Listen to Austin 360 Radio
SUBSCRIBE NOW
As low as $3 for 3 months
SUBSCRIBE NOW
As low as $3 for 3 months

The Dotted Line: Bright spot of Texas' 2021 recruiting class is defensive haul

Texas coach Tom Herman's 2021 recruiting class so far has been heavy with defensive prospects; the Longhorns have signed only one four-star player on offense.

Texas signed 18 high school prospects last week and also added graduate transfer cornerback Darion Dunn from McNeese State. The only commitment not to sign was Dallas Kimball cornerback Ishmael Ibraheem, who's facing off-the-field troubles and is unsure whether he’ll get to sign with Texas in the 2021 cycle. 

The class ranks 17th in the nation and second in the Big 12. The Longhorns' previous three classes ranked inside the top 10 and won the Big 12. With less than two months to go until national signing day, Oklahoma is leading the conference with a top-10 class. The defensive class was the bright spot for Texas.

Grades for the Longhorns' defensive signees:

Defensive linemen: A

Signings: (5) Ja’Tavion Sanders; Jordan Thomas; Derrick Harris Jr.; Byron Murphy II; Barryn Sorrell

Tom Herman said at his signing day press conference that Sanders, a five-star athlete from Denton Ryan, will get a chance to play both offense and defense. He’s the logical heir apparent to the departing Joseph Ossai at Jack defensive end. His athleticism is off the charts for a teenager already standing at 6-3, 220 pounds. 

Thomas and Harris are quality four-star ends. Thomas is the bigger of the two, and probably the more physically dominant defender. The Port Arthur Memorial product plays hard on every snap. Harris is a pass rushing specialist who missed his senior season with a leg injury, but he’s among seven players in the class who are enrolling early. 

Murphy is the class’ only defensive tackle. He was a one-time Baylor commitment. Sorrell, a three-star defensive end from New Orleans, picked Texas on Wednesday afternoon.

Linebackers: B+

Signings: (2) Morice Blackwell; Terrence Cooks

The two-man linebacker class of Blackwell and Cooks is a solid haul for the Longhorns. Blackwell, an outside linebacker from Arlington Martin, is a four-star recruit who recorded more than 100 tackles as a sophomore and a junior. He’s a speedy prospect listed at 196 pounds. He’ll need to add weight, but his ability to cover in space and run sideline to sideline is perfect for Big 12 football. Cooks, also a four-star, was Texas’ top linebacker target for much of the cycle.

Defensive backs: B- 

Signings: (3) JD Coffey; Jamier Johnson; Darion Dunn 

The only disappointment during the early period was not getting to sign Ibraheem, who ran into off-the-field trouble early in the month. It's unclear whether the Longhorns will allow him to sign in February. The three defensive backs who did sign should excite fans. Dunn, a grad transfer from McNeese State, was a player Texas flipped from a North Carolina State commitment. He should provide immediate depth to the position. 

Coffey, a four-star safety from Kennedale, was a four-year varsity starter at the Class 4A level. He was an all-state selection multiple times, including his freshman season. He’s a ballhawk who loves to hit. Johnson is a four-star cornerback from California. He’ll enroll early, which is good news for him because he wasn’t allowed to play as a senior with California canceling the season due to the pandemic.