It is always hard to immediately judge a recruiting class, but by the standards of 2014 the first full class of the Gary Anderson era appeared to be all set to be one of the best ever in Wisconsin Badgers history.
UW finished as the No. 33 ranked class in the country and the No. 5 class in the Big Ten in large part thanks to landing big prospects like Jaden Gault, D.J. Gillins and George Panos. There was even a foray in to the state of Georgia and it appeared momentum was on the side of things changing for the Badgers on the recruiting trail.
But, all of those stories and hopes seem to have been misguided as we enter the third season past this class coming to Wisconsin.
Some of the class is already gone, with the leader of the group, Jaden Gault never playing a down in the Cardinal and White thanks to severe depression issues that forced him off the field (we hear he's tearing up the golf courses around Wisconsin these days as well as attending school at UW).
Quarterback D.J. Gillins was expected to be the transitional quarterback to Andersen's desired dual-threat look. Instead, Anderson left and Gillins' skill set wasn't exactly needed in Paul Chryst's return to a pro-style offense.
He has since landed at Pearl River Community College in the hopes of returning to FBS football next season.
Those highly-hyped Georgia boys...not so highly thought of today, and it's being reflected in the current online college football odds.
Krenwick Sanders? Couldn't even make the 105 of the 2016 roster and has announced his plans to transfer.
Jeremey Patterson? Struggling to make the two-deep three years in to his career at UW and was passed over by a freshman last season on the depth chart and it may be happening again with Garrett Rand in 2016.
Hell, three players never even made it on to campus for a single fall as 4-star athlete Darien Watkins struggled with some issues off the field, Chris Jones couldn't make it academically and has transferred twice since. There was also fullback Ula Tolutau, who went on a Morman mission and was not part of the Badgers plans once Chryst got to UW.
In total, this group has seen five players transfer and another player never make it to UW thanks to a conviction on sexual assault chargers (Dominic Cizauskas) in addition to those who never made it on campus at all or never played in a game.
But, it is further down the 2014 class where you really begin to see the talent evaluation of Andersen and staff paying off.
UW has benefited from the likes of T.J. Edwards, Micah Kapoi, Jacob Maxwell, Michael Deiter and Beau Benzschawel on the offensive line. This class also includes key defensive contributors like Derrick Tindal (starting cornerback in 2016), D'Cota Dixon (likely starting safety), Connor Sheehy (starting defensive end) and Billy Hirschfeld.
But, injuries have also taken its toll on this class, with George Panos continuously hurt and unable to get in to the rotation because of it.
Classes are often judged by the top talent production, as much as contributions from those at the bottom of the rankings. In that respect, the Badgers struck out big time as just two of the top six ranked players are even contributors to this team.
Those players, Sheehy and running back Taiwan Deal could be key pieces to UW's puzzle in 2016, but will likely be anchors in 2017 and beyond.
Even kicker Rafael Gaglianone appears to have been a good pick up, as he was one of the better kickers as a freshman and after struggling in 2015 has rededicated himself to sliming down and hitting balls between the uprights on a consistent basis once again.no comments
Texas didn’t come close to answering all of the questions posed by the shortcomings that exposed themselves during the regular season but after a double-digit bowl win – the Longhorns’ first in nearly three full years – it’s hard not to look at the glass as half full. Cal ran into a brick wall Wednesday night at Snapdragon-Qualcomm-nobody-knows-what-to-call-it Stadium as the Texas defense delivered yet another dominant defensive performance, allowing just seven rushing yards while racking up six sacks and five turnovers over four spectacular quarters that saw the Longhorns give up less points than all but three games this season as the Golden Bears scored on just two drives – the first of each half.
The last time Jeff Tedford and Mack Brown faced each other, it didn't go well for Texas.
When the Longhorns adopted a "brick-by-brick" approach to rebuilding their football program, they had to have known it would be a multiyear process. Even Mack Brown admitted that he was more interested in the process of improvement than in results. Although it's numbers like wins and losses that determine the job security of a head coach and the perception of his team, Brown knew that it would take more than just one season to restore Texas' football program to national prominence and title contention once again.
Because, for once, Texas is rebuilding - through reloading.
When Tristan Thompson, Jordan Hamilton, and Cory Joesph heard their name called on draft night this year, they made Texas fans everywhere proud. Even if they were still frustrated over the Longhorns second-round exit following a heartbreaking loss to Arizona in the NCAA Tournament, they could still hold their head high knowing that their team was producing such a wealth of quality talent.
It's scary to think what kind of defense Texas could have. If you thought Manny Diaz did a good job turning this group of rag-tag novices into the Big 12's best defense, just wait to see what he might be able to do with next year's. Running down what may be the Longhorns' defensive lineup in 2012 could end up being a lot like going over next season's all-conference squad. But the lure of the NFL could put a couple dents in the Longhorns' defense as juniors Alex Okafor and Kenny Vaccaro face difficult decisions - whether to come back for their senior season and continue to rebuild the program "brick by brick" or to take their chances and bolt for the pros. Here's a look at the 2012 version of the Longhorns defense
The brick-by-brick approach that Texas used this season paid off to a certain extent. The Longhorns posted a 7-5 record, an improvement from last year’s 5-7 abomination but a mark that proves that Mack Brown and Co. have a ways to go before Texas becomes a conference or national title contender again. But with another top-notch recruiting class coming in - one that’s currently ranked No. 1 - and the fact that underclassmen accounted for many of the Longhorns’ biggest contributors this past season, the future looks bright for the Longhorns. Here’s a look at what their depth chart on offense might look in 2012:
Once upon a time, Texas used to be confident going into games against Baylor, sure that the Longhorns would win and win big. Fans used to look forward to seeing their team face the Bears, seeing the contest as a much-needed break between games against stiffer opponents like Oklahoma and Nebraska. But with Robert Griffin III behind center in Waco, Baylor is suddenly a team that demands Texas' respect, a team that finds itself favored by a field goal this weekend.
Temper your expectations, people. It's bad enough that everyone expected more out of a Texas team with three first-round picks and just one NCAA tournament win last year but without six of their top seven scorers from last season, the Longhorns don't have nearly as good of a team that they had last year... yet.
Even with Trent Richardson's monster performance in last week's Iron Bowl, there is no clear frontrunner in the Heisman Trophy race.
Robert Griffin III would love to change that. He's amassed over 4,000 yards of offense and more than 40 total touchdowns this season while potentially making his way onto Heisman Trophy ballots.