Saturday gives Tom Herman a chance to improve his team on the field and his relationships with a few of the top targets in the 2018 class. The Longhorns will hold a scrimmage, and at least four top-flight recruits are expected to be in attendance. Let’s take a closer look at each:
BJ Foster, safety, Angleton
FYI: 6-1/188; 5-stars
Texas offer: Yes
Top offers: Ohio State, LSU, Michigan, TCU
The latest: Foster, one of two five-star prospects within the state this cycle, is high on the Longhorns and another trip to Austin should make the coaching staff feel solidified in their position with him. Foster attended UT’s junior day and comes from a high school that’s produced former Longhorns like Quandre Diggs and D.J. Monroe. Herman hopes Foster follows in those footsteps and Foster admitted this past Sunday at the Under Armour All-America Camp Series that he understand that legacy. Foster is Texas’ to lose. The more he comes to Austin, the more likely the Longhorns will sign him.
Jalen Green, cornerback, Houston Heights
FYI: 6-1/171; 4-stars
Texas offer: Yes
Top offers: LSU, Clemson, Alabama, Florida, Michigan
The latest: Foster’s the highest ranked prospect that’s expected to attend Texas’ scrimmage, but Green might be the Longhorns’ top priority. Herman’s staff feels good about its chances with Foster, but that might not necessarily be true with Green, the state’s second-best rated cornerback behind Houston Lamar’s Anthony Cook. Green was one of the few top UT targets to miss junior day, so Saturday provides Herman’s staff with a chance to prove that the same culture Green liked at Houston is starting to build in Austin.
Al’Vonte Woodard, wide receiver, Houston Lamar
FYI: 6-1/182; 4-stars
Texas offer: Yes
Top offers: Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Texas Tech, Tennessee
The latest: Woodard’s another prospect that Texas feels good about. He’s making a return trip to Austin after visiting Texas for junior day along with fellow Lamar prospects Cook and D’Shawn Jamison. All three of them hold UT offers, and an eventual commitment from Woodard or Jamison would only help the Longhorns to also land Cook, the No. 1-rated prospect in the state. Woodard is in the conversation for being the best receiver in the state. It’s between him, Alief Taylor’s Brennan Eagles or Manvel’s Jalen Preston. Woodard is the smoothest route-runner of that group and might also be the top vertical threat in the state. He’s a special prospect who reminds many scouts of Damion Miller, Texas’ 2017 signee from Tyler John Tyler.
Byron Hobbs, outside linebacker, Fort Worth Eastern Hills
FYI: 6-3/208; 4-stars
Texas offer: Yes
Top offers: Oklahoma, TCU, Arkansas, Ole Miss
The latest: The overall talent within the state is down this year at defensive end and linebacker. Hobbs is becoming a top target for Texas because of his versatility; defensive coordinator Todd Orlando loves defensive ends who also can play linebacker and linebackers who can also play snaps at defensive end. Hobbs can stand on the edge as an outside linebacker or add weight to his frame and eventually play as a three-down defensive end in a four-man front. It’s more likely that Hobbs would be utilized as a linebacker who blitzes as often as he’s asked to drop into coverage. Hobbs is one of the few legitimate OLB/DE targets that Texas can find this year inside the state, so if he ends up committing somewhere else, the Longhorns probably will push more toward out-of-state linebacker targets. The only other in-state linebacker with a Texas offer is Rockwall inside linebacker Alston Orji.
More from Houston’s Under Armour All-America Camp Series
Earlier in the week, we highlighted the performances and thoughts of camp attendees with Texas offers. There were a handful of potential targets on hand. One of the top performers at the camp without a UT offer was Starrland Baldwin, a 5-10, 160-pound three-star cornerback from Houston Cypress Falls who has 12 offers.
“I’m still talking to everyone and doing my research,” Baldwin said. “I want to get my mom on a couple of visits before I close anything down. I’m just taking it all in and counting my blessings. I’ve never had a dream school. I just want to find something best for my future.”
Baldwin attended Texas’ junior day with his dad, but left without an offer. He said he has been speaking the most to UT assistant coach Jason Washington, who also was the lead recruiter for Baldwin on Herman’s staff at Houston.
“I had a relationship with Herman’s staff at Houston and that’s carried over to Texas. They talk to me about the same stuff, so it is pretty cool,” Baldwin said. “They think I can play outside, in the slot and help in the return game. I need to get my mom to Austin and they’re one of the schools I hope offers before I make my decision.”
Another player who attended junior day without receiving an offer was Schertz Clemens receiver Tommy Bush. The No. 55-ranked player on our Fabulous 55 has seen his recruiting stock soar after a strong performance at The Opening in Houston on Feb. 4.
When Bush was asked about the amount of contact he’s had with Texas’ staff since junior day, Bush said, “not much.”
“My parents and I try to evaluate how much coaches want to talk to us and we go from there,” Bush said. “If a program isn’t making you a priority, you have to spend your time focusing on schools that want you.”
It’s never too early to look ahead in recruiting, and Herman’s staff has already identified 11 prospects to offer in the 2019 class. The lone defensive lineman for 2019 that has received a UT offer is Houston Mayde Creek’s Marcus Stripling, a 6-3, 245-pound end who held his own against older players at the Under Armour camp.
Stripling said Texas A&M, Texas and Oklahoma are pulling away in his recruitment.
“They’re all close to home and they’re all good football programs with a lot of tradition,” Stripling said. “I talk to Oscar Giles and they want pass rushers, and that’s exactly what I am.”