One of the most twisting and winding recruitments in recent memory ended in favor of the Texas Longhorns, as Houston Westside defensive tackle Jordan Elliott committed to and signed with the Longhorns shortly after 1 p.m. CT on Wednesday.
Ever since the 6'4, 306-pounder's decommitment from the Michigan Wolverines on January 27th, the Longhorns were the clear and only favorite, leaving little drama in a saga that often featured plenty of it. In the final days, semi cryptic tweets like the latitude and longitude of Austin provided a full and complete indication of his destination.
30.2861° N, 97.7394° W— FilthyJ (@XCV____) February 1, 2016
The 247Sports Crystal Ball agreed:
Fully telling this story, however, requires a jump back to a little more than a year ago. Coming off an impressive junior season that cemented Elliott as one of the top defensive tackles in a historically strong defensive tackle class in the state of Texas, the Westside product saw his recruitment take off.
On January 31 he announced his pledge to the Baylor Bears at a Junior Day in Waco, but continued taking visits, tripping to Texas and Texas A&M. Shortly before his decommitment from Baylor in early April, he picked up an offer from the USC Trojans that looked like a potential game-changer.
In late May, one day after naming a top eight, Elliott followed five-star Houston Westfield defensive tackle Ed Oliver in committing to the hometown Houston Cougars. But he kept taking visits, traveling to Los Angeles to see USC and making three trips to Austin in a little more than a month. Unsurprisingly, his commitment to Houston ended in early September.
Less than a month later, Elliott sent out a string of tweets about Texas that he later deleted, but not before persistent rumors began that he was a silent commit to the Longhorns. Unfortunately for head coach Charlie Strong and company, Elliott wasn't willing to go public, despite taking two more visits, one in September after his decommitment from Houston and another in early November on the biggest in-season visit date for Texas.
However, he was also taking his official visits -- to Nebraska, Baylor, Oklahoma, and then Michigan in late November. Days before that journey to Ann Arbor, Jim Harbaugh had sent Elliott what can only be considered one of the worst Texas-shaped birthday cake in whatever history of Texas-shaped birthday cakes there may be:
Great birthday wishes from a great coaching staff pic.twitter.com/yQxJ4lmoc9— FilthyJay (@XCV____) November 24, 2015
I mean, seriously, I can't get over how terrible that thing is. It's not like Ann Arbor lacks businesses that make custom cakes. And pretty sure that ordering one would have fit into the Michigan recruiting budget.
In any case, Elliott was adamant about his recruiting process being over at that point and into early January at the 2016 US Army All-American Bowl, where he indicated that he was no longer communicating with the Texas coaching staff:
It sounded like things were really over for the Longhorns and the talented defensive tackle. Until they weren't -- thing is, Strong and his staff proved last year that they don't take no for an answer until the ink dry and the fax is sent. And Elliott's fax was surely not signed, sealed, or delivered in early January. At some point after Elliott left San Antonio, the lines of communication re-opened.
And then, on January 22, the news broke that Elliott would be on campus in Austin for his final official visit. Once again, there was hope with the state's No. 3 defensive tackle. Once Elliott made his decision to officially leave the Michigan class, that hope calcified into true belief as it the final competitor for his services dropped away and it seemed possible that Elliott was a silent Texas commit for the second time.
Whether or not that was the case, Elliott is now officially a member of the Texas signing class and a big one, at that.
The consensus four-star product is the No. 115 player overall, the No. 14 defensive tackle, and the No. 18 player in the state of Texas, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. During his recruitment, he collected 40 offers.
As mentioned earlier, it was Elliott's junior season that earned him so much attention, as he recorded 78 tackles, 31 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. Those numbers are pretty okay.
Here's the evaluation of Elliott by ESPN ($):
Prospect with excellent size at this stage with a frame and body comp. that can continue to be developed with time in a college weight program. Flashes great playing strength as well as very good get-off quickness.
Versus the Run
Demonstrates ability to fire out low and uncoil at contact and when he plays with leverage can be very tough at point of attack. At times can knock blockers back and flashes powerful upper body to separate and shed from blockers. Does need to watch pad level as it can quickly rise at times and needs to continue to refine hand usage and work getting off blocks little quicker at times. Displays adequate lateral mobility to be active between the tackles.
Pass Rush Skills
With good initial burst, flashes good bull rush ability when he stays low. Also flashes ability to attack half-man and flip hips and while he needs to continue to develop can be active with hands. Doesn't display great closing burst and can get shook in some space, but has tools to develop into disruptive interior rusher.
Prospect with very good size and strength and is not afraid to throw it around and be physical in his play. Gives good effort though range is average and at his best between the tackles. A solid tackler that can work to be sounder as he can attack high at times.
Elliott is a strong and disruptive prospect and moves around the D-Line at the high school level and could offer some versatility to how used in the trenches at the college level as well. Needs to continue to refine technically in areas, but with continued progress could be an early contributor and grow into highly productive Power-5 starter.
Texas is likely to only have four scholarship defensive tackles on the roster this year beyond the 2016 signees. So even though there is an opportunity for Elliott or others to earn early playing time, it's difficult to predict much in the way of impact, even for someone as talented as the Houston Westside product -- keep in mind that while Malcom Brown was a consensus five-star prospect and justifiably the No. 2 player overall in the 247Sports Composite rankings, he made only two tackles for loss among his 25 tackles as a true freshman.
If the Horns can get similar production from Elliott, it would be a bonus. By 2017 or 2018 though? if he reaches his potential, he could become an All-Conference player and that's something that Texas hasn't been able to truly say about a defensive tackle signee since Brown in 2012.
Elliott's commitment will likely close out a big National Signing Day for the Longhorns that included six other pledges. The class now stands at 24 and with all additions, Texas vaulted to No. 9 in the 247Sports Composite team rankings and No. 1 in the Big 12.