The 50-47 win by the Texas Longhorns over the then-No. 10 Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Sunday night was a victory far beyond the gridiron — it provided the more than 30 Longhorn targets in attendance with a glimpse of their potential college home succeeding on a big stage in a way that it had not in years.
The on-field efforts by the baby ‘Horns were then followed up by the commitment of four-star Temple strongside defense end Taquon Graham, and according to industry experts, Texas is now surging with numerous other blue-chip prospects.
Projections following Texas win over Notre Dame
1-A. Marvin Wilson – 5-star Episcopal DT – 4/4 CB projections to Texas
Simply put, Marvin Wilson is a program-changing talent in the trenches, evident in the nation’s typically elite defensive programs placing so much emphasis on the Episcopal product.
Fortunately for Texas, Wilson is tremendously high on the ‘Horns, but has made his desire to see on-field results clear. Wilson, the nation’s top-ranked defensive tackle and No. 3 player, wants to play somewhere that he can win from the start and Texas took a significant step in the right direction Sunday night by beating Notre Dame.
Considering Texas’ five-man defensive line inheritance from the 2016 class, the ‘Horns aren’t in dire need of depth at the position, as Poona Ford should be back in 2017 and Chris Nelson likely stays around for the next three seasons. But with a likely three-year talent such as Wilson, who should be able to impact whichever rotation he lands in almost immediately, there’s no reason to believe he’ll have any issue finding reps as a potential day-one difference maker.
1-B. Walker Little – 5-star Episcopal OT – 4/4 CB projections to Texas
For as important as Wilson is to a dominant defensive line, his Episcopal teammate, offensive tackle Walker Little, is equally as valuable to a top-tier offensive front five. Much like Wilson, Walker left Austin Sunday night tremendously impressed with the atmosphere, the tempo and Texas’ offensive line — one he may be a member of at this point next year.
After Little’s acceptance to Stanford, the Cardinal seemingly had the momentum in his recruitment following a visit. However, with the win by Texas, the ‘Horns are now well positioned heading deeper into the football season.
A left tackle in high school, Little’s natural role is one currently filled by standout sophomore Connor Williams and between Tristan Nickelson, Brandon Hodges, and newcomers Jean Delance and J.P., Urquidez, Texas should have some viable options down the road.
But aside from Williams, who would be at Texas for no more than two seasons after Little’s arrival anyway, there are no locks as a future starter at left tackle, which is something Little likely becomes no later than the start of his sophomore season at any program.
Texas has six offers out to 2017 offensive tackles and Little looks to be the most plausible of what’s become limited options. Not only that, he’s also a prospect who has vaulted up the rankings after a strong summer and mauling start to his senior season — he’s now the No. 2 player in the country, according to 247Sports.
2. Baron Browning – 5-star Kennedale OLB – 1/1 CB projections to Texas
Texas has always been heavily in the mix with five-star outside linebacker Baron Browning, and as of late, the ‘Horns look to be the team to beat. UCLA is likely the largest threat to Texas, while Ohio State, Alabama, and TCU are still teams to take seriously, but the more games Texas wins, the harder it may be to lure the national top-10 talent out of the state.
In terms of Texas’ linebacker rotation, which usually has only two on the field at a time, Malik Jefferson and Anthony Wheeler look capable of being among the best linebacking duos in the nation for the next season or two. Beyond that, 2017 should see Jeffrey McCulloch and Edwin Freeman headline the reserves, which would likely include Browning to see true freshman action if he pledged to Texas.
3. Omar Manning – 4-star Lancaster WR – 1/1 CB Projection to Texas
It looks like Omar Manning will be choosing between Texas, Oklahoma and TCU, a three-horse race in which Texas has began to look more and more like the thoroughbred. Not only did Texas pick up a Crystal Ball projection for Manning following the Notre Dame game, but holds the last five.
But while Manning is certainly a talent Texas would like to have, he’s one the ‘Horns have plenty of depth to do without, should he ultimately head elsewhere.
Between the projected stars in John Burt, Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay, and a slew of newcomers and key talents set to be around for another couple years (see Jerrod Heard, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Reggie Hemphill-Mapps, etc.), at the least, receiver may be Texas’ deepest position in 2017. The ‘Horns already have one 2017 receiver pledge in four-star Damion Miller, as well.
Still, Manning is the top target on the board at wide receiver for a reason.
4. K’Lavon Chaisson – 4-star Houston North Shore WDE – 1/1 CB Projection to Texas
The potential addition of K’Lavon Chaisson, a four-star weak-side defensive end — the Fox end at Texas — is much like the situation with Manning. He would be a valued addition but not a necessity.
The Longhorns have a handful of guys on the roster in which the staff can plug into the Fox end role and the commitment of Taquon Graham looks to add further depth in 2017. But Chaisson is an elite pass rusher, nonetheless, and one the staff would love to add to a defense some already project to become elite down the road.
He’s also one who is increasingly high on Texas after taking his recruitment slowly, though LSU is also still a major contender.
All told, the words of quarterback commit Sam Ehlinger from the spring look increasingly prophetic after the big win. Errrbody, indeed.