The Dotted Line

Stay updated on the latest Texas Longhorns recruiting news brought to you by Longhorns recruiting beat writer Mike Craven of The Dotted Line will publish M-F at 10 a.m. each morning to provide Texas fans with an in-depth look at the latest for the Longhorns on the recruiting trail.

Will Denton Ryan's Ja'Tavion Sanders play offense or defense for the Longhorns? The five-star prospect could help the Longhorns at either spot. (Jeff Woo/Denton Record-Chronicle)


The Dotted Line: Will the four-man front increase Texas’ recruiting chances with defensive ends?

Posted February 13th, 2020


Texas inked 19 players in the 2020 class, which ended last week with national signing day. Texas’ class ranked ninth in the nation and first in the Big 12. The Longhorns have more scholarships for the 2021 cycle and hope to land a top-five class.

As the coaching staff switches its full attention to 2021, we’re looking at where the Longhorns stand at each position. We’ve already broken down the quarterbacks.

Texarkana Pleasant Grove defensive end Landon Jackson is an elite prospect in the 2021 class and perhaps the best pass rusher in the state. (Mike Craven/American-Statesman)



Defensive ends

Already on campus: Ta’Quon Graham (sr. this fall), Marqez Bimage (sr.), Joseph Ossai (jr.), Byron Vaughns (soph.), Jacoby Jones (sr.), Peter Mpagi (fresh.)

2020 signees: Alfred Collins (4)

2021 commitments: Ja’Tavion Sanders (4)

Top in-state targets: Landon Jackson (5), Texarkana Pleasant Grove; Shemar Turner (4), DeSoto; Jordan Thomas (4), Port Arthur Memorial; E’maurion Banks (3), Wichita Falls Rider

Other offers: Tumise Adeleye (5) IMG Academy (Fla.); Dylan Brooks (5), Roanoke (Ala.) Handley; Korey Foreman (5), Corona (Calif.) Centennial; Aaron Armitage (4), Blairstown (N.J.) Blair Academy; Travion Ford (4), St. Louis (Mo.) Lutheran North; Ethan Downs (4), Weatherford, Okla.; Noah Collins (3), Loganville (Ga.) Grayson; Tyreak Sapp (4), Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas; Keeshawn Silver (3), Rocky Mountain, N.C.; Tyrique Owens (NR), Miami (Fla.) Carol City

Texas’ recruiting strategy at defensive end might change more than any other position under the new staff thanks to defensive coordinator Chris Ash’s preference for a four-man front. The best pass rusher of the group will play “Jack,” a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position similar to the one manned by K’Lavon Chaisson at LSU. That’s where Ossai and Vaughns will work in the 2020 season. 

This change makes Texas more desirable for the best defensive ends in the state, especially if Ossai puts up big numbers in the sack category. The old system tasked ends with taking on double teams in order to free up the linebackers. Ash’s system should allow the playmakers up front to create havoc in the backfield.

The short-term benefit is Ossai, arguably the team’s best defensive player, lining up in a more natural position. The long-term benefit is on the recruiting trail. 

Texas wants a class with a few pass-rushing defensive ends and the Longhorns locked up one early in Denton Ryan athlete Ja’Tavion Sanders. The four-star stars at wide receiver and defensive end for Ryan, but he’s likely a defensive end in college. Same could be said for outside linebacker commit Derrick Harris Jr. The top targets remaining are Jackson, Thomas and Turner as Adeleye appears to be heading out of state following his move to IMG Academy in Florida from Katy Tompkins. 

The Longhorns didn’t sign an edge rusher in 2020 unless the plan is to keep Prince Dorbah at Jack instead of moving him to linebacker as the previous staff intended. Collins could end up at defensive tackle given his near 300-pound frame in high school.


Houston Cypress Ridge defensive tackle Vernon Broughton signed with Texas during the early signing period in December. (Mike Craven/American-Statesman)

Defensive tackles

Already on campus: Keondre Coburn (soph. this fall), Moro Ojomo (soph.), T’Vondre Sweat (soph.), Myron Warren (fresh.), Daniel Carson (soph.) 

2020 signees: Vernon Broughton (4), Sawyer Goram-Welch (3)

2021 commitments: None

Top in-state targets: Marcus Burris (4), Texarkana Pleasant Grove

Other offers: J.T. Tuimoloau (5), Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic; Payton Page (5), Greensboro (N.C) Dudley; Maason Smith (5), Houma (La.) Terrebonne 

Texas’ lack of depth along the defensive line is overstated now that Ossai and Vaughns are officially considered defensive ends. Texas returns a trio of talented and experienced defensive tackles in Coburn, Ojomo and Sweat, who came on late as a freshman. Warren and Carson are hoping to make an impact on the two-deep. Defensive ends like Bimage and Graham also may slide into the three-technique defensive tackle position on passing downs or against spread teams that don’t have much of a rushing threat. 

The Longhorns added to that depth in the 2020 class by signing Broughton and Goram-Welch; both enrolled early to help contribute as freshmen. Collins could also be considered a defensive tackle considering his size. Getting Broughton and Goram-Welch in early gives Texas a head start to building more depth inside. 

The only in-state target with an offer is Burris, a four-star from Texarkana Pleasant Grove, which is also home to Jackson, a five-star defensive end. Both were on Texas’ campus in January. 

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
Terrence CooksOLBAlvin Shadow Creek4Nov. 14
Byron Murphy IIDTDeSoto3Nov. 18