The Dotted Line

Texas head coach Tom Herman blows a bubble while watching his players warm up before an NCAA college football game against Baylor on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Waco, Texas. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Football

The Dotted Line: What should Texas fans expect on national signing day?

Posted February 4th, 2020

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The 2020 recruiting cycle will come to a close on Wednesday when the remaining unsigned prospects sign national letters of intent. The early signing period that’s now held in December has neutered national signing day in February, which is now less of an event than it was when every prospect in the country signed.

Still, Texas fans have plenty to pay attention to on Wednesday. The Longhorns hope to finish with a top 10 class for the third straight cycle. The class ranks 11th in the nation and second in the Big 12, trailing Oklahoma. Carthage wide receiver Kelvontay Dixon says he’ll make an announcement before Wednesday. The four-star slot receiver is favored to pick the Longhorns. 

Some things to follow on Wednesday:

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Cedar Creek defensive lineman Alfred Collins (99) rushes across the lineagainst the Akin Eagles during the third quarter at the non-district football game on Sept 5, 2019, at the Toney Burger Stadium. [JOHN GUTIERREZ/FOR STATESMAN]

The schedule 

The eyes of Texas are on three players. The first to announce will be Duncanville cornerback Ennis Rakestraw, a three-star who’s down to the Longhorns, Missouri and Alabama. He’ll make his pick at 7:30 a.m.

Texas signed only one cornerback in December, but Tyler John Tyler’s Kitan Crawford may end up moving to slot receiver or safety. Rakestraw’s stock rose during a tremendous playoff run and he’s a teammate of 2020 UT quarterback signee Ja’Quinden Jackson. 

After Rakestraw, the focus will shift to the Austin area. Manor defensive end Princely Umanmielen, a four-star prospect, announces at 2:20 p.m. between Texas, Florida, Baylor and Auburn. He’s a 6-4, 249-pound edge rusher who had 48 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks the last two years. He was a one-time Texas commit who’s now considering the Longhorns again because new defensive coordinator Chris Ash is switching to a four-man defensive front. 

Texas’ highest-rated remaining target goes last when Bastrop Cedar Creek’s Alfred Collins announces at 3:50. He’s the highest-rated unsigned defensive lineman in the country. Texas is in the mix along with Oklahoma and Alabama. Collins is a versatile defender with a 6-5, 284-pound frame who can play multiple positions in a four-man front. He earned a fifth star from 247Sports after an impressive week at the All-American Game in San Antonio, but remains a four-star on its composite rankings. 

The predictions

Texas should move past Oklahoma and win the Big 12 recruiting title for the third straight cycle. Dixon’s commitment would give the Longhorns another wide receiver with speed at the slot position. I expect the Longhorns to add a pair of defensive linemen with Umanmielen and Collins. Collins is the safer bet, but Umanmielen is trending back toward the Longhorns after spending two weekends on campus since the hiring of Ash.

Manor defensive lineman Princely Umanmielen (8) reacts after a play against Pflugerville on Sept 27, 2019 at the Manor ISD Athletic Complex. [JOHN GUTIERREZ/FOR STATESMAN]
Umanmielen de-committed in October because of the 3-4 scheme that had been deployed by former defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. And he likely would be signing with Baylor had Bears coach Matt Rhule remained in Waco. Collins has always maintained that he’d take his time with the recruiting process. He held true to his word and visited the top programs in the country. His heart is in Austin, as is his family, and I believe that will be the deciding factor. 

Rakestraw is harder to predict. The 6-0, 170-pound cornerback didn’t receive national attention until after the early period. He picked up offers from Georgia, Texas and Alabama over a 10-day span and quickly became a hot commodity after his performance in the state playoffs and because the early signing period took most targets off the board. He spent the final weekend of the recruiting cycle in Austin for an official visit, but Missouri is a real factor. 

The impact 

Texas’ class isn’t jumping into the top five, but it should be comfortably in the top 10 if Wednesday goes as Texas’ coaching staff hopes. The Longhorns signed a fantastic group of prospects in December. A lack of numbers is why this class doesn’t rank higher. Most programs have at least 20 commitments. Texas didn’t need to do that after two big classes and a lack of attrition. 

Adding this trio of prospects, and potentially Dixon on Tuesday, to the 17 signed in December should be considered a success for Herman considering Texas limped to a 8-5 record and replaced both coordinators and multiple position coaches. The average player rank of Texas’ 2020 commitments is higher than that of 2019, and that disparity grows wider if Bru McCoy and De’Gabriel Floyd are removed from the 2019 class since they never played at Texas. 

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