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Check-in On Recruiting Class of 2017: The Hermansition Class

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The purpose of this thread is to occasionally take a look at Herman's 2017 class in a lite manner as time passes. Full post mortems on each class after the 5th year from their signing would be worthy of its own thread for each year, in my mind, but we're years away from that. 

So how are things progressing with Herman's recruiting and depth chart stacking (or lack thereof, if applicable)?

Taking a look at 2017:

Texas signed 17 guys that actually showed up to participate as part of the team. It's been two years since that day, as I type this. 

Starters (Obvious forward projections included, past starters who have left early due to bad attrition or benched and beaten on the depth chart are not included)

Ehlinger, T Graham, Gary Johnson, Kerstetter, Cosmi

Contributors (productive guys yet to consistently start who don't project to start yet going forward)

Thompson, Bimage, Boyce, D Young, Brewer, Chisholm

Depth (guys on the roster who haven't seen much or any time on the field yet)

Estell, Leitao, Pouncey, Cummins

Attrition

T Carter, Josh Rowland

Summary:

Of the 17 enrollees in Herman’s transition class, 5 guys have either started many games or project comfortably to do so. Thompson could be argued as a guy that should be added to this list and the count should be 6, but I think Overshown will push him off the field, even if they’re not going to play the same role.

Of those 5 starters, one looks like a star in Ehlinger (I’ve been touting this young man as a genius for years, personally), one was a star in GaJo, and Kerstetter and Cosmi could project as early draft picks if they develop strength and continue to progress. Graham looks like a prohibitive favorite to start in 2019 and he’s looked good when healthy and in the DL rotation.

The contributors group isn’t particularly strong, but they’re somewhat productive and promising. They’re fine as competent support being developed within the program.

The depth guys might as well all be labeled “Future Attrition” for the 2017 class, but they haven’t left yet. Maybe Estell gets healthy enough to take a stab at living up to his recruiting ranking and billing.

As far as attrition goes, fuck Toneil Carter for being a whiny bitch and not taking advantage of the opportunities in front of him. Rowland started as a stop gap but was terrible and has justifiably left for other opportunities after doing nothing in 2018.

The 2017 class has performed better than most expected as the 25th ranked class nationally. The starters look great and the supporting guys have been critical to building the program back up. Attrition hasn’t been as gruesome as is often feared with these kinds of classes and there’s reason to be optimistic that almost half of these guys could wind up as starters during their time on campus.

Thoughts?

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I think it's too early to write off the depth guys. This is the first year they should be expected to contribute to the team effort.

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2017 Texas Commits

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The 2017 class addressed the two most dire positions (taking into account positional importance) on the roster: QB and offensive tackle.

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I think Brewer and Kerstetter will have “rebound” years after looking promising as Freshman. 

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1 minute ago, MoJames said:

Was hoping Reese would figure things out, but maybe not based on above.

I mean, you've seen with your own eyes he's barely seen the field except some run at special teams. He's got time and a pretty open depth chart to change that.

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Reese shocks me the most. I thought he would see the field by now. Maybe they trusted Beck so much. Is it mental? Physical? Attitude? I don’t get it 

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Just to contrast other teams, Miss. St took the number 24 ranked class in 2017 with 25 commits. They only had 21 show up, 9 juco which is important when you compare after only 2 years.

Starters (Obvious forward projections included, past starters who have left early due to bad attrition or benched and beaten on the depth chart are not included)

Willie Gay, Kylin Hill, Abram, Sweat, Day (Punter)

Contributors (productive guys yet to consistently start who don't project to start yet going forward)

Chauncey Rivers, Champion, Austin Williams, Phillips, Landrews

Depth (guys on the roster who haven't seen much or any time on the field yet)

Keytaon Thompson, Autry, Cole, Dunning, Odom, Tyler Williams, Guidry, Suggs, Jackson, Warren

Attrition

Deion Pope

Obviously, Sweat stands out here as he should be drafted fairly high in April. He came in as a JUCO.

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9 minutes ago, MoJames said:

Was hoping Reese would figure things out, but maybe not based on above.

 

1 minute ago, Neonmoon said:

Reese shocks me the most. I thought he would see the field by now. Maybe they trusted Beck so much. Is it mental? Physical? Attitude? I don’t get it 

Tight ends usually see a longer development curve. I'm not giving up on Reese yet.

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1 minute ago, Neonmoon said:

Reese shocks me the most. I thought he would see the field by now. Maybe they trusted Beck so much. Is it mental? Physical? Attitude? I don’t get it 

You are surprised a HS drug dealer, who happened to be good at football, doesn't have the focus required to make an immediate impact in college? Or, are you being sarcastic?

Edited by pacman

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That was such a (by Texas standards, to initial appearances) lackluster class, I guess I hallucinated and suppressed a bit of reality. I thought I remembered Leitao’s being higher ranked than that. What a steal was Cosmi! I choose to hold out some hope for the guys on your depth list.

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3 minutes ago, pacman said:

You are surprised a HS drug dealer, who happened to be good at football, doesn't have the focus required to make an immediate impact in college? Or, are you being sarcastic?

He showed strong entrepreneurial spirit.

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And now it's Reese, Brewer, Epps, Bru (or is he more of a LJH), and Wiley.

The rare Brewer or Epps sighting has been more memorable than Reese and his name randomly showing up on the screen after a kick off coverage.

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Just now, MoJames said:

And now it's Reese, Brewer, Epps, Bru (or is he more of a LJH), and Wiley.

The rare Brewer or Epps sighting has been more memorable than Reese and his name randomly showing up on the screen after a kick off coverage.

Liebrock

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9 minutes ago, GRHorn said:

Wait what ever happened to Damion Miller?

Went to Navarro JC,

 

his little brother might be a good 2022 RB

Edited by pacman

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9 minutes ago, MoJames said:

And now it's Reese, Brewer, Epps, Bru (or is he more of a LJH), and Wiley.

The rare Brewer or Epps sighting has been more memorable than Reese and his name randomly showing up on the screen after a kick off coverage.

Epps is sticking at receiver, he's not going to be a TE. He can't add the weight and the staff likes him as a red zone, jump ball type. 

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43 minutes ago, Bevo14 said:

I think it's too early to write off the depth guys. This is the first year they should be expected to contribute to the team effort.

 

12 minutes ago, Machinator said:

 

Tight ends usually see a longer development curve. I'm not giving up on Reese yet.

Part of what I wanted to establish, and what I want the 2018 thread of similar nature that I'm going to post to establish, is sort of a motion picture of our opinions on a class as they occur, not attempting to recall how we felt along the way at the end. For me, I try not to give one shit if someone views some take I had at some point as now being idiotic or awesome.  New shit comes to light, it's all prognostication, and we're humans who are wrong a lot. 

That considered, I'm not writing the "Depth" guy off yet, although it looks like that to some degree in the original post. What I'm really thinking is that, 2 years, the guys on that list are trending towards true "up or out" scenarios on the roster. Newer guys coming in will apply building pressure on them to show or spit the bit and they've yet to show up.

Estell needs to not be made of glass.

Leitao pretty much faces a make it or break it spring given the depth around him, including the pressure guys like Whittington and McCoy will be adding to the flexibility of the personnel choices even ancillary to TE.

Pouncey is purely buried at WR, so what does his best route for succeeding at UT look like to folks at this point? I'll admit that my view on that is grim for him. I see special teams overachievement and contentedness with being 4th on that chart but part of the team as his recipe for highest and best use at Texas (for him and the program).

Cummins, well, we won the lottery on Cosmi. I don't like to challenge fate all day, every day, and asking for a second unranked guy to come out of nowhere and be anything more than practice fodder seems futile. 

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13 minutes ago, Machinator said:

He never made it in because of academics.

 

6 minutes ago, pacman said:

Went to Navarro JC,

 

his little brother might be a good 2022 RB

When I put these together, I'll be purposefully ignoring the guys who never made it in. I'm indifferent about them and the examination of performance of recruits who made to campus for a class makes them irrelevant. Just FYI on why he's not even mentioned.

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I remember posting about this class in one of the other threads, but basically Herman said he wouldn’t go star chasing and he’d focus on guys they’d vetted and knew would work out. He did this (compare to Baylor’s 2017 transition class where Rhule chased highly-rated OOS guys late and has had a ton of attriton) and the hit rate is high for a transition class, but it’s certainly lacking in elite talent outside of Ehlinger and Cosmi. Generally it wouldn’t be an issue, but the low hit rate and high attrition from 2016 will combine to cause some serious depth and experience issues for us in 2019.

Thankfully, the conference looks to be a bit down, so if Herman can get us to another 10 win season, we should be in a good place to recruit extremely well in 2020 and 2021, and then Herman and co. get to operate with a top 5 roster in the country for the foreseeable future. Considering what they did this past year with a roster nowhere near as talented, that’s a very promising prospect for us all.

Edited by Burt Macklin

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Has Estelle been passed up? I'd think the depth at safety (think that's where he's projected at) combined with injuries would have had him looking elsewhere by now. 

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My hope for a guy like Cummins is that he turns out to be valuable as a guy like Luke Poehlman was his Sr year.  He kind of hung around the roster eating a scholarship as an underweight OT for three years until Harsin ( I believe) found a way to maximize his value by making him a third OT in short yardage situations.  He was a devastating blocker for half the season until he fucking got hurt and his absence cost us.  

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Reese was my sleeper (non-obvious) pick for the highest impact in the 2017 class. Ossai was for the 2018 class. Gbenda is for the 2019 class. Of course, my Reese pick was before the drug charge. I still think this year he becomes the starter and is very solid.

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52 minutes ago, pacman said:

You are surprised a HS drug dealer, who happened to be good at football, doesn't have the focus required to make an immediate impact in college? Or, are you being sarcastic?

I am surprised he lacks focus.  Based on what we know, I would expect him to have a copious supply of Adderall available to him.

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23 minutes ago, longhornmatt said:

I am surprised he lacks focus.  Based on what we know, I would expect him to have a copious supply of Adderall available to him.

*Xanax 

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I'm just happy that our "waterhead" quarterback is now viewed as a star. 

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I like having threads like these. Let's dive in. My comment has ended up being really long so I'm going to break it into sections and spoiler it.

Defining a Successful Class

Spoiler

 

It's important to set some standards by which you can judge classes with some objectivity. I think that in general terms, a successful class yields:

  • >1/3 of signees become quality starters (i.e. guys that are plus players on a conference championship level team). Zach Shackelford and Andrew Beck from the 2018 team would barely meet the mark for me here. 
  • At least 3 star players that play at an All-Conference level or above (e.g. Sam Ehlinger, Charles Omenihu, Lil'Jordan Humphrey) 
  • <1/4 flameouts i.e. non-qualifiers, early transfers, or totally unplayable depth (Toneil Carter, JP Urquidez, Tristian Houston). This might change due to the transfer portal.

After 4 years of recruiting successful classes averaging 25 signees you're looking at a roster with: 

  • ~~30 quality starters depending on early entrants, transfers, and fifth year seniors
  • 9-12 star players depending on early entrants
  • Close to a full roster of guys that at least provide quality depth

Championship roster building obviously requires more than just the above. You need to have balance across the position groups. You need great players at the premium positions. The numbers above are just to provide some kind of baseline for grading a class. That grade can then be adjusted depending on context.

 

How the 2017 Class Compares to That Definition

Spoiler

 

I first want to start with one huge caveat for the 2017 class: they are just entering their third year in the program. Beyond the obvious fact that they all have 2 more years to play, I want to point out that the third year is often the point guys see a big jump in their play. This past year we saw it with Collin Johnson, Devin Duvernay, Zach Shackelford, Lil'Jordan Humphrey, and Brandon Jones. So I think it's easy to underestimate some of the guys who haven't made their mark yet, especially with highly touted classes following them.

That said, CTJ for the most part I agree with how you divide the players up. I personally like Bimage more than most and would add him, Brewer, and Thompson to your starters list. I consider them all the favorites for a starting job going in to spring practice but they all have a chance of being passed up as well. Also, the guys that don't ever make the team aren't really worth discussing, but I think they can still be included because they count towards the class scholarship limit. Taking them means you didn't take someone else.

Based on the parameters I set above I would divide the class up like so: 

  • 3 current starters (Ehlinger, Johnson, Cosmi), 5 that could be (Graham, Kerstetter, Bimage, Brewer, Thompson)
  • 2 stars (Ehlinger, Cosmi)
  • 3 flame outs (Carter, Miller, Rowland) but will likely add more TBD

So right now I think that it looks like this class is right on the borderline of being considered a success. At least 3 of the 5 guys that could become starters need to do so in order to reach the 1/3 mark. However, I am hesitant to actually believe that all of them live up to that projection. It's possible that none of them start next year. Plus there's a difference between starting and being a plus player on a championship level team. We'll just have to see. I don't see anybody else other than Sam and Cosmi becoming really great players so the class falls short there. Right now only three guys have flamed out but there's at least 5 more that might join that list soon.

My prediction/verdict? Looks like it will fall short of being "successful." Probably successful in terms of starters, probably not in terms of stars and flameouts.

 

Context for the 2017 Class

Spoiler

 

A. It was a transition class. And it wasn't an easy transition. The loss to Kansas was arguably the lowest point in the history of our program. Herman was the biggest coaching name available, but he was trying to save a class that was doomed by his predecessor. The state was raided by national programs. I think the juxtaposition between the 2017 class and the next two really shows how screwed Herman was. I didn't follow recruiting closely in 2017 so I won't say much more in terms of Herman's performance in assembling the class. 

B. It was a really small class. And I think that is really its biggest weakness: depth. Looking at it two years in, Daniel Young, Reese Leitao, and Kobe Boyce are the only guys that I would project to contribute as non-starters next year. On the other hand, that allowed us to take a bigger class in 2018. So the opportunity cost of adding some more late takes would have likely been Christian Jones, Michael Williams, and Mikey Grandy. Williams and Grandy are already off the team but I think Jones will be the starting RT by the end of spring. It's a judgement call on whether it would have been better to take some more filler in 2017. Personally I think Herman and co. made the right choice.

C. The two best players came at the two most important positions. Sam earns the class even more bonus points for his intangibles and the fact that he is the absolute perfect guy to have as the face of your program. He's going to be a Texas legend for his role in bringing us back.

D. The class is lacking at WR and LB. WR is easily replaceable, but having only one JUCO LB has now left the roster with a pretty big hole at that spot. OL would have been here too if they hadn't nailed their evals. 

E. 2018 and 2019 are both fantastic classes that could make this one look worse than it really is. Or maybe they allow us to judge it fairly. Depends on your perspective.

F. 2020 looks to be our year to make an early run at the natty. This class, most importantly Sam, will be seniors. Our CFP hopes may be in their hands, for better or worse. 

 

TLDR I like the class but think it falls just short of the standard we should hold. But it still has the potential to be pretty good, especially given the context of Herman's hire.

Thoughts? 

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To be clear, looking at where the class is 2 years in, I think it’s successful. It’s got several high impact players at key positions that were desperately needed, a bunch of guys contributing, and low churn. It’s not a magical class or an elite class, but given the context of it, it has fared pretty damned well so far. 

Edited by closetojumping

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If someone had the time and knowledge, it would be interesting to see how this transition class stacks up against those of other successful coaches who took over struggling programs.

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5 hours ago, closetojumping said:

Of those 5 starters, one looks like a star in Ehlinger (I’ve been touting this young man as a genius for years, personally)

Robert-De-Niro-Oh-you.gif

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i was initially on wtf mode with our tight ends.  but remember Beck while not all world   was lunch pail sean lee place holder that wasn't going to be usurped. this year there is no excuses for anyone  the spot is open 

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1 minute ago, Sgt Hulk said:

i was initially on wtf mode with our tight ends.  but remember Beck while not all world   was lunch pail sean lee place holder that wasn't going to be usurped. this year there is no excuses for anyone  the spot is open 

Ole lunch pail Beck could have had some really respectable receiving numbers if Ehlinger had ever figured out how to hit him on that play that released him in the middle downfield. Dude was an above average TE.

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5 hours ago, GRHorn said:

Wait what ever happened to Damion Miller?

ha, was about to post the same. sounded familiar but had no clue what happened to him.

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2 minutes ago, achooloco said:

ha, was about to post the same. sounded familiar but had no clue what happened to him.

He's not on the Navarro roster anymore (if you want a blast from the past, Zadock Dinkelmann is their QB). That sucks, he was a hell of a talent.

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7 minutes ago, texifornia said:

He's not on the Navarro roster anymore (if you want a blast from the past, Zadock Dinkelmann is their QB). That sucks, he was a hell of a talent.

How is he a hell of a talent? LSU jumped on him far too early, got pushed out. Ended up at BYU? I think? and is now at a JUCO?

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4 minutes ago, theaveragejon said:

How is he a hell of a talent? LSU jumped on him far too early, got pushed out. Ended up at BYU? I think? and is now at a JUCO?

Sorry if it was unclear - Miller was the talent. Dinkelmann was just a funny sidebar.

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8 hours ago, texifornia said:

Sorry if it was unclear - Miller was the talent. Dinkelmann was just a funny sidebar.

Ah. May bad. Gotcha. Makes sense. 

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15 hours ago, MoJames said:

Was hoping Reese would figure things out, but maybe not based on above.

Tight end has perhaps the slowest developmental curve of any position 

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Looking back at this class, and the early reviews of 2018, gives me genuine hope that Herman and his staff are excellent evaluators of HS talent, finding the late bloomers in HS who project to stud CFB players. Another reason to be excited about the future.

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I look forward to see what Herman/Hand can do with OL that already have the college bodies (Johnson & Shepard). It’s been a while since our “good” offensive linemen weren’t underweight.

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1 hour ago, SimkinsMan said:

Looking back at this class, and the early reviews of 2018, gives me genuine hope that Herman and his staff are excellent evaluators of HS talent, finding the late bloomers in HS who project to stud CFB players. Another reason to be excited about the future.

Yep. It’s early but this staff seems elite in terms of evaluating. We were the first to offer Overshown when he was a lowly ranked kid in the summer before his junior year, and in keeping with the 2017 class, the staff offered Javelin Guidry, who needed up at Utah and started all this year as the slot CB and at one point was graded by PFF as the top slot corner in CFB. 

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Reese looked slow and stiff to me in the spring game.  I think he needs to become a dominant in line blocker or will passed up quickly. 

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One other thing I was discussing with someone this morning regarding the 2017 class. Both Cosmi and Cummins would probably be recruited as PWO in the newer cycles. Cosmi could well turn out to be a legendary score if he continues to develop physically.

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6 minutes ago, closetojumping said:

One other thing I was discussing with someone this morning regarding the 2017 class. Both Cosmi and Cummins would probably be recruited as PWO in the newer cycles. Cosmi could well turn out to be a legendary score if he continues to develop physically.

There's no shortage of data points in this department, but the fact that Herman took Cosmi's commitment the summer after his Junior year is yet another positive indication of his ability to spot talent.  This wasn't some out-of-nowhere prospect who blew up his Senior year and ended up on everyone's radar.  This was someone who Herman liked for years.

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