Texas head coach Tom Herman decided to overhaul his coaching staff less than three weeks away from the early signing period, which starts on Dec. 18. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando was fired, as was wide receivers coach Drew Mehringer. Other members of the staff were reassigned, including offensive coordinator Tim Beck, and there is uncertainty over which assistants will remain after the bowl game.
Still, Texas must sign a solid class in 2020 for Herman and his new staff for the future they hope to build. The loss of Utah defensive end Van Fillinger dropped Texas to 17 pledges in the 2020 cycle. The class ranks seventh in the nation and still leads the Big 12. Only five of the 17 pledges project to the defensive side of the football.
Texas’ first goal on the recruiting trail is to keep the current 17 members on board. Early indications point toward Herman keeping the majority of the group together with multiple commitments reaffirming their pledges Sunday afternoon.
That doesn’t mean the Longhorns won’t try and add a handful of talented prospects before the early signing period, especially on defense. Here are five prospects the Longhorns want to add despite the uncertainty surrounding the coaching staff:
Alfred Collins, defensive end, Bastrop Cedar Creek
FYI: 6-5/275; 4 stars; No. 14 on the 2020 Fabulous 55
The latest: Collins is a long-time target of the Texas staff. It helps Texas’ chances that defensive line coach Oscar Giles was retained for bowl preparations, which means he should be at Texas at least through the early signing period. Collins plays it close to the vest and has taken his time throughout the process. Expect the big-bodied lineman to wait until the early signing period or the All-American Bowl in San Antonio to make his choice public. Texas is still in a great position because of proximity and his family ties.
Sawyer Goram-Welch, defensive tackle, Longview
FYI: 6-4/278; 3 stars; No. 75-ranked defensive tackle
The latest: Goram-Welch appears to be the preferred replacement for the loss of Fillinger. The Longview product picked up an offer from the Longhorns on Monday morning. He’s currently pledged to Oklahoma State, but Texas becomes the front-runner if he takes an official visit to Austin this month. The Longhorns need more bodies along the defensive line if they plan to switch to a four-man front under the next defensive coordinator.
Jaqwondis Burns, outside linebacker, IMG Academy (Fla.)
FYI: 6-2/205; 3 stars; No. 37-ranked outside linebacker
The latest: Texas offered Burns back in October despite his pledge to Ole Miss. The former Texan backed off that commitment on Monday, and now the Longhorns are in the hunt for the three-star outside linebacker. Texas must compete with Utah and Baylor for his services. Burns was a first-team all-district performer at Terrell last year as a junior before finishing his prep career in Florida at IMG.
Kelvontay Dixon, athlete, Carthage
FYI: 6-0/180; 3 stars; No. 21-ranked athlete
The latest: Dixon might be the only 2020 offensive target remaining for the Longhorns. He’s listed as an athlete, but expect him to play slot receiver at the college level. Dixon was pledged to Arkansas before the firing of head coach Chad Morris. The Carthage native is still alive in the state playoffs, which has put recruiting on the back burner. Texas is the favorite considering Dixon is the younger brother of UT running back Keaontay Ingram.
Kelee Ringo, cornerback, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro
FYI: 6-2/205; 5 stars; No. 1-ranked cornerback
The latest: Texas won’t let up on the nation’s top cornerback prospect until he signs a national letter of intent to another school. Georgia remains the leader. Texas is sending assistant coach Jason Washington to see him this week and the Longhorns are still hopeful Ringo will take another visit to Austin before Dec. 18. He and his teammates are playing for the open division state championship in Arizona on Saturday.