Fighting for his job, Charlie Strong needs more big guys to have his back.
That’s why the Texas coach and his staff will be glued to Saturday’s Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando, Fla., where premier North Mesquite offensive tackle Jean Delance plans to announce his college choice of Texas or Michigan. The game will begin at 11 a.m. on ESPN2.
Sparked by the additions of Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe, Texas’ line made tangible strides in 2015, but that did not stop Strong from expressing his desire at the end of the season to acquire more big men on both lines. So far, Texas has commitments from two offensive linemen among its 12 pledges: Lewisville guard Denzel Okafor and Arlington Bowie’s Tope Imade. Both are three-star prospects, per 247Sports’ composite ratings.
Okafor is in California for Sunday’s Semper Fidelis Bowl, along with Flower Mound defensive end Andrew Fitzgerald, who also is committed to Texas.
Delance, a four-star prospect and the No. 13 player on the American-Statesman’s Fabulous 55 list of the state’s top seniors, would be Texas’ top-rated commitment as the nation’s No. 90-ranked overall player and the No. 10 tackle. He hails from the same Dallas suburb as Longhorns freshman linebacker Malik Jefferson, and it’s not a stretch to suggest that by committing to Texas, Delance could deliver a jolt of energy similar to the one Jefferson brought to last year’s class. Ranked an alarming No. 48 nationally, Texas’ class is bereft of the big bodies that Strong believes he needs for the program to take off and start winning again after consecutive losing seasons.
Of note, the line coach who helped recruit Delance to Texas, Joe Wickline, was dismissed by Strong after the season and replaced by Tulsa’s Matt Mattox.
According to Orangebloods.com, members of Delance’s family prefer Texas to Michigan, which has made inroads in the Lone Star State under Jim Harbaugh, including at stops in Dallas and Houston during last summer’s tour of satellite camps. Delance was among several top prospects who turned out to a camp at Grand Prairie High School near Dallas.
Also present that day was Waco High cornerback Eric Cuffee, who apparently will hold off and not announce his college plans at Saturday’s game. Cuffee (No. 30 in the Fab 55) is considering Texas A&M but is thought to be a Texas lean even though the Horns loaded up with three quality corners in last year’s class.
A third Texas target, Beaumont Central running back Devwah Whaley, is expected to announce his decision Saturday as well. This one’s hard to predict because the school at the top of his list appears to change with the blowing wind. A couple of days after declaring Arkansas his favorite, Whaley had a change of heart and committed to Georgia on Nov. 26. A week later, he backed out of his pledge after the school fired coach Mark Richt.
Now it appears to be a two-team race between Arkansas and Texas.
Whaley, No. 14 on the Fab 55, is expected to visit Texas on Jan. 15 along with several top prospects, including five-star Nacogdoches safety Brandon Jones and four-star Houston Davis linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch.
2016 Texas Longhorns recruiting classHere's a look at the recruits who have committed to Texas coach Charlie Strong for the 2016 recruiting cycle. Star rankings from 247sports. Oral commitments are non-binding. National signing day is Feb. 3.
|Collin Johnson||WR||San Jose (V. Christ.), Calif.||4||4/17/2014|
|Shane Buechele||QB||Arlington Lamar||4||2/23/2015|
|Tope Imade||OG||Arlington Bowie||3||5/26/2015|
|Gerald Wilbon||DT||Destrehan (La.)||3||6/17/2015|
|Peyton Aucoin||TE||New Orleans (La.) Martin||3||7/24/2015|
|Malcolm Roach||DE||Baton Rouge (La.)||3||11/6/2015|
|Andrew Fitzgerald||DE||Flower Mound||4||11/12/2015|
|Jean Delance||OT||North Mesquite||4||1/2/16|
|Lil'Jordan Humphrey||WR||Southlake Carroll||3||1/30/16|
|D'Andre Christmas-Giles||DT||New Orleans (La.)||3||2/2/16|
|Chris Daniels||DT||Euless Trinity||4||2/3/16|
|Chris Brown||S||Alief Elsik||3||2/3/16|
|Jeffrey McCulloch||LB||Aldine Davis||4||2/3/16|
|Jordan Elliott||DT||Houston Westside||4||2/3/16|
|JP Urquidez||OT||Copperas Cove||4||6/25/16|