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Unchartered Territory: Longhorns Taking Advantage of Early Signing Period

The Longhorns will sign a large portion of their 2018 class on December 20. What will they bring to the 40 acres?

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On Friday, Texas head coach Tom Herman mentioned the Longhorns would sign 3/4 of its signing class during the early signing period on December 20. This is a new implementation by the NCAA and adds to the constant saga that is college football recruiting. Let’s take a look at each recruit signing on Wednesday and their future on the 40 acres.

Cameron Rising – QB

The former Oklahoma commit and California native is an elite talent. Even though he is listed as a pro-style quarterback, Rising is not strictly limited to the pocket. His athleticism shows in his ability to escape the pocket and make plays with his feet. Rising is one of the best passing QBs in the country, and has an opportunity to compete for playing time immediately in Austin. Other schools such as Oregon are trying to pry Rising away from the Longhorns, but he is solid and will sign on the 20th.

Casey Thompson – QB

Thompson may not have as high a ceiling as Rising, but is still an extremely good take in this class. Thompson is exactly the type of quarterback that Tom Herman looks for. In a spectacular senior season, Thompson broke about every record in the state of Oklahoma that one can think of. Many see him as a QB2 take behind Rising, but that may not be the case. Thompson will have just as much opportunity as Rising to see the field as a freshman. With rumors about a potential Shane Buechele transfer circulating, both freshman QBs may be needed in 2018. 

Keaontay Ingram – RB

There’s no better way to put this – Ingram is the best back in the state, and it’s not even close. The Carthage product has taken the TXHSFB playoffs by storm and is showing everyone why he is such a highly coveted prospect. Ingram can do it all. His vision has drawn comparisons to a young Le’veon Bell, and he has soft hands out of the backfield. Ingram is not a lock to sign early, but is leaning towards doing so. Auburn and other big schools have made their way into the picture, but Ingram appears solid to the Longhorns. If he does not sign early, he will still likely stick with the Longhorns on National Signing Day, but will likely take some visits.

Brennan Eagles – WR

Before his senior season, Eagles was one of the most sought after wide receivers in the country. His decision ultimately came down to Texas and Clemson, and Texas just felt like home. Eagles did not have the best senior season, but the sky is the limit for the 6’4″, 215 pound prospect. The opportunity for early playing time is there, and Eagles knows it. He will compete for a spot on the outside, and may even give Collin Johnson a run for his money. Having Eagles and Johnson on opposite sides of each other is a scary thought.

Al’vonte Woodard – WR

Woodard announced today he will be signing on December 20. Even though Eagles has better measurables, I believe Woodard will be much more ready to play as a freshman. Woodard is solid outside receiver that poses a constant deep threat. Woodard earns his bread on vertical and post routes. If he can polish his short route game, he may see playing time often as a freshman. Woodard has been solid to the Longhorns since his commitment, and has proven to be quite the recruiter as well. The Texas receiving corps is deep, but Tom Herman demonstrated this year that he will play anyone that earns it. Woodard is more than capable of doing so as a freshman.

Reese Moore – OT

Moore is one of the more underrated prospects in the state. The 6’6″, 260 pound offensive tackle was a mauler up front for Seminole but also a huge threat through the air at tight end. Moore is going to need a redshirt to add some bulk to his body, but he has the frame of a tackle. Moore can also be an emergency tight end in the future if the Longhorns are thin at the position like they were in 2017. With Andrew Beck, Cade Brewer and Reese Leitao all being available next season, I doubt Moore will burn a redshirt in that capacity. 

Rafiti Ghirmai – OT

At 6’4″, 294 pounds, Ghirmai is more of a “college ready” prospect than Moore. What drew Ghirmai to Texas is the chance at early playing time. With huge depth needs at tackle, the future freshman may see the field often in 2018. A redshirt would clearly be beneficial, but this depends on who the Longhorns can reel in from the JUCO ranks. Playing time is not guranteed for Ghirmai, however. The Texas coaching staff really likes what they’ve seen out of RS freshman Sam Cosmi, who appears to be groomed to take over for future NFL starting left tackle Connor Williams. Either way, Ghirmai adds immediate depth to an injury-plagued offensive line. Ghirmai has not decided if he will sign early, but I am confident that he will stick with the Longhorns regardless. 

Malcolm Epps – TE

Epps is a great pass catching tight end, but extremely raw as a blocker. He must add to his frame before he will see the field. Epps is also a candidate to play defense off the edge, similar to a Charles Omenihu type role. If Epps sticks to offense, he will likely redshirt due to depth at the position and the importance of having an effective blocker there. The return of Andrew Beck will help immensely in that regard. In a few years, Epps is going to be dangerous through the air. Collin Johnson, Brennan Eagles and Malcolm Epps all on the field at the same time is going to be a nightmare for opposing defenses.

Cameron Dicker – K

After Tom Herman signed Joshua Rowland, the No. 1 JUCO kicker in the nation in last year’s class, Texas fans thought former kicking woes might be over. This was not the case. Instead, Rowland went 10/17 with several blocked attempts throughout the year. Rowland was supposed to be “automatic” within 40 yards, but that also did not happen. For Lake Travis, Dicker has been the definition of automatic this season. He regularly drills attempts of 50+ yards and has accuracy unseen since Justin Tucker roamed the 40 acres. Texas fans should be thrilled about this signing. Dicker will be the kicker next year barring unforeseen circumstances.

Ayodele Adeoye – ILB

The IMG Academy product is dangerously close to flipping to Oklahoma during the year, and Lincoln Riley is still pushing hard. However, he appears to be ready to shut things down and sign with Texas on December 20. Adeoye could use a redshirt season, but will have an opportunity to compete for playing time right away. The best case scenario is that Malik Jefferson elects to stay for his senior year. If this were to happen, Adeoye would be able to redshirt barring injury to Jefferson or Gary Johnson. If Jefferson leaves, Johnson could move into his spot due to his athleticism and Adeoye could battle with Anthony Wheeler for the ILB position. Either way, Texas is getting a great prospect in Adeoye.

Byron Hobbs – OLB

Hobbs is one of the most underrated prospects in the state. He is versatile, quick, and unafraid to make a hit. To play OLB at Texas, Hobbs needs to add to his 209 pound frame. A redshirt season would not be a bad thing, but Hobbs is a competitor. Something tells me he will find a way to see the field. At 6’4″, Hobbs is still growing and has the ability to play different positions. He is a utility prospect that Todd Orlando can move around  to fit different needs. Hobbs and his family bleeds burnt orange. His passion for Texas reminds me of Reggie Hemphill-Mapps during his recruitment in 2016. The difference between Hobbs and Hemphill-Mapps? Hobbs has a secret weapon – his mother. It’s appropriate to give a shoutout to Mama Vaughns, one of the most elite recruiters in the country. She could give Bryan Carrington a run for his money.

D’Shawn Jamison – CB

I’m an absolute believer that Jamison is the best player in the state. He can do it all.  One of the more undervalued aspects of his game are his abilities in  kick and punt return. Jamison is flat out dangerous with the ball in his hands, and always finds himself near the ball on defense. At the very least, Jamison will see significant playing time on special teams next year. Texas’ kick return game has lacked for years now, and Jamison can turn that around. With the departure of Holton Hill, Jamison will also compete for a corner slot.

Jalen Green – CB

Similar to Jamison, Green will have every opportunity to play as a freshman. LSU is still a threat for Green. Not because he realistically wants to go to Baton Rouge, but because he’s listening to Ed Orgeron – one of the most dangerous recruiters in the nation. Even though this is the case, Green appears locked in. Things can change, but Green will likely sign on December 20. Green was sidelined by an injury at the end of his senior season, but has a very high ceiling coming in. This is one of the best defensive secondary classes in Texas history.

Anthony Cook – CB

For quite some time, it appeared Ohio State was the team to beat for Cook’s services. Now, the Buckeyes are on the outside looking in. This is a battle between Texas and LSU. Cook is going to announce his commitment on December 20 and sign early. I still feel good Cook and Texas. My official prediction is that he sides with the Longhorns. However, this is a very tight race and could go either way. Cook is the most college-ready prospect out of any DBs in this class. If he comes to Texas, he will easily be the frontrunner to win a starting job. Cook is a must have prospect, but the already legendary secondary haul could help soften the potential blow.

BJ Foster – S

After suffering an ACL tear his junior year, many were hesitant in their evaluations of Foster. Foster proved all of the doubters wrong in a superb senior season. The Angleton safety is absolutely lethal on both sides of the ball. With the ball in his hands, Foster is dangerous. His vision with the ball in his hands makes him quite the pick six threat in college. Even though Foster is an elite high school running back, his highest potential has always been at safety. He’s about as solid as it gets. With DeShon Elliot leaving, Foster has as great of a chance as any to take a spot in the secondary.

DeMarvion Overshown – S

Overshown had a rough stretch in the playoffs this year. However, he is very talented and will adjust well to the 40. One of Todd Orlando’s biggest challenges from the 2018 class is figuring out where Overshown best fits into his scheme. Overshown’s natural position is at safety, but many believe he could move to LB or even B-Backer with added weight to his frame. Overall, Overshown is a good prospect with solid potential. He reminds me of Brandon Jones coming out of high school – a big hitter who can move from good to great with proper coaching. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Overshown redshirt, but I believe he could be a prospect that comes out of nowhere and sees serious playing time in 2018.

Caden Sterns – S

Sterns is one of the most fundamentally sound prospects in the 2018 class. He might not be flashy and grab someone’s attention immediately, but he is one heck of a football player. He does everything right from proper tackling technique to fantastic vision through the air. I believe Sterns is a star in the making for the Longhorns – on and off the field. With the amount of depth in the secondary, he may be able to redshirt. However, he will compete for a spot. I could see Sterns being the Josh Thompson of the 2018 class – expected to redshirt but performs so well on the field that the coaching staff has no choice but to give him an opportunity. Either way, Texas is in good hands at safety for the foreseeable future.

 

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Harrison is a proud alumnus of The University of Texas at Austin and a second-year law student at Texas Tech University School of Law, where he plans to get his J.D. and Masters in Sports Management. He hales from Baytown, TX, but will always consider Austin home. In his spare time Harrison enjoys hunting, sports and any activity pertaining to his dog.

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