- May 29, 2001
Not sure if you guys heard, but apparently I believe that Ohio State commit Quinn Ewers has a rag arm.
It doesn't matter that I called him a five-star prospect, and that at worst, I've had him ranked as a national top-50 player.
While we're addressing speculation, let's not forget my belief that Texas 2023 commitment Reuben Owens is slower than the release of The Eyes of Texas report.
As with Ewers, it doesn't matter that I've got Owens ranked as the state's second-best prospect in his class and have said on multiple occasions that he is one of the most exciting sophomore running backs that the state has produced in the last 25 years.
In the world we live in, having a question -- any question -- about someone is seen as the ultimate sign of disrespect. Either slobber all over a guy or you’re a hater.
I. AM. HATER. HEAR. ME. ROAR. CLICKBAIT. YOLO.
Obviously, some of the miscommunication certainly must be my fault, as a good carpenter never blames his tools. If folks can't understand the distinctions I'm trying to make about these prospects, I need to be more clear.
At the root of all of this is a debate about fine margins, the kind that elevate a prospect from great (high four-star ranking) to the elite of the elite (five stars) to being a mutant straight out of Marvel (the unofficial six-star ranking, which only exists in our hearts and minds).
Vince Young, Adrian Peterson and Myles Garrett were mutants. All three were barely human as teenagers.
The discussion about Ewers and Owens centers around whether they belong in the mutant category, not whether they are elite prospects. It's a conversation about margins so fine that not everyone sees.
With Ewers, I've said from the beginning that he's a guy who plays on Friday nights like a five-star and that's not hyperbole...an actual five-star. I'm not sure I've ever seen a kid throw the ball more accurately than Ewers, a skill some believe is the most important at that position.
From a physical standpoint, I tend to think of Ewers as a little less than five stars...not a ton...but less. Very few would describe him as a great athlete, even if he is a good athlete. If we're ranking Ewers' athleticism against fellow top national prospects in Cade Klubnik and Conner Weigman, I think most people would probably rank him third. Again, we're talking about really fine margins and an incredibly high bar.
When it comes to throwing the football, there's nothing to nitpick with Ewers, unless we're going to measure him against the elite of the elite and the aliens at the position. On a 1-10 scale of arm talent, former Highland Park star Matt Stafford is what a perfect 10 looks like. I'd contend that what we've seen of Texas commit Maalik Murphy registers at about a 9.
Look at this throw Murphy makes from a couple of weeks ago. In terms of its trajectory, it’s thrown on an absolute line. This isn't normal. It's not something that grows on trees. It's the kind of thing that a guy like Steve Sarkisian wants to build his program around, even though he's never seen him start a varsity game.
When it comes to Ewers' arm talent, I'd probably rank him as an 8. It's just a notch below someone like Murphy, even if Ewers has proven more than Murphy when the lights and pads come on.
You’re left with a guy who has five-star game, an 8 raw arm talent and 7 athleticism. When you add all of that up in the Ketchum recruiting calculator, it’s a five-star prospect who comes up short of being a six-star unicorn worthy of being mentioned as the Adrian Peterson of quarterback prospects.
With Owens, we're talking about another player that is a five-star player on the field. Honestly, his HUDL film is as fun as any running back the state has probably seen in 10 years. There's a reason why his commitment made headlines. He's incredible.
However, when we're talking about the line that separates prospects like Adrian Peterson from former Longhorn and current L.A. Rams running back Malcolm Brown, the discussion can get a little tedious, but that margin exists nonetheless.
From my perspective, I am tempted by a couple of questions with Owens.
1. His level of competition is such that he likely won't play against anyone running faster than a true 4.7 or 4.8 in the 40 for a good portion of the schedule. Over the course of the last 15 years, El Campo's own records show only one athlete breaking 11 seconds in the 100 meters. It makes judging Owens' true skills more difficult because more times than not, we're not watching fruit vs. fruit as much as it's fruit vs. veggies.
2. Nothing about his posted track times from his freshman season did anything to completely wash away any concerns that might exist. Mutant Adrian Peterson ran in the 10.3s as a senior. Mutant Reggie Bush ran in the 10.4s as a senior. Freshman Reuben Owens ran in the 11.7s as a freshman. There's no reason to freak out about the time when you consider it was early in a non-completed track season from 2020, but you can't completely ignore it either.
If we're being honest, almost all track times at this stage are meaningless for a combination of reasons, including the ability to trust anyone holding a stopwatch. A set of benchmarks over the next few years that would allow Owens to qualify as a possible mutant as a football prospect probably looks like this: 11.0 as a sophomore in district and regionals (if he qualifies), a 10.7ish as a junior and somewhere in the 10.5 range as a senior. Obviously, there's nothing scientific about any of this, I'm just giving you some loose standards as a way of following the conversation moving forward.
Possible 5-star running back Jaydon Blue posted a 11.1 last year in one of his only recorded times, but reportedly ran in the 10.6s last weekend. If he posts that kind of number later in the season when the times can be trusted a little more, that would be an excellent box to tick when we talk about the fine margins that determine his ranking.
In an effort to properly determine prospect ranking, it's not about measuring how much we dislike these players.
Actually, it's the opposite.
It's about determining just how much out of control hype we'll put on the players we love the most.
No. 2 - For the record ...
I think Hudson Card might be a 9.5 on the 1-10 arm talent scale.
When I talk about how I wouldn't rate Ewers, Klubnik or Murphy ahead of Card in an imaginary battle of ranking prospects, it's because I believe he has special arm talent.
No. 3 - Speaking of Card ...
While reading the Drunk Uncle's Sunday Pulpit, I started thinking about the pending Casey Thompson/Hudson Card battle that will take place beginning in the spring, and I kept coming back to one thing -- only one will likely finish his eligibility at Texas.
There's been so much focus on whether the loser of the battle in 2021 will stay, but the battle between these two isn't ever going to go away, with Thompson still owning three seasons of eligibility, while Card still has five years to play four.
If we forget about the 2021 season and ask ourselves who will be starting at quarterback in 2022, it's hard to imagine that the loser would still be here in a back-up capacity for the 2022 season, based on nothing but the way college quarterbacks treat serving as back-ups across the country.
Among the questions this Texas staff will have to answer in the coming months is who it thinks will be the best option in 2021, while also trying to determine if they can know the answer for 2022. Are the answers the same? Is the best way to get the most out of the 2022 answer to play him in 2021? Is there any sizable downside to playing for the future?
It reminds me of when Anwar Richardson mentions his favorite quote from covering Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley: "Whatever you're going to do inevitably needs to be done immediately."
Maybe this isn't one of those situations.
But it might be.
No. 4 - Quantifying Maalik Murphy's Value As a Prospect ...
What's happening on the quarterback recruiting front in the 2022 class isn't normal. Having three national Top 50 prospects at the quarterback position in the same class isn't normal. Taking a national Top 50-level prospect from California isn't normal.
In putting together the initial LSR Top 100 list for the Class of 2023, I didn't find a single in-state quarterback that I thought belonged within a 100-foot pole of Quinn Ewers, Cade Klubnik and Conner Weigman. Hell, I didn't see anyone that belonged in the conversation with Rockwall Heath's Josh Hoover, whom I have rated No. 35 in the state for 2022 - 5th among in-state quarterbacks.
If you missed it back in the fall, I did the legwork on the historical value of Texas quarterbacks. In the history of the Rivals rankings, 8 of the 11 (72.3-percent) highest-rated quarterbacks from Texas played on Sunday, including 100-percent of all five-stars.
The numbers are pretty cut and dry. From 2002-2015, five-star quarterbacks prospects from Texas have eventually played in the NFL at a 100-percent clip, while high four-stars have played in the NFL at a 40-percent clip. The numbers show the value of Ewers, Klubnik and Weigman.
But, what about the historical value of Murphy as a member of the California quarterback club? Are the numbers similar from Cali? Better? Worse?
Let's find out.
Five-star High School Quarterbacks Prospects From California From 2002-17
2002: Ben Olson (BYU)
2002: Trent Edwards (Stanford)
2003: Kyle Wright (Miami)
2005: Mark Sanchez (USC)
2007: Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame)
2008: Dayne Crist (Notre Dame)
2009: Matt Barkley (USC)
2015: Josh Rosen (UCLA)
(Note: J.T. Daniels (Georgia), Bryce Young (Alabama) and D.J. Uiagalelei (Clemson) are all still playing college football.)
Of the eight five-star players ranked in that 16-year sample, five (62.5-percent) played in the NFL, while three (37.5-percent) were drafted in the first round.
High Four-star (6.0) High School Quarterbacks Prospects From California From 2002-17
2007: Aaron Corp (USC)
2012: Zach Kline (California)
2013: Hayden Rettig (LSU)
2013: Troy Williams (Washington)
2014: Keller Chryst (Stanford)
2015: Brady White (Arizona State)
2015: Blake Barnett (Alabama)
2015: Travis Waller (Oregon)
Note: Matt Corral (Mississippi), Ryan Hilinski (South Carolina) and C.J. Stroud (Ohio State) are still playing college football, while K.J. Costello (Stanford) is going through the NFL Draft process this year.
Of these eight prospects, not only did none of them play in the NFL, but none even emerged as plus-college football players.
So, what does all of this tell us?
Well, first and foremost, it seems pretty obvious that Texas prep quarterback prospects have significantly more historical value than their peers in California.
What's even more interesting about the kids from California is that of the 5 five-stars that hit big, only one (Trent Edwards) of them didn't rank inside the Top 7 overall prospects nationally.
I'm not fully sure what to make of the numbers, but I'm a little shocked by what I found.
No. 5 - A quick history of UT Hoops...
As the Texas men's basketball team put the finishing touches on a perfect 3-0 week on the road, giving the No.15 team (and rising) team in the country its sixth win in its final eight games on the regular season slate and potentially putting in a position to come away with a No.3 or No.4 seed in the looming NCAA Tournament, I thought a little perspective might be needed.
In the the last 57 years of basketball in Austin, the Longhorns have finished a season ranked 15th or better in both polls a total of... four times.
In those same 57 years of basketball in Austin, the Longhorns have been ranked better than a No.4 seed for the NCAA Tournament a total of... four times.
I'm not telling you to you to be happy with Shaka Smart. I'm not telling you that the standards around here have been met. On top of that, we're not yet in a place where the Longhorns have finished in the Top 15 or netted something better than a four-seed. There's work to be done before this season can be truly called a success.
What I would say is that to this point in this season, this has probably been a better year historically for this program than you'd probably give it credit for.
No. 6 - Three thoughts on the Texas Baseball team ...
a. More than anything, it feels like Ty Madden deserves his own section this week after what he did on Friday night.
b. In two of the three games that Texas played this weekend, I was convinced that former Longhorns pitcher Austin Wood would need to make an appearance and go through the order a couple of times somewhere around the 20th inning because I wasn't sure a run would be scored.
c. It's hard not to think about the fact that this team was 14-3 last season when it was called off to COVID. Oh, what might have been...
No. 7 – BUY or SELL …
(Sell) While I believe the defensive line absolutely has a chance to be a strength, but I'm not sold on the linebacker position at this point.Defensive line & LB (ie trenches) will be our most important strength in the 2021 season.
(Sell) I was right there with you until the word "Biletnikoff" popped up.Texas will have a Doak Walker Award Finalist and Biletnikoff Award Finalist in 2021.
(Buy) I'm not really worried about recruiting right now in any way.Texas will figure it out nicely in recruiting the D front 7, even tho it’s not clear how right now.
(Buy) I'm afraid to "sell" because if something bad happens to the remaining Von Erichs, I don't want the blame.The curse of the Von Erich family is real?
(Buy) The first-year bounce is a real thing. Poor seasons didn't derail Charlie Strong or Tom Herman in their pursuits of very good initial classes.8-4 season doesn’t derail 2022 recruiting?
(Sell) I'm sitting at 9ish right now.UT wins 9+ games next season.
(Sell) I think it makes sense to take it into fall camp. A lot can happen between May to August.Sark will pick up a QB through the portal before fall camp.
(Sell) I'm not convinced that this will be completely in the rearview mirror before the start of spring ball.Sark and CDC put an end to the Eyes controversy before Spring ball?
(Buy) I'm all-in on Card.Card is starting QB by the OU game?
(Buy) Absolutely. They aren't trying to win in the playoffs in 2021, just all of the games in the Big 12.Texas currently has enough OL talent on the roster to be effective in Sark’s offense.?
(Buy) You misspelled 25 years. I say that in jest to a degree, but it might very well end up being that good on paper.The '22 OL recruits that sign with UT go down as the best UT OL class in 15+ years?
(Buy) Yes, I'll take the devil I don't know over who we currently know. Plus, a little birdie told me that the commitment of Ovie Oghoufo might not quite be ironclad, which means the Longhorns could potentially have four spots to fill instead of three.The most impactful transfer in is yet to come?
(Sell) No offense.This sushi that I made (for the first time ever) looks pretty good?
No. 8 - Scattershooting on the world of sports...
... It feels like the Texas women's basketball season is going to come down to playing a top 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament in the second round, and it's going to be up to Charli Collier to put together a Superwoman performance to get Texas into the Sweet 16.
... Golf is more fun when Jordan Spieth is doing stuff like this.
... A breakdown of the Dallas back-up quarterback position with a lot of attention placed on Garrett Gilbert as the possible main option at No. 2. What a world we live in.
... The fall of Blake Griffin as a player in the NBA has been wild. Consider these two stats from ESPN after his release from the Pistons. Griffin is the only player taller than 6-foot-7 to attempt more than 150 shots this season without a single dunk and he's blocked just two shots in 626 minutes on the floor this season. Oh, and he's a dreaded 28-percent on the three-ball over the past two seasons.
... March Madness is officially here.
... We've reached the point in the Liverpool season where I'm trying to decide which famous singer's "drug era" most properly described the state of things. It's not pretty.
... Really, Man City?
... When James Park was a kid, he almost certainly dreamed of doing something bananas like this...
No. 9 - The List: Top 10 Texas men's basketball regular seasons of the last quarter-century ...
In honor of the discussion related to a basketball team ranked 15th in the country and possibly playing its way into a top 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, I thought we'd take a look at the Top 10 regular seasons by any Texas basketball team in the last 25 years.
Decide for yourself where the 2020-21 Longhorns belong.
10. 2015-16 (20-13, 11-5, 4th place in the Big 12, four wins over Top 10 teams and seeded 6th in the NCAA Tournament)
Believe it or not, Shaka Smart's first team sneaks into the Top 10 based on finishing 4th in a conference that had six teams seeded 6th or higher in the NCAA Tournament. The regular season included wins over No. 3 North Carolina, at No. 6 West Virginia, No. 3 Oklahoma and three other Top 17 teams
9. 2000-01 (24-9, 13-3, 2nd place in the Big 12, two wins over over Top 10 teams and seeded 5th in the NCAA Tournament)
One of the rare Texas teams that seemingly finished the end of the season on a hot streak, winning its last five games of the regular season before losing in the tournament title game to Oklahoma in one of the ugliest games ever played and in the first round to Temple in even uglier fashion.
8. 2001-02 (22-12, 10-6, 3rd place in the Big 12, one win over a Top 10 team and seeded 6th in the NCAA Tournament)
Most remembered for its Sweet 16 run, this was also one of the seasons under Rick Barnes that eventually led to a Final Four run.
7. 2010-11 (28-8, 13-3, 2nd place in Big 12, one win over a Top 10 team and seeded 4th in the NCAA Tournament)
The Longhorns started off 11-0 in conference (23-3 overall) before collapsing towards the end of the season, including three of the last five games in conference play against unranked teams, which allowed Kansas to win the title outright on the last day of the regular season. Lost to Arizona in the second round of the Tournament.
6. 2006-07 (25-10, 12-4, 3rd place in Big 12, two wins over Top 10 teams and seeded 4th in the NCAA Tournament)
The Longhorns had a chance to win a three-way share of the regular season title with Kansas and Texas A&M, but lost 90-86 in Lawrence on the last day of the season, despite incredible heroics by Kevin Durant. Ended up losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
5. 2003-04 (25-8, 12-4, 2nd place in the Big 12, one win over a Top 10 team and seeded 3rd in the NCAA Tournament)
Was in a position to win the regular-season title going into the final week, but lost consecutive road games in Stillwater and Manhattan to fall into a tie for second place. Lost in the conference tournament final to Oklahoma State the very next week before losing to Xavier in the Sweet 16.
4. 1998-99 (19-13. 13-3, Big 12 champions, zero wins over Top 10 teams and seeded 7th in the NCAA Tournament)
The most unlikely conference title in UT athletics history? It's in the conversation. A team that started the season 3-8 in Rick Barnes' first year at Texas turned it around in a big way in conference play, winning the only unshared championship in the program's Big 12 history before flaming out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to 10th-seeded Purdue.
3. 2005-06 (30-7, 13-3, Big 12 Regular-season co-champions, three wins over Top 10 teams and seeded 2nd in the NCAA Tournament)
Shared the conference regular season title with Kanas, but beat the Jayhawks down by 25 points at home in the only regular-season match-up between the two schools. With a spot on the line for the Final Four, the Longhorns lost to LSU in overtime in the Elite 8.
2. 2002-03 (26-7, 13-3, 2nd place in Big 12, three wins over Top 10 teams and seeded 1st in the NCAA Tournament)
Sometimes context means everything and you can make a case that the Big 12 has never been stronger in any given year than this one when Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas were all ranked in the top six all year. This game included a win over Oklahoma on Hollis Price's Senior Day, which still ranks as one of the most memorable regular-season conference wins of all-time.
1. 2007-08 (31-7, 13-3, Big 12 Regular-season co-champions, three wins over Top 10 teams and seeded 2nd in the NCAA Tournament)
This D.J. Augustin-led squad was Final Four good, but ran into Derrick Rose in the Elite 8 at the wrong damn time, spoiling a regular season that not only included a share of the conference title with a Kansas team that was 37-3, but included a head-to-head win over the Jayhawks in the only regular season meeting between the two.
No. 10 - And Finally ...
On behalf of the entire Orangebloods family, I want to wish a speedy recovery to Orangebloods giant @Armadillo Slim, who is recovering from a heart attack this weekend. Every piece of positive energy we have is directed at you, Joe.