Football

Commitment 101: Javonne Shepherd might be the future at left tackle for Texas

Posted July 29th, 2018

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A successful recruiting weekend continued for the Longhorns when four-star offensive tackle Javonne Shepherd pledged to Tom Herman’s program over Texas A&M and numerous other major offers. Shepherd, a member of the 2019 Fabulous 55, is a North Forest product in the Houston-area and is teammates with Demond Demas, Texas’ top wide receiver target in the 2020 class. Shepherd is the second offensive lineman to pick Texas in the 2019 cycle, joining four-star offensive tackle Tyler Johnson. Texas now holds 15 commitments after Shepherd’s pledge on Sunday and that of Marcus Tillman Jr. on Saturday.

Javonne Shepherd particpates at The Opening in Frisco. (Mike Craven/ American-Statesman)

Beating the Aggies out for Shepherd gives Herman and Texas a clear recruiting victory over Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M in the 2019 class. The success of A&M on the recruiting trail, and that of Oklahoma, forced Texas to expand its search of recruits in the 2019 class. Of the 15 total commitments Texas now holds, only eight hail from the Lone Star State. Shepherd is 6-foot-6 and ran a sub-4.9 in the 40-yard dash at The Opening Final in Frisco.

Skill set: Shepherd is a freakish athlete for a man well over 300 pounds. He can run around like a tight end, as he did this summer at an end of a summer camp at Texas. As camp closed in June, there was one player on the field catching passes from the coaching staff. It was Shepherd. Since that day, he’s listed the Longhorns on top of his recruiting list. Texas A&M was also in the mix. Shepherd isn’t as polished as in-state star like Johnson or Texas A&M Kenyon Green, but he’s taller, longer and more naturally athletic than them, giving him a higher upside.

Immediate impact: It’s hard to make an early impact along the offensive line. Texas is hoping to redshirt each of its offensive line signees from the 2018 class and the goal moving forward will be to redshirt as many big men as possible. There might not be a harder transition in football than going from blocking high schoolers to grown college players. That’s even more true for Shepherd, who plays Class 4A football. He’s not used to blocking players as physical and athletic as he is, and he’ll need time to shape his body and learn the nuances of playing college offensive line before he’s ready to compete for the starting spot at left or right tackle.

Fitting into the program: Shepherd shouldn’t struggle to transition into the Texas locker room. He’ll be surrounded by fellow Houstonians and has built a strong relationship with the coaching staff on campus. Shepherd has work to do to earn playing time. He needs to reshape his body, gain muscle and refine his technique. That’s what the first two seasons on campus are for, and it wouldn’t surprise any scouts or fellow coaches if Shepherd emerged in three years as the best offensive lineman from the 2019 class.

Recruiting at the position: Shepherd and Johnson are a strong offensive tackle duo set to sign with the Longhorns in 2019. Texas would love to add a third playmaker on the edge and the top candidate would be Arkansas-native Stacey Wilkins, but it appears Oklahoma and Arkansas lead for Wilkins. Branson Bragg, who committed to Stanford over the summer, was the top prospect on the interior. It’s likely that the rest of the offensive line class for the Longhorns consists of players yet to hold an offer. Expect new names to emerge as offensive line coach Herb Hand and the staff see more players in the 2018 season.

2019 Texas Longhorns recruiting class

PlayerPos. SchoolStarsCommitment date
Roschon Johnson QBPort Neches-Groves4July 21 (2017)
T'Vondre Sweat DEHuntsville3Feb. 28
Jordan Whittington WRCuero4March 10
De'Gabriel Floyd OLBWestlake Village (Calif.)4March 31
Kenyatta Watson IIDBGrayson (Ga.)4May 1
Brayden Liebrock TEChandler (Ariz.)3May 8
Tyler JohnsonOLConroe Oak Ridge5May 25
Jared WileyTETemple3May 26
Jake SmithWRNotre Dame Preparatory (Ariz.)4June 3
Peter MpagiDEGeorge Ranch3June 16
Chris AdimoraSMayfair (Calif.)4July 1
Marques CaldwellCBAlvin3July 7
Demariyon Houston WRMillwood (Okla.)4July 7
Marcus Tillman Jr.OLBJones (Fla.)3July 28
Javonne ShepherdOTNorth Forest4July 29
Derrian BrownRBBuford (Ga.)4Sept. 16

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