The trend of early enrollees continues in the 2019 class. It’s a fact of life now for high-profile prospects. Six of Texas’ 20 current commits are confirmed as early enrollees and that number should grow before the early signing period. Four-star offensive tackle Tyler Johnson of Conroe Oak Ridge was on track to graduate early if wanted, but no decision has been made to date. The early signing period is six weeks away.
Expect most of the 2019 class, even the players not expecting to enroll until the summer, to sign on Dec. 19. Enrolling early provides benefits for the program and the prospect. It allows the team to count the scholarship backward to the prior class and it gives the player an easier route to early playing time. Texas’ early enrollees who might make an early impact:
Jordan Whittington, wide receiver, Cuero
FYI: 6-1/198; 4 stars; No. 4 on the 2019 Fabulous 55
Impact: People who forgot how good Whittington is were reminded in his first five games back from a groin injury that prevented him from participating in the elite camps like The Opening and the 7-on-7 circuit. He’s averaged 16.7 yards a catch on 23 catches. He’s scored on two of his nine rushing attempts. Oh, and he’s also scored on an interception and as a returner.
Whittington is an instant impact prospect because of his home run ability. He’ll force his way onto the field in the same way 2018 signee D’Shawn Jamison has this season. Whittington would be considered a top safety prospect in the nation, but he wants to play on offense. He’ll thrive early on specialty plays like jet sweeps and in the return game.
De’Gabriel Floyd, outside linebacker, Westlake Village (Calif.)
FYI: 6-2/240; 4 stars; No. 55-ranked player in 2019 class
Impact: Floyd is the Longhorns’ best defensive prospect and he’ll be needed as a freshman with seniors Gary Johnson and Anthony Wheeler set to depart after this season. Floyd can play either linebacker spot because of his combination of size and speed. He was a safety early in his career before bulking up into a middle linebacker prospect.
Roschon Johnson, quarterback, Port Neches-Groves
FYI: 6-1/192; 4 stars; No. 25 on the 2019 Fabulous 55
Impact: It’s a good thing that Johnson won’t be asked to contribute as a freshman. Not because he lacks ability, but because the Longhorns are finally in the position to allow young quarterbacks to develop with a redshirt season. Johnson is the top dual-threat quarterback in the state and was the first member of Texas’ 2019 class.
He’ll get to learn the offense in the spring, participate in the Orange-White Game and then watch the 2019 season behind starter Sam Ehlinger and current freshmen Cam Rising and Casey Thompson.
Peter Mpagi, defensive end, Richmond George Ranch
FYI: 6-4.5/224; 3 stars; No. 51-ranked weak side defensive end
Impact: Mpagi grew up a Texas fan and jumped at the chance to play for the Longhorns when he was offered in the summer. He isn’t as highly touted as some defenders committed to the Longhorns and he’s admitted that he needs to add strength and become a consistent competitor before earning playing time. An extra spring means more time spent with assistant coach Oscar Giles and five extra months in a college weight and conditioning program.
Mpagi is a pass-rushing specialist and that skill can earn a young player snaps on third downs. His length and athleticism can’t be overlooked on a squad struggling to find true pass rushers.
Jared Wiley, tight end, Temple
FYI: 6-6/225; 3 stars; No. 37-ranked tight end
Impact: Wiley is a high school quarterback expected to transition to tight end in college. The Longhorns need more dynamic playmakers at tight end and Andrew Beck will be gone in 2019. Wiley played tight end as a junior, so the position isn’t completely foreign. He’s a huge prospect with a high ceiling at tight end. A strong early impression could shoot him into the two-deep with a lack of proven players on the squad outside of Cade Brewer.
Marcus Tillman Jr., outside linebacker, Orlando (Fla.) Jones
FYI: 6-1/220; 3 stars; No. 22-ranked outside linebacker
Impact: Texas dipped into Florida to gain a commitment from a linebacker for the second consecutive cycle. Last year it was Ayodele Adeoye. One of the forgotten members of the class because of his location and lack of stars, he’s still a likely candidate to earn a role as a freshman if he shows up ready to compete in the summer for the same reasons as Floyd. The Longhorns lack proven commodities at all the linebacker positions leading into 2019 and that gives Tillman a chance to impress early and earn a role as a pass rusher or situational linebacker in his first season. He’s likely to play on special teams regardless.