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Moving on to 2019
With Texas wrapping up the No. 3 recruiting class in 2018, it’s now time to move towards next year’s class. Texas only has 1 commitment in the 2019 thus far, but that can easily change once the football staff ramps up the heat on the recruiting trail. Here, we preview a multitude of 2019 offers and where the Longhorns stand with each.
Roschon Johnson – Johnson is the lone commit for the Longhorns’ 2019 class thus far. We only expect Tom Herman to take one QB in this class, and there is nobody better equipped to run a Herman offense than the Port Neches Groves product. In his junior season, Johnson passed for nearly 3000 yards and rushed for 1500+. In one playoff game, he had 10 TDs by himself. That is insane. Johnson is locked into Texas and informed HornSports that he plans on signing early in December. Great news for Longhorn fans.
Noah Cain – As a junior at IMG Academy, Cain did not put out the product that many expected. He only played in 8 games, in which he received 86 carries for 526 yards. As a sophomore, Cain had 210 carries for 1683 yards. This has not phased big-time programs, however. Cain is still Texas’ No. 1 target at the position, and they will have to fight off some fierce competition. Texas was the clear leader heading into Cain’s junior season, but other schools have emerged as threats – namely Ohio State, Miami, and LSU. Texas will have to fight off surges from other schools, but we feel good about where the Horns sit as of now.
Deondrick Glass – Glass is the latest running back to come off the Katy high school assembly line. Glass became a bit of known commodity when he spelled current Texas running back Kyle Porter a couple years ago, but now it is his turn to be the feature back and he hasn’t squandered it. Glass has offers from everywhere including Texas and will be one of the most sought after backs in the class.
Jordan Whittington – Whittington is more of an athlete, but right now we have him listed at WR. Texas has done a great job in this recruitment, and we feel they are the clear-cut leader at this time. Whittington is one of the must-have athletes for the 2019 cycle, and Texas has prioritized him as such. Many believe Whittington’s true potential lies at safety in college, but regardless, he’s a take. Texas is in a great position early.
Garrett Wilson – The Lake Travis native was ecstatic about receiving a Texas offer in November, and the Longhorns became the early favorite. Since that time, a multitude of teams have emerged with offers that have forced Wilson to slow down with the process. Wilson is one of the best WR prospects in the state, and Texas is in a prime position. If they could get Wilson to pull the trigger early, that would amount to a huge recruiting victory over the likes of Alabama and Ohio State. If not, things could get interesting down the stretch.
Dylan Wright – His production may not be as sexy as some of the other top flight wide receivers in the state, but Wright MIGHT have the most upside of them all. Wright has the skill set and athleticism that is borderline absurd to go along with a ridiculous catch radius. Wright is already close to 30 offers and recently received offers from Alabama and LSU. They won’t be the last either.
Elijah Higgins – Fast rising local kid who just recently saw his stock go through the roof. Offers are pouring in from all over the country, including Stanford, TCU, and Tennessee all in one day. Seemed like Texas arrived to the party just for the blow up and will get a chance to get face time with a kid who grew up just down the street from DKR. Higgins splits out for Bowie, but I could see him growing into a flex tight end down the line if he keeps on growing.
Boomer Grayson – With a name like this and hailing from Oklahoma, you would think Grayson was destined to end up in Norman, but instead is committed to the Cowboys of Stillwater. Grayson might be the best tight end prospect in the country, and while the chances of him staying home are probably good, I would be beating down his door from now until NSD if I was Texas.
Thomas Gordon – With the top 2 TE options in the state committing to OOS schools, Texas needs to focus its attention elsewhere. A sleeper is Strake Jesuit TE and Northwestern commit Thomas Gordon. At 6’4 and 218 pounds, Gordon has tremendous upside. The state is very thin at the position past Gordon, and Texas needs to get into this recruitment sooner rather than later, before it’s too late. Otherwise, the Longhorns will have to go OOS for TEs, which will be tough to do.
Kenyon Green (OT) – Green is the best player in the state, and the No. 1 target on Texas’ big board. He is the most important recruit for the Longhorns 2019 class. Right now, Texas A&M is pushing Green hard to buy into the early hype and pull the trigger, but we do not expect him to do so. Green is a smart kid who wants to take his time with the process. With that being said, we believe Texas is in a good position early on. Green likes what the program has to offer, and the hiring of Herb Hand will only help in this recruitment. Things could change, but this appears to be a Texas-Texas A&M battle.
Tyler Johnson (OT) – Johnson is one of the state’s best tackle prospects in a year where there are several good ones. Texas offered fairly early and has placed themselves in good position here for the big man from Conroe. With Joseph Ossai ending up in Austin, you can bet he will be putting the hard sell on his former teammate to join him.
Javonne Shepherd (OT) – Shepherd might have the most upside of all the blue chip in-state tackle prospects and that’s saying a lot all things considered. Shepherd possesses a great frame with good athleticism and lots of upside that likely projects to left tackle. This looks like an A&M/Texas battle early, and the Aggies left a good impression after he visited recently.
EJ Ndoma-Ogar (OG) – Call him Mr. IHOP because he is always serving up all you can eat pancakes. EJNO spent some time out in Florida at IMG, but made his way back to Allen for his junior year and didn’t miss a beat upon his return. EJNO put on a show down at the Army All-American combine and showed he is one of the nation’s best interior offensive line recruits and he’s a major priority for Texas early on.
Branson Bragg (C) – Texas was the early leader for Bragg, and very well could still be. However, an offer from Stanford made things a little interesting. This recruitment reminds me a lot of the Walker Little saga. Texas is in a prime position early on, but Tom Herman will have to earn his reputation as a solid closer with this one. As of now, we like where Texas sits.
Bragg, Gordon Discuss Recruiting
As the No. 2 center in the country, Branson Bragg has a multitude of DI football offers. With that being said, a couple of schools stand out from the pack – Stanford and Texas. So, what stands out about Texas to Bragg? “It’s close to home, a legendary program and has great coaches,” Bragg said. One of the coaches that stands out to him, although fairly new to the state, is new offensive line coach Herb Hand. After speaking with Hand the first time, Bragg came away impressed. “[Coach Hand] speaks my language. The hiring of Coach Hand boosted Texas for me. He is so respected.” With offers from Stanford and Texas, it appears that life after football is just as important as life during football for Bragg. That is a huge selling point in his recruitment. “I want a degree that will matter after my football career is over and I want to be around people that I’d like to be around all the time,” Bragg stated. Although Bragg does not have a decision timeline set, he does have some future visits planned. The most concrete of those is Stanford’s Junior Day at the end of the month. Bragg informed HornSports he would attempt to make the Longhorns’ Junior Day this weekend, but if not, he would definitely make it in for a spring practice. Although Bragg declined to name a leader, this one appears to be a Texas and Stanford battle. Hopefully the Longhorns can come out on top when all is said and done.
Before Texas looks out of state to find a couple of TEs, an under the radar prospect that deserves attention is Strake Jesuit’s Thomas Gordon. Although Gordon is a Northwestern commit, Texas has been in frequent contact. When asked if Gordon would attend Texas’ Junior Day, he stated that the Longhorns offered, but he declined the invitation. “I’ve visited [Austin] multiple times. I’m not interested in visiting. I am solid on my commitment.” What made Gordon pull the trigger on Northwestern so early? “The academics, football, and a great winning tradition and town,” Gordon said. As one can see, Texas has some work to do in this recruitment. However, it’s a positive sign that the coaching staff is contacting Gordon and prioritizing him. Gordon is a high-upside prospect that would be a good take at TE, and would alleviate some of the pressure for Texas to find more than one prospect out of state. Although Gordon is not looking around right now, it’s very early. Never count out Texas and Bryan Carrington on the recruiting trail.
The Longhorn basketball team is coming off a tough week where they dropped a close contest to Kansas State and were then blown out by TCU. Questions have began to surface about whether Shaka Smart’s job could be in jeopardy should the Longhorns miss the NCAA tournament. One important detail that many forget is Shaka Smart received a contract extension following his first season in Austin, when he led to the Longhorns to the NCAA Tournament, where they fell to Northern Iowa in the first round. The contract extension raised Smart’s base salary to $3 million per year without incentives and extended him through 2023.
So what does this all mean?
If Texas were to let go of Smart at the end of the season, he would be owed more than $15 million. To put things in perspective, Texas paid Charlie Strong $5.2 million this past season and will be sending him a check for the same amount this upcoming season. All things being said, we fully expect Smart to return for the 2018-2019 season. The Longhorns will return every scholarship player except for Mo Bamba, and will add the 11th ranked recruiting class in the country, according to 247sports. Texas will also welcome transfer PG Elijah Long, who was forced to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules after transfering from Mount St. Mary’s. Long averaged 15 points and 4.4 assists per game during the 2016-2017 season.
Burnt Ends Mailbag
Q: What is your perfect world OL and DL for next year?
A: In a perfect world, Texas would get to redshirt all incoming lineman on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, it is not a perfect world and Texas will probably need freshman to step up on both sides of the line.
Offensive Line – Texas would love to land Calvin Anderson and plug him in at LT. This would allow Sam Cosmi to slide to RT or get another year of development. Cosmi, Derek Kerstetter and Elijah Rodriguez would battle it out at RT, with either Kerstetter or Rodriguez sliding inside to RG to take over for Jake McMillon. Patrick Vahe and Zach Shackelford should be the favorites for LG and C, respectively, but JUCO transfer Mike Grandy could push for a guard spot. Patrick Hudson will also be back from his ACL injury, providing competition and depth across the offensive line. If a freshman were to push for playing time, it would most likely be Junior Angilau, who has not decided if he will take his 2 year LDS mission.
Defensive Line – In a perfect world, Chris Nelson slides over to NT, leaving Breckyn Hager, Charles Omenihu and Malcolm Roach to rotate between the two end spots. TaQuon Graham and Jamari Chisholm will provide depth at defensive end. Freshman Moro Ojomo and Keondre Coburn will both see snaps at NT, along with Gerald Wilbon.
The bottom line is Texas is in a pretty good spot in terms of depth and competition along both lines entering the spring.
Q: What do you think LB will look like this year? Can you predict a 2 deep? I was looking at the roster and thought Cameron Townsend could fit as a Rover, but he hasn’t done much since he got to campus.
A: Towards the end of the 2017 season, Texas basically rolled with Malik Jefferson and Gary Johnson as the two linebackers, opting to get a 6th DB on the field. Johnson will head into the 2018 season with a firm grasp on the starting rover role. Middle linebacker will likely be occupied by Anthony Wheeler, and Jeff McCulloch will be the early favorite for B-Backer. It is not likely that Cameron Townsend factors into the linebacker equation in 2018. The Longhorns are very thin at linebacker. The potential 2 deep could look something like:
Rover – Gary Johnson, Ed Freeman
MLB – Anthony Wheeler, Ayodele Adeoye
B-Backer – Jeff McCulloch, Joseph Ossai
Q: Anticipating any more coaching changes on the offensive side? Tom Herman’s presser made me feel he wasn’t 100% confident with the staff on that side of the ball.
A: We believe Tom Herman is done making coaching moves. Corby Meekins should slide over to coach inside-receivers and Derek Warehime will take over TE’s. Recruits speak very highly of Warehime and he has good relationships with several key 2019 targets. The only possible change, which Tom Herman hinted at in the press conference, is how heavily the head coach will be involved in play calling. Herman stated he will call plays if it gives Texas the best chance to win. After checking around, it is a real possibility that Herman is heavily involved in play calling in 2018, similar to what occurred during the Texas Bowl.
Q: Any clue / insight / prediction as to what CTH might do when Orlando leaves for a HC job? Promote from within, go after another hidden jewel (like Orlando when he was hired at UH) or money whip a high profile DC?
A: It is still too early to predict who will take over at defensive coordinator if Todd Orlando were to leave for a head coach opening. When Orlando was hired at Houston, he came from Utah State and was not considered a big name. If Herman promotes from within, it would most likely be safeties coach Craig Naivar. Naivar was the defensive coordinator at Texas State from 2011-2013. He has also had defensive coordinator stops at Rice and Sam Houston State. Naivar is very highly regarded in the coaching profession and loved by the players.
Q: Have the coaches started visiting recruits yet and if so who have they seen?
A: 2019 recruiting is starting to crank up. QB commit Roschon Johnson visited Texas on Saturday and will serve as the bell-cow for the class. Coaches will begin making their way back on the road when spring practice starts up for the various high schools. Until then, Texas will focus on juniors days and breaking down film of potential offers.
Q: Who are some of the key names you think the staff have targeted for 2019?
What do you see today at the biggest position group needs?
And what are the areas of Texas HS talent this year (ie last year was WR and DB)
A: The staff is already working hard on several key 2019 targets like WR Garrett Wilson, WR Jordan Whittington, RB Noah Cain, DL DeMarvin Leal and OL Branson Bragg. The biggest position group of need will be linebacker and the offensive line. The good news is the offensive line class in Texas is deeper than 2018, but the bad news is the LB class is not deep at all. Texas will likely need to go out of state to fill their need at LB. Wide Receiver is another position group that has a lot of talent in 2019.
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