DENTON — Two of Texas’ eight 2021 commitments play at Denton Ryan. The duo was in action against a 2020 commit and West Mesquite on Friday, blowing past Ty Jordan and his teammates 63-0. Juniors Billy Bowman and Ja’Tavion Sanders scored in the win. Bowman caught three touchdown passes. The pair also star on defense. It was an impressive showing for two of the top recruits in Texas for the 2021 cycle.
“Denton Ryan is great. It was a great decision to come here in eighth grade,” Bowman said. “It’s a great place to play and learn. The tradition here is great and we want to build our own legacy as a team.”
Bowman was the first of the Denton Ryan duo to pledge to Tom Herman’s program. The 5-10, 175-pound athlete starts at wide receiver and safety. He’s also Ryan’s returner on kickoffs and punts. He’s a four-star and the ninth-ranked athlete in the entire 2021 class, per 247Sports’ composite rankings. Even Bowman isn’t sure which position he’ll play full-time once he gets to Austin.
“Coach Herman basically told me that when I come in, I can choose where I want to play based on what Texas has and what they need,” Bowman said. “I like the ball in my hands, but I’ll do whatever to help the team. I can also help on special teams.”
Bowman pledged to Texas on July 31 not long after attending Texas’ Stars at Night event, which is a summer camp including the best prospects around the state. It’s an invite-only event that allows prospects to get a feel for Royal-Memorial Stadium and the magnitude of UT football.
“When I went there for Stars at Night, it felt like home,” Bowman said. “I got along great with the coaches and think it’ll be a great place for me after high school.”
It’s now time for Bowman to concentrate on returning Denton Ryan to state championship glory. It’s a main reason why he committed before his junior season.
“We’re not focused on the recruiting right now. We’re trying to reach our team goals. We’ll focus on the recruiting again after the season,” he said. “It’s nice to have recruiting over. We’ve already made our decision and know where we want to go.”
Sanders echoed similar thoughts about the recruiting cycle. There’s no doubt that the two will help lead the charge in DFW with their fellow peers, but the bulk of that influence won’t come until the season is over.
“We’re trying to win a state championship,” Sanders said. “We’ll start building the class after the season.”
Sanders is the third-ranked athlete in the 2021 class. He starts at wide receiver and defensive end for Ryan, standing at 6-3 and 220 pounds. He is the top-rated prospect in Texas’ 2021 class so far, just above quarterback Jalen MIlroe. Count Sanders among the prospects who doesn’t care which position he plays in college.
“Texas offered me at defensive, but I’m going to play wherever I can play. I love playing both sides of the ball,” he said. “It’s fun to create turnovers and making plays on the offensive side of the ball is amazing.”
Sanders’ decision to pick Texas was an easy one for the junior.
“Texas felt like home. The coaches treated me well, and the players treated me amazing,” Sanders said. “Texas was showing the most interest me and I didn’t want someone else to take my spot.”
Sanders was a talented underclassman at Ryan last season. He’s hoping his experience will help him guide the sophomores contributing to the 2019 squad.
“I was the young pup last year and didn’t get going until the third game. I’m trying to help the young guys because they’re like my little brothers,” Sanders admitted. “You need to know you can dominate at the highest level, and that’s really confidence.”