As an old fan that can still remember names of players long since disappeared from current memory, I have always had the pleasure of talking with opponents' fans about our great traditions among our position players.
This year, in looking at our current DT commitments, I see a continuing trend of great players incoming (Malcom Brown, Ridge if he goes to DT, A'Shawn in the upcoming class if he doesn't swing to OL).
I'm a believer of bringing in as many quality DT's as the class size will allow and keeping them away from conference competitors especially.
This year, I see a bit of an average DT class. I love A'Shawn, but even he has question marks, mainly that he played OT and will have to adjust to a degree and get more training both as a HS senior and probably have to redshirt here as a freshman.
Of the rest of the candidates in-state, the one that surprised me in his ability on tape was Kerrick Huggins. 6'4" 283 listed and looks to be that size on tape. Saw great lateral movement and explosiveness. Skyline kid already committed to atm, so he's still available.
Justin Manning looks very athletic, bit shorter but no doubt he has been well trained and can line up anywhere on the DL. I still think Huggins has an edge on him athletically. Isaiah Golden and Manning seem to fall into the same category athletically to me so not much more I would add to Golden's profile.
The two kids that are interesting ones to consider are the Waco kids, Andrew Billings and Ben Hughes. On tape they look like twins: 6'1", 310+ pound powerlifters with longer than average arms that play both OL and DL. Both are state ranked power lifters with unholy lifting numbers well in excess of being able to crush the life out of any normal human being.
In an exceedingly tight numbers year, do we even give them more than a cursory look? Do you risk passing over a Casey Hampton type nose tackle and move on or do you still take a look and maybe even offer knowing that it could cost you at another position? I am curious to see what the board thinks about this year's DT class because it doesn't seem to shake out as clearly as last year (Malcom and Mario Edwards clearly the cream of crop though Mario wants to play DE).
I'm not sure I would be too happy to see both Billings and Hughes end up as the DL cornerstones of the Bear DL, but then again I'm not sure we should go after them for our own team.
The rest of the guys I've seen, Taylor, Walker, Hunter, Moore, each has enough warts to warrant bypassing, though it's tough to say no to a guy like the lifelong UT fan, Taylor. The kid from Hawaii, Pagano didn't impress me on tape or at the NFTC camp and I'm still not sure what our interest and reciprocal interest is in Scott Poggi.