By this time last year, Westlake quarterback Sam Ehlinger was committed to the Texas Longhorns and headed towards an incredible junior season that would vault him up the recruiting rankings.
But in the 2018 cycle, the Longhorns have only offered a single quarterback in the class — longtime LSU commit Zadock Dinkelmann — as the staff takes a much more deliberate approach to evaluating the potential targets.
And Dinkelmann received his offer a year ago from former position coach Shawn Watson, so current offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert is yet to offer a 2018 quarterback.
Here’s a look at the players who are currently on the radar.
Somerset pro-style quarterback Zadock Dinkelmann (LSU commit) — The ‘Horns offered last summer following the Elite Quarterback Academy. Since then, Dinkelmann had to battle through a rough sophomore season that ended in the middle of September due to an ankle injury.
But there’s still some interest from both sides, as the nephew of former NFL quarterbacks and collegiate stars Ty and Koy Detmer participated in the Texas summer camp in June.
The Longhorns and the Tigers are still the only schools to offer the 6’4.5, 213-pounder, but that could change this fall as he finally gets back on the field for an important junior season.
Sachse dual-threat quarterback Jalen Mayden — If the elder Mayden brother, eventual Alabama cornerback signee Jared, never seriously considered the Longhorns, the opposite is the case for younger brother Jalen, who has been a frequent visitor in Austin.
The 6’2, 208-pounder first emerged on the Texas radar during the same summer camp Dinkelmann attended and has been on campus three times already this year, including for a return appearance at the June camp.
Ranked as the No. 7 dual-threat quarterback in the 247Sports Composite rankings, Mayden’s offer list doesn’t quite match his rankings, though he does hold offers from Louisville, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Oregon State, and Utah.
As a sophomore, Mayden helmed the powerful Sachse offense that included the Duvernay twins, but had a rather high interception rate (3.3 percent) and often struggled with his arm strength and downfield accuracy.
The Texas staff will likely want to see some growth from Mayden this fall before extending an offer.
Waco Midway dual-threat quarterback Tanner Mordecai — One of the standouts from the Under the Lights camp, the Texas A&M legacy may be one of the top choices for the Texas staff, but he only threw 42 passes as a sophomore.
The abbreviated look at the 6’2, 205-pounder was enough for schools like Houston, Oklahoma State, SMU, and Texas Tech to extend offers and for Mordecai to rank as the No. 13 dual-threat quarterback in the country in the Composite.
A solid athlete with verified 4.86 speed in the 40-yard dash, Mordecai also has good arm strength that he often shows off while on the move. However, it’s difficult to conduct a full evaluation of his skills with so little on film, so he’s also a guy who has a lot to prove heading into his junior season.
The good news for Mordecai is that he already make an impression at Under the Lights:
Without question, Mordecai (6-2, 205) was the best quarterback on the field. His deep ball was accurate, his short and intermediate throws had a lot of zip on them and he’s well put together as a passer in terms of mechanics and pocket presence. As good as he was when we saw him at Prime21 recently, he was better this time around.
Denton Ryan dual-threat quarterback Spender Sanders — The 6’2, 190-pounder is the highest-rated quarterback in the state and also holds the most impressive offer list, with school like Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Penn State, and Texas A&M having already entered his recruitment.
A consensus four-star prospect, Sanders is the No. 163 player nationally and the No. 6 dual-threat quarterback in the 2018 class.
However, interest between Sanders and the Longhorns has yet to pick up, as the Denton product wasn’t a visitor for the summer camp or Under the Lights.
Sanders played some as a freshman before putting up a monster sophomore season that included 2,589 passing yards and 24 passing touchdowns, along with 830 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.
So Sanders is the most proven commodity here, possessing a big arm, excellent athleticism, and the capability to throw the ball with touch.
If he opts to show some interest in the ‘Horns, he would seem like a strong bet to land an offer.
Lewisville Hebron pro-style quarterback Clayton Tune — If Mordecai is the player who has some notable offers despite limited high school production, Tune is at the opposite end of the spectrum.
The 6’2, 188-pounder isn’t ranked by the services and doesn’t yet hold any offers.
After camping in Austin in June and July, Tune is on the Texas radar following a sophomore season that saw him pass for 1,825 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Tune is an interesting prospect because he has experience working in the shotgun and from under center in the multiple Hebron offense. Capable of standing in the pocket under pressure, he possesses good arm strength, although there is a funky little hitch in his delivery that he will have to iron out in college.
Based on Tune’s film, there’s no particular rush for the ‘Horns to jump into his recruitment, but it is surprising that he doesn’t have offers from schools like SMU and North Texas.
With Shane Buechele still possessing four years of eligibility and Ehlinger locked in as a member of the 2017 class, the Longhorns are in strong long-term shape at the position compared to past years.
So the staff can afford to take some time making sure that it gets things right at quarterback with relatively little pressure given how slowly many other schools have taken recruiting at the position this year — at this point in the 2017 cycle, the top four quarterbacks in the state were all committed.
Keep an eye on Mordecai and Sanders, especially, with the former ranking as the prospect most likely to pick up an offer if he performs well through the first several weeks of his season.