A renewed interest in Texas’ defensive scheme under new coordinator Chris Ash was on display Saturday when the Longhorns hosted dozens of top targets from the 2021 class. Numerous defensive linemen have passed on UT because of the odd-man front that was deployed by Todd Orlando, which tasked ends with constant double teams and few opportunities to rush the passer.
Ash vowed to change that Saturday with Texarkana Pleasant Grove defensive linemen Landon Jackson and Marcus Burris in attendance. The pair joined a large group of recruits who watched the Texas-Kansas basketball game. The trip also included film sessions with the new coaches. For Jackson, a five-star defensive end, it was exactly what was needed to keep Texas in the running.
“It was cool to finally meet the new coaches because I basically knew a completely different staff except for coach Giles and a few other guys. The new coaches impressed me and I like the new fronts the defense will use under coach Ash,” Jackson said. “I didn’t like the three-man front a whole lot and that was one of the main things keeping Texas from the top of my list with some other schools that run the four-man front and use the defensive ends on the edge.”
Jackson said Texas’ plans include playing him at the nine-technique, lined up over the tight end to seal the edge and rush the passer. It’s what the 6-6, 240-pound state champion wanted to hear. He said Texas will be one of the five schools he officially visits this spring and summer before making his decision prior to the start of his senior season. He also mentioned Texas A&M and LSU, along with the possibility of taking visits to Ohio State and Washington.
“I’m in a group chat with a bunch of guys from Texas; Jalen Milroe and Billy Bowman stay on me about Texas,” Jackson said. “They say it’s about to change here.”
Jackson also values his relationship with Burris, and their ability to share in the recruiting limelight.
“It’s a great experience for (Burris) to go through recruiting with me. I’m glad I have Marcus with me to take trips and compare notes,” Jackson said. “We talk about the things that separate schools and compare our top schools.”
Burris, a four-star defensive tackle, was also impressed by his trip to Texas.
“The trip gave me a feeling about Texas,” Burris said. “I was clueless about how I’d be used before I came down here, and the new coaches let me know of how I’d be used and where I’d play. I’d play defensive tackle, which is fine with me because I just want to get on the field and have fun.”
The 6-4, 262-pound prospect possesses a great motor for his size. He’s helped Pleasant Grove to two state titles in three years, earning first-team all-district honors as a sophomore and junior. He hit it off with Ash.
“Coach Ash really cares. He seems like a cool guy that I could see myself playing for one day,” Burris said. “Texas elevated itself today and they’ll definitely get one of my official visits.”
Texas A&M also will receive an official visit. Staying in Texas is a factor for Burris.
“I’m a homebody, so staying in the state is a factor, but I want to make the best decision for me,” he said. “Why leave the state if there are great options here? This is where I’m from.”