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Recruiting

Post NSD1: Who is left on the board?

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Photo: Harrison Wier, HornSports

Texas and Tom Herman signed 19 players yesterday during the first ever early signing period. Only 2 commits chose not to sign, – RB Keaontay Ingram and DT Keondre Coburn. As we have mentioned previously, there is still a possibility that Ingram may sign early following his State Championship game on Friday morning.

With 19 players signed and 2 still committed, the question now is where the Longhorns go from here. During his signing day press conference, Tom Herman said he expects the final number for the 2018 class to be between 27-29 once the second signing period in February is finished. This means that the Longhorns still have plenty of room left in the class to continue pursuing players between now and February 7th. Let’s take a look at those prospects Texas will still be pursuing:

Committed

Keaontay Ingram – RB

As mentioned in the introduction, the top RB in the state of Texas is preparing for a state championship game tomorrow morning. All indications are that he is solid to Texas. Auburn has been pushing to try to get him to make a visit, but he has yet to do so. We fully expect Ingram to sign with Texas.

Keondre Coburn – DT

Coburn tweeted out Tuesday that he was not signing with Texas during the early signing period. TCU and A&M are doing everything they can do try to pull the states top defensive lineman away from the Longhorns. There is a possibility that Coburn takes an official visit or 2, but right now he is still committed to Texas.

Targets

Lawrence Keys III – WR

Rondale Moore decommitted from Texas on Tuesday, and it has forced the Longhorns to look elsewhere for a slot receiver. Late last night an offer went out to Keys, who is from Louisiana. While LSU is a threat and he has an official visit scheduled to Baton Rouge on January 12th, Texas should have a chance here. Keys can absolutely fly and would be an adequate replacement for Moore in the class. Expect Texas to try to get him on campus after the dead period and sell him on being the only slot receiver in the 2018 class.

Joshua Moore – WR

Another WR option for the Longhorns could be recent Nebraska decommit Joshua Moore. Most Longhorn fans are familiar with the Moore twins, with Jordan signing his LOI yesterday to play for Texas A&M. Joshua has offers from all over the country, and was re-offered by the Longhorns following his decommitment. The plan is to try to get him on campus for an official visit in January. At the moment, it seems unlikely that Moore will end up in Austin, with Texas A&M or Florida State as the most likely landing spot.

Jaylen Waddle – WR

Waddle has seen his recruitment take many twist and turns. Texas was seen as the favorite early in the process, then it was Alabama, then it was Florida State and now it may be Texas A&M. Waddle officially visited College Station on December 8th, and the coaching change seems to be benefiting the Aggies since Waddle was already a fan of Jimbo Fisher at Florida State. It was long thought that Waddle wanted to be the only slot receiver in the class he signed with, and that may be realistic now in Austin. Tom Herman used his in-home visit with the talented WR earlier in the month. Waddle has already used all 5 official visits, so any trip back to Austin would be on his own dime. Right now, A&M seems like the logical destination, but the drama is far from over.

Jahmir Johnson – OT

There is strong possibility that the Longhorns may not be done along the offensive line. Tom Herman and Derek Warehime are still in the market for JUCO players who can come in and make an immediate impact. Johnson is a May graduate, so there was no need to rush him in for an official visit before the early signing period. Right now, he has one official visit remaining, and there is a chance he will use it in January to visit Austin. At this point, Missouri and Tennessee are the favorites.

Courtre Alexander – DE

The Longhorns hosted Alexander for an official visited this past weekend and extended an offer to the Oklahoma native. There was some thought that he would commit shortly after, but the 6’4″ defensive end continues to get interest from other schools. Arkansas offered shortly after Texas, and Oklahoma continues to remain in contact. The likelihood now is that this recruitment will stretch all the way to NSD2 in February, with Arkansas likely to get an official visit in the future. The Longhorns were one of the first big schools to discover the under-the-radar prospect, and need to continue to stay on him. This recruitment feels like it may just be getting started.

Vernon Jackson – DE

Jackson is considered an athlete by many, playing all over the field in high school. Texas is recruiting him as a defensive end. The Alabama commit considered signing yesterday with the Crimson Tide, but opted to hold off. Texas and Texas A&M are making a big push for Jackson. He was scheduled to officially visit Texas on December 8th, but pushed the visit back into January. He is scheduled to officially visit Alabama on January 19th. It seems likely that Jackson will continue to listen to the Longhorns and Aggies and possibly take official visits to both schools.

Moro Ojomo – DT

Similar to Alexander, Texas was the first big school to offer Ojomo back on December 6th. He chose to not sign early, and was rewarded with offers from Texas A&M, Oregon and Tennessee yesterday. The talented defensive tackle out of Katy had a stellar senior season, where he was named the the Defensive MVP of District 19-6A. He has yet to use any of his official visits, but will likely take an official visit to Austin at some point in January. Texas A&M is desperate for defensive tackles after losing the commitment of Bobby Brown yesterday, and are a major threat for Ojomo. This is another recruitment that is likely going all the way up to NSD2, with more schools likely to offer in the coming weeks.

Bobby Brown – DT

I feel the need to mention Bobby Brown because of the fact that he holds a Texas offer. Like stated above, he is no longer committed to Texas A&M. Alabama and Oklahoma are the front-runners for his services, with Texas likely sitting third. The Longhorns have visited Brown multiple times, but are still working on trying to get him on campus for a visit. It is unlikely Brown ends up in burnt orange.

DaShaun White – LB

White’s recruitment is seemingly a 3-team race between Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Texas. While he has remained committed to Texas A&M throughout the process, Texas and Oklahoma both received official visits during the season. Tom Herman used his in-home with White last week. Oklahoma has long been perceived as the biggest threat to flip White, but Texas is doing everything they can to remain in the chase.

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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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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Recruiting

Commitment Spotlight: Demariyon Houston

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With the addition of Oklahoma City native Demariyon Houston, Texas now has its third wide receiver of the 2019 class. Houston is an intriguing prospect that Texas was not very interested in until recently. Over the past week or so, the Texas staff really started pressing Houston on the advantages of moving from Oklahoma to Austin. Before that, Houston was set to stay close to home and play for Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State.

As a prospect, Houston is certainly intriguing. At 6’0, 165 pounds, he will need to work rigorously with Yancy McKnight in order to be physically ready to hit the field. On the field, Houston is a good take as an inside receiver. He has lateral quickness and a good ability to get inside the numbers when the defense is in man coverage. With that being said, it will take some time for him to be ready to contribute on this roster. Once he is ready, he can make a solid impact at a position that will need depth after this year and 2019.

Player Information

Name: Demariyon Houston
Position:
WR
High School:
Milwood
City & State:
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Measurables

Height: 6’0 (247Sports)
Weight:
165 (247Sports)
40-yard:
N/A
Shuttle:
N/A
Vertical:
N/A

Statistics

2017 – 20 catches, 534 yards, 7 TD

Film

Demariyon Houston Junior Season

Pros:

  • Has good lateral quickness. Displays it will on inside slant routes and comebacks.
  • Possesses soft hands and solid catching ability. Extends his hands to the ball rather than letting the ball come to him and using his body to perform all the work.
  • Displays good separation that allows the potential for yards after catch. Uses his feet and hands well in order to separate from the defender.
  • Potential contributor on special teams. Showed good vision and ability to make cuts down the field on punt returns.
  • Has good ability to high point the ball when needed. Will probably not be able to do this much at the next level due to his height.

Cons:

  • Consistently open in games and constantly matched up in man coverage. Did not have to catch many passes in traffic. He might need to work on that at the next level.
  • Not much tape as a blocker. At his size, he likely did not have to in high school. Will need to learn how to block if he wants to see the field.
  • Will likely not be ready to be a day 1 contributor. Will need to pack on some serious size to his frame, which he should be able to do during a redshirt year.
  • As with a lot of WR’s coming out of high school, Houston does not mix up his routes much. In college, he will need to be taught how to not show his first move before the snap. If he can become more deceptive, it will go a long way.
  • Might be injury prone. Only played half of his junior season due to injury.

Summary

Houston is a project that the Texas staff will need to polish before he is ready to see the field. His film is intriguing, but it’s also a small sample size. Houston only played half of his junior season due to injury, so Texas will not know entirely what it is getting in Houston until he is able to play an entire season.

At 165 pounds, Houston is certainly shifty, but his film does not seem to show the type of burst generally desired in a slot take. With that being said, Houston will have to add weight to his frame so that he retains an ability to gain yards after catch. If he remained at his current weight, he almost certainly would not contribute much to the roster and be prone to injury.

Although a take at the position, Houston is more so of a project than a sure fire contributor. He has immense potential with his lateral quickness and his soft hands, but he must gain weight and add elements to his game before he will be ready to become a role player on the Texas offense.

Final Verdict

With three wide receivers in the boat for the 2019 class now, Texas can focus its attention on one or two more bi-time receivers in this class. Regardless of how it happened, Tom Herman once again proved that Texas is never fully out of any recruitment while the recruit is still willing to listen.

Until this week, Texas was not very interested in Houston. Most recruits would view this as an insult and not be willing to hear what the staff had to say, but Houston did not feel this way. Overall, Tom Herman and his staff have reeled in a solid prospect and can now focus landing one or two of the remaining wide receiver targets on their board, such as Elijah Higgins or Bru McCoy.

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