The Longhorns added five players to their 2021 recruiting class since the last week of April despite the prohibition of visits due to COVID-19. It started with three-star tight end Landen King on April 26. Defenders Jordan Thomas and Morice Blackwell, as well as offensive prospects Jonathon Brooks and Casey Cain joined in May.
Texas’ 2021 recruiting class currently ranks ninth in the nation and first in the Big 12, consisting of 11 members. Three of those commitments are considered athletes who could play on either side of the football at the collegiate level, including five-star Ja’Tavion Sanders and four-star Billy Bowman.
For this exercise, we’ll consider Sanders and Bowman defensive prospects. Both could play wide receiver at Texas, but the upside is higher for Bowman at safety and for Sanders at defensive end. That leaves six true offensive prospects committed to the Longhorns, including three-star athlete Juan Davis, who plays quarterback in high school but projects to tight end or wide receiver in college.
Jalen Milroe, quarterback, Katy Tompkins
FYI: 6-1, 192; four stars; No. 10 on the 2021 Fabulous 55
Milroe is the longest standing commitment in the 2021 class. The No. 4-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2021 class, per 247Sports composite rankings, picked Texas over Alabama and dozens of other Power Five offers on July 21 of 2019. Milroe is a winner, leading Tompkins to its first ever playoff appearance in 2018 and repeating the trick in 2019. He’s a pass-first quarterback with a big enough arm to threaten defenses vertically. He improved on his decision making between his sophomore and junior season.
The Longhorns wouldn’t mind signing two quarterbacks in the 2021 class given Sam Ehlinger’s age and Roschon Johnson’s permanent move to running back. The main goal is to keep Milroe committed, however, and it sounds like the new offensive staff did a great job of building a quick relationship with the class’s top-ranked offensive commit.
Hayden Conner, offensive tackle, Katy Taylor
FYI: 6-5, 317; four stars; No. 31 on the Fab 55
The in-state class of 2021 will be remembered for the amount of talent available along the offensive line. Conner is among those stars. He’s a big, nasty offensive tackle with three years of varsity experience. He helped Katy Taylor win the Region III championship in Class 6A Division II as a junior and is teammates with four-star guard Bryce Foster, who is among Texas’ top remaining targets in the entire cycle.
The two-time, all-district selection is also one of the smartest prospects in the nation, choosing Texas in large part because of its aerospace engineering program. The Longhorns hope Conner is just one of a handful of high-level offensive line signees in the 2021 cycle. He’s currently the second-best offensive prospect committed to the Longhorns, and one of only two represented on the Fabulous 55.
Juan Davis, athlete, Everman
FYI: 6-4, 217; three stars; No. 35-ranked athlete
Davis has spent his prep career playing multiple offensive positions. He was an all-district wide receiver as a sophomore, recording 41 catches for 499 yards and seven touchdowns. Davis moved to quarterback as a junior, doing more damage as a rusher than a passer. His path to college success is certainly not at quarterback, but his frame and previous experience at wide receiver make that the obvious choice, unless Davis grows into a tight end prospect like the Longhorns plan to do with Malcolm Epps in 2020.
Jonathon Brooks, running back, Hallettsville
FYI: 6-0, 185; three stars; No. 47-ranked running back
Brooks fell through the recruiting cracks because of where he plays. Hallettsville is a Class 3A program without quick access to a major recruiting hub. That played to Texas’ advantage, and Brooks was clearly a favorite of running backs coach Stan Drayton. With the inability to visit campuses and scout these players in spring ball or in summer camps, schools must rely heavily on their own evaluations off of junior tape. Brooks is a versatile athlete who the Longhorns hope to pair with an elite prospect like LJ Johnson or Camar Wheaton.
Landen King, tight end, Humble Atascocita
FYI: 6-5, 210; three stars; No. 23-ranked tight end
King creates mismatches in the passing game. He’s too big for cornerbacks and too athletic for linebackers and safeties. He came into his own as a junior, learning how to use his body size as an advantage as a receiver. It’s easy to see that King is a solid basketball player because of his vertical and ability to high-point a football. Texas wants big, athletic weapons at tight end and H-Back, much like the Longhorns plan to use Epps in 2020.
King isn’t physically ready to be a three-down tight end. He doesn’t possess the ability to block bigger defensive ends at the point of attack, but that’s not something he’s asked to do a ton in high school. He should be able to improve on his physicality once he dedicates himself to a college strength and conditioning program. The Longhorns have searched for difference makers at tight end with little success for a decade.
Casey Cain, wide receiver, Warren Easton (New Orleans, La.)
FYI: 6-2, 175; three stars; No. 23-ranked Louisiana prospect
Cain is a versatile wide receiver with the size and length to play outside and the quickness to move to slot receiver for certain routes. He excels at high pointing the football, which speaks to his experience as a basketball player. Cain is also tremendous after the catch, eluding defenders and using his power to create yards after contact.
Cain is undoubtedly raw. His recruiting ranking and lack of Power Five offers suggests Texas sees something in Cain that other schools were yet to discover. This is either a case of the Longhorn staff finding a hidden gem before Cain’s senior season, or it is the Texas staff taking a chance on a prospect it feels has a long-term future in the new offensive system.
PLAYER POS. HIGH SCHOOL STARS COMMITMENT DATE
Hayden Conner OT Katy Taylor 4 July 23 (2019)
Juan Davis WR/TE Everman 3 July 26 (2019)
Billy Bowman ATH Denton Ryan 4 July 31 (2019)
Derrick Harris Jr. DE New Caney 4 Aug. 3 (2019)
Ja'Tavion Sanders ATH Denton Ryan 5 Sept. 8 (2019)
Jordon Thomas DE Port Arthur Memorial 4 May 2
Morice Blackwell OLB Arlington Martin 4 May 10
Jonathon Brooks RB Hallettsville 3 May 15
Casey Cain WR Warren Easton (La.) 3 May 15
Isaac Pearson P ProKick Austrailia NR May 29
Ishmael Ibraheem CB Dallas Kimball 4 June 15
JD Coffey S Kennedale 4 June 15
Jamier Johnson CB John Muir (Pasadena, Calif.) 4 July 3
Gunnar Helm TE Cherry Creek (Englewood, Colo.) 3 July 27
Michael Myslinski C Bishop Kennedy (Jacksonville, Fla.) 3 Aug. 6
Jaden Alexis WR Monarch Prep (Pompano Beach, Fla.) 3 Aug. 8
Charles Wright QB Austin 3 Aug. 22
Max Merril OT Strake Jesuit 3 Sept. 25