We’re now half-way through August, which means the start of another football season is nigh!
The Texas Longhorns have made a lot of recruiting noise outside of their home state’s borders during the tenure of head coach Tom Herman, and with commitments from out-of-state recruits comes an earlier start to keeping up with the high school football season, as schools in several other states kick off their season one or two weeks before schools in Texas normally do.
The first future Texas Longhorn to take the field in the 2019 high school football season will be 2020 defensive end commit Van Fillinger, who will play the inaugural game of his senior season tonight when he and his fellow Corner Canyon (Draper, Utah) Chargers host the Orem Tigers at 7:00 pm (Mountain Daylight Time).
Fillinger committed to the Longhorns four weeks ago today on July 18, over offers from at least 14 other P5 schools. He was named to the Deseret News’ 2018 5A All-State first team at defensive tackle following a junior season in which he helped lead his team to a state championship and was credited with 65 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and 5 sacks. He was also named a first team defensive lineman on the 2018 American Family Insurance All-USA Utah Football Team, which was comprised of players from all the state’s classifications.
He was also a standout during track season last spring, winning the shot put final at the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) 5A state meet with a throw of 50’3.5”.
Tonight’s Corner Canyon-Orem matchup will be a battle of defending state champions, as Corner Canyon finished the 2018 season with a 12-0 record and took home the UHSAA Class 5A state championship, while Orem won back-to-back 4A state titles in 2017 and 2018. It will also feature two of Utah’s top three football prospects, with Orem’s defense boasting five-star 2020 linebacker Noah Sewell, the nation’s #2 inside linebacker recruit. The game will be broadcast on the Stadium network.
Corner Canyon and Orem most recently faced each other in a September 2017 game in which Corner Canyon won 27-14. That Corner Canyon squad went on to win its first 11 games before losing by one point in the 5A state championship, while the losing Orem team won its final ten games and won the 4A state title.
Corner Canyon is in Draper, Utah, a Salt Lake City suburb. Both schools moved up one classification level for the 2019-2020 school year and Corner Canyon will now compete in 6A, Utah’s highest classification. The Chargers’ new region (Utah’s equivalent to Texas’s districts) includes the two teams that played for the 2018 6A state championship: Lone Peak and American Fork. So they should face some very tough tests even before reaching the playoffs.
For realignment purposes the UHSAA considers a school’s enrollment in grades 11-12 and not its total 9-12 enrollment. Corner Canyon had 1,062 students in grades 11-12 as of October 2016, meaning it is roughly the size of a large 5A Division I or small 6A school in Texas.
Fillinger, who checks in at 6’3.5” and 250 pounds, is one of four current defensive line commits in the Longhorns’ 2020 recruiting class, along with Vernon Broughton (Houston Cy Ridge), Prince Dorbah (Highland Park), and Princeley Umanmielen (Manor). The 247Sports Composite currently ranks Fillinger as a three-star recruit, the #3 class of 2020 prospect in Utah, and the #19 strongside defensive end nationally.
Cornerback commit Ethan Pouncey (Winter Park, Florida) will begin his season next week, and the remainder of the Longhorns’ current 2020 and 2021 commits will play their first game the following week. Rather than write a season preview on each one I’ll hold off until the week they play their first games. For now, Mr. Fillinger gets a preview post all to himself.
I have written weekly recaps and preview posts detailing the games and upcoming matchups for Longhorn commits in each of the previous four seasons. The current group of commits - 15 from the 2020 class and 7 from the 2021 class - promises to be another one whose weekly exploits will be well worth following in the coming weeks.