Dead period ends Friday
Recruiting sparks back to life Friday with the end of dead period. Coaching staffs across the country can again contact recruits and host prospects on campus for unofficial or official visits. Texas is kicking off the new recruiting period with a camp consisting of the top talent remaining on the board for 2019. It will also be a showcase for the 2020 class. It was the event that Roschon Johnson committed to last summer, making him the first commitment of the 2019 class. The dual-threat quarterback will be in attendance on Friday, along with a trio of top targets and an out-of-state commit.
David Gbenda, inside linebacker, Katy Cinco Ranch
FYI: 6-0/212; 4 stars; No. 32 on the 2019 Fabulous 55
Top competition: TCU, Texas A&M
The search for linebackers in the 2019 class was focused mostly out-of-state for the first half of the cycle. Texas picked up a commitment from Californian four-star De’Gabriel Floyd, while focusing its recruiting on out-of-state prospects like Rian Davis. The only in-state prospect with an offer at the position is Gbenda, an undersized but athletic inside linebacker. He’s versatile enough to move outside in college and strong enough to play inside the box despite his lack of height. He’s the best inside linebacker in the state this cycle and is becoming a higher priority for the Longhorns as the season approaches.
Noa Pola-Gates, safety, Williams Field (Ariz.)
FYI: 6-2/180; 4 stars; No. 295-ranked player nationally
Top competition: Alabama
Texas is forced to go out-of-state for some of its defensive backs in the 2019 class because of the success it sustained at cornerback and safety in the 2018 cycle. The Longhorns already hold commitments from safety Chris Adimora (Calif.) and cornerback Kenyatta Watson II (Ga.). Texas also holds commitments from two players in Arizona, and would like to add a third. Pola-Gates is an elite defensive back who can play safety or cornerback. Alabama is currently the leader, but a trip to Austin for a camp could put Texas in the mix.
Javonne Shepherd, offensive tackle, North Forest
FYI: 6-6/346; 4 stars; No. 27 on the Fab 55
Top competition: Texas A&M
There is no guarantee Shepherd shows up to camp on Friday despite reports that he’ll be in attendance. Such is the life for a teenager reliant on transportation from others. He says he plans on attending if he can get down to Austin, and that is good news for the Longhorns. Shepherd is the top target remaining in-state at offensive tackle and Texas leads. It needs to land Shepherd to add with four-star offensive tackle Tyler Johnson because Kenyon Green chose Texas A&M and out-of-state target Stacey Wilkins appears to prefer Oklahoma and Arkansas. There aren’t a ton of upside offensive tackle remaining in the cycle, so Shepherd remains atop of the priority list.
Jake Smith, wide receiver, Notre Dame Preparatory (Ariz.)
FYI: 6-1/189; 4 stars; No. 79-ranked player nationally
Top competition: Committed to Texas
Smith is one of a handful of commitments expected to attend on Friday. It’s more important for Smith, however, because of his out-of-state roots. It’s not as easy for Smith to drop by Austin once the season starts like it is for the in-state recruits. That means any chance for the Texas staff to get Smith on campus is important. Smith is a tremendous athlete who caught and ran for more than 1,000 yards as a junior, the first player in the state to do so since Christian Kirk. He’s one of three wide receivers committed to Texas.
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