University of Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando answer questions from the local media about his strategy for the Texas Longhorns at the Moncrief Athletics Complex, UT campus at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN


Texas’ in-state options for defensive ends, edge rushers are limited

Posted March 17th, 2017

Story highlights
  • The Longhorns have only offered three in-state defensive ends during the 2018 recruiting cycle and options inside the state are limited.
  • Manor's Ochaun Mathis is one of the top players in the area and a defensive end who should be on Texas' radar.
  • Boling athlete Vernon Jackson is the top defensive end in Texas without an offer from the Longhorns.

Tom Herman spent the first part of spring practice waxing his current defensive linemen. His remarks during that March 6 press conference made it clear that Texas wants to improve its depth and talent on the edge.

Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando has told recruits that the Longhorns should run a variation of a 3-4 and a 4-2 defense, meaning the program must find hybrid defensive end/linebacker prospects who can play with their hand on the ground or standing on the edge.

Texas has offered three in-state defensive ends for this cycle — Katy Taylor’s Max Wright, Dallas Carter’s Jarrell Cherry and Conroe Oak Ridge’s Joseph Ossai. Here are five more options to watch as the coaches enter the spring evaluation period.


1. Vernon Jackson, ATH, Boling

FYI: 6-3/240; 3-stars

Texas offer: No

Top offers: LSU, Oklahoma, Alabama, Baylor, Colorado

College: Undecided


Why Jackson: He’s a physical specimen with untapped potential at a need position. Jackson plays both ways at Boling, a Class 3A program that he led to a state title game as a junior; the 6-3, 240-pound prospect starts at quarterback along with his defensive duties. But he projects as a defensive end at the college level. Jackson’s frame and athleticism impress in person. He was one of the most physically impressive players at the latest state championships. He’s raw and there isn’t a guarantee that he’s physical and aggressive enough to play defensive end at a high level, but his potential is without question and some big schools are already in the mix. If Texas misses on its primary targets, Jackson is the best player at the position in the state who doesn’t have an offer from the Longhorns.

2. Ochaun Mathis, defensive end, Manor

FYI: 6-4/220; 3-stars

Texas offer: No

Top offers: TCU, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, SMU

College: Committed to TCU on Jan. 29


Why Mathis: The Austin area isn’t stacked with 2018 talent. Its top player might be Matchis, who’s committed to TCU. The 6-4, 220-pound edge rusher needs to add weight to be a three-down defensive end. His frame is better suited to be a stand-up rusher at linebacker who can also drop into coverage, at least at this stage in his physical development. His frame suggests he could add 30 pounds in a college strength and conditioning program. He’ll need that extra strength to set the edge against college offensive tackles and tight ends. Mathis is adept at rushing the quarterback. He recorded nine sacks as a junior.

3. Tre Allison, outside linebacker, Tyler John Tyler

FYI: 6-1/212; 3-stars

Texas offer: No

Top offers: SMU, Mississippi State, Louisiana-Lafayette

College: Committed to SMU on Jan. 22


Why Allison: Herman inherited the commitment of Tyler John Tyler wide receiver Damion Miller in the 2017 class. And Herman’s quarterback at Houston, Greg Ward Jr., also attended John Tyler. If Texas is searching for options on the edge, Allison could get a look. Herman’s familiarity at John Tyler would provide benefits if Texas offered Allison — who committed to SMU in January — as an outside linebacker. He’s a productive player who plays bigger than his 212-pound frame suggests. He recorded 118 tackles and two sacks as a junior, adding three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Orlando likes versatility in his defenders and Allison brings that to the field.

4. Izaih Filikitonga, outside linebacker, Euless Trinity

FYI: 6-2/237; 3-stars

Texas offer: No

Top offers: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Utah

College: Undecided

Why Filikitonga: An injury-plagued junior season kept him off the recruiting radar exiting the 2016 season. He was his district’s newcomer of the year as a sophomore after a strong season as a defensive end. His lack of height makes outside linebacker a more natural position, but his skill-set is suited for rushing quarterbacks and setting an edge against the run. Those are traits Texas is looking for in edge players; maybe his recent offer from Oklahoma will get the Longhorns to give him a look this spring. Filikitonga could play both defensive end and linebacker in college.

5. Michael Matus

FYI: 6-2/235; 3-stars

Texas offer: No

Top offers: McNeese State, Louisiana-Monroe

College: Undecided


Why Matus: The first time most people heard of Matus was his sophomore year when he was named the defensive MVP of the Class 6A Division II state championship game. He followed that performance up with a first-team all-district junior season. Matus might not wow scouts with his raw ability. He doesn’t possess ideal height, length or speed for a blue-chip defensive end. He makes up for it with technique and tenacity. Matus is a bulldog. He uses his hands well and always wins the leverage battle at the point of attack. He’s strong enough to play against the run and began showing a knack for getting to the quarterback when he recorded eight sacks as a sophomore.