Texas’ 2019 recruiting class is 15-members deep and ranks No. 9 in the nation. The Longhorns hope to sign a full 25-man class with an opportunity to sign a couple over that if scholarship room becomes available because eight 2018 signees enrolled early. Tom Herman’s program is done recruiting quarterbacks, tight ends and cornerbacks this cycle, barring any de-commits or high-level talent reaching out to Texas.
The only position yet to hold a commitment is running back. But Texas also still needs a pair of offensive linemen, at least one more wide receiver, a middle linebacker, bodies along the defensive line, a safety to play deep and another defensive back who can specialize at the nickel cornerback spot currently manned by P.J. Locke III.
A few of the Longhorns’ top targets are clear. There are positions likely to extend new offers as the season starts and the dead period ends at the end of this month, specifically along the offensive and defensive lines. The top targets at each of those positions are either committed to other schools or not currently favored to pick the Longhorns.
Here is Texas’ recruiting wish list for the skill positions on offense and defense as September inches closer.
Derrian Brown, running back, Buford (Ga.)
FYI: 5-10/179; 4 stars; No. 15-ranked running back
Top schools: Texas, Auburn, Penn State
Texas’ current chances: 90 percent
UT running backs coach Stan Drayton pulled the trigger and offered Brown on May 8. The Longhorns have slowly moved into the pole position for the out-of-stater as prospects like Noah Cain and Trey Sanders appear to lean toward programs outside of Austin. Brown played football with Texas commit Tyler Johnson when the two were young and Johnson lived in Georgia. Texas is one of 30 offers held by Brown. He’s a real threat to take each carry the distance and can catch out of the backfield.
David Gbenda, inside linebacker, Katy Cinco Ranch
FYI: 6-0/212; 4 stars; No. 34 on the 2019 Fabulous 55
Top schools: Texas, TCU, Texas A&M
Texas’ current chances: 90 percent
The Longhorns are set at outside linebacker with two out-of-state commitments — four-star De’Gabriel Floyd (California) and three-star Marcus Tillman Jr. (Florida). All that’s left is a middle linebacker and the leading candidate is the only in-state Mike linebacker holding a UT offer. Gbenda became a target in the spring after strong performances at regional camps. His sideline-to-sideline speed makes him the ideal middle linebacker for the Big 12. Current middle linebacker Gary Johnson is of a similar build to Gbenda. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando prefers speed to bulk.
Jalen Catalon, safety, Mansfield Legacy
FYI: 5-9/188; 3 stars; No. 17 on the Fab 55
Top schools: Texas,
Texas’ current chances: 75 percent
Catalon is a target for both the Texas football and baseball teams. He’s a centerfielder in baseball and excels at the same spot on the football field, roaming the secondary as a run stopper and pass defender. Catalon also starts at quarterback for his prep team. He was an All-State selection as a sophomore when he recorded nearly 200 tackles. Catalon provides versatility to the secondary because of his ability to play deep safety or move to the nickel cornerback position in college. The Longhorns like him as a guy who can match up with quick, athletic slot receivers.
Tyler Owens, safety, Plano East
FYI: 6-2/202; 3 stars; No. 44-ranked safety
Top schools: Texas, Baylor, UCLA
Texas’ current chances: 80 percent
Owens is another secondary member from the DFW area who Texas hopes to ink come national signing day. He picked up an offer from the Longhorns on July 29 and was quickly pegged as a recruit leaning toward Herman’s program. He’s a big, rangy safety, which is what Orlando and safety coach Craig Naivar like at the position. Owens isn’t as a high-profile recruit as some other UT targets, but he’s a high-upside player who has yet to play his best football. Owens would be a physical presence to pair with speedy Texas commit Chris Adimora.
Elijah Higgins, wide receiver, Austin Bowie
FYI: 6-3/214; 4 stars; No. 15-ranked wide receiver
Top schools: Stanford, Texas, Ohio State, Florida
Texas’ current chances: 25 percent
Wide receiver is a murky position leading into the season. Three of the slots are taken with the commitments of Jordan Whittington, Jake Smith and Demariyon Houston. Filling the fourth spot might prove to be difficult despite a trio of Austin-area prospects holding offers from the Longhorns. Garrett Wilson picked Ohio State. Jaylen Ellis, who is still committed to Baylor, says he’s fallen off Texas’ radar over the summer. That leaves Higgins, but the big-bodied wide receiver wants to explore schools outside of Texas and Stanford is the safe bet if his academics are in order.
Other names to know: Marcus Washington (WR), Noah Cain (RB), Lewis Cine (S), Bru McCoy (ATH), Jaylen Ellis (WR), Noa Pola-Gates (S)