“We’re not done yet.”
With 19 signees and two more pledges, one of whom may still sign before midnight on Friday, head coach Tom Herman believes the Texas Longhorns are well positioned to close strong on the recruiting trail in the 2018 class.
So what are the remaining needs and who are the remaining targets? Let’s break it down.
With the state championship game looming for Carthage, running back Keaontay Ingram, who pledged back at the end of May, hasn’t yet signed. Since there’s a chance he may do so and there aren’t any scheduled visits for the state’s top running back, there’s not much cause for concern here — the ‘Horns will almost certainly receive Ingram’s signature at some point.
All-purpose back/slot receiver
Since Crosby standout Craig Williams signed with Baylor on Thursday, as expected, this position just got more difficult to fill following the decommitment of Kentucky product Rondale Moore on Monday.
However, the staff is now officially in the mix for New Orleans (La.) McDonogh 35 wide receiver Lawrence Keys III after extending an offer late Wednesday evening. Since Keys has visited Austin before, he does have some familiarity with the program and the coaching staff.
Texas is also in the mix for Yoakum wide receiver Joshua Moore, who was recently re-offered by the Longhorns, but his twin brother Jordan signed with Texas A&M on Wednesday and that is Joshua’s likely destination as well.
Houston Episcopal wide receiver Jaylen Waddle is still uncommitted, as well, but he hasn’t been particularly high on Texas since last spring and doesn’t have any remaining official visits.
Right now, Keys is probably the best bet to end up in the class, but it’s hardly out of the question that the ‘Horns simply miss on this position in 2018.
The late offer on Tuesday evening to eventual Kansas signee Jacobi Lott indicates that the staff may wish to sign another interior lineman in addition to another junior college offensive tackle capable of contributing early. With as many as four scholarship offensive linemen opting to give up football, that’s not especially surprising.
From the standpoint of addressing needs at tackle, landing College of San Mateo product Mikey Grandy on Wednesday even was huge news for the Longhorns.
Now the staff can focus on Arizona Western College’s Jahmir Johnson, who is currently the top target and won’t sign until February. However, it’s not clear that Johnson has a particularly high level of interest in Texas — he took an official visit to Missouri before the dead period started and also visited Tennessee in the immediate aftermath of receiving an offer from the Volunteers.
There aren’t any other uncommitted targets at this point, so expect the staff to continue evaluating junior college offensive tackles and any available interior linemen during the dead period.
Following the departures of almost the entire 2015 defensive tackle class, which could culminate in the final member, D’Andre Christmas, transferring in the near future, Texas has a need at the position.
Keeping Houston Westfield’s Keondre Cobun in the class and landing his signature in February is the top priority, as his talent is irreplaceable.
The ideal scenario would be to sign Coburn and then add Katy’s Moro Ojomo to the class in February. Ojomo looked like a heavy Texas lean in the weeks after he received his offer in early December, but a Tuesday offer from Texas A&M has changed the landscape of his recruitment — the Aggies picked up three quick 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions after offering.
Since there aren’t any other uncommitted targets at the position, losing Ojomo to Texas A&M would hurt. Losing Coburn also would be something close to disastrous, though Herman did note that the 2019 class is deep at the position.
With better depth at the defensive end position, there’s not as much reason to worry here, especially since there are a number of targets remaining.
Last weekend, Texas extended an offer to Owasso (Okla.) defensive end Courtre Alexander, who immediately slotted the ‘Horns atop his list. Despite a lot of momentum for Texas, however, Alexander hasn’t given any indication that he’ll sign early, so he may be holding out hope for other offers to come his way in January, which is a distinct possibility. Even though he seemed like a virtual lock a few days ago, it’s less clear now where he’ll end up.
It may also be the case that Texas thinks it can land a more highly-rated prospect like Boling’s Vernon Jackson, an Alabama commit who opted not to sign on Wednesday and is still considering his options.
Then there’s Missouri product Daniel Carson, who took an official visit to Austin in early September and still remains on the recruiting radar. He’s considering Miami after taking an official visit to Coral Gables in December and also picked up a Tennessee offer around that time. so both schools could factor into his decision.
Conroe Oak Ridge’s Joseph Ossai remains an option, as well, but there doesn’t seem to be much momentum for the Longhorns, as the Aggies remain the overwhelming favorite. If Texas doesn’t get him on campus again in January, the odds of signing him seem low.
There are some moving pieces here that could impact Alexander’s decision, especially Jackson opting not to sign, but the bottom line is that there’s already pressure on defensive line coach Oscar Giles regarding his recruiting ability. If Giles doesn’t manage to fill the needs along the defensive line, his hire by Herman is going to look more and more questionable.
Securing the signature of Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy’s Ayodele Adeoye on Wednesday evening was huge for the ‘Horns, allowing the staff to focus on the other two remaining targets at linebacker.
North Richland Hills product DaShaun White didn’t sign on Wednesday despite his continued verbal pledge to Texas A&M, so he’s still in play for Texas. However, Oklahoma currently seems like a bigger threat to flip White than Texas. Right now, the guess is that he ends up with one of those schools, though there is still time for the Longhorns to make a move during the month of January.
At least for a moment, it appeared that the more likely option is Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas standout Nik Bonfitto, who will announce his decision at the 2018 Under Armour All-American game. There were a surge of Crystal Ball picks for Texas on Tuesday, but Oklahoma quickly regained the apparent momentum in Bonfitto’s recruitment and is now the heavy favorite.
So it’s possible that Adeoye and Byron Hobbs will end up being the only linebacker takes for Texas in 2018, which would make it a major need position in the upcoming recruiting cycle.
Outside of the current commits, none of those targets are locks to end up in burnt orange and white, so the coaching staff has plenty of work to do. However, the track record leading up to the early signing period indicates that the ‘Horns can make up plenty of ground with any of these prospects simply by getting them on campus and blowing them away at that time.
The current players and the parents of the current signees were all extremely beneficial to the success of the 2018 recruiting class, according to Herman. If that continues, Texas should be able to address most of the remaining needs.