The Dotted Line: Predicting destinations of Texas' remaining 2021 targets
The 2021 recruiting cycle was unprecedented due to pandemic travel restrictions. Players couldn’t take official visits to colleges. College coaches couldn’t visit prospects at their high school or games.
Texas signed 18 players during the early period in December. Since then, the Longhorns replaced Tom Herman with Steve Sarkisian. Wide receiver Keithron Lee and cornerback Ishmael Ibraheem are the team’s only unsigned commitments ahead of national signing day on Wednesday.
The class ranks 17th in the nation and second in the Big 12. Sarkisian and his staff hope to land a few more commitments on, or prior to, Wednesday:
LJ Johnson, RB, Houston Cypress-Fairbanks
FYI: 5-10, 204; four stars; No. 4-ranked running back
Prediction: Texas A&M
Johnson appears to be truly torn between Texas and Texas A&M. It's an old-school recruiting battle between the long-time rivals. Johnson loves Austin and UT. He also believes there is more stability, and maybe even a quick avenue to the College Football Playoffs, at A&M considering that the Longhorns replaced their head coach a month ago. Texas A&M has also signed a tremendous offensive line class.
Johnson became a household name as a sophomore when he rushed for 1,139 yards and 20 touchdowns. He raised his stock even more with an all-state junior season, rushing for 1,951 yards and 37 touchdowns. In a shortened senior season, he ran for 1,262 yards and 20 touchdowns on only 177 carries. He was named District 17-6A offensive MVP for the second straight year.
Camar Wheaton, RB, Garland Lakeview Centennial
FYI: 5-11, 190; five stars; No. 2-ranked running back
Wheaton is committed to Alabama, but unlike most of the other commitments in the class, he did not sign during the early period. That left the door open for a program like Texas because of his familiarity with the program thanks to the old staff’s recruitment of the speedy running back, as well as with Sarkisian from his commitment to Alabama when the new Texas head coach was still the offensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa. But while Texas kicked the tires on Wheaton after the hiring of Sarkisian, the five-star running back is likely to sign with Alabama.
Austin Uke, OT, Dallas Parish Episcopal
FYI: 6-4, 265; three stars; No. 40-ranked offensive tackle
Uke has stayed patient in his recruitment, which paid off as offers piled in after the early period. He's one of the best unsigned offensive line prospects in the state, drawing attention from Texas, Oklahoma and Stanford. The Longhorns hope he stays in state to play for Texas and new offensive line coach Kyle Flood, but West Coast programs such as USC and Stanford had a head start in his recruitment. Uke is a raw, athletic prospect who possesses a high upside at tackle or guard. The Longhorns signed two offensive tackle prospects during the early period.
David Abiara, DE, Mansfield Legacy
FYI: 6-4, 248; four stars; No. 24-ranked strong-side defensive end
Abiara is the safest bet to pick Texas between now and signing day. The one-time Notre Dame commit received an offer from the Longhorns on the same day that Texas hired its new defensive coordinator. He's a repeat all-district selection who arrived on the recruiting scene after a 15-sack junior year. He recorded 75 tackles, including 21 for loss, in 2019. Abiara backed away from his Notre Dame commitment Dec. 25. He'll decide at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.