Football teams that find diamonds in the rough are successful, it’s quite that simple. The not so simple part? Finding these undervalued athletes and developing them into star players.
The Texas Longhorns teams of the mid-to-late 2000s were filled with players that were not highly touted by other programs. In fact, one could argue that many of these players could be listed on Texas’s Mount Rushmore of all-time greats.
Last week, we spent some time analyzing Texas’s best recruiting finds on the defensive side of the ball.
This week, we are taking a look at the Longhorns offense. Just as a little reminder, I have created a list of ten Longhorns football players since 2000 that were less than four-star prospects (courtesy of 247Sports). The major thing in consideration was a player’s return on investment, in relation to his recruiting rating. Lastly, the Longhorns 2017 recruiting class is last one that I will consider as those athletes are still proving their value.
Fozzy Whittaker – RB (3-Star; 2007)
Notable Season (2011): 386 rushing yards and 9 total TDs.
James Kirkendoll – WR (3-Star; 2007)
Notable Season (2010): 707 receiving yards and 2 TD receptions.
Joe Bergeron – RB (3-Star; 2011)
Notable Season (2012): 567 rushing yards and 16 rushing TDs.
Lyle Sendlein – C (3-Star; 2002)
Derek Kerstetter – OT (3-Star; 2017)
The best pass-blocking OL returning in 2020 pic.twitter.com/XDzeVQM4M6
— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 22, 2020
Samuel Cosmi – OT (3-Star; 2017)
Top returning Big 12 OL:
1. Samuel Cosmi, Texas – 83.9
2. Adrian Ealy, Oklahoma – 73.4
3. Derek Kerstetter, Texas – 71.7 pic.twitter.com/t2uhw4GYgi
— PFF College (@PFF_College) March 26, 2020
The first trio of offensive weapons played a crucial part on the Longhorns teams of the (very) early 2010s. Fozzy was a fan favorite, do-it-all running back, that was a star player on special teams as well. Kirkendoll was Texas’s leading receiver in 2010, with Garrett Gilbert starting under center. Lastly, Bergeron made his mark as a change-of-pace running back, with Johnathan Gray.
Sendlein was a part of one of the most dominant offensive lines in college football history, as he started at center for the 2006 Rose Bowl team. Likewise, both Kerstetter and Cosmi have the potential to be one of the best offensive tackle tandems in Longhorns history.
10. David Ash – QB (3-Star; 2011)
Notable Season (2012): 2,699 passing yards and 19 passing TDs.
Sadly, we will never know how good David Ash could have been. As a result of a multitude of concussions, Ash had to retire from football in 2014. Despite the ups and downs of his football career, 2012 will forever be a bright spot for David as he led the Longhorns to an Alamo Bowl victory.
9. Zach Shackelford – C (3-Star; 2016)
Shackelford was a real leader for Texas’s offensive line during his four years on the 40 acres. Furthermore, Zach started in 40 games throughout his Longhorns career and received first-team All-Big 12 Honors twice (2018 & 2019).
8. Chris Hall – C (3-Star; 2005)
As evident in the video, Hall was quite an outgoing character for the Longhorns. Helping his confidence, Hall started in 37 games throughout his career. Furthermore, Chris was a Rimington Trophy finalist (given to the nation’s best center) and a first-team All-American in 2009.
7. Kasey Studdard – OG (3-Star; 2002)
Studdard was a four-year starter for the Longhorns and was part of the dominant offensive line that helped the Longhorns lead the nation in scoring and, ultimately, won the BCS National Championship. In addition, Kasey was named to the first-team All-Big 12 list as a senior (2006).
6. Adam Ulatoski – OT (3-Star; 2004)
Ulatoski was a staple during Texas’s Colt McCoy era as he started in 44 games from 2006 to 2009. In addition, Adam was named as a second-team All-American in 2009, helping to lead the Longhorns to the BCS National Championship game.
5. Lil’Jordan Humphrey – WR (3-Star; 2016)
Notable Season (2018): 1,176 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns.
Similar to Ulatoski, Lil’Jordan is also from Southlake, TX. In his first year as a full-time starter (2018), Humphrey dominated the competition and ended up at third on the Longhorns all-time single season receiving yards list. However, Humphrey would undoubtedly be found higher on this list had he returned to school in 2019.
4. Will Allen – OG (N/R; 2001)
Return on investment is the name of the game. Allen, who was not rated coming out of high school, ended up starting at guard for the 2005 National Championship team. In addition, Will was named as an All-American by the Associated Press in 2005.
3. Connor Williams – OT (3-Star; 2015)
The only weakness of Connor’s Longhorns career was his health. However, Williams still managed to start in 28 games for the Longhorns. In addition, Connor was named as a consensus first-team All-American in 2016. Following his junior season (2017), Williams declared for the NFL Draft and was selected in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys.
2. D’Onta Foreman – RB (3-Star; 2014)
Notable Season (2016): 2,028 rushing yards and 15 TDs.
Foreman’s development from a three-star prospect to a Doak Walker Award winner (given to the nation’s best running back) is incredible. Following his dominant junior season, D’Onta left the Longhorns and capitalized on his draft stock. Selected in the third round, Foreman was able to stay in-state and join the Houston Texans.
1. Colt McCoy – QB (3-Star; 2005)
Notable Season (2008): 3,859 passing yards, 34 passing TDs, 561 rushing yards and 11 rushing TDs.
Was there any question on this one? Colt McCoy was born to be the starting quarterback for the Texas Longhorns and he absolutely delivered. In addition to his outstanding numbers, Colt led the team to two BCS bowl appearances (including the 2010 BCS National Championship game). However, Longhorns fans will always ask, “What if?”. That is to say, “Would the Longhorns have won the 2010 BCS title against Alabama, with a healthy Colt McCoy?”. The question lingers for many, however McCoy’s status as a Longhorn legend has long been solidified. In addition, McCoy won the Walter Camp Award (twice), the Maxwell Award, the Davey O’Brien Award and received many other recognitions. To top it all off, Colt had his jersey number retired by the Longhorns in 2010.
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