The Dotted Line: Orange-White game allows Texas to showcase program to recruits

Posted April 20th, 2018


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A spring game is always an important recruiting tool. The Longhorns, and every program in the nation, use it to show off the program, the progress of the offense and defense, and allow the top targets in the recruiting cycle a chance to experience a game-day like atmosphere.

Oklahoma and Texas A&M utilized their spring games beautifully last week, landing commitments and building momentum into an important month of official visits. The Sooners added three Fabulous 55 members in Arjei Henderson, Theo Wease Jr. and Jamal Morris. Oklahoma landed a total of six commitments in the past week and one more is expected to be announced soon.

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

A&M started its weekend with a commitment from Brock tight end Baylor Cupp. The Aggies put an exclamation point on the weekend by picking up a commitment from Converse Judson’s DeMarvin Leal, the state’s top defensive player, on Wednesday morning.

Leal visited College Station over the weekend and let Jimbo Fisher and his coaching staff know that he was committing before he left his visit. Texas A&M picked up a commitment from 2020 offensive tackle Josh Bankhead on Wednesday.

Oklahoma’s class ranks No. 1 in the nation. It already contains six members of the Fab 55 and five in-state players who also held Texas offers. The Sooners only scored signatures from four Fab 55 members in the entire 2018 class.

The A&M class ranks fifth in the nation and third in the SEC. Six of the Aggies’ 10 commitments are on the Fab 55 and six of the 10 held offers from the Longhorns. The Leal and Cupp commitments add more head-to-head recruiting wins for Jimbo Fisher over Tom Herman after already nabbing safeties Brian Williams and Demani Richardson early in the cycle.

It’s Texas’ turn on Saturday; a herd of recruits is expected for the Longhorns’ Orange-White game. Tom Herman and his staff hold four commitments in the 2019 class. The 2019 group currently ranks as the No. 24 class in the nation and No. 4 in the Big 12.

Commitments like Jordan Whittington and De’Gabriel Floyd will be in attendance. Top offensive target Garrett Wilson will take a crucial official visit a week after Ohio State took a slight edge on an official visit to Columbus.

“It was definitely a good visit, but I’m going into both official visits with no clear leader,” Wilson said via text message on Sunday. “Once I take this Texas official visit, I’ll start to think about where I want to end up. I’d say Ohio State has an edge just because I just took my official visit and I haven’t taken one to Texas.”

It’d be ridiculous for fans to push the recruiting panic button. It’s April, and even with the new early signing period and the ability to take official visits now instead of waiting until senior season, it doesn’t mean the best classes in April will be the best classes on national signing day. Flips are sure to happen.

Herman will find his guys. It’s Texas. Recruiting isn’t rocket science in a football-rich state and a money-rich program with every conceivable recruiting resource.

The list of expected attendees is elite, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Texas will host its commitments as well as elite offensive line targets Branson Bragg, Tyler Johnson, Javonne Shepherd and EJ Ndoma-Ogar. The Longhorns also expect 2019 running back Noah Cain and 2020 running backs Zachary Evans and Jase McClellan, an Oklahoma commit, to be in attendance.

Take a breath. The Longhorns will end the 2019 class with elite talent at every position. That wasn’t a problem under Mack Brown or Charlie Strong. It wasn’t a problem for Herman in 2018 despite a .500 record in the regular season. Talent will always flock to Austin, as it will Saturday for the spring game.

It’s an understood balance for college coaches. The day is part game, part event.

“It’s hard,” said offensive coordinator Tim Beck  after the 2017 Orange-White game when asked about juggling his assignments as a coach and a recruiter. “The prospects get to see the fans. As a coach, you’re probably not with them as much as you’d like to be.”

Here is a list of some of the invited visitors who are expected or hopeful to attend Saturday’s game. As with any recruiting event like a spring game, junior days or camps, some expected visitors will no-show and  some unexpected names are likely to emerge as more players figure out their weekend plans and transportation options. The weather also may play a part in how big the weekend can be for Texas.


Jordan Whittington, wide receiver, Cuero
Roschon Johnson, quarterback, Port Neches-Groves
De’Gabriel Floyd, outside linebacker, Westlake Village (Calif.)

2019 targets 

Noah Cain, running back, IMG Academy (Fla.)
Garrett Wilson, wide receiver, Lake Travis (official visit)
Jake Smith, wide receiver, Notre Dame Prep (Ariz.)
Jared Wiley, tight end, Temple
Javonne Shepherd, offensive tackle, North Forest
Kenyon Green, offensive tackle, Atascocita
Tyler Johnson, offensive tackle, Conroe Oak Ridge
Branson Bragg, center, Crandall
EJ Ndoma-Ogar, offensive guard, Allen
Peter Mpagi, defensive end, Richmond George Ranch
Zach Williams, defensive end, Robinson (Ark.)
Makiya Tongue, wide receiver/outside linebacker, University Lab (La.)
Zach Zimos, outside linebacker, Fort Bend Travis
David Gbenda, linebacker, Katy Cinco Ranch
Marcus Banks, cornerback, Spring Dekaney
Rashad Wisdom, nickel back, Converse Judson
Lewis Cine, safety, Cedar Hill Trinity Christian

2020 targets

Zachary Evans, running back, Galena Park North Shore
Jase Mclellan, running back, Aledo
Troy Omeire, wide receiver, Fort Bend Austin
Collin Sullivan, wide receiver, Round Rock
Demond Demas, wide receiver, North Forest
Chad Lindberg, offensive line, Clear Creek
Alec Bryant, defensive end, Pearland Shadow Creek
Darius Snow, safety, Duncanville
Chris Thompson, safety, Duncanville
Khalan Griffin, athlete, John Tyler
Ja’Quinden Jackson, athlete, Duncanville

Grad transfers

Tre Watson, running back, Cal

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