ORLANDO — Defensive end prospects never knocked down Texas’ door to play in the odd-man front deployed by former defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. The three-man front can be effective defensively, but end isn’t an attractive position in the scheme because it tasks the position with double-teams to allow linebackers to roam free. Elite talents want to rush the passer.
Take Landon Jackson, for example. The four-star end from Texarkana Pleasant Grove grew up watching Texas football. He was high on the Longhorns at this time last year, but that interest began to fade as he envisioned himself playing in different schemes. The hiring of Chris Ash as the new defensive coordinator, and the anticipated move to a four-man front put the Longhorns back in the mix.
“I grew up watching Texas a lot. Them moving to a four-man front helps. I was heavy on them early last year, but they started fading because of the fit,” Jackson said before the Future 50 Camp in Orlando. “I prefer the four-man front so I can stay on the edge and rush the passer.”
Jackson is a 6-6, 240-pound five-star prospect with 24 offers. He suffered a season ending knee injury as a sophomore. It was a tough, frustrating journey back to the field, but it ended with a Class 4A Division II state championship. It was his second in three years as a varsity player.
“It was great to bounce back from the knee injury. I missed football and I wanted to go win a title,” he said. “I felt 100% about four months after the surgery, but the doctors wanted me to wait until eight months out to go full-go and it worked out great.”
Jackson said he has trimmed his list to about 10 schools and hopes to commit by early in his senior season. The talented pass rusher listed Texas, Texas A&M, LSU and Alabama as schools that have separated from the pack. A&M holds a family advantage with his dad having played college basketball for the Aggies. Relationships and scheme should determine his eventual destination.
“I’m talking to LSU and Texas A&M the most right now. They’re contacting me three times a week and really showing me how I’d fit in their scheme,” Jackson said. “I want the place with the best plan for me, on and off the field.”
Another junior defensive lineman back on the radar is Tunmise Adeleye. The five-star from Katy Tompkins also didn’t like Texas’ odd-man front and was leaning toward programs with a four-man front. The hiring of Ash and move to a four-man front has Adeleye interested; his teammate and quarterback, Jalen Milroe, is a UT commit for 2021.
“I’ll be back at Texas in January,” Adeleye declared. “I want to see what the new defensive vision is about.”
Adeleye is a 6-3, 260-pound defender with the potential to grow into a three-technique defensive tackle. He and Jackson will be the top-ranked defensive linemen in the state for the 2021 class and the Longhorns hope to land one, if not both, five-star talents.
Adeleye drew double-teams throughout the season and still finished with 53 tackles and four sacks. He recorded eight sacks as a sophomore. He holds 28 offers and is high on programs like Alabama, Oklahoma, LSU and Ohio State.