This is the American-Statesman’s fourth annual 20 for 20 project, a Longhorns recruiting primer almost 20 days out of national signing day, which this year falls on Feb. 6. Nos. 11-20 of our 20 for 20 will publish today at noon.
1. Will Texas sign a top 10 class?
Probably. Texas signed 22 players in the early period and currently holds the No. 9-ranked class in the country with national signing day approaching. Programs like Penn State and Ohio State lurk outside the top 10, but there aren’t enough elite players remaining on the board to push other classes ahead of Texas’. Nearly 85 percent of the top 250 players on the 247Sports composite signed in December.
2. Who are Texas’ commitments/signed players?
2019 Texas Longhorns recruiting class
Player Pos. School Stars Commitment date
Roschon Johnson QB Port Neches-Groves 4 July 21 (2017)
T'Vondre Sweat DE Huntsville 3 Feb. 28
Jordan Whittington WR Cuero 4 March 10
De'Gabriel Floyd OLB Westlake Village (Calif.) 4 March 31
Kenyatta Watson II DB Grayson (Ga.) 4 May 1
Brayden Liebrock TE Chandler (Ariz.) 3 May 8
Tyler Johnson OL Conroe Oak Ridge 4 May 25
Jared Wiley TE Temple 3 May 26
Jake Smith WR Notre Dame Preparatory (Ariz.) 4 June 3
Peter Mpagi DE George Ranch 3 June 16
Chris Adimora S Mayfair (Calif.) 4 July 1
Marques Caldwell CB Alvin 3 July 7
Marcus Tillman Jr. OLB Jones (Fla.) 3 July 28
Javonne Shepherd OT North Forest 4 July 29
Derrian Brown RB Buford (Ga.) 4 Sept. 16
Tyler Owens S Plano East 4 Sept. 24
David Gbenda ILB Katy Cinco Ranch 4 Sept. 30
Marcus Washington WR Trinity Catholic (Mo.) 4 Oct. 26
Myron Warren DE Many (La.) 3 Nov. 19
Jacoby Jones DE Butler C.C. 3 Nov. 21
Caleb Johnson OLB Fullerton College (Calif.) 3 Dec. 17
Kennedy Lewis WR Melissa 3 Dec. 18
Isaiah Hookfin OT Fort Bend Dulles 4 Dec. 21
Bru McCoy ATH Mater Dei (Calif.) 5 Jan. 25
3. Who has the nation’s top class?
Alabama. Surprise, surprise. Nick Saban keeps rolling with another top class that includes three five-star prospects, including IMG Academy running back Trey Sanders, who was a top target for the Longhorns throughout the cycle. Six of the 28 commitments are ranked in the top 100 of the 247Sports composite. The only player in the class not ranked four-star or higher is a kicker. The rich get richer.
4. Who’s winning the Big 12?
Oklahoma is out-dueling Texas. The Sooners hold the fourth-ranked class in the country and it consists of just 23 members. Three of those players are ranked as five-star athletes, including Texas native Theo Wease, a wide receiver from Allen. Head coach Lincoln Riley gained commitments from seven members of the 2019 Fabulous 55, including three of the top 12 players in the state. Texas’ class ranks second in the conference with TCU third and Baylor fourth.
5. How have Texas’ recent classes ranked nationally?
2011: 4th (including RB Malcolm Brown, DB Quandre Diggs, QB David Ash, WR Jaxon Shipley)
2012: 2nd (DT Malcom Brown, RB Jonathan Gray, DB Duke Thomas)
2013: 17th (OG Darius James, OT Kent Perkins, QB Tyrone Swoopes)
2014: 17th (RB D’Onta Foreman, WR Armanti Foreman, DT Poona Ford)
2015: 10th (OT Connor Williams, LB Malik Jefferson, OG Patrick Vahe, S DeShon Elliott)
2016: 7th (QB Shane Buechele, S Brandon Jones, WR Collin Johnson)
2017: 25th (QB Sam Ehlinger, RB Daniel Young, MLB Gary Johnson)
2018: 3rd (S Caden Sterns, S BJ Foster, CB Anthony Cook)
6. Who are Texas’ top recruits?
Tyler Johnson, Conroe Oak Ridge offensive tackle: Johnson is the best prospect Herman has signed at tackle in his three years recruiting at Texas. Johnson is a legit bookend tackle with strength, athleticism and a mean streak. Like all teenagers, he’ll need to add strength. That’s where enrolling early and getting an extra six months with Yancy McKnight might be the thing that gets him on the field as a freshman.
Jordan Whittington, Cuero wide receiver: Whittington’s role likely grew when Lil’Jordan Humphrey announced his intentions to enter the NFL draft. Whittington doesn’t possess Humphrey’s height, but he does bring that running back mentality to the wide receiver position that made Humphrey such a weapon after the catch. Whittingon played everywhere for Cuero, scoring six touchdowns and breaking the state championship rushing record in December. He wants to play some at slot. Some at running back. Some at Wildcat. Sound like Humphrey?
De’Gabriel Floyd, Westlake Village (Calif.) inside linebacker: Texas is set to lose both Gary Johnson and Anthony Wheeler. That leaves a void in the middle of the defense and Floyd is expected to fill one of those spots. He’s a truly elite prospect who’s starting his UT career with similar hype and expectations to Malik Jefferson. The Longhorns need him to make a difference as a freshman and that’s one of the main reasons he left California for Austin.
7. Are there gems or sleepers in Texas’ class?
My vote is for Huntsville defensive lineman T’Vondre Sweat. He’s listed as a three-star prospect on recruiting sites despite dominating as a senior and leading his team to a district title and a regional championship appearance. I watched him record four sacks against A&M Consolidated in the regular season and he seems like an ideal fit for Texas’ odd-man defensive front because he’s athletic enough to play outside with the frame to grow into a 280-pound defensive lineman in one year. Wide receiver Kennedy Lewis and tight end Jared Wiley are also names to remember.
8. What are Texas’ biggest remaining to-do’s?
Texas took care of most its needs in the early period and is now hoping to finish the class with a handful of potential targets. The Longhorns won’t settle, however, and if prospects like current commit Javonne Shepherd or Mansfield Legacy safety Jalen Catalon go elsewhere, Texas could save those scholarships for the 2020 class or the grad transfer market. Running back, offensive line and defensive tackle could use another body or two.
9. What are Texas’ biggest needs this year?
Linebacker was the most glaring need with Johnson and Wheeler out of eligibility. Texas needed instant-impact prospects and hopes it landed just that in Floyd and Marcus Tillman Jr. The two prep prospects enrolled early to get a jump-start on their career. The Longhorns also added JUCO prospect Caleb Johnson for immediate depth. Running back was another major need. Texas landed four-star Derrian Brown out of Georgia but missed on guys like Sanders and Noah Cain.
10. Who does Texas still want?
Jalen Catalon announces his college destination on Friday and the two-sport star has been a long-time target for the Longhorns. TCU and Arkansas are also in the mix and it’s unlikely the Longhorns land Catalon. Keeping Shepherd, a four-star offensive tackle, committed is the top priority. JUCO linebacker Lakia Henry is also a top remaining target. Expect the Longhorns to also explore the grad transfer or JUCO market at offensive line and maybe even running back.