California native De'Gabriel Floyd committed to Texas on March 31. (Mike Craven)

Football

The Dotted Line: Texas’ 2019 defense recruiting board as March closes

Posted March 29th, 2018

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Stay updated on latest Texas Longhorns recruiting news brought to you by Longhorns recruiting beat writer Mike Craven of Hookem.com. The Dotted Line will publish M-F at 10 a.m. each morning to provide Texas fans with an in-depth look at the latest for the Longhorns on the recruiting trail.


The defensive targets 

Texas eliminated one prospect from its 2019 wishlist when 5-star wide receiver Jordan Whittington committed to the Longhorns on March 10 over schools like Texas A&M, UCLA and Florida. The Cuero product became the third member of Texas’ 2019 class, joining 4-star quarterback Roschon Johnson and 3-star defensive end T’Vondre Sweat.

April will be a busy month on the recruiting front. The Longhorns will host visitors for the Orange-White game on April 21. This is also the first class that can take official visits in the spring of junior seasons. Previous classes were forced to wait until their senior year. Many of the top priorities in the 2019 class plan to take official visits in the spring.

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Here are the top defensive targets remaining on Texas’ recruiting board as March comes to a close:  

DeMarvin Leal, defensive tackle, Converse Judson

Converse Judson defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal is the No. 3-ranked player on the Fabulous 55. (Mike Craven)

FYI: 6-4/280; 4 stars; No. 3 on the Fab 55

Top schools: Texas, Oklahoma State, Alabama, Texas A&M

Leal is without question Texas’ top target along the defensive line. Sweat, a big defensive end, is the only defensive commit for the Longhorns. Leal is considered a strong lean towards Texas and most feel it’s a matter of when, not if, he pledges to the Longhorns. Leal can play defensive end in a four-man front or slide to defensive end in an odd-man front like the one employed by Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. Leal is the best defensive player in the state during the 2019 cycle.

David Gbenda, inside linebacker, Katy Cinco Ranch

FYI: 6-0/212; 4 stars; No. 37 on the Fab 55

Top schools: Texas, TCU, Texas A&M, Baylor

Gbenda is the best linebacker in Texas and the only player at the position ranked on the Fab 55. He’s also the only in-state middle linebacker with an offer from the Longhorns. He’s the priority target at middle linebacker, a position Texas needs to replenish since guys like Gary Johnson and Anthony Wheeler are set to depart before the 2019 class would arrive on campus. Gbenda’s stock is rising and the battle for his signature includes the top programs from around the country. Michigan recently offered.

NaNa Osafo-Mensah, defensive end, Fort Worth Nolan Catholic

FYI: 6-4/227; 4 stars; No. 8 on the Fab 55

Top schools: Texas, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas A&M

Notre Dame is the top competition for the services of Osafo-Mensah. The 4-star is the best pass rusher in the state and the Longhorns are making a strong push. He’s set to commit on May 19 and Texas is set to host him on an official visit on May 4. He will visit Notre Dame in April. Texas is still proving it can adequately recruit the DFW area under Herman and a commitment from Osafo-Mensah would provide the answer. The edge rusher plays defensive end in high school, but he’d transition to outside linebacker in Texas’ scheme, much like 2018 signee Joseph Ossai.

Marcus Banks, cornerback, Spring Dekaney

FYI: 6-0/170; 4 stars; No. 12 on the Fab 55

Top schools: Texas, LSU

The fight is on for the state’s top cover corner. Banks lives in Texas but he’s originally from Baton Rouge. He still has family in Louisiana and that means LSU can play the family card as much as Texas. LSU may be the team to beat entering April after the Longhorns were thought to be the clear leader after signing his former teammate, Malcolm Epps, in the 2018 class. Banks is close with assistant coach Jason Washington and it’ll be a battle between the two schools until he signs.

De’Gabriel Floyd, outside linebacker, Westlake Village (Calif.)

FYI: 6-2/220; 4 stars; No. 3-ranked outside linebacker

Top schools: Texas, Oregon, UCLA

It’s proved difficult for Texas to identify outside linebacker prospects inside the state. Gbenda is an inside ‘backer and players like Osafo-Mensah and Marcel Brooks are more edge rushers than outside linebackers. Texas went to California to find a quarterback in the 2018 class and Herman hopes to pull the same trick on Floyd, who visited Texas for junior day and returned to watch the Longhorns practice in the first week of spring ball. The Longhorns like their position with Floyd as April approaches.

Jalen Catalon, safety, Mansfield Legacy 

FYI: 5-9/189; 4 stars; No. 19 on the Fab 55

Top schools: Stanford, Texas, Clemson, Oklahoma

Catalon is a storm of athleticism. His numbers look like a video game and he’s one of the top baseball prospects in the state. As a sophomore, the smallish safety recorded 196 tackles, intercepted nine passes, forced three fumbles and recovered one. He registered 101 tackles and three interceptions as a junior while doubling as the team’s quarterback. Catalon passed and rushed for more than 1,000 yards and accounted for 28 touchdowns. Stanford and Clemson appear to be the top schools in contention with Texas and Oklahoma hoping to make up ground in April.

Kenyatta Watson II, safety, Loganville (Ga.)

FYI: 6-2/187; 4 stars; No. 11-ranked safety in 2019 class

Top schools: Notre Dame, Texas

It is a two-team race for the talented out-of-state safety. Watson will pick between Notre Dame and Texas at some point before his senior season and there doesn’t seem to be a consensus leader. It’s a true toss-up for the 4-star safety and that’s growing rare in the recruiting ranks. The Longhorns loaded up on safeties in the 2018 class but in a pass-happy Big 12 there is always room for good open-field tacklers who can cover wide receivers.

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