Offensive lineman Rafiti Ghirmai competes at The Opening in Dallas March 5. (Mike Craven)

Football

Texas is poised to make a 2018 recruiting splash at tight end and offensive line

Posted June 22nd, 2017

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Story highlights
  • Texas, which signed two tight ends in 2017, want to sign another two in 2018, though it's still waiting for its first TE pledge.
  • Rafiti Ghirmai, the state's top offensive line prospect, has Texas, Alabama, Miami, Florida, LSU and UCLA in his top six.
  • Following Barton Clement's pledge to Texas A&M, expect Texas to extend new offers to 2018 interior linemen.

Texas built recruiting momentum early for the 2018 class with offensive star power. Tom Herman’s first commitment happened at junior day in February when four-star wide receiver Justin Watkins flipped from Florida State. It continued with commitments from quarterbacks Casey Thompson and Cameron Rising, as well as with running back Keaontay Ingram and offensive tackle Reese Moore.

Texas sits at 11 commitments. Five play offense. The Longhorns are likely done recruiting quarterbacks and running backs; quarterback prospect Tanner McKee holds a UT offer and is considered a 2018 prospect, but wouldn’t enroll until 2020.

That leaves wide receiver, tight end and offensive line as the Longhorns’ focal points for Texas. Watkins is the lone receiver committed, but the staff is searching for two or three more. Texas without a tight end commitment, and the only commitment along the offensive line is from Moore, who plays tight end in high school.

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Let’s look at some of the top talent remaining on Texas’ board at tight end and the line. Expect the Longhorns to extend a couple of new offers to interior lineman now that Fabulous 55 member Barton Clement has committed to Texas A&M.

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

TIGHT ENDS

Malcolm Epps, four-stars, Spring Dekaney

Fab 55 ranking: 6th

Epps committed to Alabama during his junior season, then reopened his recruitment in February. The Longhorns emerged this spring as the leaders for the nearly 6-foot-6 prospect’s eventual signature. Epps has hinted at a commitment to Texas over the past month and seems likely to pick UT when he decides on a college. Since he’s already de-committed once, Epps and his family want to take their time and not rush into a second one. Epps has said he wants to wait until around signing day before announcing, but that timeline could move up if Texas remains in the driver’s seat throughout the summer. Epps is the No. 7-ranked tight end in the country and the No. 178 overall prospect in the nation, per 247Sports’ composite.

Dominick Wood-Anderson, four-stars, Arizona Western College (JUCO)

Fab 55 ranking: N/A

Texas needs tight ends — both for the future and the present. The Longhorns signed two tight ends in 2017 and hope to do the same in 2018. The ideal tight ends grouping for Texas would be Epps and Wood-Anderson, the top-rated junior college tight end prospect. Wood-Anderson made his way to Austin last weekend to visit the campus and get acquainted with the school and coaching staff. He spent time with Rising, a 2018 UT pledge, and quarterback Sam Ehlinger. The 6-5 four-star prospect has a chance to start at any program in the nation in 2018. Alabama and Oregon also are in the running.

Mustapha Muhammad, four-stars, Fort Bend Ridge Point

Fab 55 ranking: 10th

Epps is one of two truly elite in-state tight ends for 2018. The other is Muhammad, who Texas offered early and Tom Herman’s staff has liked since their time at Houston. Muhammad is more of a traditional tight end than Epps, who prefers to be flexed out or be in an H-back role. Muhammad is a hand-on-the-ground tight end with the ability to make a difference as a run blocker and a receiver. The Longhorns are still recruiting him, but Michigan and Clemson are considered the leaders.

Offensive tackle Rafiti Ghirmai is emerging as a top target for Texas.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Rafiti Ghirmai, four-stars, Frisco Wakeland

Fab 55 ranking: N/A

Texas needs at least one more tackle to join Moore, and the best in-state option is Ghirmai. He recently included Texas in his top six along with Alabama, Miami, Florida, LSU and UCLA. He’s visited Texas and Alabama multiple times this offseason. The 6-4, 290-pound tackle held his own against elite defensive ends at The Opening regional and Under Armour All-American Camp in Dallas. He also could end up playing guard in college, and that position versatility makes him an attractive target across the nation. He’s ranked as the No. 22 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 295 overall prospect in the nation, per 247Sports.

Cameron Wire, three-stars, East Ascension (La.)

Fab 55 ranking: N/A

Herman and his staff aren’t afraid to compete against fellow blue-bloods for a prospect of interest, even if that prospect is already committed to a different school. Texas flipped Watkins from Florida State to start its 2018 class before flipping Rising from Oklahoma to secure a second four-star quarterback in the class. Wire is another prospect Texas is chasing despite his commitment to LSU. Wire was in Austin over the weekend for Texas’ recruiting pool party and is showing a legitimate interest in the Longhorns despite his commitment. It’s usually hard to pry Louisianans out of LSU territory if the Tigers are interested, but Texas is giving it a shot.

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