Following a surge of decommitments this fall — both before and after the coaching changes — the Texas Longhorns only signed 16 recruits on Wednesday during the early signing period. Not only is that the lowest number of the three years since the NCAA instituted its new rules, it leaves a number of open spots in the class.
On Wednesday, head coach Tom Herman put the number of open spots at “four-ish.” Texas could sign more players than that, but Herman and Director of Player Personnel Derek Chang want to ensure that the Longhorns have the flexibility to pursue targets on the graduate transfer market if there are available program fits like former Georgia Tech standout offensive guard Parker Braun was a few short months ago.
Unfortunately for the Longhorns, filling those four or so spots won’t be easy, as roughly 80 percent of all FBS prospects now sign early, leaving a limited group of recruits from which to choose heading into the late signing period.
In the 2018 class, Texas added eight players on National Signing Day in February, but two of those recruits elected not to sign early and four others were already on the recruiting radar — only offensive tackle Christian Jones and jumbo athlete Mike Williams emerged as targets after the early signing period.
During his Wednesday press conference, however, Herman suggested that Texas has already narrowed down many of its top remaining targets.
So here are those Longhorns targets who remain uncommitted or unsigned and the needs for Texas as February approaches.
Remaining top targets
Bastrop Cedar Creek DE Alfred Collins
The notoriously quiet took his official visit to Texas back in October — as well as his four other official visits throughout the fall — and plans to make his decision on National Signing Day.
Fortunately for Texas, Collins told 247Sports that the coaching changes won’t impact his decision negatively, but it’s possible that a move to a four-man front under new defensive coordinator Chris Ash could be appealing to the 6’5, 275-pounder.
The other finalists are Alabama, Baylor, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M, but Texas holds all nine 247Sports Crystal Ball projections, in part because his mother, Benita Pollard, was a standout basketball player for the Longhorns in 1990s.
As a top-100 prospect and the No. 3 strong-side defensive end, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Collins would represent a big-time addition to the Longhorns recruiting class if Texas can close with him.
Manor defensive end Princely Umanmielen
Though it’s relatively rare in recruiting for prospect to commit, decommit, and then recommit, it does happen. That’s the feat that the Longhorns are trying to pull off with Umanmielen, who reopened his recruitment in late October. After an official visit to Waco just before the dead period, Baylor is now the leader in his Crystal Ball.
However, there may be an opening for the Longhorns — the Bears play in a three-man front, which Umanmielen reportedly expressed reservations about in regards to Texas. With new defensive coordinator Chris Ash set to base more frequently from a four-man front, or at least play odd front defensive ends outside the tackle’s shoulder instead of inside it, the Horns could use that change as a selling point to the local product.
Scottsdale (Az.) Saguaro cornerback Kelee Ringo
The nation’s No. 8 prospect and top-rated cornerback seemed high on Texas early in the process, especially after spending nearly a week on campus for spring break. Since then, however, things have seemingly cooled between Ringo and the Longhorns, as the staff hasn’t been able to get him on campus since then.
It won’t have a chance to land an official visit from Ringo, either, as he’s currently set to make his announcement at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio in early January. Technically, Texas is still under consideration by Ringo, but Georgia and Oregon are the two schools that did host Ringo for official visits, with the Bulldogs looming as the perceived favorite.
And a tweet from Ringo on Wednesday certainly suggested that he sent a National Letter of Intent to the school of his choice.
It feels so great to be a..........— Kelee Ringo (@KeleeRingo) December 18, 2019
The odds of that school being Texas are... extremely low.
Tucker (Ga.) cornerback Isaiah Dunson
The one-time Florida State commitment surfaced on the Texas recruiting radar a little more than a week ago when he received an offer from the Longhorns. After suffering decommitments from the two tall cornerbacks in the class, Ethan Pouncey and Joshua Eaton, Texas would surely like to add the 6’2, 180-pounder’s length to the class.
Keep an eye on Dunson to see if Texas can get him on campus for an official visit in January.
Carthage athlete Kelvontay Dixon
When the younger brother of Texas running back Keontay Ingram opted to reopen his recruitment following the dismissal of Arkansas head coach Chad Morris in November, it seemed like only a matter of time before Dixon joined the Longhorns recruiting class.
However, the 6’0, 180-pounder didn’t make it to Austin for an official visit before the dead period started, so he’ll wait until National Signing Day to make his ultimate decision official. Since Carthage is about to play for a state championship once again, it’s not surprising that Ingram didn’t sign on Wednesday — his brother waited to sign, too, in large part because of a run to the state title game.
A high-level triple jumper with a personal best of 10.7 seconds in the 100 meters, Dixon is an excellent athlete who projects favorably on offense as an inside receiver or on defense at cornerback. With only one cornerback signed in the Longhorns class, Dixon would fill a need for Texas if he sides with head coach Tom Herman’s program.
So at least one defensive end, a cornerback, and an all-purpose player like Dixon with some positional versatility would all fill needs for Texas. Herman specifically mentioned that the Longhorns are still heavily pursuing two defensive ends, likely alluding to Collins and Umanmielen.
A running back to keep an eye on is Denton Guyer’s Kaedric Cobbs, who remains uncommitted and is on the Texas radar.
Following last weekend’s decommitment of Quentin Johnston, the outside wide receiver who signed with TCU on Wednesday, Herman said Texas will likely look to find another player at that position.
California product LV Bunkley-Shelton already took an official visit to Austin, but he projects in the slot rather than outside, so he’s probably not a high priority for Texas as the class closes. The only outside receiver prospect with an offer from the Longhorns who didn’t sign on Wednesday is Gators commit Leonard Manuel. Without a wide receivers coach or offensive coordinator, it’s difficult to speculate about any other potential targets at the position.
The biggest need for the Longhorns, though, is at the linebacker position. Following the medical retirement of De’Gabriel Floyd, three of the nine players there are former walk ons. Highland Park product Prince Dorbah is the only current signee. Consider missing out on Texas native Jaqwondis Burns, who signed with Minnesota, as a significant development for the Longhorns.
Herman said on Wednesday that there are several linebackers on the recruiting radar right now. Two to know are Kansas commit Brennon Scott, a Dallas Bishop Dunne product with a Texas offer who didn’t sign on Wednesday, and Utah commit Jaylan Ford of Frisco Lone Star. Ford didn’t sign on Wednesday, either, but doesn’t currently hold an offer.
Since there aren’t any outstanding offers out to prospects considering the Longhorns, landing a prospect or two at the position between now and National Signing Day will be a big priority for Ash. Of course, the search could extend beyond then — Texas signed two junior college prospects and added a graduate transfer in the last cycle in the spring and summer.
And, as mentioned above, Herman and his staff are cognizant of maintaining spots for any graduate transfers or late-developing prospects.