Texas’ 2021 class sits at six members, currently ranking seventh in the country and first in the Big 12. Five of those six prospects are on our initial Fabulous 55. Two of the six commitments project to the defensive side of the ball.
To consider the 2021 cycle a success, Texas must sign a strong group of cornerbacks and linebackers. We’re looking at which positions are the highest priority for the Longhorns in terms of recruiting this year, continuing with the defense. We looked at the offense on Wednesday.
Top targets: Ishmael Ibraheem (4 stars), Latrell McCutchin (4), Hunter Washington (4), Tony Grimes (5)
Texas needs cornerbacks. The room will be old by the time the players from the 2021 class arrive — Jalen Green, Anthony Cook and D’Shawn Jamison would be seniors that season. Tyler John Tyler’s Kitan Crawford was the lone corner that Texas signed in 2020, but he could wind up playing nickel or safety. Texas lost commitments from cornerbacks Joshua Eaton and Ethan Pouncey last cycle.
The good news for Texas is that the best cornerback in the state plays only 10 minutes from campus. McCutchin is a four-star from Austin LBJ. The bad news is that he’s already pledged to Alabama. The Longhorns will work on him until he signs with another school or flips to his hometown team.
Ibraheem, a four-star from Dallas Kimball, is a prospect that Texas hopes to add regardless of McCutchin’s eventual decision. The Longhorns want at least two corners with a strong group of prospects at the position waiting in 2022. Ibraheem is a long, rangy corner.
Committed: OLB Derrick Harris Jr. (4)
Top targets: OLB Terrence Cooks (3), OLB Clayton Smith (4), ILB Kendrick Blackshire (4)
Texas’ defense under new coordinator Chris Ash is likely to resemble a 4-2-5 with two linebackers roaming sideline-to-sideline. That means players like Joseph Ossai and Byron Vaughns are destined for a move to defensive end. Harris, a four-star from New Caney, could also be viewed as an edge rusher rather than an outside linebacker in Texas’ scheme. He’s a big, rangy talent who spends most of his time in high school playing outside linebacker in an odd-man front.
Texas needs a pair of linebackers in the 2021 cycle. The needs remaining depend on where the new staff views the long-term position of Harris, the lone commitment in 2021 at the position. Cooks, a three-star from Alvin Shadow Creek, is the top target at Will linebacker, the weak-side backer in the new system. He’s an athletic, hard hitter from the same high school that produced 2020 safety signee Xavion Alford.
Smith is a long, rangy linebacker from Texas High in Texarkana. Blackshire is a traditional middle linebacker from Duncanville. He missed his junior season due to injury.
Committed: Ja’Tavion Sanders (4)
Top targets: WDE Landon Jackson (4), WDE Jordon Thomas (4), SDE Marcus Burris (4), SDE Tunmise Adeleye (4), SDE Shemar Turner (4), SDE E’maurion Banks
Tom Herman’s program signed three potential difference makers along the line in the 2020 class. The Longhorns landed four-star defensive end Alfred Collins on national signing day after adding defensive tackles Vernon Broughton and Sawyer Goram-Welch in December. Broughton and Goram-Welch enrolled early.
The Longhorns are off to a great start at the position with a pledge from Sanders, a two-way star at Denton Ryan. He plays wide receiver and defensive end, but he’s already approaching 225 pounds and is likely destined for defense. He’s currently Texas’ top-rated commitment.
Texas’ expected transition to a four-man front means the Longhorns require extra depth up front. Herman feels good about the young depth at tackle, especially if Collins continues to grow and moves inside. The need in 2021 is on the edge. Texas must add more pass rushers with Ossai destined for the NFL. Jackson is a four-star from Texarkana Pleasant Grove. He had eliminated Texas from contention before the move at defensive coordinator. He’s the best defensive lineman in the state.
Top targets: JD Coffey (4), Romario Noel (3), Isaiah Nwokobia (3)
Texas looks poised to continue a tradition of strong safety play with Tyler Owens and Chris Adimora waiting for their turns behind Caden Sterns and B.J. Foster. The Longhorns added a pair of four-stars in 2020 with Alford and Jerrin Thompson. Alford is already on campus.
That makes safety less of a priority. Coffey is the best safety in the state. Noel is pledged to Baylor. Nwokobia is a raw prospect from Dallas Skyline who recently picked up an offer from the Longhorns. His teammate, wide receiver Quay Davis, is a former UT commit whom Texas hopes to add back.
Billy Bowman, a four-star athlete from Denton Ryan, could wind up at safety. He stars as a wide receiver and safety at Ryan. He’s ranked sixth on the Fabulous 55.