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.

Port Arthur Memorial defensive end Jordon Thomas at the Fast 7v7 Members Only camp. (Mike Craven)


The Dotted Line: Texas’ defensive recruiting wishlist hinges on defensive linemen

Posted April 14th, 2020


The world might be on pause for many of us as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter our lifestyles. Sports are on the backburner, but recruiting never stops. The Longhorns are beginning to enter an important part of the recruiting calendar as more players begin to trim their lists of offers to top schools despite not being able to take official visits. That may help Texas with the in-state prospects in the 2021 class with travel limited for the foreseeable future.

Let’s take a look at the top five targets on Texas’ defensive board. We examined the top offensive targets on Monday

Texarkana Pleasant Grove defensive end Landon Jackson is an elite prospect in the 2021 class. He’s the state’s only five-star defensive prospect. (Mike Craven/American-Statesman)

Landon Jackson, defensive end, Texarkana Pleasant Grove

FYI: 6-6, 240; 5 stars; No. 4 on the Fabulous 55


Top offers: Texas, Texas A&M, Alabama, LSU, Ohio State (28 total offers)

Texas is in the mix for the state’s premier pass rusher. Jackson is the ideal defensive end and the only five-star defender in the state for this cycle. The Longhorns need immediate reinforcements at end with Joseph Ossai likely NFL-bound if he impresses as a junior. Jackson is a potential day-one starter who can terrorize a quarterback. 

Jackson missed his sophomore season with an ACL injury. He returned last year as a junior to claim the Texas Sports Writers Association’s Class 4A defensive player of the year award as he helped Pleasant Grove to a second state title in three years. Jackson has started since he was a freshman. 

Clayton Smith, outside linebacker, Texarkana Texas High

FYI: 6-4, 215; 4 stars; No. 23 on the Fab 55

Top offers: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, LSU (26 total)

Smith is a hybrid edge defender who could remain at outside linebacker or grow into an athletic defensive end with incredible upside as a pass rusher. Either way, the Longhorns consider him one of its two top targets on the defensive side of the ball along with Jackson. He and Jackson both live in the Texarkana area. Smith is the No. 8-ranked outside linebacker prospect and an overall top 150 prospect in the country, per 247Sports’ composite rankings. Smith was a first-team all-district defensive end as a junior. He also plays basketball and participates in the high jump. 

Jordan Thomas, defensive end, Port Arthur Memorial

FYI: 6-3, 240; 4 stars; No. 25 on the Fab 55

Top offers: Texas, Texas A&M (8 total)

Thomas is a big-bodied defensive lineman with a long-term future as a three-technique defensive tackle as he continues to grow. He was a second-team all-district selection as a sophomore before missing his junior season with a lower leg injury. His best football is in front of him as a raw, rusty prospect who needs more time on the field to refine technique. He’s a hard worker who recently narrowed his list of schools to Texas and Texas A&M. It’s an old-school showdown between the two rivals and the Longhorns feel like they’re in good shape to eventually land him. 

Terrence Cooks, outside linebacker, Pearland Shadow Creek

FYI: 6-2, 210; 3 stars; No. 47 on the Fab 55

Top offers: Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Alabama (35 total)

It’s harder and harder to find true linebacker prospects in high school football. Some of that is due to the preferred offensive schemes in prep football as more places head toward spread concepts. That puts players like Cooks in an odd position as high school stars: Should he play defensive end and concentrate on rushing the passer? How about safety, where more of an impact can be made?

Cooks has remained a linebacker and is Texas’ top target at the position. He helped Shadow Creek win a state championship as a junior and is close to 2021 UT commit Derrick Harris. He also attends the same high school that produced Xavion Alford, a safety who signed with Texas in 2020.  

Ishmael Ibraheem, cornerback, Dallas Kimball

FYI: 6-1, 175; 4 stars; No. 18 on the Fab 55 

Top offers: Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas (34 total)

Ibraheem is one of the state’s top-rated cornerback prospects and he has moved to the top of the recruiting board because the Longhorns stand no chance with Austin LBJ star Latrell McCutchin. Ibraheem is a long, physical corner with a smooth running style. He’s also not one to shy away from contact. The Longhorns need a new crop of defensive backs with their 2018 group heading into their junior years. Guys like Jalen Green, Anthony Cook and D’Shawn Jamison would be seniors by the time Ibraheem arrived on campus. He’s a two-time all-district honoree, though his stats won’t impress because opposing offenses avoid his side of the field whenever possible. 

1. Donovan JacksonOGBellaire Episcopal (TAPPS)Ohio State
2. Tommy BrockermeyerOTFort Worth All Saints Episcopal (TAPPS)Alabama
3. Ja'Tavion SandersATHDenton Ryan (5A)Texas
4.Landon JacksonDETexarkana Pleasant Grove (3A)LSU
5. Bryce FosterOGKaty Taylor (6A)Uncommitted
6.Billy BowmanATHDenton Ryan (5A)Texas
7. Savion ByrdOTDuncanville (6A)Uncommitted
8. Preston StoneQBParish Episcopal (TAPPS)SMU
9.Shadrach BanksWRGalena Park North Shore (6A)Texas A&M
10.Jalen MilroeQBKaty Tompkins (6A)Texas
11. Marcus BurrisDTTexarkana Pleasant Grove (3A)Uncommitted
12.LJ JohnsonRBCy-Fair (6A)Uncommitted
13. Cody JacksonWRRichmond Foster (5A)Oklahoma
14.Quaydarius DavisWRDallas Skyline (6A)USC
15.Camar WheatonRBGarland Lakeview Centennial (6A)Uncommitted
16.Latrell McCutchinCBAustin LBJ (4A)Oklahoma
17. JoJo EarleWRAledo (5A)LSU
18. Ishmael IbraheemCBDallas Kimball (5A)Texas
19.Dematrius DavisQBGalena Park North Shore (6A)Auburn
20. Reuben FathereeOTRichmond Foster (5A)Texas A&M
21.Dametrious CrownoverTEGrandview (3A)Uncommitted
22. Sawyer RobertsonQBLubbock Coronado (5A)Mississippi State
23.Clayton SmithOLBTexas High (6A)Oklahoma
24.Theodore KnoxWRThe Woodlands (6A)Mississippi State
25. Jordon ThomasDEPort Arthur Memorial (5A)Texas
26.Derrick Harris Jr.OLBNew Caney (5A)Texas
27.Kendall BlackshireILBDuncanville (6A)Alabama
28. Ketron JacksonWRRoyse City (5A)Uncommitted
29.Landyn WatsonDEHutto (5A)Uncommitted
30.Eli StowersQBDenton Guyer (6A)Texas A&M
31. Hayden ConnerOTKaty Taylor (6A)Texas
32.JD CoffeySKennedale (4A)Texas
33.Brandon CampbellRBLamar Consolidated (5A)USC
34.Cullen MontgomeryOTBellaire Episcopal (TAPPS)Oklahoma
35.Behren MortonQBEastland (3A)Texas Tech
36. Hunter WashingtonCBKaty (6A)Florida State
37.KJ LigginsWRDenton Guyer (6A)Uncommitted
38. Shemar TurnerDEDeSoto (6A)Uncommitted
39.Jaeden RobertsOGGalena Park North Shore (6A)Auburn
40.James BrockermeyerOCFort Worth All Saints (TAPPS)Alabama
41. Cisco CatsonSWeatherford (6A)Baylor
42.Bryson GreenWRAllen (6A)Oklahoma State
43.Latrell NevilleWRFort Bend Hightower (6A)Nebraska
44. Kyron DronesQBAlvin Shadow Creek (6A)Baylor
45.Erick CadeOTBraswell (5A)Uncommitted
46. Deuce HarmonCBDenton Guyer (6A)Texas A&M
47.Terrence CooksOLBAlvin Shadow Creek (6A)Uncommitted
48. Lake McReeTELake Travis (6A)USC
49.Cam'Ron ValdezRBRockdale (4A)Uncommitted
50.Matthew WykoffOTMagnolia (5A)Texas A&M
51.Jordan JenkinsRBLindale (5A)Baylor
52.David AbiaraDEMansfield Legacy (5A)Notre Dame
53.E'maurion BanksDEWichita Falls Rider (5A)Texas Tech
54.Shedeur SandersQBCedar Hill Trinity Christian (TAPPS)Florida Atlantic
55.Byron Murphy IIDTDeSoto (6A)Baylor