- Spring Westfield's Keondre Coburn is the state's top-rated defensive tackle and is a top Texas target for the 2018 class.
- Coburn, a four-star prospect, says he's looking for a college with a "family" feel to a program that doesn't want to lose.
- The Longhorns are prioritizing Coburn, who comes from the same school where Tom Herman found Ed Oliver at Houston.
SPRING — Texas’ search for a defensive tackle in the 2018 class includes a familiar face. Spring Westfield’s Keondre Coburn is the Longhorns’ top target at defensive tackle and one of just three in-state players with a UT offer at the position.
Texas assistant coach Corby Meekins, now the Longhorns’ tight ends coach, once coached Coburn at Westfield. Now Meekins’ brother, Matt, is the head coach there. Tom Herman signed Ed Oliver, Houston’s All-American defensive tackle, out of Westfield for the Cougars and he hopes Coburn will likewise follow him to Austin.
Coburn is a blue-chip tackle with plenty of college options. The 6-1, 329-pound four-star is ranked No. 11 on the Fabulous 55. He’s the No. 93-ranked national prospect and the No. 8 defensive tackle in his class, per 247Sports’ composite ratings. He’s the best defensive tackle in the state and he holds 29 offers from across the nation.
“The first thing that sticks out about him as a player is his size. He looks the part the first time he steps on a football field,” said Matt Meekins. “His agility separates him from most defensive tackles. He can move for a guy his size and that makes him tough to block because he’s a moving target. He gets off the ball with explosiveness and speed equals power.”
None of this was part of his plan.
“I never planned on playing football when I was little,” Coburn said. “Once I started playing football in fifth grade, I fell in love with it. Football right now is a ticket out of this life and to my own life. I want to try to make my life and my family’s life better than it is right now.”
There’s a rawness at Spring Westfield, a high school located 20 miles northeast of downtown Houston. The edge is noticeable. Westfield encourages competition. And there are plenty of athletes to compete against. Weakness is washed away from the program through intense practice. It also comes from the culture and personality of its players.
“People say this is a bad area, but it is really just a bunch of kids trying to make it by themselves,” Coburn said. “And I’m trying to help some of these younger guys improve as men like the older guys like Ed (Oliver) did for me. We’re a family here and it means a lot because not everyone has that.”
The opportunity is in front of Coburn. He’s nearly in charge of his own destiny. Whether it be Texas, Texas A&M or a national power outside the state, Coburn is a wanted man. Yet his priorities are on the present.
“These are years I’ll never get back,” Coburn said. “I know this is time to enjoy. It only gets more important from here. I’m in high school so my priorities should be school and this Westfield team. The recruiting hype only comes from producing.”
Coburn is part of an elite group of talent in the Houston area. Twelve of the top 15 Fab 55 prospects play in the Houston area. It was a fertile recruiting ground during Herman’s time with the Cougars. It’s also an important area for his Texas staff in the 2018 cycle.
“We’re a close-knit group and talk all the time about colleges and going to the same school,” Coburn said. “We’ll do what is best for us, but it is fun to talk about. I’ve been playing with a lot of these guys at camps or against them for a long time. There’s a lot of talent in this city and we take pride in that.”
Coburn didn’t indicate he was nearing a decision. But he did reveal the traits he wants in a college program.
“I’m looking for another family, because I have a big family and I want it to be like Westfield, which is a family,” he said. “I want a team that is going to win. It might not be a team that’s already winning, but a team with the mindset to go win. I hate losing.”