Alief Taylor wide receiver Brennan Eagles at The Opening Final in Oregon. (Mike Craven)

BEVO BEAT

Five 2018 commits who could make an impact as true freshmen

Posted August 23rd, 2017

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Stay updated on the latest Texas Longhorns recruiting news brought to you by Mike Craven of Hookem.com. The Forty will publish M-F at 10 a.m. each morning to provide Texas fans with an in-depth look at the latest for the Longhorns on the recruiting trail.

Texas can finally lean on upperclassmen and experienced sophomores instead of true freshman thanks to the recruiting and development of the program under former head coach Charlie Strong. His efforts didn’t result in wins. They did, however, result in a better roster for Tom Herman to inherit.

No freshman from the 2017 class is expected to start. The lone exception might be at tight end because of the injury to Andrew Beck and the lack of depth at the position. Still, most of the 2017 class will be counted on for mop-up duty, special teams or to redshirt and develop for the future.

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Mike Craven
Texas commit Caden Sterns.

The 2018 class includes more talent than the class that produced the current Texas freshman. With more than a year to pass before the class can participate in preseason practices, not much is known about the current depth chart.

Texas won’t lose many seniors after the 2017 season. Juniors Connor Williams and Malik Jefferson could depart early for the NFL draft. That will still leave a lot of familiar faces at nearly every position group for the 2018 prospects to compete against for snaps. That won’t prove easy.

Here are five members of the 2018 class who could make an immediate impact:

Dominick Wood-Anderson, tight end, Arizona Western College

FYI: 6-5/245; three stars; committed on Aug. 1

Texas will need tight end help in 2018. Beck, the expected starter this season, is currently out with an injury to start his senior campaign. Syracuse graduate transfer Kendall Moore will be out of eligibility by the time Wood-Anderson gets on campus. That leaves the incoming 2018 tight ends and current freshmen Cade Brewer and Reese Leitao, as well as Garrett Gray to compete for snaps. Wood-Anderson is a JUCO product and should compete for snaps in his first semester on campus.

Keondre Coburn, defensive tackle, Spring Westfield

FYI: 6-1/329; four stars; committed on Aug. 7

It’s not always easy for defensive tackles to crack the depth chart as freshman. Coburn offers a unique skill set that might allow him specialist duty as a nose guard. He’s big and low to the ground, much like current starter Poona Ford, who will not be on the roster by the time Coburn arrives. It’s unlikely Coburn walks onto campus and earns a starting spot, but it is possible he figures out a way to earn snaps as a freshman.

Brennan Eagles, wide receiver, Alief Taylor

FYI: 6-3.5/214; four stars; committed on July 24

Wide receiver is another position where true freshman tend to struggle. It’s mostly due to today’s complicated nature of college offenses and defenses. Even a true star like Collin Johnson didn’t light up the stat sheet consistently his freshman season. Eagles is the best receiver who’s committed to Texas and the most likely of the trio to find snaps as a freshman unless Rondale Moore earns a job as a kick or punt returner. Eagles’ sheer size and athleticism combination is hard to find and he might become a target on third downs and in the red zone in his first year.

Caden Sterns, defensive back, Cibolo Steele

FYI: 6-1/192; four stars; committed on May 7

Texas isn’t exactly set at safety. Jason Hall will be gone by the time Sterns steps on campus. The Longhorns will play three safeties most the time if the nickel back like P.J. Locke is considered a safety. Locke will be a senior when Sterns arrives. DeShon Elliott and Brandon Jones also should be entering their second year as starters. It isn’t a certainty that Herman will be happy with his safeties when Sterns, B.J. Foster and DeMarvion Overshown step on campus and there isn’t much depth behind the trio of Locke, Jones and Elliott. Sterns’ versatility as a safety, cornerback or nickel back give him an edge at earning early snaps.

Malcolm Epps, tight end, Spring Dekaney

FYI: 6-5.5/218; four stars; committed on Aug. 8

For the same reasons that Wood-Anderson made the list, Epps is also included. Texas wants to use the tight ends and the Longhorns will be light at the position entering the 2018 season. Epps isn’t strong enough to become a three-down tight end as a freshman but the four-star prospect is tall and athletic enough to create a package of plays for him in the red zone and on third downs.

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