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How Texas can close out the 2018 recruiting class

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With two days until National Signing Day, the Longhorns are in position to finish strong.

Tommy Bush
via @TheTommyBush11

On Wednesday, the Texas Longhorns will complete the 2018 recruiting cycle on National Signing Day.

Most remarkably, head coach Tom Herman and his staff have an opportunity to address every need in the class, which didn’t seem likely when Houston Westfield’s Keondre Coburn was the only defensive line commit back in December. At that time, there weren’t even that many legitimate options.

Now Texas has three total pledges and the chance to finish with two more talented defensive lineman.

The staff may also be able to add another wide receiver and linebacker to class.

Here’s a look at the remaining targets on the board.

Running back

Longtime commit Keaontay Ingram took an official visit to Texas A&M and had an in-home visit with Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher days later, but he’s still expected to sign with Texas on Wednesday. Still, there’s a little bit more drama here than anticipated.

Wide receiver

Texas was able to get New Orleans (La.) McDonogh 35 product Lawrence Keys III on campus for an official visit a little more than a week ago and that was no small accomplishment. Though Keys visited SMU over the weekend, Notre Dame remains the favorite. In fact, there isn’t much momentum at this time for the Longhorns — the staff made a good effort with him, but the Fighting Irish simply had more time to build a relationship with him.

A prospect who is certainly off the board now is Texas A&M commit Jalen Preston, who cancelled his planned official visit after a trip to College Station was enough to solidify his commitment.

Since Houston Episcopal’s Jaylen Waddle hasn’t visited and seems bound for Alabama, that leaves Schertz Clemens standout Tommy Bush. When Bush opted for a Baylor official visit over Texas on Friday, he seemingly eliminated the ‘Horns. However, the staff got him on campus on Sunday and may still have a shot:

He’s now taking some time to make his decision before he announces on ESPN2 at 10:30 a.m. CT on Wednesday:

The fact that the Longhorns have managed to stick around despite falling out of contact with Bush for so long suggests that he’s trying to overcome any disrespect that he felt. That seems like a good sign.

There may be some movement behind the scenes over the next two days, but right now, there’s no real consensus about where he’s going to end up.

Offensive line

Over the weekend, Cy Woods offensive tackle Christian Jones took his official visit to Texas after canceling his planned visit to Vanderbilt. Jones hasn’t tweeted anything about his visit, but the Longhorns are the leader in his Crystal Ball. The biggest competition was Cal before Jones committed to Texas on Monday evening.

Defensive line

Keeping Houston Westfield defensive tackle Keondre Cobun in the class and landing his signature on Wednesday is the top priority, as his talent is irreplaceable. Coburn took an official visit to Miami before canceling multiple planned visits on the final weekend. Even a planned trip to Texas was never publicly confirmed as Coburn removed information about his Longhorns commitment from his Twitter bio.

The generous reading here is that Coburn simply wants a bit more drama prior to his final decision on Wednesday, as the Hurricanes haven’t ever felt like a serious contender and no other schools got him on campus in recent weeks.

The other target at the defensive tackle position, Katy’s Moro Ojomo, just visited Oregon. Like the Fighting Irish, which also hosted Ojomo, the Ducks aren’t aren’t a strong threat to land the underrated prospect. So it’s essentially down to Oklahoma and Texas, with the Longhorns holding all the momentum since Ojomo’s official visit to Austin. Ojomo committed to Texas on Tuesday evening.

The big uncommitted recruit at defensive end is Conroe Oak Ridge’s Joseph Ossai, who has been trending towards Texas in recent weeks as Texas A&M has fallen behind. Other than the Crystal Ball picks, things have been pretty silent with Ossai’s recruitment. Unless Oregon surged past Texas on his final visit, the Longhorns are going to land his signature.

Texas also has a shot at former Alabama commit Vernon Jackson, a jumbo athlete from Boling who is not dissimilar from Louisiana jumbo athlete Mike Williams, who committed in January. Jackson visited Texas A&M last weekend and was at Alabama two weeks before, but decommitted from the Crimson Tide late Tuesday evening. The Longhorns aren’t out of it, but the Aggies are considered a better bet to convince Jackson to abandon his longtime commitment.

While Washington (D.C.) St. John’s College’s Caleb Okechukwu is officially down to Arkansas, Syracuse, and Texas, he’s not listed as having an offer from the Longhorns, despite his Twitter announcement on his official visit.

Linebacker

The limited depth at linebacker on campus caused defensive coordinator Todd Orlando to continue evaluating his options deep into the cycle. As a result, an offer went out to New Orleans (La.) Sophie B. Wright’s Andrew Parker in late January. Despite other schools like TCU and Texas A&M pushing to get him on campus, it was Texas that secured his critical final visit. Parker is still committed to Arkansas, but the Longhorns are now favored to flip his pledge.


The unusually large number of early enrollees means that Texas can take a large class this year — there are currently 25 pledges and the Longhorns could take 32 recruits since seven can count against last year’s class. Including the current commits and wide receiver Reggie Hemphill-Mapps, who will reportedly transfer, the Longhorns currently have three scholarships remaining for the fall.

So if a prospect like Jackson wants to join the class, there should still be room, but a realistic scenario includes signing the two longtime commits and adding Ojomo, Ossai, and Parker. If the staff can pull that off, this will be a truly remarkable class.