CONROE — Wednesday’s decision was sealed by a mother’s dream.
Conroe Oak Ridge defensive end Joseph Ossai picked Texas over Texas A&M on national signing day. He had been trending toward the Longhorns since the firing of Kevin Sumlin. The deeply religious Ossai, a native of Nigeria, said he relied on prayer and his family to pick a college.
“It was close the whole time between the two schools,” Ossai said Wednesday. “The firing of Kevin Sumlin made me take more time and think about it. We prayed about it because we’re from a religious background. My mom had a dream last night telling us Texas, so that is where we went.”
— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) February 7, 2018
The 6-4, 227-pound 4-star prospect didn’t start playing football until late. He didn’t even see a football game until he was 10 years old, and even then he wasn’t sure it was a football game. Ossai moved to Conroe before his sophomore season and blossomed into a pass-rushing specialist as a junior. He became an elite-level recruit as a senior.
“His junior year, he found a position and the light came on,” Oak Ridge head coach Dereck Rush said. “He played junior varsity as a sophomore and showed some flashes. It was fun watching him become such a great football player because he didn’t start out like most great players.”
Ossai is the No. 16-ranked player on the final 2018 Fabulous 55. He held 28 offers and took visits to programs like Oregon and A&M before settling on Texas. As a prep end, Ossai made a name by getting to the quarterback. He recorded more than eight sacks in his final two years on varsity, forcing six fumbles and accounting for 104 tackles.
He became the 27th and final member of Texas’ 2018 class, which will finish the cycle ranked third in the nation and first in the Big 12. The Longhorns trail only Georgia and Ohio State. Ossai was the fifth defensive lineman to sign with Texas. The Longhorns added tackles Keondre Coburn and Moro Ojomo and inked out-of-state ends Daniel Carson and Michael Williams.
Ossai likely won’t play with his hand on the ground at Texas unless it’s a clear passing situation. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando sees a position change in his future, and he’s fine with that if his assignment remains the same as it was in high school: Get to the quarterback.
“Texas sees me playing outside linebacker and blitzing the quarterback off the edge,” Ossai said after his signing ceremony. “I don’t care where I play as long as I can go rush the passer. I’ll drop into coverage some, but not much.”
The Longhorns signed 3-star Byron Hobbs for a similar role.
2018 Texas Longhorns signing classHere's a look at the recruits who signed with Texas for the 2018 recruiting cycle. Star rankings from 247Sports composite.
|Byron Hobbs||LB||Ft. Worth Eastern Hills||3||Signed|
|Casey Thompson||QB||Southmoore (Okla.)||4||Signed|
|Cameron Rising||QB||Newbury Park (Calif.)||4||Signed|
|Cameron Dicker||K||Lake Travis||3||Signed|
|Caden Sterns||S||Cibolo Steele||4||Signed|
|Ayodele Adeoye||LB||IMG Academy (Fla.)||4||Signed|
|Al'Vonte Woodard||WR||Houston Lamar||4||Signed|
|Jalen Green||CB||Houston Heights||4||Signed|
|Brennan Eagles||WR||Alief Taylor||4||Signed|
|Anthony Cook||CB||Houston Lamar||4||Signed|
|D'Shawn Jamison||CB||Houston Lamar||4||Signed|
|Malcolm Epps||TE||Spring Dekaney||4||Signed|
|Junior Angilau||OT||Salt Lake East (Utah)||4||Signed|
|Mikey Grandy||OT||College of San Mateo (Calif.)||3||Signed|
|Ryan Bujcevski||P||ProKick Austrailia||N/A||Signed|
|Keondre Coburn||DT||Spring Westfield||4||Signed|
|Daniel Carson||DE||William Chrisman (Mo.)||3||Signed|
|Michael Williams||DE||Dunham School (La.)||3||Signed|
|Christian Jones||OT||Cy Woods||3||Signed|
|Joseph Ossai||DE||Conroe Oak Ridge||4||Signed|