Recruiting rankings should be done in tiers. For 2021, the top tier of prospects in the state consists of three players vying for the state’s top spot. It’s a competition between a pair of offensive linemen already committed to out-of-state powerhouses and an athlete that’s heading to Texas.
Offensive linemen Tommy Brockermeyer (Alabama) and Donovan Jackson (Ohio State) were the top ranked prospects in the spring edition of the Fabulous 55. Ja’Tavion Sanders (Texas) took the third spot. Without much of an offseason, those three will remain the top players in Texas when the updated Fab 55 is released online Wednesday.
Who’s the top player in the state? We take a closer look at the cases for each of the three:
Tommy Brockermeyer, OT, Fort Worth All Saints
Brockermeyer (five stars; No. 1-ranked OT) is the state’s top-rated player on 247Sports’ composite rankings. He’s considered the fifth-best overall prospect in the entire class. Brockermeyer picked Alabama over Texas in July despite being a UT legacy with an older brother currently on Texas’ roster. It was a devastating loss for the Longhorns. It’s hard to imagine Texas reaching similar heights as a team like Alabama if it can’t win in-state for top recruits.
Brockermeyer was ranked second behind Jackson in the initial Fab 55 because he hasn’t been healthy since his sophomore year. Brockermeyer possesses the ideal height, length and size to become an All-American left tackle and an eventual first round NFL pick. He also comes from strong bloodlines and great mentoring considering his father, Blake, was an NFL guard.
A return to the field and a solid season of senior film would make Brockermeyer the state’s unquestioned top prospect. He possesses more upside than any other player in Texas, especially considering the importance of playing left tackle in the modern game of football.
Donovan Jackson, OL, Houston Bellaire Episcopal
Jackson (five stars; No. 1-ranked guard) plays tackle for Bellaire Episcopal. Recruiting services are beginning to rank him as an interior prospect because of his lack of height and length (6-4, 308). He ranks 20th in the country overall. Brockermeyer is considered the higher-upside prospect because a tackle is valued higher than an interior lineman at the NFL level.
Still, Jackson is currently the state’s best lineman and was the top-ranked player on the initial Fab 55 back in February. No player in the state is as college-ready as Jackson, who won MVP honors on the offensive line at The Opening in 2019 despite being a 2021 prospect competing against a bunch of players from the 2020 cycle.
Ohio State was always the destination for Jackson, whose family grew up in Ohio. He’d be the third top-ranked player in the state to sign with the Buckeyes over the past five cycles, joining Kennedale linebacker Baron Browning in 2017 and Lake Travis wide receiver Garrett Wilson in 2019.
Ja’Tavion Sanders, ATH, Denton Ryan
Sanders (five stars; No. 2-ranked athlete) excels at wide receiver and defensive end for Denton Ryan, which reached the Class 5A Division I state championship game in 2019. He ranks just behind Jackson on the 247Sports composite, checking in at No. 24 nationally. He’s the highest-ranked Texas commit, seven spots ahead of his Ryan teammate and fellow UT pledge Billy Bowman Jr.
Sanders (6-3, 220) was District 4-5A Division I’s defensive newcomer of the year as a sophomore when he recorded 54 tackles, including 23 for loss and 9.5 sacks. He added 23 receptions for 378 yards and five touchdowns on offense. His junior year consisted of more time spent on offense, but he still managed first-team all-district honors after posting 39 tackles, including 20 for loss and 11 sacks, as well as 47 catches for 763 yards and seven touchdown receptions.