The Dotted Line: Texas is set to host a pair of important linebacker targets

Posted June 15th, 2018


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An important weekend at linebacker

Texas is set to host its second annual pool party for recruits on Saturday. It allows the coaching staff to bring in commits and targets from both the 2019 and 2020 classes to campus for a day of fun with current Longhorns players. It’s aimed to be a bonding experience that did its job in the 2018 class. A laundry list of the top players in 2019 and 2020 are expected to attend.

Texas also will use it to host two of its top targets at linebacker when four-star prospects Maninoa Tufono (Hawaii) and Rian Davis (Florida) arrive on campus for visits.


Texas hopes to sign three linebackers in 2019. De’Gabriel Floyd, a four-star outside ‘backer from Westlake Village in California, became the first commitment when he pledged on March 31 over in-state programs like USC and UCLA. The only in-state linebacker target with a Texas offer is David Gbenda of Katy Cinco Ranch.

Maninoa Tufono, inside linebacker, Punahou (Hawaii)

FYI: 6-3/225; 4 stars; No. 6-ranked inside linebacker

Tufono is the top target for the staff at inside linebacker and he’ll be in Austin for an unofficial visit this weekend, taking part in the pool party and touring the facilities. He’ll go from Texas to LSU and then to Alabama before returning home. Washington, Stanford and UCLA are the top schools for him on the West Coast, which is where most of the top Hawaiian prospects end up due to proximity to home and a higher population of Polynesians.

Gbenda is also in play at inside linebacker, but Tufono offers a unique blend of size and athleticism that’s hard to find. He’s two inches taller than Gbenda and as rangy. Tufono spent May taking visits on the West Coast and is now set to see Texas and the SEC powers. The Longhorns must sign an elite inside linebacker in the 2019 class and a strong visit for Tufono could put Texas in position to pull a recruiting upset.

Rian Davis, outside linebacker, Wekiva (Fla.)

FYI: 6-2.5/233; 4 stars; No. 9-ranked outside linebacker

Tom Herman has shown a penchant for recruiting success in California and Florida in his two years at Texas. He signed Orlando-area prospect Jordan Pouncey in 2017 and hopes to pull the same trick in 2019 in Davis, the top remaining outside linebacker on the board for UT. Like Tufono, he’ll be in Austin this weekend for a visit. He’d be the ideal partner to Floyd at the outside linebacker position.

Davis is an athletic freak at linebacker. He is physical at the point of attack, can get after the quarterback and doesn’t mind playing in space. He’ll participate at The Opening Finals later this month in Frisco and was a first-team all-district selection as a junior at Houston Clear Lake High. Those ties to the Lone Star State give the Longhorns a chance, though Georgia is considered the current favorite. Davis recorded 93 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions in 2017.

David Gbenda, inside linebacker, Katy Cinco Ranch

FYI: 6-0/212; 4 stars: No. 32 on the 2019 Fabulous 55

Gbenda was one of only two in-state linebackers in the entire 2019 cycle to receive an offer from Texas, the other being LSU commit Marcel Brooks. Gbenda is considered an inside linebacker prospect, but he’s athletic enough to play outside and began to watch his recruiting stock rise after a strong performance at The Opening regional in Houston during the offseason. He’s now up to 24 offers and recently took another unofficial visit to Texas A&M.

If Texas has moved on from Gbenda, or the other way around, that makes this weekend even more important since the Longhorns are currently running out of legitimate options to land in the 2019 class at inside ‘backer unless a player like Owen Pappoe, an Auburn commit and teammate of Texas defensive back commit Kenyatta Watson II, can be flipped during the season.

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