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.