For years we have seen Bob Stoops and his Oklahoma Sooners poach talent from the state of Texas and use it to beat their archrival Texas when the two programs would meet in the Cotton Bowl for the Red River Shootout. Tom Herman and his staff have sent a very loud and strong message to their rivals north of the Red River that it may be time for them to start protecting their state borders from the Longhorns.
While the Sooners at the time already had a commitment from Cameron Rising at the time, Texas secured the pledge from Sooner legacy Casey Thompson. Not even two weeks later the Longhorns flipped Rising from the Sooners and secured their second four star quarterback pledge of the cycle much to the surprise of everyone who follows recruiting. The Sooners were back to the drawing board at quarterback and the Longhorns are in a position to sign two quality signal callers for the first time in a while.
With Thompson and Rising in the boat, Herman and his staff probably could have lit up a cigar and rested on their laurels a bit as they hit the road for the evaluation period, but did they do that? Nope. Instead they also landed Seminole offensive tackle Reese Moore (another Oklahoma target) and then took dead aim at yet another blue chip recruit and major Oklahoma target in defensive end Ron Tatum III. Tatum has long been considered to be heading to play his college football in Norman, and after only making one visit to Austin this spring before announcing a spring decision it seemed like a forgone conclusion.
Well as we all know recruiting is a very fluid thing, and you can’t exactly rule out anything. In an absolute shocker (this is becoming a theme) Tatum announced that he is committing to Texas over the in-state favorite Oklahoma and several others. Tatum’s commitment gives Texas its second pledge on the defensive side of the ball and fourth four star commitment of this cycle.
When I turned on Tatum’s film for the first time, I needed all of 50 seconds to know that he was a stud, and I watched it to the 1:10 mark before I had to shut it off completely because it was a no brainer. I usually won’t dive into a player’s film too far unless I know Texas has a legit shot at being in the conversation, because I don’t like to tease myself with the idea of guys that won’t end up playing in Austin down the line. So you can imagine how giddy I was to really dive into Tatum’s film after only seeing a small sample.
Tatum possesses prototypical size already at 6’4.5 and just under 270 pounds and he has also has good length, which we know Todd Orlando has been looking for in defensive linemen since arriving in Austin. I absolutely love how Tatum is moved up and down the line of scrimmage like a chess piece and no matter whether he was lined up head up over the center, as a three over the guard, the 4i or 5 on the tackle or even out wide outside the tight end in a 9, he still made plays. There are even clips of Tatum lining up as a stand up end and he doesn’t look out of place one bit, which is pretty fascinating to me. This type of versatility is not only coveted by coaches, but it will make Tatum valuable and allow him to make his way onto the field if his talent translates quickly to the collegiate level. Humans Tatum’s size should be moving around and covering ground the way he does. He has the ability to be an absolute problem if he puts it all together.
Along with his versatility, I like that Tatum possesses a good get off (though he can be tardy at times), he uses his hands well, and he is good at using his length to his advantage and doesn’t stayed blocked. He is constantly disengaging off blockers, running to the football, and being disruptive. If Orlando and the Texas get them a few more like Tatum they are going to raise some hell in the Big 12 and get some offensive coordinators up at night.
If you couldn’t tell from the previous section, I’m completely sold and a fan of Tatum as a player. Not only did Texas get a heck of a player who I think I going to be able to help them sooner (no pun intended) rather than later, but they sent a very loud message to the folks in Norman that they are going to have to start putting up a fence around their backyard, because the shoe is on the other foot now when it comes to poaching talent across the border.
If the kind of start Herman is staff are off to this cycle is just the tip of the iceberg, then folks better buckle up because if the momentum continues to build and Texas wins games this fall it’s going to get silly on the recruiting trail. With Tatum on board, I would be putting a full court press on Katy Taylor’s Max Wright and be pitching him on the chance to pair up with this creature and saying that they could absolutely dominate the Big 12 together on Saturdays in Austin.
Hang on, folks, because recruiting is about to be lots of fun this cycle.