The month of March will see the Texas Longhorns host one of the top prospects in the 2020 class, as Upland (Cali.) linebacker Justin Flowe plans to trip to Austin with his younger brother Jonathan, a 2021 linebacker.
The news of Flowe’s intentions to see the Forty Acres isn’t the only recent buzz surrounding the Longhorns and the nation’s No. 3 prospect, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, as Flowe recently showed up to a 7-on-7 tournament wearing a Texas jacket.
Of course, the true intentions of such a display don’t always mean that much in the overall context of a recruitment, but Texas does seem to have a remarkable opportunity with Flowe — one that wouldn’t have been possible just two years ago.
The overall trajectory of the program following the Sugar Bowl victory and the signing of the No. 3 recruiting classes in consecutive cycles could position Texas as a school that becomes increasingly appealing to top prospects around the country.
The presence of Bru McCoy and De’Gabriel Floyd in the 2020 recruiting class matters, too — Floyd is a charismatic figure respect by his peers and McCoy is the top prospect to land at Texas since 2012. Both players are already on campus to assist with recruiting this spring and could eventually become the progenitors of a significant California-to-Texas pipeline.
Flowe took a recent unofficial visit to UCLA, but the Bruins don’t feel like a significant contender, as new head coach Chip Kelly simply hasn’t recruited well yet. Florida and Oregon are both considered top contenders in Flowe’s recruitment and the Gators are trending up after a 10-win season. Oklahoma has recruited California well for years and looms as a potential factor. So does Alabama — even with the loss of primary recruiter Tosh Lupoi to the Cleveland Browns, the Crimson Tide are still the Crimson Tide and it’s still relatively early in the cycle.
Texas has been recruiting Flowe since extending an offer last spring and it certainly doesn’t hurt that his younger brother also received an offer in January, even if that doesn’t necessarily distinguish the Longhorns from the other top contenders.
Beyond all the other contenders mentioned above, one of the key narratives here is the mess at USC exacerbated by the quick departure of McCoy, along with other decommitments and transfers.
Here’s a report from a USC insider about the circumstances in the Trojans program surrounding McCoy’s exit:
The football program has no discipline and a questionable work ethic. It is not unusual for players to ignore coaches, quite a few of whom are not respected. It would not surprise me if McCoy thought USC workouts were easier than Mater Dei workouts.
USC coach Clay Helton and his staff are viewed within the athletic dept. as being afraid of the players. In short: No respect.
When 2020 Louisiana wide receiver Koy Moore decommitted just before National Signing Day, his statement regarding the decision was remarkable:
“My relationship with USC became strained with the coaching changes,” Moore said. “I love USC but the recruitment is not up to my expectations. I would like to re-open my recruitment.”
Longtime 2019 wide receiver commit Puka Nacua also flipped to Washington late Sunday night, leaving that recruiting class tied for the school’s lowest in the modern era.
So while there are other national competitors for Flowe, including programs like Alabama and Oklahoma with much better track records of recent success, the fact that Flowe was widely tagged as a USC lean last year before the major fissures in the Trojans program started to appear suggests his recruitment may now be much more open.
If McCoy and Flowe haven’t already had a conversation about the state of affairs there, they will have the opportunity in the coming weeks. Even if they don’t, McCoy’s departure speaks for itself.
Perhaps February is just a time for optimism regarding the previous class and the class to come. In the most objective sense possible, though, there are legitimate reasons to believe that Texas can seriously contend in Flowe’s recruitment.
After all, McCoy’s wild recruitment made a relative impossibility into reality.
As it relates to the highest-rated linebacker in the modern era of recruiting, that feels like a big deal.