Spring Dekaney cornerback Marcus Banks at Texas' junior day. (Mike Craven)

Football

The Dotted Line: Can Texas repeat its defensive back recruiting success in 2019?

Posted March 22nd, 2018

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Stay updated on latest Texas Longhorns recruiting news brought to you by Longhorns recruiting beat writer Mike Craven of Hookem.com. The Dotted Line will publish M-F at 10 a.m. each morning to provide Texas fans with an in-depth look at the latest for the Longhorns on the recruiting trail.


Can Texas repeat success at defensive back?

Texas landed the best three safeties and cornerbacks in the state during the 2018 cycle. It was pure domination at the position on the recruiting trail by head coach Tom Herman and assistant coaches like Jason Washington and Craig Naivar. Three of those players — BJ Foster, Caden Sterns and Anthony Cook — are already on campus competing for snaps vacated by the likes of Holton Hill and DeShon Elliott.

Texas signees BJ Foster, D’Shawn Jamison and Jalen Green. (Mike Craven)

The Longhorns will add DeMarvion Overshown, Jalen Green and D’Shawn Jamison to the mix in the summer. All six were ranked inside the top 15 of the 2018 Fabulous 55 with Foster, Sterns, Overshown, Green and Cook ranking as the top five players in the state, in that order. In the pass-happy Big 12, it was a position Texas needed to restock.

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It’s unclear whether the success last year at the position will be a hindrance for 2019. Texas ihas s yet to land a defensive back in the class and isn’t a clear-cut leader for a single player at cornerback or safety as April approaches. The in-state talent is aware of the type of prospects Texas just added to the roster and playing time is an important factor for most recruits.

That could mean Texas concentrates out of state, where prospects are less likely to be in awe of the 2018 class. Of the 11 cornerbacks currently offered by the Longhorns, seven reside outside of the Texas borders. That’s true for six of the 11 safeties with UT offer. Texas A&M has landed two safety prospects with a Texas offer in Brian Williams and Demani Richardson, meaning only four in-state safeties who aren’t committed hold an offer from Texas.

Overview: Defensive backs

Needs: 4 or 5

Commits: 0

Top Targets: Marcus Banks, cornerback, Spring Dekaney; Chris Steele, cornerback, St. John Bosco (Calif.); Jeffery Carter, cornerback, Aledo; Erick Young, cornerback, Fort Bend Bush; Kenyatta Watson II, safety, Grayson (Ga.); Jamal Morris, safety, Fort Bend Bush; Jalen Catalon, safety, Mansfield Legacy

Banks is the top in-state priority for Texas at cornerback. The staff has recruited him for more than a year now due to their familiarity with the Dekaney program; Texas signed Dekaney product Malcolm Epps in 2018 and it’s safe to say Epps is working on Banks on a daily basis. Banks is the state’s top cornerback, but he has ties to the Louisiana area and that makes LSU the main competition for Texas.

Fort Bend Bush safety Jamal Morris is down to Texas, Oklahoma and LSU. (Mike Craven)

Fellow in-state targets like Carter and Young also are high on the Texas board. The Longhorns are fighting the stigma of a stacked depth chart with both players. Carter was a one-time commitment to Oklahoma and Young is trending toward Oklahoma or Texas A&M, which means it is unlikely Texas will sign his teammate and safety target Jamal Morris. The two want to attend the same school.

Steele, a product of California, is a real possibility for Texas. He’s a 5-star prospect who recently earned an invite to The Opening Final this summer in Frisco. He was committed to UCLA at one time but now USC appears to be the favorite. Getting Steele back on campus for an official visit would be a win for the Texas staff.

The safety position is as unclear in the early stages of the cycle. Texas felt good about Richardson and Williams before both committed to Texas A&M. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Longhorns continued recruiting at least one of those prospects, if not both. The same perception issue faces Texas at the safety position as it does at corner. There is young talent waiting on the roster and modern recruits pay attention to depth charts.

Texas loves Catalon and hopes the 4-star prospect can provide the Longhorns with a commitment at safety who can also excel as a nickel back. It’s finding the two bigger safeties in the class that could prove difficult. Texas is in the mix for Watson but Notre Dame is the favorite. The Longhorns will need to find new targets, pull some upsets or flip a current commit to fill the safety spots.

Other notable offers: Bobby Wolfe, cornerback, Houston Madison, Derek Stingley, cornerback, Dunham School (La.); Brian Williams, safety, Bishop Dunne; Demani Richardson, safety, Waxahachie; Lewis Cine, safety, Cedar Hill Trinity Christian

Analysis

It’s a tricky cycle for Texas at defensive back. It’s easy to say that players who don’t mind competition would sign up to play at Texas. That’s not how it works, however. Prospects are educated and understand the path to the NFL means getting on the field early in college. That’s easier at a school that didn’t just load up with six potential stars at cornerback and safety.

Statistics suggest not all six of the 2018 secondary signees will live up to expectations. Overshown might end up playing linebacker and not be in the discussion in a few months. That leaves an opportunity for a new crop of defensive backs to make a mark if competition doesn’t scare them away. At least that will be the pitch by Herman and his defensive back coaches.

Texas can’t rely on the development of the 2018 class. There is no guarantee that Sterns, Foster, Cook and the others become future NFL talents. It is the job of the coaches to continue building depth in the secondary to slow Big 12 offensive attacks. It may take creativity, but the Longhorns must fill spots in the secondary during the 2019 class despite the challenges.

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