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The Dotted Line: Offensive line among Texas' offensive recruiting disappointments

Will Denton Ryan's Ja'Tavion Sanders, a five-star athlete who signed with Texas, end up playing wide receiver or defensive end? Or, as Longhorns coach Tom Herman hinted at last week, will he play both offense and defense?

Texas signed 18 high school prospects last week and also added graduate transfer cornerback Darion Dunn from McNeese State.

The only UT commitment who didn't sign was Dallas Kimball cornerback Ishmael Ibraheem, who's facing off-field troubles and is unsure whether he’ll get to sign with Texas in the 2021 cycle.

With less than two months to go before national signing day in February, Texas' class ranks 17th in the nation and second in the Big 12. Tom Herman's three previous classes ranked in the national top 10 and topped the Big 12. Oklahoma is winning the conference's 2021 recruiting crown with a top-10 class.

The offensive class for the Longhorns was especially disappointing: Texas signed just one four-star prospect on offense.

Grading the Longhorns' offensive class: 

Quarterbacks: B-

Signings: (1) Charles Wright

Wright threw for more than 8,000 yards and accounted for more than 100 touchdowns in an Austin High varsity career that spanned parts of four seasons. He took over full-time as a sophomore, passing for 2,510 yards and 27 touchdowns. He upped that production to 2,862 yards as a junior.

He wasn’t Texas’ first commitment at quarterback. He received an offer after Katy Tompkins standout Jalen Milroe flipped his pledge to Alabama. Wright grew up a Longhorn. His high school is  within walking distance to the UT campus. Many are writing him off as a career backup, but many of those same people also once wrote off Tuscola Jim Ned's Colt McCoy. 

Running backs: B-

Signings: (1) Jonathon Brooks

In five playoff games, Brooks amassed 1,399 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns. He surpassed 3,000 yards and 60 touchdowns for the season. And last Thursday, the three-star running back led his Hallettsville squad to the Class 3A Division I state championship game.

Brooks possesses every skill required to be an elite running back at the college level except for top-end speed. He should be considered a four-star considering his senior season, even if it isn’t at the highest levels of Texas high school football. 

Houston Cypress-Fairbanks' LJ Johnson won't sign until February. He’ll be Texas’ top remaining target over the last six weeks of the cycle; he's the top-rated back on the Fabulous 55. The Longhorns are in a battle with Texas A&M for Johnson’s signature. 

Wide receivers: C+

Signings: (2) Jaden Alexis, Casey Cain

Texas was forced to go out of state to find a pair of receivers. Alexis is a 5-11 slot receiver with legit track speed. He’s the only consensus four-star so far in Texas’ offensive class. Alexis is a Florida native who held 36 offers. He was the 56th-ranked wide receiver in the country.

Cain is from New Orleans. The 6-2, 175-pounder is the 31st-ranked prospect in Louisiana.

Texas' wide receivers grade would improve dramatically if five-star athlete signee Ja’Tavion Sanders ends up playing the position, or even both ways as Herman hinted at last week. 

Tight ends: B+

Signings: (2) Gunnar Helm, Juan Davis 

Tight end was arguably the highlight of Texas’ offensive class. Helm is a three-star from Utah with a tremendous understanding of how to run routes. He gets open with ease, using his size to box-out smaller defenders. He helped his Englewood Cherry Creek team win a state championship. Davis is an athlete from Everman who spent time playing receiver and quarterback. He’s a high-upside prospect who needs a season or two to learn the position. 

Offensive linemen: C-

Signings: (2) Hayden Conner, Max Merril 

No position disappointed more on Texas' recruiting results than the offensive line. The state was loaded with offensive line prospects, including Longhorns legacies Tommy and James Brockermeyer, who ended up at Alabama. Even with more than a dozen four-star linemen prospects in the state, Texas didn’t sign a single one. Instead the Longhorns settled on Conner and Merril. Both played tackle in high school.