Throughout much of the recruiting process, elite IMG Academy (Fla.) running backs Trey Sanders and Noah Cain have remained as the top two Texas Longhorns targets at the position, and understandably so.
Ranked No. 1 and No. 7 at the running back position, respectively, Sanders and Cain are among the absolute best ball carriers the 2019 class has to offer — in Sanders’ case, the best — but neither of the two will be playing their college ball in burnt orange.
During an early national signing day ceremony televised on ESPN2, Cain, who began his high school career in Texas at Denton Guyer, announced that he is taking his talents to Penn State. Hours later, Sanders, too, announced that he is headed elsewhere with his commitment to the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Within a matter of hours, an entire cycle’s worth of recruiting efforts netted nothing, and consequently, Texas will end the early signing period with just one running back penciled in; albeit a considerably talented one in four-star Buford (Ga.) product Derrian Brown.
Nevertheless, taking two prospects at the position was always the plan, and aside from Brown, Plan 1A and 1B are now off the board. With that in mind, who does Texas turn to in hopes of adding another body to a running back room that’s already down two talents with Tre Watson set to graduate and 2017 signee Toneil Carter transferring?
One name you’ve likely heard by now and one you haven’t are those of Ball State grad transfer James Gilbert and three-star Florida product D.J. Williams.
The former, who was arguably the top grad transfer running back target on the market, is now officially off the table as well, as he signed with Kansas State on Wednesday morning. Quite possibly waiting out Cain’s commitment, Texas never put an offer on the table, but that matters no more with Gilbert headed for Manhattan.
Williams, on the other hand, does have an offer in hand, but Texas was unable to make much of an impact in his recruitment and all signs point towards him signing with Auburn on Wednesday afternoon.
Aside from any unforeseen offers that may be yet to come, whether it be through the grad transfer market or otherwise, the most notable — and maybe only — name to know now is that of Katy star running back Deaondrick Glass, a fairly elite talent in his own right.
A four-star prospect, Glass has held a Texas offer since the summer of 2017, though the Longhorns didn’t push for him as a priority as they did with Cain and Sanders. Whether or not that ultimately comes back to hurt the Horns down the stretch remains to be seen, but Glass should certainly emerge as a priority at this point.
While much of the focus was centered around Cain and Sanders, and again, understandably so, Glass quietly pieced together a tremendously praiseworthy season out in the Houston area. As the headliner for an 11-win campaign for Katy, Glass was nothing short of a workhorse, producing 1,951 yards and 30 touchdowns on 225 attempts.
Though Glass may not be quite the star-caliber talent that Cain and Sanders look to be, he isn’t far behind, as he boast a well-rounded running style, which 247Sports’ Greg Powers further detailed:
Glass plays for a program that has been tradition-rich with producing D1-level running backs and he is next in line and may end up being the best of a strong bunch. He runs with a good center of gravity and balance and that makes him hard to easily knock off of his feet. He will make yardage after first contact. He can pick up the tough yardage in the middle of the field, but has the speed and power to make long-distance plays as well.
At this point, Oklahoma State is the projected pick for the highly-productive running back, with the Cowboys owning each of his eight Crystal Ball projections, but there is some positive news to that end. According to The Football Brainiacs, Glass will officially visit the Longhorns ahead of his scheduled Jan. 14 decision date. Glass visited the Forty Acres for the Longhorns Junior Day as well and went on to name Texas in his top 10 in mid-May, so even though his name hasn’t been mentioned much, it’s quite clear that there’s interest there.
If Texas can manage to amass some late momentum and ultimately secure a signature from Glass, the 5’11, 200-pounder would actually provide the Horns with a new headliner at running back this cycle, as he’s currently positioned one spot ahead of Brown as the nation’s No. 12 running back prospect, per the 247Sports Composite.
If not, and Brown remains as the only ball-carrier in Texas’ 2019 class, then not all is lost for Stan Drayton’s running back room.
Despite the looming departures of Watson and Carter, Texas is still set to have six scholarship running backs on the roster in 2019. Even in a potential worst-case scenario, such as Texas failing to see any options solidify themselves behind Keaontay Ingram and Daniel Young, four-star All-American wide receivers Jake Smith and Jordan Whittington boast the skill set necessary to shoulder some rushing responsibilities, as the two have combined for 2,615 yards and 40 touchdowns on the ground throughout the past two seasons.
So while Wednesday was extremely disappointing, there is an appealing option out there and appealing options on campus and in the recruiting class.