
Adjust time-held notions to recruiting: Bill Snyder said recruiting seemed “out of kilter” in his first season back because of how teams now are in a hurry to link up with rising juniors. This strategy has caused Snyder to change his recruiting strategy, looking into signing more players earlier than in his previous coaching strategy.
Junior-college additions again will be critical in the trenches: Snyder has attacked the junior colleges with his traditional fervor as he attempts to unearth a couple of under-recruited gems in the offensive line and defensive lines -- the Wildcats’ two primary needs. Also, the Wildcats need some immediate help from the junior colleges after a recruiting imbalance during the last two seasons under Ron Prince that has left them with a need for immediate contributors. Snyder has estimated that up to 13 players will enroll at the semester break to contend immediately for playing time.
Quarterback: Even with a crowded group of potential contenders at the position, Snyder is still considering another quarterback. Carson Coffman, Sammuel Lamur, Collin Klein and Oregon transfer Chris Harper all are in the mix at the position heading into spring practice.
Wide receiver: The Tigers have a lot of talent returning, but still will lose leading 2009 receiver Danario Alexander and Jared Perry. The opportunity for eventual playing time will be there for new arrivals, although Jerrell Jackson, Brandon Gerau, T.J. Moe and Wes Kemp will be back.
Nose tackle: The graduation of Jaron Baston and Bart Coslet’s senior-to-be status opens up a position for a contribution in the trenches for the Tigers.
Secondary: All four of Missouri’s projected starters next season -- cornerbacks Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland and safety Jarrell Harrison and Jasper Simmons -- will be seniors. The Tigers need to restock depth at the position and perhaps move it forward from this class.
Defensive end: The Cornhuskers could use an additional player with Barry Turner graduating and Pierre Allen set to enter his senior season in 2010. They are in the hunt with Oregon for Owamagbe Odighizuwa, a heralded speed rusher from Portland, Ore., who would be the crown jewel in the Cornhuskers’ incoming class if he commits.
Wide receivers: Many players are back, although the Cornhuskers could use an infusion of speed at the position. Niles Paul will be a senior and more talent is needed to make the Cornhuskers competitive with the athletic teams in the South Division like Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
Safety: Starters Matt O’Hanlon and Larry Asante both will be graduating and Eric Hagg will be a senior in 2010. The Cornhuskers will need some help to join with youngsters Courtney Osborne, Austin Cassidy and P.J. Smith at the position.
I almost forgot.
But there are still a mess of lunch links from across the conference dealing with tonight's BCS national championship game and other items of interest from across the Big 12.
- The Waco Tribune-Herald’s John Werner writes that Art Briles' decision to decline an interview at Texas Tech was a wise move.
- ESPN.com’s Ivan Maisel writes about Mack Brown’s sleepless night as he prepares for Alabama.
- USA Today takes a closer look at tonight’s Citi BCS national championship game.
- The future of college football depends on Texas winning tonight’s national championship game, the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi opines.
- The New York Post’s Lenn Robbins writes that Texas is determined not to come up “soft” in tonight's national title game.
- The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Tim Sullivan analyzes Colt McCoy’s impact on tonight’s game.
- Alabama has too much strength to be denied the Southeastern Conference’s fourth straight BCS national championship, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Tony Barnhart reports.
- John Mackovic of The (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun remembers his old employers. He’s picking Texas tonight.
- Tickets for tonight’s game are selling for $943 on StubHub -- a 37.9 percent increase over the average paid for last season’s game between Florida and Oklahoma, Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times reports.
- Competition is heating up from Southeastern Conference schools as Texas A&M tries to maintain commitments with Louisiana prospects Jarrett Fobbs and Brandon Jackson.
- The Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel details his plan to create a football playoff and save the bowl system.
- Texas Tech marketing guru Russ Bookbinder tells the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal’s Matthew McGowan that the school’s reputation will withstand the unflattering publicity from its contentious dealings with Mike Leach.
- The Lincoln Journal-Star’s Steve Sipple writes that Nebraska’s emerging credibility under Bo Pelini would get a boost if Texas wins tonight.
- Colorado received a surprise commitment from 5-foot-8 tailback Tony Jones from Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Most of the Texas players have little inkling about how big the Longhorns' rivalry with Arkansas used to be.
One of the flagship battles of the old Southwest Conference will be restaged Saturday in Austin when the Razorbacks visit.
For the old-timers, the rivalry brings back memories of Darrell Royal and Frank Broyles, "The Big Shootout," Ken Hatfield's punt return, Tony Jones' catch and others during the 75-game series history.
But for younger fans whose football memories are shaped with Texas in the Big 12 and Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference, it's more of a relic to the past than one grounded in the present.
"I think that Texas feels like (it has) a lot of rivals. Our fans usually talk about the game of the week," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "So many of the kids now at Arkansas and Texas were not alive when some of those games were really important (between the two schools)."
Brown got a little bit of an idea earlier in his career at Texas when he posted a 1-2 record against Houston Nutt-led teams. Arkansas rang in the new millennium with a 27-6 victory in the Cotton Bowl punctuated when Nutt taunted Texas fans by flashing an upside-down hook'em sign to celebrate his victory.
Nutt's team was even more impressive in 2003 when they hammered the Longhorns in a 38-28 victory in Austin that snapped a 20-game home winning streak.
Texas earned a matter of revenge the following season in Fayetteville, Ark., with a tight 22-20 comeback victory in Fayetteville that helped steel the Vince Young-led team for back to back BCS bowl comebacks in the next two seasons.
Nutt is gone and offensive wizard Bobby Petrino has replaced him as Arkansas' coach. The Longhorns know they will still be in a battle.
"Arkansas is in the SEC and they do have great players on their team," Texas senior defensive end Brian Orakpo said. "So we can't afford to take them lightly."
The Longhorns are hoping that the Arkansas will provide them with a strong test heading into a punishing Big 12 start that includes games at Colorado, Oklahoma (in Dallas) and Missouri in the first three weeks.
And the Longhorns say they aren't overlooking the Razorbacks, despite Arkansas' early struggles in narrow victories over Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe. Arkansas was down 13 points in the fourth quarter against Louisiana-Monroe before rallying for a 28-27 victory.
"I think these guys are young and talented," Texas senior defensive tackle Roy Miller said. "It's a huge game and a big rivalry. Nobody is taking them lightly. We expect them to give us their best game."