The Longhorns finished with the No. 3 recruiting class in the country for the 2018 cycle. With the implementation of a brand new early signing period in December, this cycle was not without its twists and turns. Ultimately, Tom Herman closed out strong and added some nice additions on Wednesday. Here, we look at the storylines behind each February signee, what went wrong in some recruitments, and who can open eyes as a freshman.
Texas fans were overly worried about Coburn. If you paid close attention to the reporting of our Daniel Seahorn over at HornSports.com, you would know there was nothing to worry about. Miami made a late push, but that was a minimal threat. In the end, Coburn’s heart was with Texas and the idea of playing as a freshman – which he should do. After signing, Coburn got into a spat with former OU quarterback Baker Mayfield. The Red River Rivalry is going to be fun for the next 4 years.
If there was worry about Coburn, there was even less reason to worry about Keaontay Ingram. The Carthage product was solid to Texas from the day he committed. One offer that gave me a bit of pause was Auburn, strictly because of Gus Malzahn’s reputation as developing good backs. However, Stan Drayton had his own staple of success stories – Ezekiel Elliot and Jordan Howard, to name a few. In the end, Ingram knew his heart was in Austin. I won’t go into detail about Texas A&M pushing late because they honestly had no chance, and Ingram made that known.
This is the type of recruitment Bryan Carrington earned a raise in. Carson was a heavy Nebraska lean, and heading into his official visit with the Cornhuskers, we fully expected him to commit there. However, he was not overly impressed with the visit, which led to Bryan Carrington swooping in. After Carrington went on the road as a temporary assistant and visited Carson coupled with an official visit that blew Carson out of the water, Texas sealed the deal. Carson has a very high ceiling and will be one to watch over the years.
Ultimately the Longhorns lucked out here in that Alabama and LSU did not have room to take Williams. After Texas offered, it became pretty apparent Texas is where he wanted to be. The official visit was the icing on the cake and shortly after, Williams committed. This is the type of evaluation and recruitment that made up for an abysmal start by defensive line coach Oscar Giles.
I still firmly believe that Ojomo would be one of the best in the state if he were a senior next year. At 16-years-old, he has so much potential and his frame is unreal. This one ultimately came down to Texas and Oklahoma. For a while, it appeared that Oklahoma had the edge, but Texas slowly began to gain traction. By the time Ojomo took his official visit to Austin, Texas had widened the gap and the visit itself sealed the deal. Texas A&M was the early favorite, but the hype surrounding the offer did not last long. An Alabama offer can always be a game-changer, but the Tide were a little too late in this one. Texas got an absolute steal here.
Ossai was considered a heavy Texas A&M lean for a long time, but the firing of Kevin Sumlin changed things. After that and even with the hype surrounding the hiring of Jimbo Fisher, the Oak Ridge DE began to give Texas a harder look. As time went on, Ossai began to develop a better relationship with the Texas staff and Bryan Carrington. In the end, Carrington was a huge factor in Ossai’s decision. When Ossai was asked what the major difference between the Longhorns and Aggies was, he listed one thing – Bryan Carrington.
This recruitment was not as obvious as some would think. Ultimately, Jones’ preferred college position is on the defensive line. Cal did a great job of selling this to Jones, and it made him take a serious look at moving out west. However, the Longhorns were ultimately able to sell Jones and his family on his offensive potential on his official visit, and Jones pulled the trigger. At 6’6, 280 pounds, Jones is an intriguing prospect that can make some noise after a couple of years under Yancy McKnight and Herb Hand.
From the get go, we knew this recruitment would have some twists and turns. The first was when Moore committed to Nebraska. At the time, it didn’t make much sense. Nobody really expected Moore to stick to that pledge. After a short stint at IMG Academy, Moore returned home and his recruitment got interesting. After his decommitment from Nebraska, Texas A&M became the heavy favorites. For whatever reason, Jimbo Fisher and Jordan Moore, Josh’s brother, could not do enough to get him to pull the trigger. This allowed Texas to re-enter Moore’s recruitment. Ultimately, Moore fell in love with Austin and liked how he fit schematically in the Texas offense. Although maybe not a true slot, Moore is Texas’ take at the position. It will be interesting to see how he develops, since he also has the ability to play in the defensive secondary.
What could have been
Vernon Jackson – Texas A&M
This recruitment wasn’t even really close until NSD. Things got interesting when A&M took 2 running backs on Wednesday – which is Jackson’s position of choice. Because of this, Jackson became a bit worried that he would not get his chance with the way the roster was filling out. With this sense of wavering, Texas came back and began to push hard. We aren’t sure what type of effect this hard on Jackson, but he ultimately never sent in his LOI. As of yesterday morning, Jackson still hadn’t sent in the LOI. Finally, the fax was in. Ultimately Texas just couldn’t do enough to pry Jackson away, and he felt more comfortable with where he fit in College Station.
Andrew Parker – Arkansas
This recruitment was strange because Parker was not highly touted until after the early signing period. Some teams that offered Parker after December include TCU, Texas, Texas A&M and Ole Miss. Parker had to decide if he wanted to stick with his commitment to Arkansas or head to Austin. Soon after the offer, it appeared contingent that Parker would be a Longhorn. An Arkansas reporter of 247Sports even reported that he was set to go public with his commitment to Texas the Monday before signing day. For whatever reason, Parker changed his mind. After Parker failed to go public on Monday, reports surfaced that he was maybe waivering with his decision. He was set to announce at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, but pushed it back to 10:00. He did not announce at that time, either. At 12:00 p.m., Parker announced on Twitter that he was signing with Arkansas. Credit must be given where it’s due. Chad Morris did a fantastic job of holding off a late surge by Texas and getting Parker to honor his commitment. Linebacker continues to be a need for the Longhorns.
Tommy Bush – Georgia
Bush was always a fan of the Longhorns. After speaking with him at Junior Day in 2017, it was apparent that Texas was the favorite. But in the fall, the Longhorns stopped contacting Bush. This rubbed he and his family the wrong way. When Texas tried to come back late, Bush did not explicitly tell the Longhorns no. He listened to Tom Herman’s justification for the lack of contact and even took an unofficial visit on the Sunday before signing day to speak with the coaches. Texas was Bush’s dream school, but he just could not get past the fact that the Longhorns did not prioritize him like other schools did. Bush signed with Georgia as part of one of the best recruiting classes in recent memory.
2018 Recruiting Class Superlatives
Most likely to start as a freshman
Daniel – While Daniel Young and Toneil Carter showed some nice things down the home stretch of the season, I think Keaontay Ingram will be the best back on campus the moment he arrive this summer. Ingram is a complete back that will excel as a zone runner and he has the potential to be a feature back during his time in Austin.
Jameson – Aside from Cameron Dicker, who should start at kicker, the player most likely to start as a freshman in my eyes is Keondre Coburn. The departure of Poona Ford leaves a big need at NT, and Coburn has all the tools to anchor the middle of the defensive line. He looked very good at the Under Armor All American game, and will be counted on heavily during his freshman season.
Harrison – A pick that I think is not so obvious – but one that stands out to me – is Caden Sterns. With the departure of DeShon Elliot, Texas needs a leader in the secondary. I believe Caden Sterns is that guy. Sterns took over at the Army All-American Bowl, and stood out as a leader both at practice and in the game by calling out plays and making sure his cohorts were in the right position. Sterns displayed the same traits as a safety at Cibolo Steele. On top of leadership traits, Sterns is the most fundamentally sound prospect in the 2018 class. Simply put – he does not make many mistakes. That coupled with his high football IQ makes for early playing time. Texas needs that type of leadership and style of play in its secondary.
Daniel – Almost went with DeMarvion Overshown here, but then I remembered the monster in the trenches the staff landed in Moro Ojomo just before signing day. Ojomo will arrive in Austin at the age of 16 and as good as his film is, he still has a ton of untapped potential left in his game. The big man from Katy has chance to blossom into an absolute monster in the trenches.
Jameson – Regardless of whether he ends up at safety or linebacker, there is little doubt in my mind DeMarvion Overshown will be a stud. He is arguably the hardest hitter in the country and his upside is endless because of how athletically gifted he is. His football IQ is off the chart and Todd Orlando will be able to utilize him in a variety of ways because of his skillset.
Harrison – Remember this: Daniel Carson is going to be a force to be reckoned with. At 6’5, 260 pounds, Carson has a great frame and fits perfectly with the 4i scheme of Todd Orlando’s defense. After a year under Yancy McKnight, Carson will be ready. I think Carson compares well with Charles Omenihu. However, I believe Carson will produce much sooner than Omenihu, who didn’t have a very productive season until his junior year. Time will tell, but Carson has immense potential and one of the highest ceilings in the class.
Daniel – Byron Hobbs jumped in the boat early on in the cycle and was one of the class’ biggest assets on the recruiting trail along with his mother Natalia Vaughns. On the field, Hobbs was off to a monster start for his senior year until he suffered an injury that sidelined him for awhile. Hobbs’ athleticism and upside are undeniable at this stage in his development and it was clear he was going to outplay his three star rating before the injury. Hobbs recently checked at 6’4, 219 pounds, and his frame isn’t even close to filling out. When he hits the weight room and a meal plan… look out.. I don’t think he is getting nearly enough love from the recruiting services given what he could develop into on campus.
Jameson – He may not be underrated by some anymore, but Moro Ojomo is the real deal. He shot up recruiting rankings in the past month once his film spread like wildfire, but I still think he should be ranked higher. The fact he had his senior season at 16 years old and dominated the way he did should get Texas fans very excited. A lot of people know him as the second defensive tackle Texas took behind Coburn, but Ojomo has just as much upside and skill.
Harrison – My pick here is the obvious choice – Byron Hobbs. Hobbs reminds me of a young Malik Jefferson – a quiet kid that puts his head down and goes to work. You can’t teach work ethic, and Hobbs has it. Hobbs could benefit from a redshirt year and an entire season in the weight room with Yancy McKnight. After that, he may be just the person to fill in the void left by OLB Gary Johnson when he graduates and heads for the NFL. Hobbs is not as quick or athletic as Jefferson, but he has all the right traits to fill the void. Hobbs position in college depends on how much he grows into his frame. He’s still growing and can easily gain much more weight. If he gets up over the 250 pounds mark, he may consider moving down to defensive line. Regardless, Hobbs will make an impact at Texas.
Biggest surprise from the recruiting cycle
Daniel – Tom Herman flipping Caden Sterns and Cameron Rising from LSU and Oklahoma will go down as to of the biggest shockers of the cycle for me. Both commitments were huge eye openers early on in the cycle and they set the tone for the rest of the cycle for how the staff was going to hit the trail and lock down the nation’s number three recruiting class. Landing these two sent an early message to regional schools that the Texas staff wasn’t going to back down from anyone and will go toe to toe with the nation’s elite programs to land top tier talent.
Jameson – The biggest surprise for me from the 2018 recruiting cycle was Tom Herman’s ability to secure commitments from Daniel Carson and Josh Moore. Despite a 7-6 record, Herman was still able to go out of state and get a huge commitment from a guy who is a great fit at defensive end. Carson seemed destined to end up at Nebraska, but Bryan Carrington and Herman never gave up. Moore had one of the craziest recruitments of the 2018 cycle. Texas A&M, Florida State and Alabama all seemed to be the favorite at one point or another, and then there was the commitment he made to Nebraska. Even after he decommitted from the Huskers following Mike Riley’s firing, he still seemed likely to end up in College Station or out of state. Drew Mehringer, Jason Washington and Herman did a great job of getting Moore on campus for an official visit, and the rest is history.
Harrison – The two big surprises of this cycle were Ryan Bujcevski and Cameron Rising. The cousin of former Texas kicker Michael Dickson, Bujcevski was almost a guarantee to end up at Texas. Nobody really knew who he was, so nobody expected his name to pop up on signing day. Regardless, Tom Herman filled a big hole with the departure of Dickson for the NFL Draft. If Bujcevski is even half the punter Dickson was, Texas will be in good shape. The flip of Cameron Rising from Oklahoma to Texas was a huge recruiting victory from the Longhorns and completely unexpected. Rising instantly became a fan favorite when his commitment talked about knowing when you’re in the right spot, and how he felt that way with Oklahoma. Then, Rising uttered the famous words of the 2018 cycle: “And then, I went to Texas.” This is where the narrative surrounding Tom Herman’s magic on official visits began. And boy, did it not disappoint. Rising was the first of many to choose Texas after officially visiting Austin, but none surprised more.
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