Head of the class
A look at the top signee for each FBS team in Texas.
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National Signing Day is always a whirlwind, and the 2013 variety was no different. We saw hundreds upon hundreds of players across Texas sign National Letters of Intent to play football in college -- and we'll be updating our Signing Day HQ with all of them as soon as we can pinpoint them, from FBS all the way down to Division III.
But the focus yesterday was on the 12 FBS teams in Texas, each of whom put together a quality class of talent for 2013. But who is the star of the show for each team's class, the one player that should get its teams' fans the most excited? I'm glad you asked.
Baylor: Fort Worth Southwest WR Robbie Rhodes
You could just as easily put Waco OL Andrew Billings in this spot, but considering the Art Briles offense, it'd be hard for Bears fans to overlook the record-smashing Rhodes. He was darn-near uncoverable in high school, and his skill set should transfer to the college game with relative ease.
Houston: John Tyler DE Tyus Bowser
It's another strong class for UH, and it's led by the former Oklahoma State commit Bowser. He may look a little undersized at 6-3 and 225 pounds, but don't be fooled: Bowser has elite-level explosiveness and is simply too quick for most tackles to block him. He'll need to bulk up, but he's a potential star.
North Texas: Trinity Valley CC OL Shawn McKinney
Offensive linemen rarely move the needle for the average college football fan, but one look at McKinney should change that. Weighing in at 6-4 and 365 points, McKinney is immediately one of the biggest offensive linemen in FBS. There are concerns that he's too big, but Dan McCarney knows linemen, and he could turn the mammoth McKinney into a prime-time player almost immediately.
Rice: Mesquite Horn LB D.J. Green
Simply put, nabbing D.J. Green is a coup for the Owls. Long limited by their high academic standards, the fact that they were able to get Green -- one of the DFW Metroplex's finest linebackers -- is a sign that David Bailiff and company are doing something right. Green is a tremendous player, and while he doesn't have elite-level size or athleticism, he's bound to be a starter soon.
SMU: Red Oak TE Jeremiah Gaines
All eyes are going to be on former Cayuga star and Navarro JC transfer Traylon Shead, or even Lufkin WR JaBryce Taylor, but if I'm picking one guy in this class, it's Gaines. The tight end class in Texas was surprisingly deep this year, and Gaines has all the tools -- route-running, pass-catching, blocking -- to become an immediate impact-type guy.
TCU: Arlington Martin RB Kyle Hicks
It's not every year that the Horned Frogs managed to take a running back prospect away from Texas, but that's exactly what happened in the case of the dynamic Hicks. There just aren't many players in the state this year that were as quick as Hicks, and he's lethal when he gets into space. He's a near-perfect fit for TCU's offense as well.
Texas: Lake Highlands OL Kent Perkins
Again, I know, offensive linemen are boring, but plain and simple, Texas got the best one in the state in Perkins. He's got surprising quickness and athleticism for a guy his size (6-5, 300 pounds) and he's extremely polished already. And ask anyone who played against him at Lake Highlands this year: he was more dominant than any quarterback or running back you'll find.
Texas A&M: Sealy WR Ricky Seals-Jones
You kind of have your pick of the litter with A&M's class, but why make it complicated? Seals-Jones, our preseason 3A Coverboy, is a physical specimen at 6-6 and 220 pounds, with tremendous speed and quickness and a very soft pair of hands. He's moving from quarterback to his more natural position of wide receiver, and he should be a weapon for coach Kevin Sumlin in the near future.
Texas State: Katy Cinco Ranch RB Jamel James
Amidst the sea of junior college transfers (the Bobcats signed a whopping 11 transfers) stands one of the best recruits in recent Texas State history. James is a former Arkansas commit who was getting attention from all over -- including USC and Tennessee -- and for good reason: he's a bruising back with twinkle-toed elusiveness as well. Between James, QB Tyler Jones and WR Brice Gunter, the Bobs have potential stars at the skill positions.
Texas Tech: Sherman LB Kahlee Woods
The major recruiting services won't agree with me, but having seen Woods in person, I think he is a future star for the Red Raiders. The Bearcats' all-time career leader in tackles, Woods simply produces, plain and simple, with fantastic sideline-to-sideline speed and great explosiveness at the point of attack. Devin Lauderdale, Baylen Brown and the Georgia recruits will get more pub, but if I'm picking one guy, it's Woods.
UTEP: Manvel DT Dewan Edmonson
When you look for a defensive tackle, you can go one of two ways: bulky or quick. The good news for Sean Kugler and the Miners is that they didn't have to choose in Edmonson. He's got pretty good size at 6-2 and 255 pounds, and can beat most guards and centers at the point of attack with his speed and quickness. Look for Edmonson to see the field in a hurry.
UTSA: San Antonio Warren WR Aron Taylor
Zooooooom. Taylor is a burner on the outside, hauling in 55 catches for 837 yards and nine scores as a senior. With a 6-2 frame, the Roadrunners have something to work with on the outside, and the hope (not an unachievable one) is to turn Taylor into a true No. 1 receiving threat.
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.