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The Dotted Line: Texas’ recruiting wish list highlights top targets at each position


The wish list for Texas recruiting

Texas gained commitment Nos. 12 and 13 this past weekend in the form of Alvin cornerback Marques Caldwell, a member of the Fabulous 55, and Millwood (Okla.) four-star wide receiver Demariyon Houston. That means Tom Herman and the staff are roughly halfway done with the 2019 recruiting class, and a few positions are accounted for barring a de-commitment or extra scholarship.

The recruiting race is halfway run, and the Longhorns moved into the top 10 of the recruiting ranks for the first time in the 2019 cycle after the double-dip on Saturday. Texas finished third in the nation in 2018, Herman’s first full class.

The Longhorns closed shop at quarterback for 2019 last summer, when Roschon Johnson, a four-star dual-threat from Port Neches-Groves, chose the Longhorns. Texas needed only one quarterback after signing two in 2018. Texas is also done at tight end thanks to Jared Wiley and Brayden Liebrock. Cornerback might also be done after Caldwell joined Kenyatta Watson II.

There are at least a dozen spots remaining open for prospects in the 2019 class. Here are the top Texas targets at each position.

Trey Sanders, running back, IMG Academy (Fla.)

Trey Sanders (IMG running back) particpates at The Opening in Frisco. (Mike Craven/ American-Statesman)

FYI: 6-0/216; 5 stars; No. 1-ranked running back

Other targets: Noah Cain, Deondrick Glass

Texas wants to hit a home run at running back. It’s unclear whether the Longhorns want one or two, and it probably depends on which players become realistic options down the stretch. Sanders is the top target because he’s the best of the bunch. He indicated at The Opening Final that he’ll release a top five shortly and take official visits to those schools.

Texas is in the mix if it gets an official visit. In an odd twist, landing Sanders might help land Cain. The duo play together at IMG Academy in Florida and Cain played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Denton Guyer. Glass is the best option in the state and a member of the Fabulous 55.

Dylan Wright, wide receiver, West Mesquite

FYI: 6-3/213; 4 stars; No. 20 on the Fabulous 55

Other targets: Elijah Higgins, Jaylen Ellis, Marcus Washington, Langston Anderson, Peyton Powell

Houston became the third wide receiver to pledge in the 2019 class, joining four-star talents Jake Smith and Jordan Whittington. Texas wants a fourth, and possibly even a fifth wide receiver to complete the class and add firepower to the offense. Wright is the top target because of his raw ability and unteachable size and length combination. He is close with assistant coach Drew Mehringer and plans to visit Austin before the start of his senior season after missing the Heat Wave for a 7-on-7 tournament.

There are plenty of other options for the Longhorns if Wright goes elsewhere, or if the staff finds room for a fifth receiver. Higgins is favored to pick Florida. Washington is favored to choose Ohio State. Ellis is currently committed to Baylor, but is from Austin and is looking at programs like Texas, Michigan and Oregon.

The wildcards at the position are athletes like Bru McCoy and Makiya Tongue, who can be viewed as wide receivers or linebackers. Anderson and Powell are in-state options with big upside.

Javonne Shepherd, offensive tackle, Houston North Forest

FYI: 6-6/319; 4 stars; No. 27 on the Fab 55

Other targets: Stacey Wilkins, Chris Akporoghene, Andrew Coker

Five-star offensive tackle Tyler Johnson is the only offensive lineman currently committed to the Longhorns. Texas feels good about its position with Shepherd, a huge tackle with elite athleticism for a young player his size. He said he ran a 4.9 40-yard dash at The Opening Final. Shepherd is a long prospect with upside, though he isn’t as technically sound as Johnson or Texas A&M commit Kenyon Green.

Texas must identify a new target on the interior after Branson Bragg chose Stanford. The other targets at tackle include Wilkins, an Arkansas-native, and players like TCU commit Andrew Coker. It’s likely that new offers go out along the offensive line once the coaches can watch a few prospects in person this fall.

Taurean Carter, defensive lineman, Mansfield Legacy

FYI: 6-3/260; 3 stars; 16 offers

Mansfield Legacy defensive lineman Taurean Carter at the Texas Heat Wave in June. (Mike Craven)

Other targets: Jermaine Johnson, DeMarvin Leal, Marcus Stripling, Faatui Tuitele

Texas has yet to build a true pipeline into DFW under Herman. That should change with the 2019 class, and then become an obsolete point by 2020. Carter would help quell the noise that UT can’t win battles in north Texas. He holds 16 offers and is the type of defensive lineman the Longhorns are looking for because of his ability to play end or grow into a tackle. Carter is a quick, explosive big man who lives in the backfield.

The Longhorns aren’t done recruiting Leal, the top-ranked defensive lineman in the state and a current commit to Texas A&M. JUCO target Jermaine Johnson and Houston-product Marcus Stripling also hold offers and remain uncommitted. Stripling impressed national scouts at The Opening Final and is likely to shoot up rankings as a senior.

Rian Davis, outside linebacker, Wekiva, Fla.

FYI: 6-2.5/233; 4 stars; No. 5-ranked outside linebacker

Other targets: David Gbenda, Bru McCoy, Makiya Tongue

Texas’ lone commitment at linebacker is De’Gabriel Floyd, a four-star outside linebacker from California. He spent most of his free time at The Opening recruiting Davis for the Longhorns. Georgia remains the leader for Davis, but a recent official visit to Austin left an impression and Floyd did the same with his recruiting pitch in Frisco. Davis used to play high school football at Clear Lake outside of Houston and still has family ties in the state.

Gbenda is the top in-state target and a member of the Fabulous 55. McCoy and Tongue, who were mentioned in the wide receiver section, could also be considered linebacker commits if Texas were to win out on either player. True linebackers won’t be recruited at the same rate as defensive ends and safeties at Texas due to the dime package preferred by defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.

Jalen Catalon, safety, Mansfield Legacy

FYI: 5-9/180; 4 stars; No. 18-ranked safety

Other targets: Lewis Cine, Noa Pola-Gates

Catalon wants to play football and baseball in college and Texas, both Herman and baseball coach David Pearce, are on board if Catalon chooses the Longhorns. Catalon is in no hurry to pick a school but Texas remains among the favorites because of his relationship with assistant coach Craig Naivar. He wants to play deep safety in college, but he also understands that his upside might be at nickel because of his lack of height. Versatility is not something Catalon lacks, as he stars on both sides of the ball in high school.

Texas filled a need at boundary safety when four-star Chris Adimora (Calif.) picked UT on July 1. Pola-Gates placed Texas among his top schools and could make a fall visit. Lewis Cine, a recent Texas move-in from Massachusetts, is also on the board.

2019 Texas Longhorns recruiting class

Roschon Johnson QB Port Neches-Groves 4 July 21 (2017)
T'Vondre Sweat DE Huntsville 3 Feb. 28
Jordan Whittington WR Cuero 4 March 10
De'Gabriel Floyd OLB Westlake Village (Calif.) 4 March 31
Kenyatta Watson II DB Grayson (Ga.) 4 May 1
Brayden Liebrock TE Chandler (Ariz.) 3 May 8
Tyler Johnson OL Conroe Oak Ridge 5 May 25
Jared Wiley TE Temple 3 May 26
Jake Smith WR Notre Dame Preparatory (Ariz.) 4 June 3
Peter Mpagi DE George Ranch 3 June 16
Chris Adimora S Mayfair (Calif.) 4 July 1
Marques Caldwell CB Alvin 3 July 7
Demariyon Houston WR Millwood (Okla.) 4 July 7



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Four star Hawaii LB Maninoa Tufono names Texas in his Top 5. He had glowing things to say after his official, but it wasn’t for sure if Texas would make the cut. Smart odds are on him playing out west somewhere, but all you can ask for is a shot. Texas should get an official now. 


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37 minutes ago, Daniel Seahorn said:

Smart money is on OU if he is expediting his decision. 


Well, if you read what he says and take a look at OU's class, then that doesn't make sense.

OU has 15 commits. Only two are OL and those two are OG's. Wilkins is a OT. So there's no one in that class at his position. Why would he be scared about spots left at OU?

Texas, OTOH, has one OT in the fold and another that could pull the trigger at any time. "Spots left" makes more sense in that context.

And, of course, after all of that, I still agree with you. lol I don't know that its OU, but I don't think its Texas.

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3 hours ago, Daniel Seahorn said:

Smart money is on OU if he is expediting his decision. 

Reserving a spot may make sense from a kids perspective, but if things did go “a certain way”, the school could still trap door him and the spot he reserves means nothing. Flawed logic IMO. 

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52 minutes ago, primal defense said:



Big 12 media days begin, again, with no Texas quarterback in sight


Mack Brown always embraced symbolism with the game’s most important position. It just didn’t always work out.

In July 2010, the former Texas coach brought sophomore Garrett Gilbert to Big 12 media days. The quarterback’s only real experience had been stepping in for the injured Colt McCoy against Alabama in the 2009 national championship game. Given that UT nearly pulled off a miracle win, Gilbert had street cred.

“We think Garrett is doing really well,” Brown told reporters that summer. 

Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert was a huge draw at Big 12 media days in July 2010 after almost beating Alabama in the 2009 national title game.  (Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

Gilbert ended up getting booed out of Royal-Memorial Stadium and transferred. 

In July 2013, Brown brought junior David Ash, who was fresh off a stirring win over Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl. “David has grown up. He’s learned a whole lot,” Brown said then. Ash ended up getting hurt in the second game against BYU. Concussions ended his career the following year.

Big 12 media days are Monday and Tuesday at The Star in Frisco, and no Texas quarterback will be present. Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, TCU and Texas Tech will meet reporters on Monday. UT, Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and West Virginia will be on Tuesday.

As for the Longhorns, it’ll be the fifth straight year that the league’s most glamorous program hasn’t brought the game’s most critical player to the Big 12’s most high-profile preseason event.

That correlates to the Longhorns’ record. Texas is 53-48 this decade, a measly five games over .500. The Longhorns are four games under .500 since the start of 2014. In the Big 12, no quarterback means no chance.

Reporters were allowed to only watch UT’s current crop from a distance this spring. In fact, no Texas quarterback has been made available to reporters since the Texas Bowl. 

The program has lacked star power at the position once dominated by Vince Young and Colt McCoy, quarterbacks with a combined record of 75-10 from 2003-09. 

In his second season, Texas coach Tom Herman is bringing players to media days that will be odds-on favorites to become team captains — defensive end Breckyn Hager, defensive tackle Chris Nelson, offensive guard Patrick Vahe and tight end Andrew Beck. That’s the similar approach former coach Charlie Strong took from 2014-16. He brought upperclassmen to media days who were respected in the locker room and in the coaches office. Strong never had a clear-cut, unassailable, team leader at quarterback.

Texas quarterback David Ash (14) waves to fans as he leaves the field after defeating Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl held in San Antonio, Texas, on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. Texas defeated Oregon State 31-27. Rodolfo Gonzalez / Austin American-Statesman

RELATED: No longer a surprise, Texas’ Chris Nelson steps into spotlight

There’s nothing wrong with bringing seniors who have earned it. Many coaches view this as a reward and a signal about team leadership. Expect lots of laughs about Hager’s long, billowing hair and Beck’s cast-iron, Terminator-tough foot.

But make no mistake, sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger’s past performance and future will be discussed. A lot. He’ll just be back in Austin. 

Herman may try to frame a quarterback battle between Ehlinger and junior Shane Buechele. But those around the program believe Ehlinger will be the opening-day starter against Maryland.

Herman loved Ehlinger’s potential last season. He still does, but that feeling waned after Ehlinger cost the Longhorns three potential wins. Herman tried to put the quarterbacks in tight situations this spring. Nobody can gauge Ehlinger’s improvement until September, though.

There’s also good reason to talk about UT’s two freshmen, Cameron Rising and Casey Thompson. Both are probably redshirt candidates, although with new redshirt rules going into effect this season, anything is possible. Starting in 2018, athletes can play in four games and still qualify for a redshirt.

“I hope we all feel a lot better about that quarterback room, right?,” Herman said after the spring game. “Two veteran quarterbacks, I thought looked really good, and you guys got a glimpse of what we’ve seen after the first 14 practices in those young guys. 

“So I’m excited about the future of that program.”

Texas quarterback Shane Buechele (7) points to a wide receiver during the Texas Orange-White spring football game in April. (Nick Wagner/American-Statesman)

The pass-happy Big 12 is a quarterback-dominated leagued. Eight different teams brought quarterbacks to Big 12 media days in 2016. That included Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, who became a Heisman Trophy finalist that season and won the coveted award in 2017. 

Last year, four league quarterbacks made the trek to Frisco. Mayfield was there, as was Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, TCU’s Kenny Hill and Iowa State’s two-way standout Joel Lanning. 

Going to media day, regardless of conference, is the first big step on the road to national awards.

Already this month, West Virginia officials have launched a Heisman campaign for quarterback Will Grier. The website grier7heisman.com has plenty of write-ups, stats and videos to keep anyone busy for hours. Central Florida has also started a similar push for quarterback McKenzie Milton.

Texas hasn’t had a legitimate contender for any national quarterback awards since McCoy in 2009. 

If the Longhorns ever hope to compete for championships again, they need better play from the game’s most important position. Until then, the program could be spinning its wheels, away from the Big 12’s center stage.



What does this story have to do with 2019 recruiting?  

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24 minutes ago, BigL said:

When and who of our targets are committing next that we should pay attention to?  

I would keep an eye peeled for our July 27th Under The Lights event. It has been very successful for us in the past and should kick start this recruiting momentum back up again.

The UTL thing could see us getting some commits from 2020 recruits.

Shepard, the OL, says he plans on taking his time (officially) but those behind the scenes with him say it could go down at any time.

Lewis Cine is someone I'm feeling good about, but I do believe him when he says he wants to take his time.

There will be some new names to emerge for the 2019 OL target list. Hand is doing his diligence there.

I'd like to see UT make another hard push for Leal once the dead period is over.

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