Tight end Malcolm Epps runs a route at The Opening in Houston Feb. 4. (Mike Craven/American-Statesman)

Football

Wide receivers, offensive linemen top Texas’ offensive wish list for 2018

Posted February 6th, 2017

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Story highlights
  • Wide receiver is the most important position for Texas in the 2018 cycle.
  • The Longhorns could look to sign two quarterbacks in the 2018 class.
  • Running back and tight end are lower priorities on the offense for Texas.

The 2018 signing class now becomes the focus for the Texas coaching staff. This year’s class finished outside of the top 20 for the first time this century, and Tom Herman’s staff won’t have the built-in excuse of a small window this recruiting cycle.

Expect Texas to sign more than the 18 players from the 2017 class. More available scholarships means more 2018 targets for the Longhorns. In the first edition of the 2018 Wish List, we examine the importance and needs of each position unit for 2018 national signing day.

We’ll start on offense.

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1. WIDE RECEIVERS

2018 needs: 3

2017 roster watch:

SeniorsJuniorsSophomoresFreshmen
Armanti ForemanJohn BurtDevin DuvernayDamion Miller
Lorenzo JoeJerrod HeardCollin JohnsonReggie Hemphill-Mapps (RS)
Dorian LeonardGarrett GrayLil'Jordan HumphreyJordan Pouncey

Texas signed two receivers in 2017 and should be searching for at least three more in 2018. The 2017 roster shows three soon-to-be seniors at the position and the Longhorns need talent to replace players like Armanti Foreman and Lorenzo Joe. Luckily, the 2018 class is loaded with receivers and the Longhorns are already targeting several prospects.

Wide receiver Joshua Moore catches a pass at The Opening in Houston Feb. 4. (Mike Craven/American-Statesman)
Wide receiver Joshua Moore catches a pass at The Opening in Houston Feb. 4. (Mike Craven/American-Statesman)

 

Twelve receivers made our initial Fabulous 55 for 2018. Herman’s staff has extended eight offers to 2018 receivers so far, including four from within the state. The names to watch inside the state are Jaylen Waddle, Brennan Eagles, Al’vonte Woodard and Jalen Preston. Joshua Moore, formerly of Yoakum, announced Sunday he’ll play his senior season at IMG Academy in Florida. His twin brother is committed to Texas A&M, but the Longhorns are in good position for Moore despite the move and his brother’s intentions.

The staff also has extended offers to Louisiana five-star Terrace Marshall, CJ Moore from Oklahoma and Kamryn Babb from Missouri.

 

2. OFFENSIVE LINE

2018 needs: 3

2017 roster watch:

Offensive tackles

SeniorsJuniorsSophomoresFreshmen
Tristian NickelsonConnor WilliamsGarrett ThomasJ.P. Urquidez (RS)
Buck MajorSamuel Cosmi
Jean Delance

Guards

SeniorsJuniorsSophomoresFreshmen
Brandon HodgesPatrick VaheDenzel OkaforPatrick Hudson (RS)
Alex AndersonTope Imade (RS)
Jake McMillonDerek Kerstetter
Elijah Rodriguez

Centers

SeniorsJuniorsSophomoresFreshmen
Terrell CuneyZach Shackelford

The offensive line is always important, even with a roster like Texas’ that’s littered with young talent at guard, tackle and center. The Longhorns signed two offensive linemen in 2017; Derek Kerstetter will likely be a guard, while Samuel Cosmi should get first crack at tackle. Texas won’t need to sign any players ready to play as true freshmen because of the quality on the roster, but Herman’s ability to put talented linemen in the pipeline will help determine future success.

Herman’s staff has been picky with offers along the line. So far, UT has extended four offers to tackles and three to interior players. Inside the state, the first two tackles to receive Texas offers were Frisco Wakeland’s Rafiti Ghirmai and Allen’s Trey Stratford. Texas also offered five-star Jackson Carman from Ohio and Nana Asiedu from Virginial.

At guard, Texas is chasing Fort Bend Marshall’s Barton Clement and Marshall’s Chasen Hines. Both are members of the Fab 55 and each lists Texas as a possible destination. The only out-of-state offer at the position is four-star Trey Hill from Georgia.

Westlake quarterback Sam Ehlinger (4) throws a pass under pressure from Allen linebacker Jakob Yandell (13) during the second quarter of a UIL Conference 6A D1 Semi-Final high school football playoff game at Waco ISD Stadium on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in Waco. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News)
Westlake quarterback Sam Ehlinger (4) throws a pass under pressure from Allen linebacker Jakob Yandell (13) during the second quarter of a UIL Conference 6A D1 Semi-Final high school football playoff game at Waco ISD Stadium on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in Waco. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News)

3. QUARTERBACKS

2018 needs: 2

2017 roster watch:

SeniorsJuniorsSophomoresFreshmen
Shane BuecheleSam Ehlinger
Matthew Merrick

Texas’ starting quarterback is already on campus. The need for numbers at this position in 2018 is more important than the need for finding an instant impact player. The Longhorns are young at the position, but undoubtedly talented with Shane Buechele returning from a record-breaking freshman season. He’ll be joined this spring by early-enrollee Sam Ehlinger, the former Westlake star who’ll provide competition and, at the very least, would be a quality backup.

Depth is important and quarterback is a tricky position to build in recruiting. Unlike most other positions, only one quarterback plays. Rarely do quarterbacks rotate like a skill position or on the offensive line. This makes transfers more likely and it wouldn’t be completely shocking to see the eventual loser of Buechele vs. Ehlinger leave town for a starting spot elsewhere next year. The winner will still be around for two or three more seasons, but Texas needs reinforcements.

The search for a quarterback might lead UT out of state. The three 2018 quarterbacks offered so far play outside of Texas. Two of those three that have been offered are already committed to another school. Oklahoma prospect Casey Thompson, a four-star dual-threat quarterback, appears to be the most realistic option of the three offers.

Waco Midway’s Tanner Mordecai and Garland Sachse’s Jalen Mayden are the names to watch inside the state right now. Mordecai received an offer from Herman when he was still at Houston.

Langham Creek running back and Texas commit Toneil Carter (28) played in Sunday's Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando, Fla.
Langham Creek running back and Texas commit Toneil Carter (28) played in Sunday’s Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando, Fla.

4. RUNNING BACKS

2018 needs: 2

2017 roster watch:

SeniorsJuniorsSophomoresFreshmen
Roderick BernardChris Warren IIIKyle PorterToneil Carter
Kirk JohnsonTristian HoustonDaniel Young

The Longhorns did well at running back in 2017. Texas landed four-star Toneil Carter after he de-committed from Georgia and then flipped Spring Westfield’s Daniel Young from Houston late in the cycle. Carter is already on campus and can push Chris Warren and Kyle Porter for playing time immediately. Young likely gets a redshirt year.

Warren would be a senior before any 2018 prospect shows up on campus, leaving Porter as the only running back on the roster with any real college experience. There is talent waiting for snaps, but nothing proven. It’s a need position for 2018, but not when stacked up against the position above because there should be enough talent on campus to allow any 2018 signee a redshirt season if needed. The trio of Warren, Porter and Carter should be enough through the 2018 season.

It’s not a great year for running backs in Texas and the early offers at the position reflect that notion. Carthage’s Keaontay Ingram, a member of the Fab 55, is the only Texas prospect with a UT offer. The Longhorns extended an offer to Florida five-stars T.J. Pledger and Lorenzo Lingard, as well as four-star Jaelen Gill from Ohio.

5. TIGHT ENDS

2018 needs: 1

2017 roster watch:

SeniorsJuniorsSophomoresFreshmen
Andrew BeckPeyton Aucoin (RS)
Cade Brewer
Reese Leitao

Texas signed two tight ends in 2017 and Herman’s staff may feel like two more are needed in 2018 as the staff tries to build a roster suited for the offense. A top-flight tight end could be enough for the staff to close shop at the position unit in 2017. There are some in-state options, including Spring Dekaney tight end Malcolm Epps, the 6-6 four-star prospect who recently de-committed from Alabama.

Epps is one of four tight ends with a UT offer. The other in-state offer is Mustapha Muhammad from Missouri City. The Longhorns also extended offers to Nevada prospects Brevin Jordan and Jeremy Ruckert.

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