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Texas continues to build a high-level preferred walk-on program

Led by Bob Shipley and John Michael Jones, the Longhorns are landing walk ons with actual scholarship offers from Division I programs.

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Jake Ehlinger, the younger brother of the Longhorns quarterback
via @jehlinger2

One will play for the same program where his grandfather and his father played. One will join his older brother. One participated in a high school all-star game that featured the commitment of Katy running back Deondrick Glass.

Together, these stories are the stories of new members of the Texas Longhorns preferred walk-on program, which has kicked into high gear during the 2019 cycle under the guidance of Director of High School Relations Bob Shipley and Assistant Director of Player Personnel John Michael Jones, both of whom earned praise from head coach Tom Herman on Wednesday.

“I want to take a second to brag on our walk-on program,” Herman said during his National Signing Day press conference. “It’s something that we made a very big emphasis on when we got here was to grow that and enhance that. Over the last two years, John Michael Jones and Bob Shipley have done a phenomenal job of bringing in some really, really talented players, really strong academic students and guys to our culture. So I want to thank them for that.”

Last season, Shipley and Jones assembled a class that included a 5’5 spark plug at running back in Jarrett Smith, who turned down numerous Ivy League offers, Longhorns legacy Luke Brockermeyer, a consensus three-star linebacker who had been committed to Rice, and Under Armour All-American long snapper Justin Mader, the No. 2 player at his position nationally.

Mader was good enough to earn the starting job on field-goal attempts and should take over punting duties with the graduation of Jak Holbrook.

None of the 2019 group has a path towards playing time comparable to an elite specialist like Mader, but overall, the collection of players appears more talented from top to bottom, with multiple players who had Division I offers.

“We are, I mean, thrilled at the crop of walk ons that we got in,” Herman said. “Multiple walk ons that are going to be joining our program this summer had Division I offers. Some even committed to Division I schools.”

Some are legacies, but others simply grew up wanting to wear burnt orange and have enough family resources that giving up a scholarship to walk on at Texas was a legitimate consideration.

“The tie to Texas certainly helps, because I think when you bleed burnt orange, it’s a lot easier to take that path as a walk on. To know that you’re going to have to fight, scratch, claw, and do everything that you can to earn your way on to the field for the University of Texas. But for them, for the most part, all of that is worth it.”

For these players, passing up other opportunities to boost the program’s grade point average and hone the sharpness of scholarship players in practice is worth it.

The top-line goal is to ascend to a starting position like Dylan Haines, but there are other success stories in recent years like that of Jarmarquis Durst, the former Tarleton State standout who overcame difficult personal circumstances to ultimately earn a scholarship at Texas and contribute on special teams. Two other walk ons, wide receiver Phillip Moeller and offensive lineman Austin Allsup, also earned scholarships last fall.

Austin St. Michael’s Academy QB Sam Saxton

The grandson of legendary Texas running back James Saxton, who became the first Longhorns All-American at the position in school history in 1961, the 6’5, 190-pounder was committed to Southern Miss from August until early December.

Saxton also held offers from Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Memphis, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Rutgers, Toledo, Tulane, and others.

So the former Austin Westlake and Austin High quarterback has an unusual profile for a preferred walk on thanks to the Power Five offer from the Scarlet Knights and multiple offers from Group of Five programs. Consider Saxton arguably the most talented walk-on quarterback at Texas in at least the last decade.

And though Saxton is considered a pro-style quarterback, he does have enough athleticism to credibly run Herman’s offense — he ran a 4.76 40-yard dash and a 4.34 shuttle last year at a regional camp for The Opening.

As a junior at Austin High, he threw for more than 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns to go along with three rushing touchdowns.

A consensus three-star prospect, Saxton is ranked as the No. 1,186 player nationally, the No. 38 pro-style quarterback, and the No. 149 player in Texas, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Dripping Springs WR Parker Alford

With reported offers from Brown and Louisville, Alford is another Longhorns legacy with an unusual profile for a walk on — for Alford, it’s all about his athleticism, as he ran a 4.59 40-yard dash, a 3.95 shuttle, and posted a 36.7-inch vertical leap at a regional camp for The Opening. On the track, he ran an 11.33 100m last spring.

Houston The Village School TE Austin Hill

The 6’5, 225-pounder had offers from Drake, Davidson, and Florida Tech, and took an official visit to Columbia, due to his prototypical size for the tight end position, which is unusual for walk ons. Most walk ons aren’t rated, either, but Hill is a consensus two-star prospect ranked as the No. 114 tight end nationally, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Hill reports a 4.8 40-yard dash, a 4.4 shuttle, and a 30-inch vertical leap on his Hudl page.

Leander Glenn TE Nathan Hatter

A 6’3, 230-pounder, Hatter reports a 4.7 40-yard dash, 4.25 shuttle, and 31-inch vertical leap. A latecomer to football, Hatter only played two seasons of varsity and made major physical gains between his junior and senior seasons. He reported offers from Trinity and TAMU-Commerce before committing to Texas in December.

Lake Travis OL/LS Chad Wolf

The 6’3, 275-pounder doesn’t report any offers on his 247Sports page, but it’s never a bad idea to maintain a pipeline to a local high school powerhouse and engender some goodwill among the coaches there by finding roster spots for walk ons.

In addition to playing tackle and center for Lake Travis, Wolf served as the long snapper for his team, which increases his value and the potential for him to see the field at some point in his career, especially on field-goal attempts aided by having a bigger body at that position.

Houston Episcopal DE Parker Bayouth

One of the earliest additions to the preferred walk-on program for the 2019 cycle, Bayouth is another impressive prospect because of his prototypical size, ranking, and offer list. At 6’3 and 237 pounds, Bayouth has the height and mass for the strong-side defensive end position where he’s ranked as a consensus three-star prospect. Houston offered during the recruiting process, as did Air Force and multiple Ivy League schools.

Austin Westlake LB Jake Ehlinger

Originally offered the opportunity back in mid-November, Ehlinger took his time before opting to join his older brother Sam, the team’s starting quarterback, down the road in Austin.

A 6’0, 205-pounder ranked as a consensus two-star prospect, Ehlinger chose Texas over offers from Brown, Penn, and the University of the Incarnate Word. His highlights show a player with excellent physicality, instincts, and tackling ability.

“They both have high football IQs,” Westlake coach Todd Dodge told the Austin American-Statesman. “Jake, he’s the quarterback of our defense. He’s just as important to our team as Sam was when he played for us.”

As a junior, Ehlinger recorded over 100 tackles, seven tackles for loss, four sacks, and four forced fumbles.

Houston Strake Jesuit LB Jett Bush

A former New Mexico State commit, Bush holds 11 offers, including Air Force, Army, Incarnate Word, and Harvard, among others.

As a senior, the 6’2, 220-pound Bush amassed 157 total tackles and seven sacks.

A two-star prospect, Bush is ranked as the nation’s No. 3,156 player, No. 147 inside linebacker, and as the No. 463 player in Texas, per the 247Sports Composite. 247Sports has Bush ranked a bit higher, slotting him as the nation’s No. 136 inside linebacker and as the No. 380 player in Texas.

Houston Cy Springs CB Myles Mass

A consensus two-star recruit out of the Houston area, Mass held a pair of offers from Air Force and Army. Mass also visited SMU on two occasions throughout the spring and summer and was a participant in the 2019 Blue-Grey All-American Bowl in Houston.

At 5’11, 160 pounds, Mass is ranked as the nation’s No. 312 cornerback prospect and as the No. 487 player in Texas, per the 247Sports Composite.

Austin Westlake S Doak Wilson

Unlike Ehlinger and several other recent prospects to accept preferred walk-on spots with the Longhorns, Walker doesn’t have an extensive offer list, but he does report an offer from Air Force and that he’s a College Board NHRP Scholar.

Wilson runs track for Westlake, participating in the 110m hurdles, 300m hurdles, the triple jump, and 4x200 relay. As a senior, he recorded 74 tackles, five tackles for loss, and seven passes broken up.

Odessa Permian S Christian Tschauner

The 6’0, 185-pounder received a preferred walk-on opportunities at Stanford and Texas Tech, along with offers from Air Force, Davidson, Texas-Permian Basin, and Carroll College. According to his NCSA profile, he runs a 4.41 40-yard dash and has a 35-inch vertical leap. Tschauner was a three-year starter in football and baseball for Permian.