This weekend’s visitors list for Texas includes the state’s top high school safety and linebacker. Not to mention the second-ranked safety, eight players who are already committed to the Longhorns, and five players who Charlie Strong’s staff will try to flip from their current pledges elsewhere.
Of all of the recruiting weekends building up to the Feb. 3 signing day, this is the biggest, by far, and will determine if and by how much Texas improves on its middling national class ranking. With 13 commitments in the fold, the Horns are ranked 32nd (Scout), 33rd (ESPN), 35th (247Sports composite), and 46th (Rivals).
That’s all subject to change beginning this weekend when 17 prospects will check out the team’s facilities and bite into those giant cookie cakes the staff leaves in their hotel rooms.
Ten members of the latest American Statesman Fabulous 55 — which will publish on Sunday — will visit UT this weekend. They are:
Nacogdoches five-star safety Brandon Jones, No. 3 on the Fab 55; Manvel safety Deontay Anderson (5); North Mesquite offensive tackle Jean Delance (13, and a Texas commit); Aldine Davis linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch (16); Euless Trinity defensive tackle Chris Daniels (19, Oklahoma); Manor linebacker Erick Fowler (21, LSU); Cibolo Steele defensive end Mark Jackson (36, Texas A&M); Manvel receiver Reggie Hemphill-Mapps (43, Texas); Lewisville guard Denzel Okafor (48, Texas); and Southlake Carroll athlete Lil’Jordan Humphrey (53).
The remaining visitors include Longhorn commitments Andrew Fitzgerald (defensive end, Flower Mound), Malcolm Roach (defensive end, Baton Rouge), Gerald Wilbon (defensive tackle, Destrehan, La.), Davion Curtis (receiver, Temple) and Tope Imade (guard, Arlington Bowie).
Southlake Carroll cornerback Obi Eboh, a Longhorns commit, had planned to visit Texas but changed his mind and will now visit Stanford this weekend. Eboh recently picked up an offer from the Cardinal.
Also canceling his visit was Beaumont Central’s Devwah Whaley, the state’s No. 1 running back and an Arkansas commit.
Also set to visit Texas are New Orleans defensive tackle Stephon Taylor and Belton offensive lineman Zach Shackelford.
Shackelford, who is committed to Kansas State, is in an interesting spot as he plans to enroll in classes next week but isn’t sure at what school he’ll be attending. At Texas, he could play early at guard but also center, where there’s a hole on the depth chart following the departures of Taylor Doyle and Jake Raulerson.
Shackelford’s coach at Belton is Bob Shipley, the father of former Longhorns receivers Jordan and Jaxon Shipley.
For all practical purposes, Texas’ big recruiting weekend actually kicked off Thursday, the first day of a two-week contact period in which college coaches are permitted to hit the road for in-home visits. According to a sampling of recruits’ Twitter posts, members of Strong’s staff descended on the Dallas area to visit Imade, Eboh and Arlington Lamar quarterback Shane Buechele, who will enroll at Texas next week.
Great visit this morning before I head down for good!🤘🏽🐂 pic.twitter.com/isFjuipcYU
— Shane Buechele (@BGShaneBuechele) January 14, 2016
Meanwhile, linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary checked on Fort Worth All Saints defensive tackle Michael Williams, a Stanford commit who will visit Texas next weekend.
Was good to see my man Coach BJ today 🐂
— Uncle Julio (@mike_williams52) January 14, 2016
Not surprisingly, former Gilmer coach Jeff Traylor made the trek to East Texas to see Jones, the nation’s top-ranked safety. There is belief among recruiting insiders that Jones favors Texas to Texas A&M and will ultimately sign with the Longhorns.
First stop this morning will be to visit wth the best safety in the country. Just happens to live in bEASTexas!! Hook'Em!!
— Jeff Traylor (@CoachTraylor) January 14, 2016