At long last, Javonne Shepherd is officially a member of the head coach Tom Herman’s 2019 class, as the Houston North Shore offensive tackle inked his National Letter of Intent with the Texas Longhorns on Wednesday, siding with the Horns over options including Alabama, Georgia, and most notably, Texas A&M.
“Man it feels real good! I’m happy with where I’m going,” Shepherd told BON of his decision to sign with the Longhorns.
The longtime Longhorns pledge has been a piece of the 2019 Texas class since late July, but of course, Shepherd’s recruitment was far from over at that juncture.
Throughout the past six-plus months, Shepherd’s recruitment has largely been a rollercoaster of speculation and uncertainty, as evident numerous conflicting reports as to where Shepherd would be visiting — namely Texas A&M — and when. Crystal Ball projections were ultimately placed predicting a flip to the Aggies in early September, but that flip never materialized, even after Shepherd visited College Station approximately one month later.
Various reports then surfaced indicating that Shepherd would be making a return trip to Texas A&M nearly one month removed from his October tour, but that visit never came to fruition. Rather, Shepherd remained a member of Herman’s 2019 recruiting haul, though the coaching staff’s work was far from over in hopes of ensuring that the Houston native didn’t ultimately elect to take his talents elsewhere; again.
After becoming the only Longhorns pledge to bypass the early signing period in mid-December without putting pen to paper, Shepherd finally kicked off his official visit tour to open 2019, beginning with the Aggies on Jan. 11. If there were ever a time for Texas A&M to finalize a flip from the Longhorns, that final trip to College Station was it.
Instead of decommitting from Texas, Shepherd followed through on his plans to officially visit Georgia and Alabama, doing so on Jan. 24 and Jan. 25, respectively, and ultimately, utilizing his final visit on one last trip to the Forty Acres before his decision.
With Shepherd’s Feb. 2 Texas official visit coming just days ahead of the Feb. 6 signing day, the Longhorns enjoyed the final say with the four-star talent and an ideal opportunity to solidify his commitment in the closing days of a whirlwind recruitment. As we now know, the Longhorns capitalized in full on that final say, prompting Shepherd to tell The Football Brainiacs’ Super K that the visit — on a scale of 1-to-10 — broke his scale.
Just days removed from that remark, Shepherd is now, at long last, officially a Longhorn, becoming the 24th and final piece of the second No. 3-ranked recruiting haul in as many cycles.
“I’d say just me going on that last visit. It just hit home for me,” Shepherd told BON of his Texas official visit. “I felt really comfortable being there.”
BON’s Joe Hamilton provided some insight as to what the 6’6, 327-pound Shepherd brings to the table as a high-level tackle prospect:
When it comes to stature and overall size, Shepherd already exceeds the average height and weight of an FBS offensive lineman at 6’6, 327 pounds. Shepherd’s ability to move as swiftly as he does at that magnitude is certainly impressive. When Shepherd is on his A-game he’s really a force to be reckoned with as a run blocker, as he overpowered defenders on the high school level, sometimes sending them back 15 yards after first making contact. Seeing Shepherd climb his way up to the second level to take on linebackers is also a beautiful thing to see from a prospect of his caliber. When Shepherd extends his arms and latches on to defenders, he’s in total control, especially when his feet are churning under him. His athleticism and overall upside alone is up there with the best in the nation at his position. Once Shepherd puts it all together, there’s no doubt about it that he can potentially play this game at the highest level.
Ranked as the nation’s No. 338 player and No. 28 offensive tackle prospect, per the 247Sports Composite, Shepherd is now the third offensive tackle to sign with Texas this cycle, as he now joins early enrollee Tyler Johnson and Sugar Land Dulles standout Isaiah Hookfin.