Vaccaro, Okafor only senior starters

Kenny Vaccaro and Alex Okafor are both projected to be NFL draft prospects. Icon SMI, US Presswire

AUSTIN, Texas -- Kenny Vaccaro and Alex Okafor are all that is left.

That's it.

They are the only two senior starters from the 2009 class.

"We were talking about it the other day," Vaccaro said. "We're it."

Aside from Vaccaro and Okafor, several from the class of 20 commits have fallen away and several more have not panned out. While there are some still left on the roster -- Mason Walters, Chris Whaley, Barrett Matthews, Paden Kelley, Thomas Ashcraft, Garrett Porter for example -- only Walters is a starter. But each of those players redshirted. The only two to come in and play right away and continue playing were Vaccaro and Okafor.

"Literally, our '09 recruiting class has been cut in half," Okafor said.

The recruiting class actually has been cut by eight, leaving a dozen players on the active Texas roster, seven backups, two out with injuries and three starters. That, of course, was not what was intended, nor is it the way to build a winner.

The 2012 season is supposed to be a showcase for 2009 recruits. They were to be reaching either their redshirt junior or senior years. They were to be the ones who led and filled out the roster. The backbone.

Instead, Texas is left to pine for 2013 and pin its championship hopes on that or the 2014 season. Because that is when the 18 freshmen contributors from the 22-man 2011 class will be juniors and seniors. (Add M.J. McFarland and Sedrick Flowers and it is 20 players expected to be major contributors by 2013.)

For Texas to have only three starters and just 12 remaining from that 2009 class is just as large an indictment of what has gone wrong with the program as the play calling or apathy. Actually, maybe it speaks to the apathy of the staff.

Clearly Texas didn't properly vet its recruits, a point Texas coach Mack Brown now concedes. The staff failed to fully evaluate the passion the recruits had for Texas and the sport.

"We let some slip," he said.

Even Alabama, a program that notoriously oversigns and whittles down the roster with what appears to be the self-confidence of a slaughterhouse saw man, still has 17 of the 30 players it signed in 2009. Two of those who left did so for the NFL. Another, Brandon Moore, is actually at Texas now.

Alabama's loss. Texas' gain.

But Texas has lost plenty as well. Many point to what happened with Garrett Gilbert as the reason Texas lost two years. Actually, not many would argue against that. But recruiting linemen -- only two starters Okafor and Walters -- also was a major contributor to the issues that have faced Texas.

But Okafor and Vaccaro are not looking back or pointing fingers. Instead they have decided to take responsibility for this class and the 2012 team, as seniors typically do.

"Honestly, we're the ones that made it, and we're the ones who have to lead the team," Okafor said. "We can't make any excuses.

"Even if it's just us two, we've got to lead the team."