Every Friday, HornsNation recruiting writers William Wilkerson and Max Olson will answer a question about the Longhorns.
This week's question: Texas has seen Ricky Seals-Jones, Daeshon Hall, Kyle Hicks and now Durham Smythe decommit from the 2013 class. Who is the one recruit Texas can't afford to lose before signing day?
William Wilkerson: There are several choices here but I’m going with ESPN 150 DB Antwuan Davis because of Texas’ struggles recruiting the secondary in this class.
Texas offered Shaquille Fluker a few weeks ago, but he will likely stick with his commitment to Georgia, and fellow Texas offer Vonn Bell isn’t coming to Austin, which the Longhorns have known for some time.
Sure, Texas’ secondary appears to be in decent shape next season, with both corners coming back and several options at safety that all have game experience.
But let’s be honest, those options at safety weren’t the best last season and Davis could supply them with a physical freak with speed to burn if the Longhorns choose to put him there.
Without Davis, Texas would be traveling up that certain creek without a paddle and options wouldn’t be plentiful even though Orlando Thomas looks like a keeper and Bryson Echols, who is redshirting this season, was the No. 6 cornerback in the nation in 2012.
This is all hyperbole, though, because Davis isn’t going anywhere. As we mentioned in The Heard this week he really took on a leadership role with Jake Raulerson during Banquet Weekend in trying to recruit the juco prospects in town.
Max Olson: Antwuan Davis is certainly a good answer to this question, but I don’t know that he’d start over two-year starters Quandre Diggs and Carrington Byndom. That’s why I’m going with Darius James.
The Harker Heights (Texas) lineman is ESPN’s No. 1 ranked center prospect. If he can stay healthy James has a legitimate chance to start right away when he gets to Texas.
James is the top-rated commit in Texas’ 13-man class, but that alone doesn’t make him its most irreplaceable pledge.
There just isn’t another lineman like James. He’s 6-foot-5, 320 pounds who’s as strong as he is athletic. James' No. 17 national ranking is the highest an interior lineman has ever achieved in the eight-year history of the ESPN 150.
So, yeah, good luck finding another Darius James in this class. There had been rumors that Oklahoma and others were still trying to make a move on the longtime Texas commit. After taking his official visit to Texas last weekend, James said the school felt like home and only made him more sure of his choice.
If James opted to leave this class before signing day, it would be remarkably hard to believe. His close friend Naashon Hughes is also committed to Texas, and Hughes’ brother, Camrhon Hughes, is already at UT.
Plus, James knows that offensive line coach Stacy Searels covets him and his ability, and it’s fairly plain to see now that no incumbents on Texas’ slightly above average 2012 offensive line should feel their jobs are safe.
James has had injury issues in the past, but by the time he gets to campus he’ll be fully healthy and conditioned. Two-year starter Dominic Espinosa is ahead of him, but I’d be surprised if James doesn’t make a legitimate run at the center job from day one. That’s why Texas just can’t lose him.