Concerns that Charlie Strong’s weak job security would cripple Texas’ recruiting efforts were smoothed over Saturday with the commitment of one of the state’s premier big men.
Jean Delance, a four-star offensive tackle from North Mesquite, gave Strong and Texas a needed push toward signing day by choosing the Longhorns over Michigan at the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando, Fla.
Delance, a top 100 prospect nationally, fills a position of need and could be in line to start from Day One at right tackle. His presence adds to a young core on the line that includes left tackle Connor Williams and guard Patrick Vahe, who each started last season as freshmen.
Of the 13 commitments in Texas’ 2016 class, Delance is the highest-rated. He is the nation’s No. 90 prospect and the No. 10 tackle, according to 247Sports’ composite ratings, and he checks in at No. 13 on the American-Statesman’s Fabulous 55 list of the state’s top seniors. Two other linemen who have committed — guards Denzel Okafor (Lewisville) and Tope Imade (Arlington Bowie) — are three-star prospects.
Just about every major program wanted Delance, including Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio State. LSU joined Texas and Michigan in his top three.
Moving the needle toward Texas was the possibility of early playing time and potentially a starting spot. At least two jobs are up for grabs next season with the losses of Taylor Doyle (center) and Sedrick Flowers (guard), leaving new line coach Matt Mattox with multiple lineup considerations. Kent Perkins can play tackle but might settle in at guard if Delance or Tristan Nickelson emerges as the guy at right tackle. Vahe could move to center — and probably will after veteran backup Jake Raulerson announced he’ll transfer.
At any rate, Delance’s commitment is a positive step for Texas with a month to go before the Feb. 3 signing day and lifts the class ranking by nine spots to No. 34. Strong had said he’s prioritizing the offensive and defensive lines in recruiting, and Delance certainly helps fill a need in the former.
Saturday was not without some downside, however. Before the game, Beaumont Central running back Devwah Whaley spurned Texas for Arkansas, leaving the Horns without a running back in this class. Whaley, a four-star prospect, is No. 14 on the Fab 55, one spot beneath Delance. He was briefly committed to Georgia but backed out of it after the school fired coach Mark Richt. Whaley had planned to visit Texas on Jan. 15, but it’s unknown whether he’ll go through with the visit.
The next player to commit to Texas could be Waco High cornerback Eric Cuffee, who had planned to announce his decision Saturday but did not because ESPN2 was out of available time slots. Cuffee (No. 30 on the Fab 55) is thought to be leaning toward Texas.
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|