Ryan wide receiver Ja'Tavion Sanders (1) catches a pass. (Jeff Woo, Denton Record-Chronicle)

Football

Commitment 101: Four-star athlete Ja’Tavion Sanders can play offense or defense

Posted September 8th, 2019

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Texas’ 2021 recruiting class grew to eight members on Saturday when four-star athlete Ja’Tavion Sanders pledged to the Longhorns while visiting for the LSU game. Sanders was among dozens of commits and potential targets on campus for Texas’ biggest home game in over a decade. Sanders is the second prospect in the 2021 class from Denton Ryan to pick Texas, joining fellow four-star athlete Billy Bowman

The Longhorns’ 2021 class ranks second in the nation and first in the Big 12. The 2020 class sits at sixth. Sanders is a potential playmaker on either side of the football. He’s capable of playing flex tight end on offense or moving permanently to defense as a defensive end or B-Backer. He was the District 4-5A Division I Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore after recording 54 tackles on defense and 23 receptions on offense.

Skill set: Sanders is a football player. His body will determine his future position based on how big he ends up after his senior season. He’s currently listed at 6-3.5 and 220 pounds. Defensive end or B-Backer seems like the most likely destination for Sanders despite his ability as a pass catcher. His impact would be bigger on defense, as would his future upside to NFL scouts. Sanders lived in opponent’s background as a sophomore, recording 23 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. 

Immediate impact: The continued trend of early commitments makes this nearly impossible to predict, especially for a prospect who can play multiple positions. It’s hard to predict the status of the B-Backer or tight end room in 2021. Sanders is a dynamic player who doesn’t want to sit around and watch as a freshman, just like all young prospects. He wants to play, and he’ll be given every opportunity if he shows up on campus and takes to a position right away. 

Fitting into the program: Sanders is another Dallas-Fort Worth area prospect pledged to Tom Herman’s program. The Longhorns needed to improve their recruiting success in DFW under Herman despite signing consecutive top-three recruiting classes. The 2020 and 2021 cycles are ripe with talent in DFW and Sanders is another early win for the Texas staff. Athletically, Sanders is exactly what Texas likes in young prospects because he’s a high-upside athlete with versatility. 

Recruiting at the position: This depends on what position Texas wants Sanders to play. My guess is that he’s counted as a defensive end or B-Backer in the 2021 class. Texas already holds a commitment from four-star outside linebacker Derrick Harris Jr. in that cycle, and is in good shape for fellow four-star outside linebacker Clayton Smith. The Longhorns hope to load up at linebacker in 2021. 

PLAYERPOS.HIGH SCHOOLSTARSCOMMITMENT DATE
Hayden ConnerOTKaty Taylor4July 23 (2019)
Juan DavisWR/TEEverman3July 26 (2019)
Derrick Harris Jr.DENew Caney4Aug. 3 (2019)
Ja'Tavion SandersATHDenton Ryan5Sept. 8 (2019)
Jordon ThomasDEPort Arthur Memorial4May 2
Morice BlackwellOLBArlington Martin4May 10
Jonathon BrooksRBHallettsville3May 15
Casey CainWRWarren Easton (La.)3May 15
Isaac PearsonPProKick AustrailiaNRMay 29
Ishmael IbraheemCBDallas Kimball4June 15
JD CoffeySKennedale4June 15
Jamier JohnsonCBJohn Muir (Pasadena, Calif.)4July 3
Gunnar HelmTECherry Creek (Englewood, Colo.)3July 27
Michael MyslinskiCBishop Kennedy (Jacksonville, Fla.)3Aug. 6
Jaden AlexisWRMonarch Prep (Pompano Beach, Fla.)3Aug. 8
Charles WrightQBAustin3Aug. 22
Max MerrilOTStrake Jesuit3Sept. 25

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