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.
In-state weapons litter The Opening roster
A total of 25 Texans are expected to participate at The Opening Finals in Frisco beginning on Saturday. The four-day showcase for the nation’s top recruits is full of Texas flavor in its first year hosted by the Lone Star State. It was previously hosted at the Nike facility in Oregon. Fifteen of those 25 Texans play offense. Only 14 Texans made The Opening Final in 2017
Not a single in-state quarterback was invited, and the only two running backs are Zachary Evans and Jase McClellan, both of whom are 2020 prospects. Oklahoma commit Austin Stogner is the lone tight end from the state that’s invited. The rest of the offensive prospects play wide receiver or on the offensive line.
The Longhorns are in the mix for several of the prospects, but not a single current in-state commit was invited to the finals. The same is true on defense. The only UT pledge attending is California outside linebacker De’Gabriel Floyd. Georgia defensive back Kenyatta Watson II was invited but can’t attend — he underwent a shoulder scope in May. The Longhorns have 10 commitments in the 2019 class.
Here are the 15 offensive players from Texas who’ll be in Frisco:
Branson Bragg, center, Crandall
FYI: 6-4/295; 4 stars; No. 29 on the Fabulous 55
Nike Football Rating: 74.67
The Longhorns felt good about their chances with the state’s top center before the big man chose Stanford, a school doing a great job recruiting in Texas, especially along the offensive line. Bragg is considered the third-best center prospect in the 2019 class and it’ll be interesting to watch how he handles the best defensive tackles in the country. He didn’t test well at the regional in Dallas. He earned his invite with technique and success in 1-on-1 drills.
Trejan Bridges, wide receiver, Lewisville Hebron
FYI: 6/175; 4 stars; No. 9 on the Fabulous 55
Nike Football Rating: 106.83
Bridges was the biggest mover in the summer update of the 2019 Fabulous 55. He’s one of a trio of Texas-based wide receivers committed to UT who will be at The Opening, joining Arjei Henderson and Theo Wease Jr. Bridges catches everything in his radius and does a great job creating separation with his length and athleticism. He’ll be tested by the best cornerbacks in the country and gets a chance to prove he belongs in the conversation with Garrett Wilson and others for the title of best wide receiver in the state.
Jalen Curry, wide receiver, Houston St. Pius X
FYI: 6-2.5/197; 4 stars;
Top schools: Auburn, Oklahoma, Texas A&M
Nike Football Rating: 97.5
Curry is a big-bodied receiver who already looks ready to handle the college game. He’s part of a prolific passing attack at St. Pius, led by quarterback and Arizona commit Grant Gunnell. Curry set a state record as a junior when he registered 26 catches in a single game. He was an all-district performer at Stafford before moving to TAPPS. Auburn is considered the leader for Curry. He caught 121 passes as a junior.
Jaylen Ellis, wide receiver, Round Rock Cedar Ridge
FYI: 6-0/181; 3 stars; No. 31 on the Fabulous 55
Nike Football Rating: 117.39
It took a while for Ellis to get the recognition that his immense talents deserve. He received an early offer from Baylor and pounced on it, committing to the Bears in 2017. A big score at the regional in Dallas propelled him to an invite to the finals and a 10.4 100-meter time at a district track meet led to offers from elite programs like Texas, Michigan and Ohio State. It’s safe to consider Ellis a soft commit to Baylor; a flip is possible before the start of Ellis’ senior season. He’s a big-play player from the slot position who averaged 25 yards per catch as a junior.
Zachary Evans, running back, Galena Park North Shore (2020)
FYI: 5-11/196; 5 stars; No. 1 on Next 25
Top schools: Texas, LSU, Georgia, Texas A&M
Nike Football Rating: 117.42
Evans enters his junior year as the highest-rated 2020 prospect in the state. The five-star talent is poised for a huge season after sharing touches as a sophomore. UT offered early and the Longhorns remain heavily in the mix for a player drawing comparison to greats like Adrian Peterson and Cedric Benson. He was the District 21-6A newcomer of the year, rushing for 1,481 yards and 27 touchdowns on only 184 carries. He already holds 34 offers.
Kenyon Green, offensive tackle, Humble Atascocita
FYI: 6-4/317; 5 stars; No. 6 on the Fabulous 55
Committed: Texas A&M
Nike Football Rating: 88.77
Green is arguably the top offensive lineman in Texas and chose Texas A&M, giving Jimbo Fisher a real bookend offensive tackle to build a future SEC offensive line around for three to four years. Green is technical, strong and athletic for a player his size. His lack of height might mean an eventual move to guard if the NFL is on his horizon. He has proven capable of handling elite defensive ends on the edge at regional camps and the Future 50 in Orlando.
Arjei Henderson, wide receiver, Fort Bend Travis
FYI: 6-0.5/183; 4 stars; No. 16 on the Fabulous 55
Nike Football Rating: 88.61
Henderson caught 100 passes as a sophomore and backed that up with 81 catches as a junior. He’s amassed 2,569 yards and 32 touchdowns in his two-year varsity career, earning first-team all-district honors in back-to-back seasons. He’s taking that production to Oklahoma after his high school career. He’s a big, shifty receiver who can play outside or in the slot. He’s strong after the catch and is a vertical threat.
Elijah Higgins, wide receiver, Austin Bowie
FYI: 6-3/215; 4 stars; No. 23 on the Fabulous 55
Top schools: Texas, Florida, Ohio State, Stanford
Nike Football Rating: 106.32
Higgins is a big-bodied receiver who watched his recruiting stock skyrocket between his junior and senior years. His combination of height, strength and athleticism simply can’t be taught and colleges across the nation see the potential in his frame at wide receiver or H-Back. Texas is still in the mix for the local product, but he’s received interest from elite schools outside of the state and recently took visits to Florida and Ohio State. Stanford is also heavily recruiting him.
Jase McClellan, running back, Aledo (2020)
FYI: 5-10/196; 5 stars; No. 7 on the Fabulous 55
Nike Football Rating: 122.04
McClellan chose Oklahoma before the start of his sophomore season. He’s a star at Aledo, a program still known for running the football to championship success. McClellan rushed for more than 1,500 yards as a freshman and a sophomore. He helped lead Aledo to a state championship as a freshman when he was named the offensive MVP of the Class 5A Division II championship game. Aledo fell in the title game in his sophomore season. Teams like Texas are still recruiting him despite his early commitment to Oklahoma.
EJ Ndoma-Ogar, offensive lineman, Allen
FYI: 6-3.5/322; 4 stars; No. 25 on the Fabulous 55
Nike Football Rating: 78.69
Ndoma-Ogar is one of three Allen products on the 2019 Fabulous 55. He’s the best guard prospect in the state and is a bull at the point of attack. He’s an excellent pass blocker due to his experience in Allen’s spread offense. He’s a big man who is comfortable blocking in space and put on a stellar performance blocking defensive tackles at The Opening regional in Dallas. Ndoma-Ogar lacks the height and length to play offensive tackle, but he’ll transition to guard for the Sooners.
Javonne Shepherd, offensive tackle, Houston North Forest
FYI: 6-6/317; 4 stars; No. 27 on the Fabulous 55
Top schools: Texas, Texas A&M
Nike Football Rating: N/A
Shepherd is down to Texas and Texas A&M and the battle is expected to last until he signs a national letter of intent. He’s not as technically advanced as prospects like Green or UT commit Tyler Johnson, but he might possess the biggest upside of any tackle in the 2019 class because of his length and athleticism. He moves around like a tight end and is close to 6-7. Shepherd will face a stiff test from defensive ends at The Opening Final.
Isaiah Spiller, running back, Klein Collins
FYI: 6-0.5/193; 4 stars; No. on the Fabulous 55
Top Schools: Texas A&M, Michigan, Oklahoma
Nike Football Rating: N/A
Spiller is a one-time Oklahoma commit. He’s favored to pick A&M, where his dad, Fred, played college football before a career in NFL. He earned second-team all-district honors as a sophomore before exploding onto the scene as a junior when he finished with 1,284 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was District 15-6A’s offensive MVP and holds 21 offers.
Austin Stogner, tight end, Prestonwood Christian
FYI: 6-6/229; 4 stars; No. 8 on the Fabulous 55
Nike Football Rating: N/A
Stogner is the best tight end in Texas and one of eight members of the current Fabulous 55 currently committed to Oklahoma. His size and speed are too much for most defenders. He’s too big for cornerbacks and too athletic for linebackers and safeties. He’s yet to be stopped at camps this offseason and the best safeties and cornerbacks in the country get their shot to stop him at The Opening Final.
Theo Wease Jr., wide receiver, Allen
FYI: 6-3/202; 5 stars; No. 10 on the Fabulous 55
Nike Football Rating: 111.03
Wease is a physical freak with tons of potential. He plays at one of the best programs in the state and is a well-coached, refined prep receiver with size and athleticism. There isn’t much he can’t do on the field and that’s why he’s a top prospect in the state. He’s a smooth route-runner with a long stride and consistent hands. He’s a jump ball threat and a weapon in the red zone and on third down. The five-star helped Allen win a Class 6A Division I state title and caught 57 passes for 879 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior.
Garrett Wilson, wide receiver, Lake Travis
FYI: 6-0.5/181; 5 stars; No. 1 on the Fabulous 55
Committed: Ohio State
Nike Football Rating: 104.49
Wilson became the No. 1-ranked player in the state on the summer update of the Fabulous 55. The five-star prospect, who was born in Columbus and plays prep ball minutes from Texas’ campus, chose the Buckeyes over the Longhorns in the spring. Wilson was the District 25-6A newcomer of the year as a sophomore and an Associated Press second-team all-state selection as a junior, helping Lake Travis reach the Class 6A Division I state title game. He recorded 98 catches for 1,773 yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior.
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