Texas’ 2019 recruiting class ranked third in the nation and first in the Big 12. Those rankings include departed five-star athlete Bru McCoy and retired linebacker De’Gabriel Floyd, but it was still an excellent class signed by Tom Herman and company in his second full cycle as the Longhorns’ head coach.
Texas has already seen a couple of players from the class make an impact, including slot receiver Jake Smith, defensive lineman T’Vondre Sweat and safety Chris Adimora. Fans should expect a handful of players who redshirted in 2019 start making immediate impacts this season (if football is allowed):
Jordan Whittington, wide receiver, Cuero
FYI: No. 6 on the 2019 Fabulous 55; five stars; No. 34 nationally in 2019 class
Whittington was the highest-rated member of Texas’ class if McCoy is removed. He was ranked as an athlete coming out of Cuero, where he rushed for a state-record six touchdowns in the Class 4A Division II state championship game as a senior. The former five-star was listed as a running back as a freshman, but he never made it onto the field because of lingering hernia issues from his time at Cuero.
Whittington appears healthy and ready to make an impact. He’ll move to wide receiver, specifically to the slot position alongside Smith to replace the production lost from Devin Duvernay, who is now with the Baltimore Ravens. Whittington can also help at running back and in the return game. His explosiveness gives Texas another weapon on offense.
Tyler Johnson, offensive line, Conroe Oak Ridge
FYI: No. 5 on the Fab 55; four stars; No. 58 nationally
Johnson was a highly-rated tackle prospect in high school. He’s set to start at left guard for the Longhorns. He may move back to tackle once Samuel Cosmi leaves for the NFL. Johnson is a big, physical lineman with a solid base and adequate athleticism. Playing guard should be to his advantage since he won’t need to handle speed rushers in his first year as a starter. He’s the highest-rated offensive lineman signed by Texas in Herman’s tenure.
Kenyatta Watson II, cornerback, Loganville (Ga.) Grayson
FYI: No. 131 nationally; four stars; No. 16-ranked CB
Watson took advantage of the redshirt rule that allows a player to participate in up to four games without losing a year of eligibility. The former four-star improved throughout the season and became a solid contributor down the stretch against Iowa State and Texas Tech. He’s waiting in the wings behind expected starters Jalen Green and D’Shawn Jamison. His route to playing time becomes easier if Anthony Cook does transfer out. The Longhorns need to improve in the secondary and Watson is a former All-American that the new defensive staff can deploy when needed.
Marcus Washington, wide receiver, St. Louis (Mo.) Trinity Catholic
FYI: No. 145 nationally; four stars; No. 23-ranked WR
Texas will rely on Smith and Whittington to replace the production lost at the slot position. The Longhorns need a player like Washington to take over at the outside receiver position with Collin Johnson gone. Washington was the MVP at the Under Armour All-American Game to end his prep career. Like Watson, he was able to work his way onto the field more as the season progressed, but he’ll need to be a consistent player for Texas to achieve its goals offensively.
Brayden Liebrock, tight end, Chandler (Ariz.)
FYI: No. 169 nationally; four stars; No. 5-ranked TE
Liebrock was an important commitment in the 2019 class, which also featured Jared Wiley. Liebrock was the higher ranked of the duo, but it was Wiley who forced his way onto the field as a freshman, mostly due to his physical ability to block. Liebrock is more of a receiver than blocker, at least when he arrived on campus. A year spent in the weight room should allow him more playing time alongside Wiley and Malcolm Epps.