Year of the RB in Texas
When looking at the state of Texas from an offensive perspective, it's not hard to see 2011 is the year of the running back. Highlighted by five-star prospects Malcolm Brown (Cibolo, Texas/Byron M. Steele) and Aaron Green (San Antonio, Texas/James Madison), this class of running backs could be the best ever out of the Lone Star State. However, what's more impressive is the depth behind Brown and Green. Brandon Williams (Brookshire, Texas/Brookshire Royal) might be having the most productive fall of the trio, and possesses the best college upside due to his large frame and outstanding track speed. Herschel Sims (Abilene, Texas) is a home run threat and the fourth ESPNU 150 RB out of the state. The high-end talent is there, but so is the quality depth, as three more backs out of Texas hold four-star status this year and top-20 positional rankings on a national level.
Brown is the No. 2-ranked running back, but there is not much separating him and Isaiah Crowell (Columbus, Ga./Carver) on the field. While there might be an argument over the top-rated runner in 2011, there is no dispute which one is the premier load-back and most college-ready. Brown is a powerful downhill runner who can break consistent first contact while wearing down a defense with his in-line strength. It's his ability to take it the distance when he breaks free into the second level that puts him in an upper-tier category. His blend of size and speed has been compared to Adrian Peterson at the high school level, and it's a worthy assessment. The No. 7 overall player has a chance to contribute early for the Longhorns thanks to his great strength, power, and durability to withstand the punishment between the tackles at the next level and continue to produce high yards after contact. Physically, this guy already has prototypical size and strength, and is ready to make the jump.
Remember this name
We still don't feel the highly athletic Turner is getting the recognition he deserves on the recruiting trail; he might be one of those prospects who, a few years down the road, has the bigger schools, including Texas, scratching their heads on why he was passed over. Committed to Nebraska, Turner could fit the role of Taylor Martinez, because he's a dynamic dual-threat quarterback with great speed, quickness and explosiveness behind center. Comparable to Russell Shepard, ESPN's No. 3 overall player in 2009, he can slice up defenses on the ground with striking suddenness and quick decision-making. We originally pegged Turner as a slot receiver at the next level, but with the running packages the Cornhuskers are now implementing from the quarterback position, look for him to remain behind center. He throws the ball well on the run and has decent zip to develop as a passer, but it's his legs that could make this guy the next star in Lincoln. He will have a chance to show he belongs among the nation's elite at the Under Armour All-America Game in January.
Taking up residence
Here are the colleges that are doing the best with offensive prospects from Texas:
Mack Brown and Texas hold the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, and as usual, they struck early and did not have to leave the state very often. From an offensive standpoint, the Longhorns could have the next great Texas running back in Brown and a good supporting cast around him up front. Four-star guard Sedrick Flowers (Houston, Texas/North Shore) and fellow ESPNU 150 offensive tackle Garrett Greenlea (Klein, Texas/Klein Collins) will be clearing future holes in Austin. However, one of the most valuable prospects might end up being No. 1-ranked fullback Joe Bergeron (Mesquite, Texas/ North Mesquite). He could play fullback, H-back or even tailback for the Longhorns in certain sets.
The Cornhuskers currently claim the No. 15 class, due in large part to their ability to recruit Texas for offensive players. Green is Bo Pelini's most heralded commitment and one of the more significant pickups for the program in recent memory. He combines every-down RB qualities with breakaway speed. The explosive Turner is one of the more underrated prospects in the ESPNU 150 and could be a game-breaker behind center in a dual-threat role or potentially develop at another skill position.
Williams might not have landed the coveted offer from in-state Texas, but he has the tools to develop into the most productive of the super trio of Texas backs. The Sooners also loaded up on talented pass-catchers out of the Lone Star State. Max Stevenson (Spring, Texas/Klein Oak) is a 6-foot-6, solid route-running tight end, and he is joined by three four-star receivers, including ESPNU 150 prospect Trey Metoyer (Whitehouse, Texas), a playmaker with sough-after size and speed.
While they lack an ESPNU 150 prospect, the Red Raiders boast a lot of quality in-state commitments on offense with a three-star grade or higher. Two four-star running backs, Kenny Williams (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) and Bradley Marquez (Odessa, Texas), lead their in-state offensive class. Williams is a 210-pound load of a running back prospect with great downhill strength and power mixed with deceptive in-line agility and quickness. Marquez lacks Williams' power but might be more well-rounded and has polished hands out of the backfield.
The Cowboys have commitments from the No. 1 quarterback and No. 4 RB in the state of Texas in 2011. Sims is a quick and speedy back with great feet, and is a weapon as a pass-catcher. J.W. Walsh (Denton, Texas/John H. Guyer) is a sound, accurate passer with a quick release and a competitive nature coveted at the position.
Billy Tucker is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting and has close to a decade of coaching experience at the college and high school levels.
States Of Recruiting
• Alabama: Center of attention
• Arkansas: Razorbacks' in-state pipeline
• Arizona/New Mexico: Loaded on the line
• Calif. offense: WR Farmer leads the way
• Calif. defense: It all starts up front
• Colorado: Buffaloes keep cherry picking
• Florida offense: Loaded at QB, skill positions
• Florida defense: Highlighted by elite safeties
• Georgia: Among the best recruiting areas
• Hawaii/Alaska: More than just vacation spot
• Iowa: Hawkeyes making best of down year
• Illinois: Continuing tradition of big-time WRs
• Indiana: Hoosier State producing linemen
• Kansas: Starling continues quarterback trend
• Kentucky: Wildcats, Cardinals capitalizing
• Louisiana: Better than ever
• Maryland: Flying under the radar
• Michigan: Prospects making big splash early
• Minnesota: Not as deep as usual
• Mississippi: Best class in years
• Missouri: State is top-heavy once again
• Nebraska: Still producing offensive linemen
• Nevada: Las Vegas is a must-stop
• New England: Recruiters flock to this region
(Conn., Del., DC, Mass., Maine, Vt., N.H., R.I.)
• New York/New Jersey: Rutgers capitalizing
• North Carolina: Another good year in Carolina
• Ohio: Buckeyes keeping top players
• Oklahoma: Sleeper spot for top prospects
• Pacific Northwest: Quality D-linemen available
(Ore., Idaho, Mont., N.D., S.D., Wyo.)
• Pennsylvania: Down year in Quaker State
• South Carolina: Laying claim to No. 1 prospect
• Texas offense: Year of the running back
• Texas defense: CBs highlight down year
• Tennessee: Filled with linemen
• Utah: Must-see for D-linemen
• Virginia/West Virginia: Hidden gems
• Wisconsin: Solid prospects in state
• Washington: Talent base improving