The countdown to Early Signing Day is now under seven days, so the Texas Longhorns staff continues to split time between school and in-home visits and practicing in preparation for the Sugar Bowl against the Georgia Bulldogs on Jan. 1.
Following the decommitments of Oklahoma City (Okla.) Millwood wide receiver Demariyon Houston and Odessa Permian athlete Peyton Powell, there are currently 20 pledges in the nation’s No. 6 recruiting class, with several targets set to decide in the coming days.
Here’s where things are at in the final hours before the Horns and many other programs ink a great majority of the top prospects nationally.
Texas picked up two silent commitments on Thursday. The recruiting efforts of head coach Tom Herman and his staff are paying off, as two prospects joined #fUTure19 in recent days:
— Bryan Carrington (@BCarringtonUT) December 11, 2018
— Bryan Carrington (@BCarringtonUT) December 13, 2018
Herman and Mehringer had a big visit on Tuesday. Prior to a recruiting pitch from new USC offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, Santa Ana (Cali.) Mater Dei wide receiver Bru McCoy, the nation’s top athlete, hosted his two primary Longhorns recruiters at his home with his family — Herman and wide receivers coach Drew Mehringer:
Texas Home Visit pic.twitter.com/ySTeKJbnaY— HLM85 (@HLM85) December 12, 2018
Texas has an advantage in overall program continuity with USC head coach Clay Helton’s future with the Trojans still in doubt and Kingsbury likely a short-term rental before he takes another head coaching job or jumps to the NFL. Herman and his staff also have an advantage in time spent building relationships with McCoy — something that Kingsbury can’t boast.
However, the appeal of playing with former teammates in quarterback JT Daniels and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown in Kingsbury’s high-powered offense could prove too much to pass up.
McCoy is set to decide at the All-American Bowl on Jan. 5, but since the dead period starts in four days, his recruitment is in its final hours of contact with coaches.
Bad news with Cain. In the immediate aftermath of the Big 12 Championship game, Herman and running backs coach Stan Drayton just around the Metroplex to make a critical in-home visit with Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy running back Noah Cain.
However, it appears that Herman and Drayton didn’t win out with their final pitch to the nation’s No. 7 running back, as the buzz from Happy Valley is that Penn State will secure Cain’s services when he makes his decision during the morning hours of Dec. 19.
It’s possible that the Horns could make a late surge with Cain, but right now, this one is trending in the wrong direction.
The decision from Cain’s five-star teammate, fellow running back Trey Sanders, is a little bit more inscrutable at this point beyond the conventional wisdom that Texas landing Sanders would be a monumental upset. So the stretch between Early Signing Day and National Signing Day could feature a serious scramble by the staff to find another running back to pair with Buford (Ga.) standout Derrian Brown.
Evaluations continue along the OL and at NT. One of the surprising developments that came out of visits last weekend was the lack of offers extended — Texas hosted Grossmont College offensive tackle Jay Williams, Butler graduate transfer offensive tackle Tommy Kennedy, and defensive tackle Antoine Whitner, a teammate of Sanders and Cain at IMG Academy, but opted against offering any of them.
Since there isn’t a nose tackle currently committed in the class, the Longhorns are clearly still evaluating players at the position. And, at this point, those evaluations appear likely to extend past the early signing period and into January unless a surprise official visitor shows up on campus this weekend and receives a last-minute offer.
The same holds true along the offensive line, with the exception of Sugar Land Dulles offensive tackle Isaiah Hookfin, who is set to take his official visit to Texas this weekend. With both guards graduating, position coach Herb Hand has two graduate transfers on his radar and both of those players are interior linemen — former Arizona multi-year starter Nathan Eldridge and steady Oregon reserve Jacob Capra.
Eldridge has more experience as a starter at the center position, so he’s more intriguing than Capra from that standpoint, but Capra is the relatively rare graduate transfer with two years of eligibility remaining.
Stay tuned there, including for any late-rising prospects at the high school or junior college levels.