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Recruiting

Commitment Spotlight: Anthony Cook

The Houston Lamar pipeline and best secondary class in the country is now complete

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Texas added another piece to an already loaded recruiting class today, when five-star cornerback Anthony Cook announced he was committing to the Longhorns. Head coach Tom Herman and cornerbacks coach Jason Washington did an excellent job recruiting Cook, including a great official visit that the Houston Lamar product took at the end of September to Austin.

Many believed that Cook could be headed out of state early in the recruiting progress, possibly to Ohio State or LSU, but the talented corner ultimately chose to stay home and play football down the road in Austin.

Film Analysis

Standing at 6’0″ and 170 pounds, Cook is widely considered as one of the most college-ready corners in the country. He displays great technique, uses his length well, and re-routes receivers at the line of scrimmage often. The physicality he shows carries over into the run game, where he has continuously showed a willingness to take on and defeat blocks only to finish plays by making the tackle.

In coverage, Cook has great footwork and closing speed. His high football IQ helps him read the quarterback’s eyes and jump routes intelligently. One of the more impressive traits he possesses is the ability to take good angles to the ball once it is in the air.

While Cook may lack the straight line speed and overall athleticism of other players at his position, his technique and coverage skills set him apart from the pack and rarely allow a receiver to beat him deep.

Final Verdict

Cook reminds me a lot of current Texas corner and former Houston Lamar standout, Holton Hill. With Hill declaring for the NFL Draft, it could pave the way for Cook to see significant playing time very early in his career and for Hill to pass the torch on to his protégé. The physical gifts he possesses combined with the high level of competition he faced in high school will make his transition to college smoother.

Landing Cook was the final piece to the puzzle for the top secondary class in the country, and what could go down as the best in recent memory for the Longhorns. Caden Sterns, BJ Foster, Jalen Green, D’Shawn Jamison, DeMarvion Overshown and now Cook will look to cement their legacies at Texas and restore ‘DBU’ to its former glory.

Jameson McCausland is originally from Frisco, Texas, where he grew up a Longhorn fan. His two favorite sports are football and baseball, both of which he covers for HornSports. He enjoys spending time with family and friends in his spare time. Jameson is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

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Featured

Commitment Spotlight: Tyler Owens

Texas has landed a commitment from highly coveted safety Tyler Owens. What does he bring to Todd Orlando’s defense?

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Following the “Stars at Night” camp in July, Texas extended several offers to prospects who impressed the coaches throughout the evening. One of those offers went to 2019 Plano East safety Tyler Owens, who won the fastest man competition. The Longhorns quickly became the front runner in his recruitment, and the intriguing prospect ultimately chose to shut down his recruitment and pledge to Texas.

Owens joins a secondary class that already has commitments from Mayfield (CA) S Chris Adimora, Grayson (GA) CB Kenyatta Watson II and Alvin CB Marques Caldwell. The 6’2, 202 pounder currently ranks as the 44th best safety in the country and the 631st player overall, according to the 247sports composite rankings. Owens chose the Longhorns over offers from 14 other schools, including Baylor, Houston, Nebraska and UCLA.

Player Information

Name: Tyler Owns
Position: S
High School: Plano East
City & State: Plano, Texas

Measurables

Height: 6’2
Weight:  202
40-yard time: 4.48
Shuttle: 3.29
Vertical: N/A

Statistics

No stats available.

Film

Tyler Owens Junior Season

Pros:

  • Very reliable tackler. Wraps up and takes good angles to the ball carrier. Good technique.
  • Has a knack for squaring ball carriers up and laying some pretty solid hits.
  • While his straight line speed isn’t as noticeable as it may be when he is in shorts, Owens definitely shows the ability to stick his foot in the ground and get downhill quickly.
  • Shows a good football IQ. Diagnoses plays well and knows where to be on the field.
  • Very good special teams player. Uses his speed to get down the field on kickoffs and always seems to find the ball.
  • Played very good competition. Had highlights against 6A state champion Highland Park and plays in the same district as state powerhouse Allen.

Cons:

  • Needs to continue to develop his ball skills. Shows the ability to defend the pass, but will need to work on getting his head around and finding the ball.
  • Positional fit. Owens best fit could be at linebacker after he spends a season or two in a college strength and conditioning program.
  • Tests extremely well, but you don’t see those athletic traits translating much to his tape.
  • Seems a little stiff on tape, so that will be something to take monitor when his senior tape comes out. Could factor in to where he projects long-term.

Summary

When you turn on the film for Owens, the first thing to stick out is how projectable he is. He could easily add weight and spin down to linebacker, which wouldn’t be bad at all considering his reliability as a tackler and how well he defends the run. It is easy to see why Todd Orlando and Craig Naivar like Owens. He has a nose for the football and his athleticism will allow him to be utilized in multiple ways. 2018 signee DeMarvion Overshown had a similar build to Owens coming out of Arp (6’3, 200 pounds), and there are definitely some similarities in the way the two  play.

If Owens sticks at safety, he will need to continue to work on defending the pass. His speed helps him tremendously when tracking down the ball in the air, but there will be a learning curve as he adjusts to the passing game at the college level. Owens possesses great athleticism, as seen by his testing numbers, but it is a bit concerning that you don’t see that explosiveness and twitch on tape much. Is he a combine warrior or does he just need more time in the incubator to unlock his potential? It will be interesting to see what the senior film beholds because it could be a solid indicator for what his development curve is.

Final Verdict

After hearing how Owens performed in the camp setting and watching his film, there should not be any doubts about whether he is a take for Texas. The loaded 2018 defensive back class should allow almost all the 2019 signees in the secondary to be eased into action. Owens has a very high ceiling, and the Texas coaching staff feels confident they can tap into his potential.

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Recruiting

Commitment Spotlight: Derrian Brown

Texas picked up its first running back commitment of the 2019 class

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Photo via: The-Ozone

Texas has secured a huge commitment on one of its biggest recruiting weekends in decades. After securing a big win against USC, the Longhorns weekend got even better with the commitment of 4-star running back Derrian Brown.

Although Texas was high on top backs such as Noah Cain and Trey Sanders early on, Brown entered the picture and it was impossible for Texas to pass. Brown is a high-level back that has the potential to leave his mark in Austin. A duo of Keaontay Ingram and Derrian Brown in the backfield is not something Texas fans will be displeased to see.

Player Information

Name: Derrian Brown
Position: RB
High School: Burford HS
City & State: Buford, Georgia

Measurables

Height: 5’10
Weight:  179
40-yard time: 4.62
Shuttle: 4.28
Vertical: 35.0″

Statistics

No stats available.

Film

Derrian Brown Junior Season

Pros:

  • The first thing you notice about Brown is that he has a sneaky type of quickness about him. For his size he might not be the quickest or fastest back out there, but he certainly has some breakaway speed. His 40-yard dash time supports that.
  • With his quickness comes Brown’s fearless nature when hitting the holes. This may attribute to the fact that his offensive line creates decent lanes for him to run through, but there is no denying that Brown hits the gaps hard and without hesitation. This is something you like to see from a back, but also causes mild concerns about their patience and vision.
  • Has great ability in the second level. Once Brown gets to that second level on film, there’s no stopping him. He shows great power and lateral quickness to make defenders miss.
  • Demonstrates great awareness. Whether it is on the sideline or gaining a couple extra yards for the first down, Brown always knows what he needs to do on every play.
  • Football savvy. Shows good instincts and high football IQ. 

Cons:

  • The major area Brown needs to improve in is lowering his pad level. He’s able to get away with it in high school, but in college he won’t be able to gain extra yardage after the point of attack.
  • Catches the ball out of the backfield with his body rather than his hands. Granted, there is not much film regarding his catching ability, but using his body will result in some drops in college.
  • No film on his blocking ability. Brown is a little undersized, so he might have to adjust to the size of college-level linemen.
  • Needs to learn to have more patience. It’s not a bad thing that Brown hits the holes at full speed, but it can be a problem when your offensive line doesn’t create holes and you run right into a plugged up gap. Brown needs to learn to be a bit more patient, and will have a great mentor to learn from in Keaontay Ingram in that department.

Summary

Brown may not stand out physically on tape, but his play speaks for itself. He demonstrates quickness and a keen ability to get to the second level and beyond. Brown is a very talented 4-star back, and his abilities demonstrate that he will fit in nicely with Tom Herman’s offense. Although Brown clearly has the skillset to succeed in the Big 12, there are some concerns — mainly that the competition he faces in Georgia is not stellar. Other concerns stem from Brown’s lack of patience and limited tape on his pass catching and blocking abilities. All in all, Brown is a fantastic get for the Longhorns, and will be the feature back of Texas’ 2019 class.

Final Verdict

After trending negatively for top RB targets Noah Cain and Trey Sanders, Texas needed to come up with an alternative. Bryan Carrington and Derek Chang then identified Brown and Texas offered. After the offer, Texas continued to trend in the right direction. I see a lot of former Texas running back D’onta Foreman in Derrian Brown. His quickness and burst through the gaps has similar characteristics to Foreman’s running style — even though Foreman had much more bulk on his frame. Brown is another great add to the Texas running corps, and gives Stan Drayton the potential to find his next Ezekiel Elliot.

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Big 12

Commitment Spotlight: Javonne Shepherd

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Pure tackle prospects are hard to find and are always in high demand. Texas learned this the hard way in 2017 once Connor Williams went down and they were forced to play some guys out of position on both edges of their offensive line.

Needless to say, the Texas staff has been hard at work this cycle trying to land the top tackle prospects that reside in the Lone Star State this cycle and their hard work already resulted in landing Conroe Oak Ridge offensive tackle Tyler Johnson. With Atascocita’s Kenyon Green off the board to Texas A&M (some think Green is a tackle, but I don’t necessarily subscribe to that line of thinking) that leaves Houston North Forest’s Javonne Shepherd.

Shepherd quickly turned into one of the biggest in-state dogfights between Texas and Texas A&M this cycle, and with him potentially holding the greatest amount of upside at the position it makes sense. Early on it looked like A&M was poised to land both Green and Shepherd, as there was plenty of scuttle that the duo wanted to play together at the next level. As we all know by now there are no givens in world of recruiting and things can and always will change.

In the case of Shepherd, things begin to change in favor of the Longhorns earlier this spring when he was able to make it to Austin early in the spring and begin to form a bond with new Texas offensive line coach Herb Hand. That trip would be the first of several trips Shepherd made to Austin before the dead period hit and each time he left with Texas heavily on his mind.

This was a battle that Texas not only needed to win from a perception standpoint, but most importantly they needed it from a roster management standpoint. The Texas offensive line room needs more bodies like Shepherd in the pipeline and with his commitment to Texas; the Longhorns have solidified a big position of need this cycle.

Film Analysis

Player Information

Name: Javonne Shepherd

Position:  OT

High School: North Forest

City & State: Houston, Texas

 Measurables

Height: 6’6 (Unverified)

Weight:  319 (Unverified)

40-yard: 4.76 (Unverified)

Shuttle: 4.58 (Unverified)

Vertical: 34 (Unverified)

Statistics

No Stats Available

Film

https://www.hudl.com/video/3/7660667/5a130e5fda522d0e08ef8e64

Pros:

  • Possesses very good measurables for the offensive tackle position. At 6’6, 320 pounds his size won’t be issue for whether he can stick at the position.
  • Possesses good length, which will cause edge defenders issues when you combine it with his size.
  • Possesses the athletic traits you in a future left tackle. Moves very well laterally for his size and his vertical shows he possesses some explosiveness.
  • Has a very high ceiling and isn’t close to hitting it, which makes him a very enticing and intriguing prospect.
  • Flashes a bit of a mean streak and shows that he can be a capable block finisher.
  • Very nimble for his size and shows that he can be capable puller from the tackle spot.
  • Possesses good functional strength at this stage in his development.

Cons:

  • Lacks the quality of film you would expect from a recruit of his caliber.
  • With his size and athletic ability, I expected to turn on the film and see him dominant from snap to snap given his competition, but I didn’t see that.
  • His highlight tape probably could have done without the very meh cut block attempts on the backside of plays.
  • Very raw at this point in his development and will really benefit from collegiate coaching once he arrives on campus.
  • Possesses great physical tools, but will likely have to redshirt and shape up his technique before he can be thrown into the fire.
  • Need to see more reps of him as a pass blocker on tape. Majority of his highlight films consisted of run plays.

Summary

Javonne Shepherd is entering his 3rd year as a varsity starter at offensive tackle for Houston North Forest and has logged snaps at both left and right tackle at this point in his high school career. At 6’6, 319 pounds, Shepherd possesses very good size and should have no issues sticking at tackle from a measurable standpoint or athletic standpoint. Shepherd has been blessed with athletic traits that makes him a very enticing prospect that offensive line coaches would love to get their hands on to develop. On top of having very good size, Shepherd possesses long arms, good feet, he’s nimble and coordinated, has good flexibility, and on top of that he shows that he can be a finisher. From a physical standpoint, he checks off all the boxes that you look for when you draw up a collegiate offensive tackle. On the other side of the coin, Shepherd is extremely raw at this point from a technique standpoint and he lacks the dominant film you would expect to see from a prospect of his caliber. While he does show flashes of being up to line up and flat out dominate defenders at the POA, I was expecting to see a lot more of it from snap to snap as I sifted through his sophomore and junior film. Another red flag for me is that I didn’t get to see much from him as a pass blocker due to his tape being very heavy on run blocking, so I have questions about how far along he is in that department and it will be something I will be keeping my eye on during his senior year. This could be a result of the offense he is in being run oriented, but I would have much rather seen some clips of him in pass pro over him cutting defenders on the backside of run plays. Shepherd is a gifted prospect, but the more I watch him the more I feel like he has some boom/bust to him a player, but he’s the type of player you gamble on and trust your offensive line coach to get the most out of him. He’s a project player, but he’s a project player that has NFL upside who could potentially anchor your offensive line for several years.

Final Verdict

This recruitment reached silly levels as both coaches and media members wore out Shepherd’s cell phone trying to continuously get updates on his visit intentions over the past month. It gave everyone a sneak peek of why some prospects choose to get through the recruiting process as quickly as possible so that they don’t have to be hounded night and day and honestly I don’t really blame them.

From a recruiting perception standpoint, this is big head to head victory for Tom Herman and his staff over Jimbo Fisher and in-state rival Texas A&M, who was viewed as the favorite to land Shepherd for some time. Much was made of Shepherd and Kenyon Green’s friendship and them wanting to play together at the next level, but package deals often don’t work out in recruiting and this is another data point to support that. At the end of the day recruits are going to do what is best for them and that is how it should be.

Texas offensive line coach Herb Hand deserves tremendous credit in landing Shepherd, as his impact was felt in this one from the moment Shepherd made it to campus this spring and begin building the relationship. Slowly but surely the tide began to turn in this recruitment and it led to Shepherd giving his pledge to Longhorns and giving them a talent tackle duo in Shepherd and Tyler Johnson.

Texas has landed two talented tackles this cycle, and now it has until February to find some interior bodies to go in between them to solidify the rest of their offensive line class.

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College Football

Commitment Spotlight: Marcus Tillman Jr.

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Everyone loves surprises, right? Well here is one for you on Saturday afternoon in the form of Orlando (FL) Jones linebacker Marcus Tillman Jr. who visited Texas yesterday for the Stars at Night camp. Tillman wasn’t a name that was really on the radar until last night when he showed up and earned himself an offer, but he has a pretty stout offer list that includes the likes of Clemson, Florida, Ohio State, and Virginia Tech.

Linebacker has been an interesting plot line to follow this cycle, with the state of Texas being thin at the position. The Texas staff has been turning over rocks all over the country rather than settling on a player they think would be considered a reach and landing Tillman is another data point for that theory.

Adding Tillman to the calculator gives Texas its second linebacker commitment of the class along with De’Gabriel Floyd and likely narrows the scope a bit on who the staff will be focusing on going forward.

Film Analysis

Player Information

Name: Marcus Tillman Jr.

Position: LB

High School: Jones

City & State: Orlando, FL

 Measurables

Height: 6’1 (Unverified)

Weight:  220 (Unverified)

40-yard: N/A

Shuttle: 4.3 (Unverified)

Vertical: 35 (Unverified)

Statistics

2016: 58 tackles, 5 TFLs, 1 Sack, 2 FF, 2 FR, 1 INT

Film

https://www.hudl.com/profile/6134001/Marcus-Tillman-Jr

 

 Pros:

  • Plays downhill, physical football. Can stick his foot in the ground and go hunt the man with the football in the wrong color jersey.
  • Better tighten that chin strap up because this young man brings the funk to the ball carrier.
  • Displays good athleticism and good COD in pursuit of the ball.
  • Shows some good pop in his hands when he uses them properly and has the ability to provide a good jolt to those trying to slow him down.
  • Pretty solid tackler at this point and shows he will wrap up.
  • Appears capable of dropping into coverage on shallow routes and shows the ability to find the ball and make plays on it.
  • Could end up being a fun player to watch run down on special teams early in his career.
  • Plays with good effort consistently in pursuit of the football
 Cons:

  • Pretty raw as a player at this stage in his development and looks a lot more comfortable moving forward more than anything at this point.
  • When he uses his hands he can be very effective, but he needs to do so more consistently.
  • While he seems capable of dropping to cover shallow routes, he can get a little lost when asked to drop deeper into coverage.
  • Doesn’t exactly have a clean projection as things sit right now. Will likely be a longer curve guy when it comes to his development.
  • While he does play off the ball at times on tape, he is often used as an edge defender. Need to see more of him read and reacting from the ILB spots if that is what the staff views him as long term.
  • His sophomore tape was more impressive to me than his junior tape. Want to see more of the former this fall.

Summary

Marcus Tillman Jr. is a linebacker that hails all the way from Orlando in the Sunshine State of Florida. Listed at 6’1, 220 pounds Tillman possesses solid size for the position and has been utilized both on and off the ball the past two years. On the positive size of the ledger, Tillman shows on tape that he possesses good physicality, athleticism, COD ability, and solid field speed in pursuit of the ball carrier. Tillman shows that he is pretty comfortable at this stage in development when it comes to going forward and attacking up the field and shows that he has pretty good pop in his hands by showing he can provide a legitimate jolt to blockers. Tillman shows on tape that he is a pretty reliable tackler and shows the willingness to wrap up the ball carrier rather than always going for the big hit and coming in out of control. As far as coverage goes, Tillman’s comfort level seems to be on shallow routes at this time and he shows he can get to that depth and make play on the ball, as he was able to log both PBUs and some INTs on tape. On the negative side of things, Tillman’s comfort level appears to decrease once he is asked to drop deeper down the field and he showed he can get a little lost in that regard. This is something he will have to greatly improve if he is going to be asked to play off the ball at the next  level, as he will be asked to do this frequently and he will be victimized accordingly if he is unable to do so. Tillman is utilized more on the LOS coming off the edge, which makes me wonder what exactly his projection will be at the next level. He’s a bit of a project either way you slice it and doesn’t have the cleanest projection you will come across in that regard. I’d also like to see more read and reacting from him from the ILB spot just to see more of what he is in that regard, but we will probably have to wait for more tape to come out for that part of the evaluation to be completed.

 

Final Verdict

To say things materialized quickly with Tillman Jr. would be severely understating it. It’s clear that the staff loved him enough to make sure he didn’t leave campus without an offer and he was blown away enough to pop on the spot and get in the boat. With Texas’ need for linebackers it is hard to be disappointed with the staff once again finding a prospect that met their standards outside the state lines even though the out of state flavor for this class will probably raise a few eyebrows.

As I said above, Tillman’s projection isn’t the cleanest as things sit right now, but it is very hard to question a Todd Orlando evaluation, and that goes double when you take into account that he offered Tillman on the spot after getting to see him up close this weekend. I am going to defer to the man who has made a living making these kinds of evals and has made a lot of money developing them into quality ball players.

With Tillman and Floyd now occupying two of the linebacker spots in this class, the staff will likely narrow its focus on whom they are targeting with limited spots now available.

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