Texas hosted their first Junior Day over the past two days, with 2019, 2020 and 2021 prospects making their way to Austin. Although Texas did not come away with any commitments, Tom Herman and company did a great job of building relationships with some of the top targets on their board.
Kids and parents raved about the relationships they have built with the coaching staff. Texas only extended two offers, one to Brock TE Baylor Cupp and the other to Arkansas tackle Stacey Wilkins. Let’s take a good at some key targets from Junior Day and what they had to say about the Longhorns:
QB Roschon Johnson
The lone commit in the 2019 spent much of his time interacting with fellow recruits and serving as the bellcow for the class.
“Main thing I want to do is just draw everybody around me, and in my class I got the best position to do that.” Johnson said.
California LB De’Gabriel Floyd was mentioned by name as someone who Johnson said he talked to a lot. Similar to 2020 Zachary Evans, Johnson was on campus last weekend as well, and met up with 2019 WR recruits Elijah Higgins and Garrett Wilson.
As for other schools recruiting him, Johnson said he hears every once in a while from LSU and Stanford.
RB Deondrick Glass
Another year, and another standout Running Back coming out of Katy. Glass has been on the Texas radar for a while, and running backs coach Stan Drayton has done an excellent job connecting with Glass.
“I can tell Coach Drayton isn’t fake, he wants to see me succeed and is willing to do whatever he can to get me to the next level,” Glass said.
Current Longhorn Kyle Porter, who also hails from Katy, has been recruiting Glass hard. In terms of making a decision, Glass said he is in no rush and wants to continue to enjoy the process. Ohio State, Georgia and Alabama were all schools he mentioned about visiting.
RB Zachary Evans (2020)
For the second straight weekend, the 2020 North Shore star visited Texas. As a sophomore this past fall, Evans rushed for all 1400 yards and 27 touchdowns. So what has stuck out with him on his recent visits to Austin?
“Film. Film and getting to talk to the coaches,” Evans said. “I feel like what is going to be big in my recruiting process is I got to be able to bond with the coach and the team, you can’t just commit to a coach”
Tom Herman and Stan Drayton have made a huge impression on Evans and his family. It is paying off too, as Texas is beginning to separate themselves in his recruitment.
“Texas has definitely separated themselves,” Evans said. “I know in the future of my recruiting process they are going to be able to break it down for me and keep it real with me throughout the process. I don’t want to just go to a school where they tell me what I want to hear.”
Evans recently listed Alabama and Texas as the two schools who are recruiting him the hardest. Texas seems to be pushing all the right buttons and has prioritized him as their prize RB take for the 2020 class. Texas is in a very good spot early, but this isn’t a recruitment that will be wrapped up soon.
“I am going to try to break down my top 15 heading into my junior year, so it should be coming in the next month,” Evans said when asked about a possible decision timeline.
Texas is a pretty safe bet to make the cut.
RB Darwin Barlow
The standout RB from Newton made his way to the 40 acres on Saturday and came away very impressed.
“It was nice. Top one so far.” Barlow said when asked about how the Texas visits ranks compared to others he has taken. “I just love the atmosphere and the coaches. It feels like home.”
Should Texas choose to take 2 RB’s in the 2019 class, the state champion who rushed for 2246 yards and 38 touchdowns would be a good take. Barlow said he plans to make some more visits this spring, with Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M all being possible destinations.
WR Garrett Wilson
The Lake Travis wide out is one of the biggest priorities of the cycle for the Texas coaching staff and he was absolutely treated like it with the red carpet treatment on Sunday. Wilson spent a lot of time with the staff and was the last recruit to leave the complex before heading back up the road.
Wilson told HornSports that the high points of the trip was getting to suit up in the icy whites with some of his boys (specifically mentioned Baylor commit Jaylen Ellis and Erick Young), as well as seeing how each player had individual plans to help them graduate.
Texas’ newly minted recruiting ace Bryan Carrington is hot on Wilson’s trail and has already spent plenty of time coaxing him into playing his collegiate career in Austin. WIlson says he and Carrington communicate daily and were actually talking when we were exchanging messages.
Wilson also spent time with both Drew Mehringer and the newly reassigned Corby Meekins during the visit and the trip ended with a sit down with Tom Herman. The message to the elite pass catcher was clear: “Represent your state”. On top of that, the staff conveyed that they planned to move him around and play him both on the outside and in the slot.
The staff did an excellent job keeping the state’s elite talent home this past cycle and the message is not changing for 2019. While Texas is home for Wilson he also has roots in Ohio, and he made it clear that he would make the best decision for himself when it came down to it. Wilson went on to say he always feels comfortable when he visits Texas, which is always an important thing, and that he would be keeping an eye on how the passing game continues to develop this year since that directly impacts him.
As far as his spring schedule goes, Wilson says he want to go see Arkansas, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and TCU, but didn’t rule out another visit to Texas for the spring game as long as his schedule permits.
WR Ke’Andre Street
The 6’3 wideout from John Tyler showed up to Austin a little under the weather, but it didn’t stop him from enjoying his time.
“It was good,” Street said. “I talked to Coach Herman. It was a great experience being here, love the place, why not be in Austin, Texas?”
Street is currently hearing frequently from Houston, Texas Tech, North Texas and Southern Miss. Wide Receivers coach Drew Mehringer expressed Texas’ interest in the talented wideout, and there is a possibility an offer could be extended down the line.
“Their interest level is very high. I think they are waiting to get some track times in,” Street said.
WR Elijah Higgins
Higgins has continued to blow up with offers over the course of the past month, but the star Austin Bowie wideout said he is continuing to take the process slowly and soak it all in. Higgins said he enjoyed being able to be the on the Texas campus for the first time since he was offered.
“It was a lot of fun hanging out with all the guys, Garrett Wilson, Jaylen Ellis and all of them”, said Higgins.
Stanford has already extended an offer, so Higgins is focused on a lot more than just life on the football field. He said Texas did a great job of telling them about their sports medicine program, which Higgins is interested in majoring in.
So where does Texas stand at the moment? The Longhorns are definitely in a good spot for the 6’3 wideout. 2019 QB commit Roschon Johnson threw passes to Higgins and Garrett Wilson last weekend, and the trio has discussed the possibility of playing together at the next level.
TE Logan Compton
Compton was quick to point out how good of a relationship he has with the Texas staff.
“I had a great relationship with Coach Meekins,” Compton said. “He told me to call him the day he found out he wasn’t going to be the tight ends coach, and gave me Coach Warehime’s info. I was talking to Coach Meekins every day.”
Texas has yet to offer, but the 6’4 TE could be in line for one down the road.
“They’ve seen I’ve got a lot bigger, which they really like. They are going to come watch me in the spring.”
TE Jalen Wydermyer
The 6’4 tight end from Dickinson made his way to Austin for Sunday’s junior day. Wydermyer said he enjoyed getting to interact with new tight ends coach Derek Warehime, who stressed to him how Texas loves to utilize the tight end.
Despite not holding an offer, Wydermyer said Texas is up there on his list of schools.
“This would be one of my top schools,” Wydermyer said when asked where Texas stands in his recruitment. “I really have a good connection with coach Meekins and coach Warehime.”
An offer would be in the works down the line, and Texas would be in a good spot if one was extended. Wydermyer grew up in nearby Del Valle, so he is no stranger to Austin.
OL Stacey Wilkins
Wilkins was the first new offer given out on Junior Day. The Arkansas native immediately named Texas one of his top schools and cited many reasons as to why he came away impressed from his time in Austin.
“The coaches and what they have planned for the players, academics and relationship with the coaches”,Wilkins said. “Coach Hand is one of the best OL coaches in the country.”
Wilkins also has Oklahoma, TCU and Arkansas at the top of his list, and is planning on visiting the Razorbacks this upcoming weekend. Texas has a very good chance of hosting him on an official visit at some point during the spring. When asked about the idea of playing his college career away from his home state, Wilkins said it is something he could be comfortable with.
“I’m okay with getting out of state. As long as it fits me best and I have a good relationship with the coaching staff.”
DE Marcus Stripling
Heading into Saturday, Texas was hoping to make headway in the recruitment of 4 star DE Marcus Stripling. The Longhorns accomplished just that, with Stripling leaving impressed with what Tom Herman and defensive line coach Oscar Giles had to show him.
“It was a great today at Texas,” Stripling said. “Very outstanding show Coach Herman put on. I learned a lot about Austin. Me being the #1 defensive end in Texas, just keeping everything in Texas sounds pretty good. Good scheme Coach Herman is drawing up in there. Austin’s just a great place to be”
Stripling is hearing from schools all over the country, so where exactly does his recruitment stand at this time?
“I’m open all the way up. I haven’t really decided yet. I am still just taking my time”
The Mayde Creek product says he plans on making it back to Austin again at some point during the spring.
“Of course. Everytime I come visit, it gets better and better. High hopes for Texas.”
DT DeMarvin Leal
Perhaps the biggest priority on defense in the 2019 class, Leal left junior day rocking a Texas shirt. The Converse Judson standout was impressed with the coaching staff and enjoyed getting to talk to some current players.
“The love of the coaches. They really love the student athletes,” Leal said when asked what stood out about the day. “I talked to a couple of the freshman, B.J Foster and Caden Sterns. They just talked about the positive and negative of the school, there’s really no negatives. They just talked about how they loved it.”
Leal said the visit definitely helped Texas and that he enjoyed interacting with Tom Herman and Oscar Giles. As far as what’s next, Leal said he is in the process of getting his some spring official visits lined up. He said there is a possibility he could make a commitment in August. Regardless, Texas has positioned themselves nicely for one of the top defensive tackles in the country.
LB De’Gabriel Floyd
The story of the day was California LB De’Gabriel Floyd. Floyd spoke extremely favorably about Texas and it appears Texas made a huge impression.
“I love the hospitality here,” Floyd said. “It felt like every coach was my best friend. It was just a great visit.”
Floyd said all his questions were answered without him even having to ask. So where does Texas stand in his recruitment?
“Real high,” Floyd said. “The atmosphere of me coming down here, and I have family down here. It was just real comfortable, I didn’t feel out of place. It felt like I was at home. I got my top schools in mind, and Texas is up there.”
Floyd said he enjoyed hanging out with freshman LB Ayodele Adeoeye and QB Cameron Rising, who is a fellow California native. Floyd has a very close relationship with Todd Orlando, and Texas appears to be a legitimate player for one of the top outside linebackers in the country.
In terms of a possible timeline on a decision, it will be a while. Floyd said he could see himself announcing on early signing day or during an All-Star game. He still plans on visiting UCLA, USC and possibly Oregon.
CB Marcus Banks
The Dekaney High School corner is a high priority for Texas. Banks said Tom Herman and cornerbacks coach Jason Washington showed him a lot of love during his visit.
“The talk with Coach Herman. We had a very good talk and reached out with building a relationship, especially with my mother,” Banks said when asked what stood out. “They (Herman and Washington) showed a lot of love.”
Banks was originally slated to announce his decision on March 3rd, but announced he is pushing his decision back. Nevertheless, Texas definitely made a big impression on the 4-star.
“This visit opened my eyes more, they are very high on my list.”
CB/S Erick Young
Prior to his visit, Young said he was not too interested in Texas, but the Longhorns made a big impression of the Fort Bend Bush standout.
“It was a really good visit, it opened my eyes a lot,” Young said. “I wasn’t really feeling Texas, but after today I really like Texas.”
Texas did an excellent job of making up ground in his recruitment, and a big reason is safeties coach Craig Naivar.
“Coach Naviar,” Young said when asked what stood out about the visit. “He said he wants to sign a good class again to win a national championship.”
Young proclaimed afterwards that Texas was squarely back in the mix in his recruitment, naming them to his top 5. He expects to take official visits this spring and announce a final decision during his senior season. Texas and Texas A&M are two teams who are high on his list.
Seahorn’s Five Thoughts: Tulsa
Texas turned in a rough performance, and the road ahead only gets tougher
Here are a few thoughts from the hip on the lackluster win against the Golden Hurricane this evening in Austin.
The Lack of Killer Instinct
This team still has not figured out how to beat up on an inferior opponent and step on the throat when the opportunity presents itself. This Tulsa team won two games last year and on paper isn’t even close to the talent level of Texas. Yet after shutting Tulsa out in the first half, the Golden Hurricane managed to rally and make this a close game when Texas sputtered on offense and the defense finally started breaking after bending on several occasions in the red zone.
This was a game that Texas was supposed to be able build an early lead, get the starters out, and allow your reserves to get some valuable live game reps and that was never able to happen. If you can’t beat up on a team that probably cashed a check to come play in Austin this weekend, then I don’t even want to begin to think what will happen when USC rolls into town.
Feed Keontay Ingram
Every time number 26 in burnt orange and white touches the ball, he flashes. The talent he shows is undeniable and he once again found himself in the end zone this week. Ingram received more carries, but I still want to see him get the ball put in his belly because it’s obvious he can be a play maker for this offense, but just needs the opportunities.
This is nothing against Tre Watson, who had a solid night at the office, but Ingram is the long-term bell cow back for this offense and his development needs to be put on the express lane going forward.
This Isn’t Last Year’s Defense
I expected the defense to struggle some against Maryland, but I was not expecting some of the struggles I saw tonight. This game was a few missed field goals and some dropped passes away from looking very different and would have swung the game in favor of the Golden Hurricane. On one hand you want to commend the defense for bowing its neck on several occasions early on and keeping Tulsa off the board, but on the other side of the coin they conceded several big plays and 4th down conversions down the home stretch that allowed Tulsa to stay on the field and make it a game.
Another thing to note is that Texas once again struggled to get pressure on the quarterback and didn’t record a sack when the defensive front was expected to be a strength coming into the season. None of this bodes particularly well, as the schedule only gets tougher going forward.
The Future Is Bright At Safety
A bright spot from tonight that I have to mention is the highlight plays made by freshmen safeties Caden Sterns and BJ Foster. Both former five star recruits have forced their way onto the field early and both came away with interceptions tonight. It’s hard to understate how difficult it is to see the field so early at a position that requires so much cerebral awareness, but so far Foster and Sterns have taken to it like fish to water and have rewarded the defense staff with some solid play the first two weeks.
Offensive Line Performance
While the offense still has some kinks to work out, the offensive turned in a pretty solid performance and once again provided Sam Ehlinger with good protection and kept him clean. On top of keeping Ehlinger off his back, the big fellas up front paved the way for the run game to the tune of 241 yards at 5 yards per carry. Texas will take that all day and twice on Sundays.
While this game will certainly be graded on a curve because of the opponent, it is encouraging to see this unit playing much better than they did last year and that will be very beneficial for offense as they try to hit their stride.
Seahorn’s Five Thoughts Following The Loss To Maryland
For the second year in a row the Longhorns fell to the Maryland Terrrapins, and for the second year in a row the Texas staff and players find themselves trying to figure out what went wrong in the season opener. The frustration was obvious in the post-game availability with players and coaches, but this frustration is something that Longhorn players and fans alike have come to know for several years now.
Like last year, the Longhorns will have to find a way to put this tough loss behind them and circle the wagons as they prepare to take on Tulsa the week before hosting USC. I know folks are going to focus on the negatives after a game like this, but I am going to try to highlight some of the positives to take away from today’s game.
I”ll start with a positive observation. While the offensive line struggled to consistently open holes and establish a new line of scrimmage, I can say the pass protection certainly looked much better in week one this year compared to last year. Sam Ehlinger didn’t find himself under constant pressure, and when he did he was typically able to use his feet to escape and make a play or get rid of the ball. The lone sack appeared to to be a coverage sack in which Ehlinger was forced to hold the ball much longer than he would have liked, and pressure eventually got him.
The offensive line obviously still has a lot of work to do in the run-game, but seeing them doing a good job of giving Ehlinger a consistent pocket to work with is encouraging to see early on.
Responding To Adversity
With the game starting how it did I have to say it was encouraging to see the team buckle down and claw their way back into the game when things could have easily gotten out of hand. It may have not have resulted in a win today, but the team showing that they are willing to scrap and continue to fight to the final whistle is something you want to see. I know this will sound like a moral victory or something of the like, but I was worried things were going to spiral early and get ugly. The team showed they could bow their neck and hit back after taking it on the chin early.
Turnovers and Penalties
Okay it’s time for some negatives. Turnovers and penalties were absolute killers. I started praising the offense because they did a good job of protecting the ball in the first half, and then they turned turned it over three consecutive times on the final three drives of the game. They had plenty of opportunities to take the lead late in the game. One of those a was an interception in which Ehlinger’s hand was hit as he threw, so I will give him a little bit of grace. But Ehlinger’s second interception and the fumble by Tre Watson are things that just can’t happen at that point in any game. Those mistakes were absolutely brutal considering the Longhorns were moving the ball down the field. Those turnovers ended up being the deciding factor at the end of the day, and it will be something that will frustrates the staff and players when they turn the film on tomorrow. Also, this team is developing a bad habit of turning the football over in crunch-time and that has to stop if they expect to start pulling out some of these nail-biters.
Regarding penalties, the most impactful one was Gary Johnson’s targeting called. Johnson was ejected as a result and wouldn’t return for the remainder of the game. There were also several other penalties that extended drives for Maryland. At the end of it, Texas had 10 penalties that went for 102 yards. In a game as tight as this one was, that can be a killer.
The Running Back Rotation
One of the more popular topics following today’s game was the use, or lack thereof, of true freshmen running back Keaontay Ingram. Ingram showed some flashes early on in the game, rushing 6 times for 37 yards with a long of 18 yards. Coach Herman said in his post game press conference that he opted to lean on his 5th year senior RB Tre Watson with the game being tight. While I agree it’s a tough spot to put your rookie running back in considering it’s his first college game, I think you still have to try to mix him in there given he was able to find some success early. While there wasn’t a consistent push from the Texas offensive line, it was clear that Watson and Ingram were the most effective of the backs that got touches today.
Obviously it won’t matter if the line doesn’t get better and open holes consistently, but the talent is definitely there and I expect Ingram to become more involved as he gets his feet wet. I’m much more excited about this group than I was last year as a whole.
Third Down Efficiency
3 of 15 on third down conversions will not win you many football games. The must improve drastically in this area and needs to find a way to keep drives alive, or they will end up putting the defense back out on the field often. When facing teams like Maryland, who is content to pound the rock and work the clock as they nickel and dime you up and down the field, you have to find a way to keep the ball out of their hands and give your defense a rest. This ties back into the lack of execution and Texas shooting themselves in the foot, both of which seemed to happen far too often at critical points in today’s game.
Staff Predictions: Texas vs. Maryland
The HornSports staff anticipates that Texas will be a vastly different team in 2018
Texas is looking to get 2018 started on the right track, after dropping last season’s opener to Maryland. Our staff delves into what the Longhorns must do to avenge last year’s loss.
After the debacle last year to open the season, this prediction comes with a bit of a wrinkle for me. We all felt that Texas would win the game and it certainly felt it was heading that way early, but we all know how that ended up playing out.
Chapter two of this series will be interesting because the Terps have dealt with a ton of distractions heading into this matchup and I expect Texas to be dialed in on making hints right after the let down in Austin. With new offensive coordinator Matt Canada calling the shots for Maryland, there could be a bit of a surprise element for the Terps, who have opted not to name a starter at QB.
I expect a better performance from the Longhorns, but I’m in wait and see mode before I predict them handling the Terps as the spread indicates. I’m picking Texas to get redemption, but I think it will be close for most of the way.
Prediction: Texas 28, Maryland 21
Football is finally back! Last year, I predicted the Longhorns to be victorious over Maryland by a final of 35-10. Not the best start.
This year’s rematch features many interesting headlines. It will be interesting to see how Maryland plays with a cloud of uncertainty surrounding their program. Interim head coach Matt Canada has some talent to work with offensively and Maryland proved last year they are not scared of the Longhorns. Despite Texas being dangerously thin at LB, Todd Orlando has earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to scheming around his personnel.
For Texas on offense, Sam Ehlinger will need to show he has taken the next step in his development. Maryland lost several key players defensively, and an improved offensive line should give Ehlinger time to get the ball to Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey.
I think Maryland will keep it close for a majority of the game, but Texas won’t allow themselves to get embarrassed by the Terrapins for the second year in a row.
Prediction: Texas 31, Maryland 17
Can a sputtering Texas offense get things going early and establish some consistency? That’s been the key question for the last few years and Texas has yet to make us think it can. It’s game one and Ehlinger’s ability to manage the offense will be under the magnifying glass, as will the team’s ability to find a running game. An offensive line with more experience and upperclassmen should help in that effort, especially with the addition of Calvin Anderson at left tackle. I expect the defensive unit to respond early to what will likely amount to a heavy rushing attack from the Terrapins’ dual-threat quarterbacks Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill. Texas shows signs of rust in this one but wins its opener to start Tom Herman’s second-year campaign at 1-0.
Prediction: Texas 38, Maryland 24
A large advantage Texas has going into round two of this matchup is consistency. For the first time in years, the Longhorns are familiar with scheme on both sides of the ball. The Texas offense has not had the same identity for more than one year in quite some time. This sense of familiarity allows for less time learning in the offseason and more time crafting and perfecting.
For Maryland, the story is different. Head coach DJ Durkin is on administrative leave, and newly implemented offensive coordinator Matt Canada is taking the reigns for week one. Maryland was already tasked with learning a new offensive scheme this offseason, but now they have to play under an entirely different coach.
For the Longhorns, defense should not be an issue, even after losing several key contributors to graduation and the NFL. Todd Orlando knows how to prepare, and the addition of the 2018 class gives the Texas defense the potential to be just as good as last season.
On offense, Sam Ehlinger should be drastically improved in his decision making and awareness in the pocket, and the Texas run game should be on a different level. The addition of graduate transfers Calvin Anderson (LT) and Tre Watson (RB) will add a new dimension to the Longhorns offense.
Although Maryland is no slouch, I expect Texas to be vastly improved from a year ago. This game will be tight, but Texas will pull away late.
Prediction: Texas 38, Maryland 28
Commitment Spotlight: Javonne Shepherd
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.
Name: Javonne Shepherd
High School: North Forest
City & State: Houston, Texas
Height: 6’6 (Unverified)
Weight: 319 (Unverified)
40-yard: 4.76 (Unverified)
Shuttle: 4.58 (Unverified)
Vertical: 34 (Unverified)
No Stats Available
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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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