After signing Bijan Robinson — a five-star recruit who was the country’s top-ranked running back prospect in 2020 and discovering that 2019 quarterback signee Roschon Johnson was instead a future NFL prospect at running back, Texas can afford to be picky recruiting running backs for the 2021 class.
Texas’ current starter, Keaontay Ingram, would be a senior when players from the 2021 class arrive on campus — if he doesn’t test the NFL draft waters after this season.
The Longhorns figure Robinson will be on campus for only three years, so Tom Herman’s staff does need to add depth considering the uncertainty surrounding Derrian Brown, who signed in 2019 out of Georgia but hasn’t seen the field after suffering a stroke as a senior in high school.
Texas is one step into its two-player recruiting plan for 2021 running backs with the commitment of Hallettsville’s Jonathon Brooks. The 6-0, 185-pound three-star prospect is one of seven running backs with a UT offer; three of those seven remain uncommitted. Besides the Texas-bound Brooks, Virginia’s TreVeyon Henderson, the No. 1-ranked running back in the country, is pledged to Ohio State. Georgia’s Phil Mafah is committed to Clemson, while Katy’s Brandon Campbell is headed to USC.
That leaves three uncommitted running backs with offers, including the two best backs in Texas. Do the Longhorns stand a chance with either or will they be required to dole out more offers once the season begins? Let’s check the status of the three remaining targets.
Camar Wheaton, Garland Lakeview Centennial
FYI: 5-11, 190; five stars; No. 2-ranked running back
Top schools: Oklahoma, LSU, Texas, SMU
Of these three remaining uncommitted targets, Wheaton appears to be Texas’ best option. He’s down to four schools — Oklahoma, LSU, Texas and SMU. He’s the nation’s No. 2-ranked running back and holds 43 offers. He took an unofficial visit to Texas on March 10, one of the last opportunities that a prospect was allowed to visit a college.
Wheaton is a track star. He excels in the 100- and 200-meters. He’s also a proven commodity on the football field, earning District 10-6A newcomer of the year honors as a freshman in 2017. He was the district’s offensive MVP as a sophomore and its overall MVP last year as a junior. He has rushed for 3,128 yards and 40 touchdowns in his first three years and is also a proven pass catcher; he has 20 receptions for 216 yards and two touchdowns over the past two years.
LJ Johnson, Houston Cypress-Fairbanks
FYI: 5-10, 204; four stars; No. 4-ranked running back
Top schools: Texas A&M, Georgia, Oklahoma, Auburn, LSU
Johnson trails Lakeview Centennial’s Wheaton in the national rankings, but I still consider him the best running back in the state; Johnson ranks 12th on the Fabulous 55, just ahead Wheaton, who’s 15th. Texas A&M is the overwhelming leader for Johnson. He’s a blazer with verified 4.42 40-yard dash speed. He has rushed for 3,090 yards and 57 touchdowns over the past two years. He’s also an excellent receiver out of the backfield.
Donovan Edwards, West Bloomfield, Mich.
FYI: 5-11, 190; four stars; No. 3-ranked running back
Top schools: Georgia, Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma
March was a good month for Ewdwards, who added offers from LSU, Auburn and Baylor. He took an unofficial visit to Ohio State right before the NCAA placed travel restrictions on prospective athletes and college coaches. It doesn’t appear that Texas is among his favorites at the moment.