Brown delivers talented recruiting class at Texas

Texas’ 2010 season was anything but a success. The Longhorns finished 5-7 and failed to earn a bowl berth for the first time since 1997. That just so happened to be John Mackovic’s last season as head coach.

But times have changed in Austin. No bowl, no problem.

Being home for the holidays didn’t stop head coach Mack Brown from once again assembling one of the top recruiting classes and being at the center of attention when National Signing Day arrived last Wednesday.

Mack BrownICONTexas head coach Mack Brown spent more time on the recruiting trail this offseason.

While assembling top-five classes is nothing new in Austin, the fact that Brown was able to repeat the feat is even more impressive because of the Longhorns’ subpar 2010 season and the fact that Brown was recruiting without an offensive or defensive coordinator in recruiting season’s stretch drive.

And yes, Brown was on the road more often than in the past because of the vast turnover on his staff. Plus, he needed something to do while he wasn’t preparing for a postseason showcase.

As the Longhorns continue their preparations for the start of spring practice on February 24, their 7-loss season is very much in the rearview mirror — at least until Brown and his players are reminded of it during interviews with the media.

But on the recruiting trail, it was a much different story.

Texas only lost one commitment during this tumultuous offseason — four-star offensive lineman Christian Westerman, who will play for national champion Auburn. And Westerman was one of only two commits not from the great state of Texas.

Bottom line: if you’re from Texas, you want to play for Texas. And 7-loss seasons don’t stick around for too long.

In this Class of 2011, Brown has 22 committed Longhorns ready to get back to the program’s winning ways. They had the chance to go elsewhere despite the fact that all committed to the school before the start of last season. But, there weren’t any disastrous last-minute decisions on Signing Day, so Brown will have a boatload of talented new players coming aboard.

Longhorn fans can consider this class a parting gift from Will Muschamp, who was so tireless working on the recruiting trail before leaving to take over for Urban Meyer as the head coach at Florida.

It also helped that Brown was able to fill both of his open coordinator positions with two of the brightest young minds in the college coaching ranks — co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Harsin helped make Boise State’s unit one of the most exciting in the nation while Diaz was the unsung hero at Mississippi State, where he helped Dan Mullen’s squad improve from 71st to 21st in scoring defense.

Manny DiazICONNew coordinator Manny Diaz should work wonders with the Longhorns' talent on defense.

With these hires, there is unquestionably new energy in Austin — which is exactly what the Longhorns needed after a trying 2010.

Brown has said that all positions are up for grabs when spring practice arrives, and one player to keep an eye on is Malcolm Brown, who was the most talked-about running back recruit in the nation besides Georgia’s Isaiah Crowell. The 6-foot, 220-pounder could end up being the school’s most productive back since Jamaal Charles, especially since recent backs Cody Johnson, Fozzy Whittaker and others haven’t emerged as workhorses. Physically, he’s big and fast. If he can pick up the blitz, there’s no reason why he can’t be an every-down back.

The Longhorns also picked up receiver Jaxon Shipley — yes, the younger brother of the school’s former star Jordan Shipley. Offensive line was a major focus after getting subpar play from the unit the past two campaigns. Tackle Garrett Greenlea and guard Sedrick Flowers could find their way onto the two-deep in 2011, while middle linebacker Steve Edmond and defensive tackle Desmond Jackson were in the top-5 at their respective positions.

Texas should field another sound defense next season in Austin with linebackers Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho, as well as safeties Kenny Vaccaro and Blake Gideon, but how will the young players develop on offense? Co-coordinators Major Applewhite and Harsin need to find out whether soon-to-be junior quarterback Garrett Gilbert is the answer under center. And they need to find playmakers to move the ball and put up points — something that the ‘Horns failed to consistently do on Saturday afternoons.

But those questions can be saved for after the team’s Orange-White Game on April 3. For now, Brown and his staff deserve a little time to bask in the post-Signing Day glow.

Email dave.miller@nationalfootballpost.com or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

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