Westlake head coach Todd Dodge speaks with Stephan Zabie(77) during the Class 6A, Division I regional playoff game at Waco ISD Stadium Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. (Stephen Spillman for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Football

Two new names emerge on Tom Herman’s recruiting 2017 wish list

Posted January 17th, 2017

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Story highlights
  • Texas hosts its top target Friday.
  • Three players on the list visited Texas over the weekend.
  • A new name emerges in the No. 5 spot.

Two weeks remain before national signing day. Tom Herman’s staff hosted 10 prospects from the 2017 class over the weekend. Four of those visitors remain uncommitted or committed to other schools, including Bishop Dunne cornerback Chevin Calloway and JUCO linebacker Gary Johnson, who were on last week’s version of the wish list.

Two new targets emerged on this week’s wish list. Wide receiver Omar Manning, No. 3 last week, is no longer on the list after announcing he’s “110 percent committed to TCU.” A local offensive lineman and a JUCO defensive lineman jumped into the wish list.

1. K’Lavon Chaisson, DE (4-star)

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FYI: 6-4/211; Galena Park North Shore; the No. 6 weakside defensive end in the nation and No. 87 overall in the country. Rated No. 6 on the American-Statesman’s Fabulous 55.

Biggest competition: LSU

Update: Chaisson is an important recruit for Herman and the new staff. It’s tough to recruit in year one and Herman is aware of the challenges. His staff must build relationships at a new school in two months when the competition has had years. Herman’s staff knows Chaisson well and that gives the Longhorns a significant advantage for the four-star’s services.

Chaisson is scheduled to arrive on campus Friday. His ability to get after the passer is unmatched by the remaining targets. Temple’s Taquon Graham is the lone commit at defensive end, and while he’s an explosive player, Chaisson is the best pass rusher in the state. Herman built a reputation recruiting Houston at his past gig. Replicating that success would give Herman his first blue-chip recruiting victory at Texas.

Chaisson visited LSU this past weekend. The Tigers are considered the biggest competition to the Longhorns. Herman gets his chance to impress Chaisson this weekend and most recruiters enjoy getting the last official visit. He has visits to Colorado and USC scheduled following this weekend, per 247Sports.

2. Chevin Calloway, DB (4-star)

FYI: 5-10/180; Dallas Bishop Dunne; the No. 12 cornerback in the nation and No. 115 overall in the country. He’s No. 15 on the Fab 55.

Biggest competition: Arkansas, Iowa

Update: Calloway was on campus over the weekend and came away impressed with Texas, telling ESPN that he’d give the visit to Texas an “eight out of 10”. That wasn’t perfect news for the Longhorns. Texas needed to impress Calloway during his official visit to close the gap on Arkansas. It is clear Herman’s staff covets a third cornerback in 2017 and Calloway is the best available option.

The Razorbacks host the Bishop Dunne cornerback this upcoming weekend and all signs point to Arkansas landing his signature. Texas won’t go down without a fight and will seek an in-home visit with Calloway before national signing day.

Calloway is a lockdown cornerback with ball skills and versatility. He’s a smaller cornerback than Texas recruited under Charlie Strong, but he’s an elite prospect with speed. He was once committed to Iowa.

 

3. Gary Johnson, LB (4-star)

FYI: 6-1/225; Dodge City (Kan.) C.C.; the No. 1-ranked junior college inside linebacker in the nation and No. 6 overall JUCO prospect in the country.

Biggest competition: Oregon and USC

Update: Signing a JUCO linebacker isn’t a necessity for Texas, but it shouldn’t wouldn’t hurt to add elite talent to a struggling position unit. The linebacker position needs more quality and Johnson is the top-rated JUCO linebacker in the nation, per 247Sports. Johnson’s ability to play middle linebacker could allow Malik Jefferson to move outside, which is his more natural position.

Johnson was once committed to Alabama. A qualifying rule in the SEC means his services are back up for grabs. He gave high marks when asked about his visit to Texas, calling it “a great experience for me” through text. The Longhorns are trending in the right direction with this one with immediate playing time possible in Austin. Oregon and USC will have a shot to host the linebacker before national signing day.

4. Larrell Murchison (3-star)

FYI: 6-4/277; Louisburg (N.C.) College; the No. 10 ranked junior college defensive end in the nation and the No. 107 overall JUCO prospect in the country.

Biggest competition: Ole Miss and Houston

Update: Texas wanted to size up Murchison before extended an official offer. The Longhorns staff liked what it saw, apparently, because Murchison was offered during his official visit to Austin. The defensive lineman’s willingness to visit Texas without an offer a week after committing to Ole Miss suggests the Longhorns are in pole position heading into national signing day.

Murchison’s greatest strength is his versatility. He’s a big defensive end capable of playing defensive tackle in a four-man front. Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando liked a three-man front at Houston, which fits Murchison’s skill set well. He can play defensive end in that system with his combination of size and athleticism.

5. Stephan Zabie (4-star)

FYI: 6-5, 290; Westlake; the No. 23 offensive tackle in the nation and the No. 215 overall prospect in the nation. He’s No. 38 in the Fab 55.

Biggest competition: Oklahoma

Update: Texas jumped into Zabie’s recruitment Monday, officially offering the offensive tackle prospect. He stayed out of the spotlight in 2016 after he was ruled ineligible by the UIL. Herman’s staff was familiar with Zabie from their time at Houston. And with offensive line prospect Grant Polley finishing his visit Sunday, Texas’ offer to Zabie on Monday means the Longhorns were likely given an indicator during Polley’s visit that Texas should head in a new direction.

Zabie isn’t a bad backup plan. In fact, Zabie is a better prospect than Polley, at least he was as a junior. It is a testament to Zabie that he was able to handle the adversity dealt to him as a senior. A Texas offer means he’s handled his business as a senior. Oklahoma is in the picture, but an offer from the hometown Longhorns likely gives Zabie room to pause. Expect Zabie to take an official visit to Texas before national signing day. He’s a tall, long prospect with athletic feet. He’s a pure offensive tackle, whereas current commit Derek Kerstetter likely ends up at guard.

Other prospects to watch: WR Jamire Calvin, WR Charleston Rambo, DE Bryan Jones, DE Ryan Johnson, WR Jordan Pouncey, CB Jav Guidry

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