Forget Recruiting Christmas in February — with the NCAA instituting the early signing period from December 20-22 for the first time this year, Texas Longhorns recruitniks will get Recruiting Christmas, well, near actual Christmas.
On what used to be a big day for mid-year enrollees from junior colleges, high school early enrollees and commits simply ready to get the recruiting process over with can begin signing binding National Letters of Intent starting on Wednesday at 7 a.m. and ending Friday at 11:59 p.m.
For the ‘Horns, it should be an important stretch, as head coach Tom Herman expects to sign as many as eight early enrollees and ink most of the current commits in the 2018 class.
And yes, there will also be some uncommitted prospects who will make their respective decisions.
So let’s set the stage with a comprehensive overview of what will happen and what could happen.
The early enrollees
The Longhorns will receive a significant boost in the spring with the additions of at six least commitments, including both quarterbacks and two safeties.
- Angleton safety BJ Foster — 6 p.m. CT (signed 9:16 a.m.)
- Cibole Steele safety Caden Sterns — 12 p.m. CT (signed 8:07 a.m.)
- Alief Taylor wide receiver Brennan Eagles — (signed 7:48 a.m.)
- Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy linebacker Ayodele Adeoye — 7 p.m. CT
- Newbury Park (Calif.) quarterback Cameron Rising — (signed 10:32 a.m.)
- Newcastle (Okla.) quarterback Casey Thompson — 4 p.m. CT (signed 7:25 a.m.)
The early signees
A number of pledges are also on record as deciding to sign early.
- Houston Heights cornerback Jalen Green — 1:30 p.m. CT (signed 10:25 a.m.)
- Arp safety DeMarvion Overshown — 10 a.m. CT (signed 8:09 a.m.)
- Houston Lamar wide receiver Al’vonte Woodard — 3 p.m. CT on ESPNU (signed 7:21 a.m.)
- Houston Lamar cornerback D’shawn Jamison — 3 p.m. CT on ESPNU (signed 7:16 a.m.)
- Salt Lake City (Utah) East offensive lineman Junior Angilau — (signed 8:54 a.m.)
- Spring Dekaney tight end Malcolm Epps — (signed 7:39 a.m.)
- Frisco Wakeland offensive tackle Rafiti Ghirmai — (signed 7:48 a.m.)
- Seminole offensive tackle Reese Moore — 10:45 a.m. CT (signed 7:08 a.m.)
- Fort Worth Eastern Hills linebacker Byron Hobbs — 5:00 p.m. CT on Thursday (signed 11:35 a.m.)
- Lake Travis kicker Cameron Dicker — 7:45 a.m. CT on Thursday (signed 8:31 a.m.)
- ProKick Australia punter Ryan Bujcevski — (signed 7:44 a.m.)
The possible signees
With the early signing period looming for the first time, one of the major questions is what to make of prospects who don’t opt to end their recruitments this week. Is it a sign that they are wavering? Some may still want to take other visits.
- Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy linebacker Ayodele Adeoye — The early enrollee is on this list because he’s been considering Oklahoma for some time and hasn’t publicly affirmed his commitment to Texas. Given the need for an inside linebacker in this class, landing Adeoye’s signature this week is imperative.
- Houston Westfield defensive tackle Keondre Coburn — The lone defensive tackle pledge for the ‘Horns may or may not sign this week. If he doesn’t, it will likely signal that he plans on visiting other schools like Alabama, TCU, and Texas A&M. One of the most important pledges in the class, Coburn has already taken his official visit to the Austin, so the staff is clearly hoping to sign him early. If he doesn’t sign, any return trip to Texas would be at the expense of the Coburn family. Update: Coburn won’t sign with Texas this week.
- Carthage running back Keaontay Ingram — There’s not as much concern with the state’s top running back, but failing to sign this week could signal to other school that he’s willing to listen to last-minute pitches during the final weeks of his recruitment. There aren’t any uncommitted feature backs on the radar for the Longhorns, so Ingram is another key recruit for Herman and his staff.
The uncommitted prospects
There are several key targets remaining for the ‘Horns who will make decisions this week. Right now, however, it’s not clear whether Texas can address the biggest remaining need.
- Houston Lamar cornerback Anthony Cook — In a decision that ESPNU will air at 3 p.m. CT, the nation’s No. 5 cornerback will decide between LSU, Ohio State, and Texas. The Buckeyes have fallen out of the leadership position, with the Longhorns taking a significant lead in Cook’s recruitment, at least according to the Crystal Ball. With only one pick for the Tigers, this one looks like a lock, but there’s still a chance LSU comes out with his signature on Wednesday.
- College of San Mateo offensive tackle Mikey Grandy — Another official visitor last weekend, Grandy was identified early by Texas, when he wasn’t highly recruited. Since then, home-state UCLA and Arizona State both offered. If he wants to leave California, the ‘Horns will almost certainly be the choice, but it seems as if the offer from the Bruins was a game changer. UCLA currently holds the last six Crystal Ball predictions.
- Navarro College offensive tackle Levon Livington — The Washington D.C. native was also an on official visit to Austin this weekend and is a mid-year enrollee. Unlike the situations with Banks and Grandy, there’s no overwhelming connection that will play a big role in his recruitment. However, he does also hold offers from schools like Baylor, Nebraska, Syracuse, and TCU. There are no Crystal Ball predictions for him. Update: Livingston committed to SMU, so it’s likely that the staff decided to pass on him.
Landing the great majority of the 2018 recruiting class in the next several days will allow Herman and his staff to focus on filling the remaining needs through the lead up to the final signing period in February. And do so without having to worry about other schools poaching the recruits who have already signed, a potential concern with the hire of Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M, for instance.
Most importantly, Texas will secure one of the top recruiting classes in the country that features instant-impact talent in the secondary.
However, given the low odds of landing Grandy, the pressing need to keep Coburn in the class and add some pieces on both sides of the line around him, there’s still plenty of work to be done.