Texas’ 2021 recruiting class rests at six commitments, ranking seventh in the nation and first in the Big 12 as the spring evaluation period creeps toward college coaches and high school prospects. The Longhorns held eight commitments at one time, but decommitments from wide receiver Quay Davis and tight end Lake McRee were recruiting blows Texas hopes to recoup by the early signing period in January.
The recruiting calendar moves faster than ever since the inception of the early signing period and because juniors can take official visits in the spring. Here is Texas’ defensive wish list for the 2021 cycle. We looked at Texas’ offensive outlook on Monday. Only one of Texas’ six commitments project to the defensive side of the ball.
1. Landon Jackson, defensive end, Texarkana Pleasant Grove
Jackson is the best pass rusher in the state. He’s a two-time state champion at a Class 3A Division I powerhouse and has already visited Texas since the hiring of defensive coordinator Chris Ash. The move to a four-man front placed the Longhorns back in the mix for Jackson, who already set official visits to LSU and Texas A&M. The team that lands him gets a potential instant contributor who can rush the passer from a defensive end or an outside linebacker spot.
2. Terrence Cooks, outside linebacker, Alvin Shadow Creek
Cooks left Texas’ junior day in January beaming about the Longhorns. He became Texas’ top outside linebacker target once Ash took over the job. Cooks is another state champion the Longhorns want to end up in burnt orange. Cooks is a sideline-to-sideline defender with strong coverage skills and plenty of athleticism to survive against Big 12 offenses. He attends the same school that produced 2020 UT signee Xavion Alford and he’s also close friends with 2021 commit Derrick Harris Jr.
3. Ishmael Ibraheem, cornerback, Dallas Kimball
Texas needs a strong cycle at cornerback and Ibraheem is the best uncommitted corner in the state with Austin LBJ four-star Latrell McCutchin pledged to Alabama. Ibraheem is a 6-1, 175-pound four-star with rangy ability and solid coverage skills. He’s also not afraid to help in run support. Texas must compete with the likes of Georgia, LSU and Michigan for his signature. Ibraheem is rarely challenged by high school quarterbacks. He’s recorded 11 pass breakups and one interception in his two-year varsity career.
4. Jordon Thomas, defensive end, Port Arthur Memorial
The Longhorns must load up on pass rushers as the program shifts back to a traditional four-man front. Texas did a great job of landing defensive tackles in 2020 with Vernon Broughton, Alfred Collins and Sawyer Goram-Welch. None of those guys are edge rushers, though, so Tom Herman’s plan is to use this cycle to get better off the edge. Thomas is a physical specimen at 6-3 and 240 pounds of pure muscle. He missed most of his junior season due to a leg injury.
5. Shemar Turner, defensive end, DeSoto
Turner is another edge player the Longhorns hope to secure. The big-bodied defensive end is built like current UT defensive end Marqez Bimage. Turner is a big, physical player at 6-3, 260 pounds. He could grow into a three-technique defensive tackle, which is fine with the Longhorns if Texas can land Jackson and Thomas. The Longhorns want a bigger blueprint in the hotbed region of south Dallas that includes high schools like Duncanville, DeSoto, Cedar Hill and Lancaster.