Last year, a few months after Charlie Strong was named Texas’ new head coach, Strong traveled the state on a burnt orange tour bus giving speeches in front of sold out audiences in 12 cities. Cleverly referred to as the “Comin’ on Strong Tour,” Strong doled out many memorable quotes, few receiving more airtime than his slogan “Put the ‘T’ back in ‘Texas.’” The “T,” as I recall, stood for togetherness, teamwork, toughness and trust, but after this year’s National Signing Day, the “T” could easily stand for “Triumph.”
In Strong’s first recruiting class as head coach, the Longhorns recruited their first five-star recruit since 2012, 14 four-star recruits, and 12 three-star recruits, finishing well above last year’s composite recruiting class ranking.
However, name recognition, booster support, and a historically successful program have expectations in Longhorn nation pretty high. So, let’s see how this year’s recruiting class stacks up to the Longhorns’ recruiting classes since the departure of Colt McCoy.
It is difficult to compare and contrast recruiting class rankings from one year to the next since such lists are always subjective, and team needs and circumstances change. The chart below shows three separate, entirely subjective, class rankings from 2010 to 2015.
Viewing the chart above, it is obvious that during, and immediately following, the successful campaigns of Vince Young and Colt McCoy, Texas’ recruiting prowess was at an all-time high. And, thanks largely to a few unsuccessful seasons and a coaching change, the last two years saw a big dip.
However, this year’s recruiting class puts the Longhorns back on an upward trajectory. There is little doubt that this year’s class ranking has substantially improved from the previous two seasons. In addition, this year’s recruiting class represents the first time the Longhorns finished atop the Big 12 since 2012. Likewise, Malik Jefferson, the Longhorns’ lone five-star recruit, represents Texas’ first five-star recruit since 2012, when Rivals.com ranked Jonathan Gray and Malcom Brown as top recruits.
It is important to note that despite the Longhorns’ top recruiting classes between 2010 and 2012, Texas never finished a subsequent season ranked higher than 19 in the AP Poll.
It will be a while before Strong restores Texas to its perch atop the recruiting class rankings. Regardless, the former Louisville coach's first recruiting class points Texas in the right direction. Now, Strong and the Longhorns will focus on their biggest recruiting tool for 2016: winning football games.