A day after picking up Florida cornerback Davante Davis, the Texas Longhorns picked up another significant addition in Dallas Skyline linebacker Anthony Wheeler, who pledged to the Horns at the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
The battle for the 6'2, 225-pound linebacker had long been between the Red Red rivals, with each team at times leading in Wheeler's recruitment, but he said that he felt comfortable with head coach Charlie Strong's and believes the future is bright there.
Strong was quick on the trigger with his post-commitment tweet:
Two days in a row! #LetsRide— Charlie Strong (@Strong_TexasFB) January 2, 2015
For some time, Oklahoma had seemed like the favorite, but Texas initiated contact with Wheeler again late in the process and appeared to close the gap somewhat, especially after the debacle for Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl against Clemson, which has put the job of linebackers coach Tim Kish in peril.
Here's where things stood just before Wheeler's decision, according to Football Brainaics:
"Wheeler's parents want him at Texas, but his (Wheeler's) relationship with Frank Shannon is the only thing holding it back. However, Wheeler and Shannon had a long talk last night. Either way it looks like this is closer than most thought between OU and Texas."
Another source told the Football Brainiacs later on Friday that Texas was going to be the choice.
As with Malik Jefferson, Wheeler's parents were able to win out in the end with their son, who took numerous visits to Norman over the last year, including his only official visit this fall and another unofficial visit.
Wheeler also held offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor, Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Ole Miss, SMU, and Texas Tech.
A consensus four-star prospect, he's rated as the No. 168 player nationally, the No. 10 outside linebacker, and the No. 22 player in the state of Texas, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Though Wheeler is considered a linebacker by the services, his future position in college may well be defensive end. His testing numbers at the 2013 Dallas NFTC support that projection, as his 4.88 40 time would play much better in shorter spaces. For his size, however, his 32.2-inch vertical is a good mark.
Physically, Wheeler is one of the more impressive prospects in the state, with a frame that is already developed and carries a significant amount of muscle. Based on his build, he should be able to reach 240 pounds, the target point for a weak side defensive end.
At his best when coming downhill and filling holes against the run, Wheeler has good short-area quickness. shows some instincts to diagnosing plays, and has a nice tackling radius aided by his ability to quickly redirect.
As he makes the transition to college, if he does move to defensive end, he'll have to work on developing some pass-rushing moves, as well as holding up at the point of attack.
There's some sideline-to-sideline range that allows Wheeler to make plays outside of the tackles, so there is evidence that he has the capability to stick at linebacker. One play shows Wheeler dropping into coverage and leaping to intercept a pass.
Again, based on the testing results and frame of Wheeler, he's likely headed for defensive end or the a rusher linebacker position in college, but may need a transition period as he acquires the skills necessary to play the position.
Texas now has pledges from five linebackers, including five-star Malik Jefferson, key Florida pledge Cecil Cherry, Cameron Townsend, and Breckyn Hager.
With Wheeler now in the fold, Texas now sits at 24 pledges (including Matthew Merrick) in the 2015 class, which ranks No. 10 in the 247Sports Composite team rankings and remains at No. 1 in the Big 12.