The Dotted Line

Stay updated on the 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.

Texas head coach Tom Herman looks down the sideline during the first half of a college football game against Maryland on Sept. 2, 2017. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Football

The Dotted Line: Ranking Texas’ 13 commitments for the 2019 recruiting class

Posted July 20th, 2018

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How do the out-of-state commits stack up?

It’s tough to rank the members of Texas’ 2019 class because six of the current 13 commitments play football outside of the state. The Fabulous 55 allows us to rank the in-state prospects. Jordan Whittington, a wide receiver from Cuero, is No. 3 on the state list and the top-rated future Longhorn. Tyler Johnson, a four-star offensive tackle from Conroe Oak Ridge, is No. 5.

Cuero wide receiver Jordan Whittington chose the Longhorns over 30 other offers. (Mike Craven)

The only in-state pledges not represented on the list are Jared Wiley and defensive end Peter Mpagi. Wiley, a Temple product, plays quarterback in high school and not tight end, his future position. Mpagi is just on the edge of the Fab 55 and could move into the rankings with a strong senior season.

It gets trickier for the out-of-state commits simply because it’s hard to stack up the competition. Texas holds two commitments each from California and Arizona, and one from Georgia and Oklahoma. That’s nearly half the existing class, and that number will grow before national signing day. Some of that is out of necessity. The in-state talent is choosing Texas A&M and Oklahoma the way the 2018 class preferred Texas.

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Using a combination of the Fab 55, personal knowledge of the recruits from elite camps and HUDL film, we attempt to rank all 13 members of the 2019 recruiting class:

1. De’Gabriel Floyd, outside linebacker, Westlake Village, Calif.

FYI: 6-2/240; 4 stars; No. 54 on the 247Sports Composite

There isn’t a more dominant physical presence in the class than Floyd, a future Rover. Floyd proved he belongs among the nation’s elite with a strong showing at The Opening. He’s growing into a true linebacker but he began his career as a safety. That will give him an advantage in the Big 12. He’s used to playing in space, and Texas will ask him to do so from his linebacker position. I’d rank Floyd No. 3 on the Fab 55 if he was in Texas, just behind Ohio State pledge Garrett Wilson and Texas A&M commit DeMarvin Leal.

2. Jordan Whittington, wide receiver, Cuero

FYI: 6-1/198; 4 stars; No. 3 on the Fab 55

It’s easy to forget the exploits and talent of Whittington because he’s missed out on the elite camps and 7-on-7 tournaments this offseason due to a groin injury. He returned for the state 7-on-7 tournament and will be ready to go for Cuero this fall. Whittington is a do-it-all player for Cuero, excelling on offense and defense. He’s likely to stick at slot receiver in college, though he’d be one of the top-rated safeties in the nation if he preferred the defensive side of the ball. Whittington is electric with the ball and is a threat as a returner.

Conroe Oak Ridge offensive linemen Tyler Johnson is the No. 15-ranked player on the Fabulous 55. (Mike Craven)

3. Tyler Johnson, offensive tackle, Conroe Oak Ridge

FYI: 6-5/308; 4 stars; No. 5 on the Fab 55

Johnson is the best offensive tackle prospect in Texas. An argument can be made for Kenyon Green, but his lack of ideal length and height make it hard to imagine Green doesn’t move to guard by the time he’s approaching an NFL career. Johnson has everything a coach looks for in a bookend offensive lineman. He’s big. He’s mean. He’s light on his feet. Johnson can be an instant contributor in 2019 and that’s rarely true for freshman offensive linemen. Johnson might be the best player Texas has signed at the position since Mack Brown was head coach.

4. Jake Smith, wide receiver, Notre Dame Preparatory (Ariz.)

FYI: 6-1/189; 4 stars; No. 79 on the 247Sports Composite

Smith will become a fan favorite at Texas and remind fans of watching the Shipley brothers. In fact, the Shipley brothers recruited Smith for Texas and even told the four-star wide receiver he could wear their No. 8. Smith became the first player in Arizona since Christian Kirk to record more than 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in one season. Like Whittington, he’s a versatile athlete who can help create points as a runner, a receiver and as a returner. Smith also excels at the jet sweep. Herman’s offense is predicated on a running quarterback and dynamic slot receivers. Smith is another option for the offensive staff starting in 2019.

5. Kenyatta Watson II, cornerback, Grayson, Ga.

FYI: 6-2/187; 4 stars; No. 168 on the 247Sports Composite

If defensive coordinator Todd Orlando could build his ideal cornerback, Watson wouldn’t be far off from the prototype. Texas wants big, aggressive corners to play man-to-man outside on big receivers, allowing safeties and linebackers to disguise coverage and get after the quarterback. Watson is big enough to play safety and fast enough to stay at cornerback, much like 2018 signee Caden Sterns. Competition will be stiff because of the talent signed by the Longhorns at the position in 2018.

6. Chris Adimora, safety, Mayfair, Calif.

FYI: 6-1.5/192; 4 stars; No. 194 on the 247Sports Composite

Adimora is a rocket at safety, specializing as a free safety who can roam the back half of the secondary like a center fielder. He’s likely a boundary safety for the Longhorns because his athleticism allows him to cover more ground than the average safety. A good comparison for Adimora might be current Longhorns safety Brandon Jones. Adimora is more physical as a prep player than Jones was, however, and it is that aggression that separates him from most athletic safeties in this class. His friendship with Floyd was a main reason for picking Texas, per Adimora.

7. Roschon Johnson, quarterback, Port Neches-Groves

FYI: 6-1/192; 4 stars; No. 26 on the Fab 55

Herman identified his quarterback in the 2019 class early in Johnson, a dual-threat quarterback from southeast Texas. Johnson became Texas’ first commitment of the cycle when he pledged in the summer before his junior year. Johnson was invited to the Elite 11 in California this summer after winning MVP honors at quarterback during The Opening regional in Dallas. Herman prefers quarterbacks who can threaten defenses with the running game and Johnson might be the most athletic signal-caller in the state.

8. Demariyon Houston, wide receiver, Millwood, Okla.

FYI:  6-0/165; 4 stars; No. 173 on the 247Sports Composite

Texas wants at least four wide receivers  and it picked up its third prospect at the position when Houston pledged in July. He’s one of six out-of-state commits to pick the Longhorns this cycle. Texas lost out on Austin-area talent like Garrett Wilson and is not in the lead for Austin Bowie’s Elijah Higgins. That meant the Longhorns were forced to expand its search and Houston became a viable option who fits into UT’s scheme as an outside or slot receiver. He’s track-fast and will be a vertical threat.

9. Brayden Liebrock, tight end, Chandler, Ariz.

FYI: 6-5/220; 4 stars; No. 181 on the 247Sports Composite

Texas needed two tight ends after signing only one at the position in 2018. Liebrock gives the Longhorns an immediate-impact talent as a pass catcher. He’ll need to continue improving as a blocker and physical presence to help set the edge in the running game. That will come with more time in the weight room because Liebrock possesses the frame to add weight and muscle. He’ll enter college ready to help in the passing game.

10. T’Vondre Sweat, defensive end, Huntsville

Texas commit T’Vondre Sweat at Huntsville spring practice. (Mike Craven)

FYI: 6-3/249; 3 stars; No. 38 on the Fab 55

Big, athletic defensive linemen committed to Texas rarely fall through the cracks. That’s the case with Sweat, however, and most of it should be attributed to where he lives and the lack of camps he attends. He’s also a ‘tweener for most programs, but his body shape translates perfectly for an odd-man front run by the Longhorns. He can grow into a tackle like Chris Nelson or a Charles Omenihu. Huntsville isn’t quite East Texas or Houston, so his game isn’t talked about enough. His upside is tremendous and he’s young for his grade.

11. Marques Caldwell, cornerback, Alvin

FYI: 6-1/171; 3 stars; No. 54 on the Fab 55

Texas swung and missed on a handful of in-state options at cornerback before convincing Caldwell, a former Oregon commit, to join Watson as committed prospects at the position. The duo might be all Texas needs at the position after signing a trio of stars in the 2018 class. Caldwell is a long, strong cornerback who excels in man-to-man coverage. That’s what Texas wants in its corners because it frees up the linebackers and safeties to blitz or use exotic coverages. He’ll need to refine technique and develop at the position, but that is what assistant coach Jason Washington is paid to figure out.

12. Peter Mpagi, defensive end, George Ranch

FYI: Peter Mpagi; 3 stars; No. 692 on the 247Sports Composite

Mpagi wanted a Texas offer and quickly pounced on it once the Longhorns extended a spot. Mpagi’s dad graduated from Texas and his sister started her track career as a Longhorn. It was the dream school for the long, athletic defensive end, so he wasted no time choosing Herman’s program over the likes of Washington and Northwestern. Mpagi is a pass-rushing specialist who can grow into a run-stuffing force on the edge. He’s also capable of standing up and playing outside linebacker despite spending most of his prep career with his hand on the ground. Texas is planning to use the same method with Joseph Ossai, who signed with Texas in 2018.

13. Jared Wiley, tight end, Temple

FYI: 6-6/225; 3 stars; No. 916 on the 247Sports Composite

Wiley possesses incredible upside could easily be labeled as under-valued once we’re awarded time to look back on the 2019 class. Wiley is huge, and should translate well into a blocking tight end. His experience catching passes as a junior should help him adjust to the college tight end position, though he’ll spend his senior year starting at quarterback for Temple. Herman wants depth and talent at tight end and he’s slowly building it through recruiting. Wiley will enroll early, too.

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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