Texas has big hopes for small 2013 class

Days after his program was hit with embarrassing publicity of

misconduct by a top assistant coach and the late defection of a top

recruit, Mack Brown only wanted to talk Wednesday about the

positives: the 15 players who stuck by their decision to sign with

Texas and help them return to the top of the Big 12.

”The 15 we’ve got are very passionate about coming to Texas,”

Brown said, ”and that’s what you want.”

Still, it’s a recruiting class that experts ranked much lower

than Brown’s program is used to, and was notable for a rash of

defections from players who had committed early only to change

their minds and go elsewhere. Those are the kinds of things that

can happen to a program that is just 22-16 since playing for the

national championship after the 2009 season.

And Texas took an embarrassing public hit just a few days

earlier when the school and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite

disclosed that he had been disciplined for inappropriate conduct

with a student on a bowl trip after the 2008 season. The disclosure

prompted a rebuke by school regents.

Brown deflected questions about Applewhite, saying he never

considered firing him and noting that Applewhite had already dealt

with the issue with the school and his family.

”I want to talk about recruiting,” Brown said.

The 15-player class is Texas’ smallest since 2005. Brown noted

that class – while not as highly-ranked as others that year –

included seven players who were on NFL active rosters last season.

Among that group was Colt McCoy, a lightly regarded, small-school

quarterback who became a four-year starter and led Texas to the

2009 Big 12 title and the national championship game that

season.

”Sometimes in smaller classes you do a better job in

evaluation. They come in with a chip on their shoulder because they

are not as highly ranked,” Brown said. ”We’ve had some top-ranked

signing classes here that didn’t pan out.”

The class is notable for having five offensive linemen, which

Brown identified as a position of need for the future.

”I think this is the best group, from top to bottom, of

offensive linemen that we’ve ever signed. I do think some of these

guys will mix in there this year,” Brown said.

Texas signed one quarterback, Tyrone Swoopes of Whitewright

(Texas) High School, who ran for 5,341 yards and 73 touchdowns and

passed for 3,850 yards and 41 TDs in his career.

Texas also signed four receivers and tight ends, positions that

have provided only spotty production the last three seasons. Among

the receivers is Jake Oliver (Dallas Jesuit), who set a Texas state

career record with 308 catches for 4,567 yards and 56

touchdowns.

Brown wouldn’t talk about the players who earlier committed to

Texas but ended up signing elsewhere. But he said he’d consider

going back to his policy of pulling scholarship offers if a player

commits to Texas then decides to visit other schools. Brown said

defections seemed too common across the country.

”We’re going to go back and say if you’re going to look, we’re

going to look (elsewhere),” Brown said. ”It’s dog eat dog out

there right now.”