Texas head coach Tom Herman secured a future piece at tight end on Tuesday. (Nick Wagner)

Football

Texas is poised to close 2018 recruiting class with a flurry (and possibly leapfrog to No. 1 overall)

With last-minute additions, Texas could surge past Ohio State, Georgia and finish with the nation's No. 1-ranked recruiting class

Posted February 6th, 2018

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Story highlights
  • Longhorns still waiting on signatures from RB Keaontay Ingram, DT Keondre Coburn
  • ESPN: “Texas is going to ultimately, I think, determine who's going to be the No. 1 class.”
  • Horns on track to land 11 of the state's top 15 recruits overall.

Twitter briefly suspended the official Texas football account late Monday. But the Longhorns were back up and running on social media by Tuesday morning. Good thing, too.

#RevolUTion18 could morph into college football’s biggest story on national signing day.

The Longhorns signed 19 players during the early signing period just before Christmas. On Wednesday, they could add anywhere from six to eight more and possibly leapfrog Ohio State and Georgia to finish 2018 with the nation’s No. 1-ranked recruiting class. That hasn’t happened since 2002, the class that yielded Vince Young, Aaron Ross, Brian Robison and offensive linemen Justin Blalock, Kasey Studdard and Lyle Sendlein.

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UT is expected to sign the state’s best running back, Carthage’s Keaontay Ingram. He would’ve signed in December but that fell on the same week Carthage played for a state title; Ingram chose to wait until February so he could sign with his classmates. Not even a last-minute visit to Texas A&M could dissuade Ingram from signing with UT.

“Nah, we had an understanding,” Ingram said. “I’m going to let somebody know what’s going on. I’m not the type of person that will let people have their head spinning.”

Dec. 19, 2017: Tom Herman welcomes new Longhorns as early signing day alters recruiting landscape

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The Horns also are hoping that Spring Westfield’s Keondre Coburn, the nation’s 11th-ranked defensive tackle, makes it official. Coburn committed to UT last August but did not sign in December. He’s been more guarded and took an official visit to Miami. But with senior Poona Ford leaving, there’s a wide-open space in the middle of the Texas defensive line.

In both cases, Longhorns coaches were content to wait. Frankly, they had no choice.

“We’re never going to offer a kid and tell him he can’t say yes,” UT coach Tom Herman said in December. “If we offer you a scholarship at the University of Texas, you have the right to say the word yes before we even finish the sentence.”

The Horns were chasing other last-minute additions. Linebacker Andrew Parker was committed to Arkansas but visited UT last weekend. Defensive lineman Joseph Ossai may ultimately decided between Texas and A&M. Moro Ojomo, a 16-year-old defensive tackle from Katy, got a flurry of late offers, including one from Alabama. He turns 17 in August. He’s scheduled to make his announcement Tuesday evening.

“Texas is going to ultimately, I think, determine who’s going to be the No. 1 class,” ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill said. “Let’s just say if Texas were to land half, or maybe more than half of the guys left on their board to fill some of those slots, they’re the one team that I think could make the surprising big leap from No. 3 to No. 1.

“But I do think, if that doesn’t happen, if everything doesn’t go perfectly for Texas, Ohio State and Georgia would be the two teams jockeying for No. 1,” Luginbill added.

If nothing else, Herman has given Texas a tremendous lift on the recruiting trail heading into his second season.

Former coach Charlie Strong, who was hired a month before signing day in 2014, had to cobble together a class that ranked 17th nationally. He had to fight off whispers that he “couldn’t connect” with the Texas high school coaches. The next year, the Longhorns’ class ranked 10th. It was full of future starters.

Herman’s first class last season ranked 25th overall, according to the 247Sports composite. That was partly due to the Horns having three straight losing seasons. Herman pieced together the class as best he could but started working immediately on 2018 recruits.

Whether the Longhorns finish first, second or third on Wednesday, it will mark a tremendous jump — and fuel the notion that UT is headed in the right direction. Herman’s first season ended with a victory over Missouri in the Texas Bowl. Texas finished 7-6 for its first winning season since 2013.

This recruiting class has the potential to become one of the best defensive groups in UT history. It’s chock full of elite secondary players, led by 5-star safeties Caden Sterns and BJ Foster. Cornerbacks Jalen Green and Anthony Cook could compete for playing time early, too.

Overall, the Longhorns could sign 11 of the state’s top 15 players, if Coburn jumps on board. Only three of those are pledged to new Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher.

When Herman arrived at UT, he simply couldn’t believe how many of the state’s elite players were leaving the state. They weren’t going to UT, A&M, Texas Tech or TCU. They were leaving the state altogether. This year, Herman’s signing a heap of Texans to wear burnt orange.

“They didn’t have too many players going to Texas,” Ingram said. “But we all see what the situation is, and you can tell that we’re all on the same page. If not, we’d all be somewhere else. Hopefully we can get something clicking.”

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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