Needs: Two or three
Commitments: Rowlett's Charles Omenihu
- Orange (Calif.) Lutheran-Orange County's Keisean Lucier-Smith
- Clemmons (N.C) West Forsyth's Jalen Dalton
- St. Paul (Minn) Cretin Durham Hall's Jashon Cornell (committed to Ohio State)
- Atlanta (Ga.) Mays' Natrez Patrick (committed to Georgia)
- Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson's Chauncey Rivers (committed to Georgia)
- Ennis' James Lockhart
- Navarro College's Quincy Vasher (committed to Georgia)
- Contra Costa College's Tak McKinley
- Lincolnton (N.C.)'s Darian Roseboro
- Clayton (N.C.) Cleveland's Sterling Johnson (committed to Clemson)
Commitment overview: Targeting and landing the lanky Charles Omenihu well before any other schools were seriously pursuing the prep run stopper was perhaps the single best evaluation by the new Texas coaching staff during the spring, a statement supported heavily by the trajectory of his recruitment.
At the time of the 6'5, 225-pounder's commitment at a Texas Junior Day back in February, he was a lightly-regarded mid-three-star prospect who featured only three offers, from Louisiana Tech, Northwestern, and Tulsa, while receiving interest from Baylor, Michigan, and Oklahoma.
Since that time, he's added offers from Arizona State, Florida, LSU, Miami, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, and TCU.
He was also vocal about wanting to earn an invitation to The Opening after a strong performance in the pass-rushing drills at the Dallas NFTC, notably beating Texas A&M commit Trevor Elbert on several reps. Unfortunately for Omenihu, the invitation never came despite a strong performance that provided the evidence of his upside getting after the quarterback that wasn't also visible on film from his junior season.
Besides making his feelings known to the Student Sports folks who run The Opening, Omenihu has also been the biggest recruiter among the current commits since the time of his pledge. His relationship with Rockwall-Heath hybrid defender DeShon Elliott probably didn't hurt Texas in landing one of only two prospects in the class with an offer rom Texas A&M, though any other returns are a little bit more difficult to ascertain.
Other targets of Omenihu include Mesquite Poteet's star linebacker Malik Jefferson and big, bruising Rockwall running back Chris Warren.
Moving forward: One of the more perplexing decisions in the state, however, has been the decision not to heavily recruit the state's top defensive end, James Lockhart.
Holding offers from at least 25 schools and a top-10 ranking in the 247Sports Composite for strong side defensive end, Lockhart's film perhaps isn't as resounding as some defensive ends who have come out over the years and he is rather on the short side at 6'2, but he's still a four-star prospect with an impressive offer list.
A mid-June visit to Alabama helped the Crimson Tide significantly just days after Lockhart narrowed his list to the Tide and the Aggies. However, A&M was able to withstand the decision to wait until the middle of May to finally extend an offer. Shortly thereafter, Lockhart released a top five that did not include the Longhorns despite the fact that he had taken a visit to Austin just before he put his list together.
Apparently Lockhart is considered good enough to play at Alabama by Nick Saban, but not good enough to play at Texas in the estimation of Charlie Strong.
For most of the other players on the above list, the offers mostly went out from the new coaching staff and few of them have had much impact -- getting an offer from the Longhorns doesn't mean what it used to, in small part because more top players now receive them, but mostly because there's little program cachet at the national level.
For most of the country, Texas football isn't an impactful presence in their psyche. And how would it be, after the struggles of the last four years?
The one national prep product the Horns may have some chance of landing is Keisean Lucier-Smith, a five-star weak side recruit who has Texas in his top 11. There's some work to do to land an official visit, which would likely be his first and only trip to Austin, and UCLA and Michigan are thought to be the frontrunners by some margin. It appears that he has already set up official visits to Michigan and Notre Dame, leaving at least eight teams battling for those three remaining visits and a chance to stay alive in his recruitment.
A much more likely bet is Takk McKinley, who plays at the same California junior college that produced Desmond Harrison. Since McKinley was a freshman last fall after signing with Cal as a member of the 2013 class, he never played with Harrison. However, the insignificance of that connection hasn't kept McKinley from showing significant interest in Texas -- he's already scheduled an official visit and the Horns are currently the favorite in the 247Sports Crystal Ball rankings over home-state USC.
Listed as a strong side defensive end, McKInley may actually be a better fit on the weak side with his speed off the edge. Considered a subpar run defender out of high school, he has enough size at 250 pounds to hold at the point of attack, but is currently more effective as a edge rusher using his excellent quickness and change-of-direction ability. Think a little bit more refined Shiro Davis.
Given the lack of other serious options at this time, there's some not-insigificant pressure to land McKInley -- if not, the next pure defensive end commit for Texas is not currently on the radar.
As at defensive tackle and tight end, there's not a ton of talent in the state this year, which makes it even more curious that the staff doesn't think that Lockhart can even play for the Longhorns, an evaluation that conflicts heavily with the industry consensus and the consensus of quite a number of top programs.
After taking only two defensive ends in the last two classes after losing Daeshon Hall to Texas A&M in the 2013 class, the Horns can't really afford to take only one in the 2015 class with 2014 signee Jake McMillon a possible swing player and low-ceiling take overall.
So what does the in-state talent look like? A handful of low three-star weak side defensive ends behind Omenihu and a handful of low three-star defensive ends behind Lockhart and Round Rock product Breylin Mitchell, a near four-star prospect.
The Texas staff is surely combing the ranks of the strong side defensive ends to find any more under appreciated products like Omenihu and could seriously evaluate Mitchell, who is a longtime TCU commit.
Otherwise, the staff will have to find similar prospects in other states or continue going back to JUCOs to find a defensive end to pair with Omenihu and hopefully McKinley in the class.
It's also possible that an athlete like Louis Brown, the recruit who may currently be at the top of the list to commit soon, to find an edge specialist who can grow into a hybrid player and perhaps eventually a pure weak side defensive end. In looking at the height and weights of the weak side defensive ends in the state, Brown has a similar profile, but much more upside because he is significantly more talented.
A class of Omenihu, McKinley, and Brown? Well, that would look mighty fine indeed given the relative lack of in-state options. And also quite a reasonable expectation on the scale of likely scenarios.
Get it done, coach Rumph.