The 2019 Texas high school football season came to a close on the evening of Saturday December 21 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, with the final whistle blowing as the game clock hit 0:00 to end the Class 6A Division II state championship game.
Two Texas Longhorn commits, 2021 athletes Billy Bowman and Ja’Tavion Sanders of Denton Ryan, played the night before in the Class 5A Division I championship, but their team came up excruciatingly short in a loss to Alvin Shadow Creek. Shadow Creek safety and Longhorn signee Xavion Alford celebrated his team’s championship win after that game, though he was injured and did not play.
Another injured Longhorn signee, 2020 quarterback Ja’Quinden Jackson, who suffered a torn ACL in the state semifinals a week earlier, could only watch as his Duncanville team fell in the Class 6A Division I championship to Galena Park North Shore for a second straight year.
Though each Texas signee and commit aside from Alford did not get to see their team raise state championship hardware at the end of their season, most of them had years that could be considered successful, and there’s a good chance some of the program’s 2021 commits will be making long playoff runs next year as well.
The state title won by Shadow Creek on Friday night added Xavion Alford to a long list of Longhorns whose teams won state championships during their high school careers, and by my own count the streak of high school seasons in which at least one Texas state championship team had a future Longhorn on its roster has now reached 24. I’ll present the full list of teams and players involved in that streak at the end of this post.
A few Longhorn signees will take the field this week in either the Under-Armour All-America Game this evening in Orlando, or at the All-American Bowl on Saturday in San Antonio. The former will be broadcast on ESPN2, and the latter on NBC, and this will be the last chance fans have to see these players before either UT’s Spring Game in 2020 (for those signees who are enrolling early) or the start of the 2020 season.
Participants in the Under-Armour All-America Game include: QB Hudson Card, QB Ja’Quinden Jackson (who is injured and will not play), OL Jake Majors, DT/DE Vernon Broughton, and CB Kitan Crawford.
Participants in the All-American Bowl include: RB Bijan Robinson, OL Andrej Karic, LB Prince Dorbah, and DB Xavion Alford (an early enrollee who missed most of his senior season due to injury but might play on Saturday). That game will also feature four-star DE and Longhorn legacy Alfred Collins, one of the program’s top remaining targets in the 2020 class. He is expected to announce his choice on the second National Signing Day in February.
Below I’ll have a recap of how the 2019 season went for UT’s 2020 signees and 2021 commits, with expanded discussion on Ja’Quinden Jackson, Billy Bowman, and Ja’Tavion Sanders, whose teams played in state championship games two weeks ago. And at the end I’ll have some brief parting words.
2020 Texas Longhorn football signees
QB Hudson Card (Lake Travis)
Coming off an All-State junior season, big things were expected of Card this fall, as well as his Lake Travis Cavaliers, who had reached the state semifinals in 2018. He led them to a 6-1 start to the 2019 season that included their first win in three years over arch-rival and eventual Class 6A Division II state champion Austin Westlake. But Card suffered a foot injury during the win over Westlake on October 11 that kept him off the field for nearly two months.
Lake Travis went 6-0 with junior QB Nate Yarnell filling in for Card and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs, at which point Card returned to action to lead the Cavaliers to a 48-35 win over Converse Judson. But his high school career ended a week later in the state semifinals with a 49-38 loss to eventual repeat state champion Galena Park North Shore.
In two seasons as Lake Travis’s starting QB and one season as a starting wide receiver, Card compiled totals of 6,340 yards, 79 TDs and 12 INTs passing with a 67% completion percentage; 1,382 yards and 19 TDs rushing, and 69 receptions for 1,137 yards and 13 TDs. (Note: Card’s MaxPreps profile includes the 88 yards and 1 passing TD he had in a 2018 game vs. Mansfield Summit that was canceled at halftime due to severe weather, but I’ve subtracted those stats from his posted career totals since that was not considered an official game.)
QB Ja’Quinden Jackson (Duncanville)
Jackson’s Duncanville teams went 32-2 in in games that he started at QB over the course of three seasons, but each of those seasons ended in playoff disappointment. As a sophomore in 2017, he was his team’s second-leading rusher and second-leading receiver, and he took over at QB late in the regular season following an injury to senior Trazon Connley (now a QB at Prairie View A&M). Jackson led the Panthers to the area round of the playoffs that season, where they lost 28-27 to Euless Trinity in a game that came down to a missed 51-yard field goal on the final play. Trinity lost 41-20 in the state quarterfinals two weeks later to eventual 6A Division I state champion Allen.
As a junior in 2018, Jackson started at QB and accounted for over 3,000 total yards and 38 TDs for a dominating Duncanville team that won its first 15 games with scarcely a challenge and might have been talked about as one of the state’s best teams in recent memory had it not lost 41-36 on a 45-yard Hail Mary pass by Galena Park North Shore on the final play of the Class 6A Division I state championship.
North Shore and Duncanville both returned loads of talent in 2019 and began the season as the top two ranked teams in the state. The teams eventually met in a state championship re-match, but Jackson was not able to play due to injury.
As in 2018, the Panthers barely broke a sweat in the regular season, then they won their first four playoff games (including two over ranked teams) by an average margin of 30 points to reach the state semifinals. Duncanville got off to a fast start in the semis and was winning 35-0 over Rockwall late in the 2nd quarter when Jackson took a hit to his left knee and went down with what was later determined to be a partially torn ACL. At the time of his injury he was leading what would have likely been his last drive of the game before he relinquished QB duties and rested for the second half. Duncanville went on to beat Rockwall 56-14.
After Jackson’s injury, the 6A Division I state championship game’s star power took another blow when North Shore’s five-star senior running back Zach Evans was sent home for what was reported to be a violation of team rules mere hours before kickoff. And even before that incident North Shore was already without the services of junior four-star receiver Shadrach Banks, who had been injured and out of action since the first round of the playoffs.
Those developments combined to decrease the anticipation level a lot of casual fans had in what would otherwise have been one of the most-hyped championship games in recent memory, but it still had an announced attendance of 47,818, over 5,000 more than the official attendance of the teams’ 2018 state championship meeting (though it should be noted that this season’s 6A Division I final had a 3:00 kickoff and was the middle contest of a three-game slate of state finals that Saturday, while the 2018 6A DI final kicked off at 7:00 and had a smaller attendance than did the 6A DII final that afternoon that was won by Longview over Beaumont West Brook).
In Jackson’s absence, highly-touted freshman Chris Parson started at QB for Duncanville in the state championship game and played reasonably well in the first half, rushing for a 6-yard TD in the 2nd quarter and showing poise beyond his years in helping the Panthers to a 17-17 tie at halftime.
But not much went right in the second half, as Duncanville converted just three first downs and its first four drives ended with a lost fumble on a punt attempt, a lost fumble on North Shore’s side of the field, a turnover on downs at the North Shore 4-yard line, and a punt on a 4th-and-12 play from midfield. That punt occurred in the 4th quarter with North Shore leading 24-17, and the Mustangs subsequently went on an 8-play, 84-yard drive that resulted in a 44-yard TD pass with 2:33 left in regulation that made the score 31-17 and all but sealed the game.
Despite the past two years ending with state championship defeats, Ja’Quinden Jackson was part of the most successful extended stretch of seasons Duncanville has yet had. The Panthers set a program record in 2019 by both posting double-digit wins and advancing past the first round of the playoffs for a fourth straight season. Despite having several playoff appearances and a 1998 state championship to its name, and despite having one of the largest enrollments of any high school in the state for several years, before 2018 Duncanville had never advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs in more than two consecutive seasons, and their longest previous streak of seasons with double-digit wins was three (1996-1998).
Jackson finished his senior season with 1,711 yards and 21 TDs passing, and 1,030 yards and 16 TDs rushing. In three varsity seasons he completed 62.7% of his passes and threw for 3,611 yards, 40 TDs and 8 interceptions; rushed 333 times for 3,293 yards and 41 TDs, and caught 18 passes for 334 yards and 2 TDs.
RB Bijan Robinson (Salpointe Catholic - Tucson, Arizona)
An Arizona state championship was one of the very few things that eluded Bijan Robinson in his decorated four-year career at Salpointe Catholic High School. He is the only player in state history to rush for over 2,000 yards in three different seasons, and he scored 30 or more total TDs in each of his final three seasons.
Along the way he set a new state record for total career touchdowns (114), broke essentially every Conference 4A career rushing record, and finished with more career rushing yards than anyone who played at the 3A level or above. He scored touchdowns on roughly one-fifth of his offensive touches throughout his career and rushed for 2,235 yards and 38 touchdowns on only 126 carries as a senior. He rushed for 7,036 yards in his career, finishing 508 yards short of the state record held by former 2A athlete Casey Jahn, who had over 300 more career carries than Robinson.
Robinson led his Salpointe Catholic team to Arizona’s Conference 4A state championship game in 2017 and 2018, where they lost both times to Saguaro, a powerhouse team that won 11 state titles between 2006 and 2018. The 2019 season brought a change in playoff format, as Arizona added an Open Division playoff bracket that was comprised of the top eight teams from the three largest conferences (as determined by a computer ranking). Salpointe Catholic went 9-0 in the regular season and received the #4 seed in the Open Division, and after hammering #5 seed Phoenix Pinnacle (a 6A school) 48-10 in the first round, the Lancers fell 24-16 to top seed and three-time defending 6A state champion Chandler in the semifinals.
Whether they would have won the 4A state title this fall in the absence of an Open Division will remain a “What if?”. Another championship bout with Saguaro (which lost 42-35 to Chandler in the Open Division final) would have been a great matchup, and those two teams were indisputably head and shoulders above the rest of Conference 4A. Salpointe Catholic had regular season wins against each of the top four seeds in the 2019 4A playoff bracket, and it won those games by an average margin of 40 points.
Robinson was named the 2019 Gatorade Arizona Football Player of the Year, becoming the second straight Longhorn commit to take home that award after Jake Smith won it a year ago. He was also named the MaxPreps Arizona Player of the Year and was an All-State First Team running back on the Arizona All-State Football Team Presented by Suddenlink by Altice, which was comprised of players from all conferences.
WR Dajon Harrison (Hutto)
Harrison, who spent a couple of months last spring as a TCU commit, committed to Texas on November 5, but only got to play one game as a Longhorn pledge. He caught 7 passes for 101 yards and a TD in a 34-15 win over Leander Rouse to cap off the regular season, but suffered a leg injury that ended his senior season. Hutto went 8-1 in the regular season and was a ranked team in Class 5A Division I, but in Harrison’s absence the Hippos were dismantled 63-14 in the second round of the playoffs by eventual state champion Alvin Shadow Creek.
Harrison finished the 2019 season with a team-high 34 catches for 734 yards and 8 TDs, and he also chipped in 21 carries for 235 yards and 2 rushing TDs. On defense he was credited with 14 tackles, 1 interception, and 1 forced fumble.
He was primarily a defensive back as a sophomore but played both ways during his last two seasons. In 2018 he was named an All-District 1st Team wide receiver and an honorable mention defensive back by the coaches of District 11-5A Division I, and in 2019 he was named that district’s co-Utility Player of the Year. He finished his career with 83 catches for 1,429 yards and 14 TDs, 32 carries for 323 yards and 3 TDs, 58 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles.
WR Troy Omeire (Fort Bend Austin)
Omeire committed to Texas A&M in June, but flipped to Texas three months later. This past fall, he caught 65 passes for 906 yards and 10 TDs, and he also played QB late in the season with his team’s slim playoff hopes on the line, rushing for 218 yards and 3 TDs in a season-ending 51-29 loss to Fort Bend Elkins. But his herculean efforts were not enough, as his Fort Bend Austin team went 3-7 and missed out on the Class 6A playoffs. He was voted the Offensive MVP of District 20-6A.
Despite an outstanding senior season, as of this writing Omeire has actually dropped 50 spots in the 247Sports Composite rankings for the 2020 class (from 188 to 238) since announcing his commitment to Texas in September. (Take that, Aggie conspiracy theories about Longhorn commits getting undeserved ratings bumps!) His team went 7-22 during his three varsity seasons, but his MaxPreps page credits him with career totals of 149 receptions for 2,432 yards and 31 TDs.
OL Jaylen Garth (Port Neches-Groves)
Garth suffered a knee injury a few weeks before the start of the 2019 season that wiped out his senior campaign before it began. He also missed nearly half of his junior season with a torn meniscus, so he’ll arrive in Austin having played in barely a half dozen games in the previous two seasons. He’ll be an obvious redshirt candidate in 2020. In spite of his relatively small body of work, he’s still ranked as the #30 in-state prospect in the 2020 class, according to the 247Sports Composite, and only three offensive line recruits are rated higher.
OL Andrej Karic (Southlake Carroll)
Karic was a key member of an offensive line that protected sophomore phenom QB Quinn Ewers and helped the Carroll Dragons average 50 points per game en route to a 13-0 start. Their season ended in the Class 6A Division I state quarterfinals, where they fell 49-35 to Duncanville.
Karic was unanimously voted an All-District 1st Team offensive tackle by the coaches of District 5-6A, which gave him 1st Team honors for a second straight season. He was also named to the First Team of MaxPreps’s Texas All-State Football Team presented by Suddenlink by Altice. That team was made up of athletes from all classifications, and Karic was one of three Longhorn signees named to that outlet’s first team.
OL Jake Majors (Prosper)
Majors played left tackle this fall and blocked for a Prosper offense that averaged 37 points per game and helped the school make its deepest playoff run in 11 years. The Eagles finished 11-3 and advanced to the Class 6A Division I state quarterfinals. He was one of four (non-center) offensive linemen named to the All-District 1st Team for District 9-6A, and was the only one voted unanimously. He was also named to MaxPreps’s All-State Second Team.
OL Logan Parr (San Antonio O’Connor)
Parr became the second member of UT’s 2020 class when he committed to the Longhorns in October of 2018, so his team’s fortunes during his junior and senior seasons have been well documented in this column. Parr lined up at left tackle and left guard during his senior season and helped his O’Connor team to a 8-3 record and a runner-up finish in District 28-6A. He earned All-District 1st Team honors in both his senior and junior seasons.
DT Vernon Broughton (Cypress Ridge)
Broughton is Texas’s highest-rated defensive signee in the 2020 class so far, and he is currently the #106 overall recruit in the 247Sports Composite (he was rated as high as #70 six months ago). His Cypress Ridge team went 7-3 in 2018 and 5-5 in 2019, but failed to make the Class 6A playoffs in both seasons.
As a junior, Broughton was one of nine (9!) defensive lineman voted to the All-District 1st team for District 17-6A, but as a senior he was named to the 2nd Team. What he did or didn’t do on the field that resulted in him not being voted one of his district’s seven best defensive linemen, I don’t know. But he has only played football for three seasons now and is a long way from reaching his ceiling, so I wouldn’t worry much about that. Cypress Ridge’s MaxPreps page credited him with 36 tackles, a team-leading 10 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries.
DT Sawyer Goram-Welch (Longview)
Goram-Welch, a former Oklahoma State commit who joined the Longhorn class when he committed on December 15, was a key player on the defensive line for a Longview program that went 27-1 during his junior and senior seasons.
As a junior he was an All-District 1st Team defensive tackle for a Lobo team that went 16-0 and won the Class 6A Division II state championship. As a senior in 2019, he was credited with 64 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 8 sacks and was a unanimous 1st Team All-District selection at defensive end. Longview won its first 11 games and was highly-ranked throughout the 2019 season, but its 27-game winning streak ended with a 27-25 upset loss to Dallas Jesuit in the second round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.
LB Prince Dorbah (Highland Park)
Dorbah, the #cloUT2020 class’s second-highest rated defensive recruit behind Vernon Broughton, was a member of two Class 5A Division I state championship teams at Highland Park, and the Scots went 42-3 in Dorbah’s three varsity seasons. Highland Park won three straight state titles from 2016 to 2018, the latter two of which came with Dorbah as a key defensive playmaker. The Scots spent the entire 2019 season ranked among their classification’s top five teams, but their quest for a fourth straight championship ended with a 33-27 overtime loss to then top-ranked Frisco Lone Star in the third round of the playoffs.
Dorbah finished his high school career with 219 tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 40 sacks, 1 interception, 4 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. As a senior he was unanimously named District 6-5A Division I’s Defensive MVP. He was an All-District 1st Team defensive lineman as a junior in 2018, and his district’s Defensive Sophomore of the Year in 2017.
LB Jaylan Ford (Frisco Lone Star)
Ford, a former Utah commit who was a surprising early signing period flip to Texas, earned Class 5A All-State 2nd Team honors from the Texas AP Sports Editors at the end of his senior season, in which he made 145 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble. His Lone Star team ended Highland Park’s three-year reign atop Class 5A Division I and was the top-ranked team in their classification for much of the season, but after a 14-0 start Lone Star fell 35-7 in the state semifinals to Denton Ryan.
Ford was named District 5-5A Division I’s Defensive MVP in both his junior and senior seasons, and in 2017 he was District 13-5A’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year. He was also named to MaxPreps’s All-State First Team following his senior season. When a player with Ford’s resume is your favorite team’s lowest-rated recruit, you should feel good about their signing class.
DB Xavion Alford (Alvin Shadow Creek)
Alford suffered a knee injury very early in the 2019 season that kept him off the field for all but one game of Shadow Creek’s Class 5A Division I state championship run. As a junior on Shadow Creek’s first-year varsity squad in 2018, Alford was credited with 70 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 6 interceptions (1 returned for a TD), and 21 passes defensed. He earned All-State honors for his performance that season, and his Shadow Creek team won its first 15 games before losing 27-17 to Highland Park in the 5A Division I state final.
Though they were bereft of Alford’s services in 2019, the Shadow Creek Sharks were dominant on both sides of the ball, outscoring opponents by an average of 37 points and reaching the Class 5A Division I state final once again, where this time they beat an undefeated Denton Ryan team 28-22.
Alford has long been a listed participant for the 2020 All-American Bowl in San Antonio, and despite his season-ending September injury he said as recently as mid-November that he might be able to play in the All-American game. Whether he will or not remains to be seen, but one way or another he is slated to be an early enrollee at Texas this spring.
DB Kitan Crawford (Tyler John Tyler)
Crawford had an outstanding senior season on both sides of the ball for the John Tyler Lions. He earned All-District 1st Team honors at running back after gaining over 1,300 yards from scrimmage and scoring 13 total TDs, and he also was an All-District 1st Team defensive back after recording 33 tackles, 3 interceptions (1 returned for a TD), 1 fumble recovery and 1 blocked punt. He also received All-State Honorable Mention accolades at both running back and defensive back.
After an 0-4 start against a non-district schedule that consisted of four Class 6A teams, the John Tyler Lions went 3-3 in district play and reached the Class 5A Division I playoffs, but lost to College Station in the first round..
DB Jerrin Thompson (Lufkin)
Thompson’s Lufkin team opened its 2019 season with a narrow 24-21 loss to defending Class 6A Division II state champion Longview, then won its last nine regular season games by an average margin of 35 points and went into the Class 5A Division I playoffs with a top-five state ranking. Lufkin was thought to be a contender to emerge from a tough Region II group in that playoff bracket, but the Panthers were upset 41-35 in double overtime by Texarkana Texas in the first round.
ATH Jaden Hullaby (Mansfield Timberview)
Hullaby is a multi-talented weapon who could end up playing RB/H-back or linebacker in college. He spent most of his senior season playing QB for a potent Timberview rushing attack after previously playing RB. As a junior at Dallas Bishop Dunne, he gained 1,577 yards from scrimmage and scored 16 total TDs in 14 games, and his Falcons won the TAPPS Division I state championship.
In July of 2019 transferred to Mansfield Timberview, a school he had attended earlier in his high school career. After playing RB in a season-opening loss to eventual Oklahoma Class 6A Division II state champion Bixby, Hullaby moved to QB full-time for the remainder of the season and finished with 805 yards, 9 TDs and 3 INTs passing; 99 carries for 695 yards and 11 TDs; and 4 receptions for 117 yards and a TD.
He helped Timberview to a 6-5 season record (4 losses came against state-ranked teams), and the Wolves averaged 300+ rushing yards per game. Hullaby was voted to the All-District 1st Team at QB for District 6-5A Division I. As a junior at Bishop Dunne, he was named a TAPPS Division I All-State 1st Team offensive back.
2021 Texas Longhorn football commits
QB Jalen Milroe (Katy Tompkins)
The Tompkins Falcons had a rough start to their football program’s existence, going 5-34 over their first four varsity seasons (2014-2017). But a talented group of players have turned the school’s fortunes around since then, and in two seasons with Jalen Milroe at QB the team has a record 21-5 and has twice advanced three rounds into the playoffs.
The Falcons averaged 44 points per game in 2019 and finished as the runner-up in District 19-6A. Milroe completed 62% of his passes and threw for 2,689 yards, 29 TDs and 8 interceptions, and he ran for another 378 yards and 8 TDs. He was voted District MVP for his efforts.
He’ll return to lead Tompkins as a senior in 2020 but will be without graduated RB R.J. Smith and his 4,000 career rushing yards. Also graduating from this past year’s team is the starting tight end and top four wide receivers.
TE Lake McRee (Lake Travis)
McRee committed to Texas in July and was projected to be an important offensive weapon for 2020 Longhorn QB commit Hudson Card and the state-ranked Lake Travis Cavaliers, but his junior season ended before it began, as he suffered a knee injury in August that kept him off the field this fall. Assuming he returns healthy in 2020, he’ll likely be catching passes from fellow 2021 prospect Nate Yarnell, who made six starts this season while Card was injured and completed 67.7% of his passes for 1,489 yards, 14 TDs and 5 INTs.
OL Hayden Conner (Katy Taylor)
Conner teamed with fellow four-star junior offensive line prospect Bryce Foster to form an imposing duo in the trenches, and both players earned All-District 1st Team honors this fall. Conner, who played left tackle for Katy Taylor, was credited with 87 pancake blocks, while Foster, who played at both guard spots, led the team with 108 pancakes.
Despite having two highly-coveted future D1 offensive linemen, Taylor had an uneven season and not a dominating run game overall. The Mustangs averaged 170 rushing yards and around 160 passing yards per game. They had a 5-5 record in the regular season, one that saw them suffer lopsided losses to four ranked teams, but after finishing fourth in District 19-6A and sneaking into the playoffs, they began to play their best football of the season and took advantage of a very weak group of teams in Region III of the Class 6A Division II bracket.
Taylor knocked off four playoff opponents and reached the state semifinals for the first time in program history, but its season came to an unceremonious end with a 63-3 drubbing at the hands of eventual state champion Austin Westlake. I haven’t taken the time to do the research, but Taylor may be the first team in state history to reach the state semifinals of their classification and finish with a -42 point differential for the season.
LB Derrick Harris (New Caney)
Harris was named the Defensive MVP of District 9-5A Division I after he helped the New Caney Eagles to their first-ever 10-0 regular season. Harris was credited with 89 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, and 25 QB hurries, and he scored a pair of defensive TDs on a pick-six and a fumble recovery.
But once in the playoffs the Eagles fell in the first round to a solid and playoff-tested Richmond Foster team, 31-21. When he’s a senior next fall, Harris will be one of five returning All-District 1st Team defensive players for New Caney, while on the offensive side the Eagles will return running back Cale Sanders, a Texas Tech commit who had nearly 1,400 yards from scrimmage and 19 total TDs in 2019 and was named the district’s Offensive MVP.
ATH Billy Bowman (Denton Ryan)
ATH Ja’Tavion Sanders (Denton Ryan)
Bowman and Sanders were both impact two-way players who helped lead the Denton Ryan Raiders to the Class 5A Division I state championship game, where they lost 28-22 to Alvin Shadow Creek. Bowman was Ryan’s leading receiver with 54 receptions for 824 yards and 17 TDs, and he also scored TDs on punt returns and forced a number of turnovers while playing in the secondary on defense. He was named District 4-5A Division I’s co-MVP for a second straight season, and has a great chance to three-peat that award as a senior next fall. Among other things, his junior highlight video (linked above) shows what can result when an explosive athlete is employed by well-coached special teams units.
Ja’Tavion Sanders was second on the team with 47 receptions, which produced 763 yards and 7 TDs, and he was also a menace on the defensive line. He was unanimously voted to the All-District 1st Team at defensive end. The Texas AP Sports Editors’ Class 5A All-State team featured Bowman as a 2nd team defensive back and Sanders as an honorable mention defensive lineman. Both players are currently rated among the state’s top 16 recruits in the 2021 class, according to the 247Sports Composite.
In that state championship loss, Bowman and Sanders combined to make 11 catches for 105 yards and one TD, and Bowman also picked off two passes on defense. Shadow Creek scored first to take a 7-0 lead with 7:27 left in the 1st quarter, one of the very few times Ryan trailed in the 2019 season. The Raiders answered on the ensuing kickoff with one of the plays of the year, as they pulled off a classic “Starburst” reverse that resulted in a 98-yard TD. Bowman served as a decoy on the play and later made an eye-catching sprint to throw a block near the 50-yard line that helped clear Tra Smith’s path to the end zone.
Ryan made a two-point conversion attempt to take a 8-7 lead. The teams traded punts on their subsequent possessions, then Shadow Creek had a sustained drive that started at its own 4-yard line and got as close as the Ryan 12-yard line twelve plays later, but Bowman ended that threat with an interception that gave the Ryan Raiders the ball at their own 8-yard line. Ryan was forced to punt six plays later from its own 28-yard line, and the bizarre series of events that followed is easier shown than explained.
CRAZY PLAY. High snap by Denton Ryan on punt, punter illegally kicks it, Shadow Creek’s Randy Masters returns it 36 yards for TD, Shadow Creek declines penalty for illegal kick and TD gives Shadow Creek 14-8 lead with 5:43 left 2nd quarter.#txhsfb @SportsDayHS @dctf @dentonisd pic.twitter.com/avJPgviS8D— Greg Riddle (@DMNGregRiddle) December 21, 2019
Thus did Shadow Creek become the first and only team in 2019 to score more than 7 points in the first half of a game against Denton Ryan. The cumulative halftime score of the Raiders’ first 15 games of the season was 573-43.
That play gave Shadow Creek a 14-8 lead with 5:43 left in the 2nd quarter. Ryan’s next drive stalled at its own 41-yard line, and the Raiders punted the ball back to Shadow Creek with plenty of time left on the clock and with the Sharks due to receive the second half kickoff. Shadow Creek advanced from their own 22-yard line to the Ryan 31-yard line in six plays, aided by a Ryan penalty at one point, but Bowman picked off Shadow Creek QB Kyron Drones for a second time, and Ryan went into halftime trailing 14-8.
Second interception of the game by @TexasFootball commit Billy Bowman Jr. gives Denton Ryan the ball with less than minute left in first half. Shadow Creek leads 14-8 in 5A Division I state title game.#txhsfb @SportsDayHS @FOXSportsSW @dctf @dentonisd @ihss_dfw @RyanRaiderFB pic.twitter.com/zjLuQkLrel— Greg Riddle (@DMNGregRiddle) December 21, 2019
After receiving the 3rd quarter kickoff, Shadow Creek went on a 10-play, 92-yard drive in which they never had a 3rd down and finished with a 1-yard run by Drones to go up 21-8 just over four minutes into the second half. Ryan responded with a 73-yard scoring drive capped off by a 2-yard run by Alabama signee Drew Sanders, which cut the deficit to 21-15 with 3:24 left in the 3rd quarter.
In the 4th quarter Ryan seemingly caught a break after its defense recovered a Shadow Creek fumble, and a subsequent Shadow Creek penalty gave the Raiders a 1st down at the Shadow Creek 24-yard line. But they advanced only one yard in three plays, and when they elected to go for it on 4th-and-9 from the 23-yard line the result was an incomplete pass and a turnover on downs.
Five plays later, Shadow Creek extended its lead to 28-15 on a 8-yard TD run with 3:08 left in regulation. That TD was set up one play earlier by a 58-yard run by Drones, who would finish the game with 136 yards and 2 TDs rushing, along with 186 yards passing. A 26-yard TD catch by Ja’Tavion Sanders got Ryan to within 28-22 with 1:14 left.
The Raiders had fortunately saved their timeouts in the second half, and after its onside kick went out of bounds they were able to hold Shadow Creek to a three-and-out and and use their timeouts to get the ball back with time for one last drive. A pair of 3rd down catches by Bowman kept the drive alive, and a hook-and-ladder type play helped Ryan move from their own 38 to the Shadow Creek 40-yard line with two seconds left, then a late hit penalty by the defense gave Ryan the ball at the 25 with time for one last play. But a pass into the end zone intended for 6’5” Drew Sanders was broken up, and Shadow Creek escaped with its first state championship in its second varsity season.
ATH Juan Davis (Everman)
Davis was reportedly recruited to Texas as a tight end or Y receiver, but after playing wide receiver as a sophomore, he spent most of his junior season playing QB for the Everman Bulldogs. For the 2019 season he completed 30 of 63 passes for 380 yards, 6 TDs and 4 INTs, and also had a team-leading 153 carries for 895 yards and 12 TDs. He made scattered appearances at his old receiver position and grabbed 6 receptions for 113 yards, and he also averaged 36 yards per punt while serving as the Bulldogs’ punter.
He was named an All-District 2nd Team QB by the coaches of District 5-5A Division II, and though Everman went 4-7 and finished with its lowest win total in 21 years, it was still able to reach the postseason, where it was eliminated in the first round by Red Oak by a score of 55-24.
As I alluded to earlier, here is the list I have put together of recent Texas high school football state championship teams that had future Texas Longhorns on their roster. I have been told that UT’s Sports Information office does not keep records on that particular stat, and based on my own research I believe 1995 was the last year in which no future Longhorns won a state title. This list could have some retroactive additions if Texas were to end up signing players like 2020 WR Kelvontay Dixon (Carthage), 2021 WR Jojo Earle (Aledo), or 2022 DB Denver Harris (Galena Park North Shore), to name three recruits whose teams won state titles in 2019.
2019: Alvin Shadow Creek (Xavion Alford)
2018: Longview (Sawyer Goram-Welch), Highland Park (Prince Dorbah), Cuero (Jordan Whittington)
2017: Highland Park (Prince Dorbah) and Carthage (Keaontay Ingram)
2016: Lake Travis (Cade Brewer and Cameron Dicker) and Carthage (Keaontay Ingram)
2015: Katy (Kyle Porter)
2014: Aledo (Ryan Newsome) and Gilmer (Kris Boyd and Demarco Boyd)
2013: Denton Guyer (Jerrod Heard) and Aledo (Ryan Newsome)
2012: Katy (Kyle Porter) and Denton Guyer (Jerrod Heard)
2011: Aledo (Johnathan Gray)
2010: Cibolo Steele (Malcolm Brown and Erik Huhn), Aledo (Johnathan Gray), Carthage (Kendall Thompson), and Daingerfield (Steve Edmond)
2009: Aledo (Johnathan Gray), Carthage (Kendall Thompson), Daingerfield (Steve Edmond and Chris Jones), and Cayuga (Traylon Shead)
2008: Lake Travis (Garrett Gilbert and Paden Kelly), Sulphur Springs (Bryant Jackson), Carthage (Kendall Thompson), and Daingerfield (Steve Edmond and Chris Jones)
2007: Euless Trinity (Eryon Barnett) and Lake Travis (Garrett Gilbert and Paden Kelly)
2006: Southlake Carroll (Tre Newton), Cedar Hill (Thomas Ashcraft and Jarvis Humphrey), and La Marque (Aundre McGaskey)
2005: Southlake Carroll (Tre Newton) and Wimberley (Buck Burnette)
2004: Southlake Carroll (Tre Newton) and Kilgore (Michael Huey, Eddie Jones, and Britt Mitchell)
2003: Galena Park North Shore (Chykie Brown) and La Marque (Rashad Bobino)
2002: Southlake Carroll (Adam Ulatoski), Texarkana Texas (Nathan Jones and Chris Brown), Denton Ryan (Derek Lokey), and Corrigan-Camden (Eric Foreman)
2001: Mesquite (Marco Martin)
2000: Midland Lee (Cedric Benson)
1999: Midland Lee (Cedric Benson), Stephenville (Kendall Briles), and Mart (Quan Cosby)
1998: Midland Lee (Cedric Benson) and Stephenville (Kendall Briles)
1997: Texas City (Jermaine Anderson, Ervis Hill, Tyrone Jones, and Everick Rawls)
1996: Austin Westlake (Adam Hall and Brett Robin)
Thanks to everyone who followed along these admittedly very wordy columns this season. I aspire to be as informative as I can be in chronicling the exploits of these future Longhorn athletes, and in keeping up with them to that extent I try to offer some insight and analysis that other UT-related sites don’t provide, to the extent that any can be gleaned from reported information or stats from their games.
This is the fifth high school football season that I’ve covered in this manner, and when Longhorn recruiting is going well that means more hours expended putting these posts together, as that tends to mean more commits are in the fold. Texas had 25 total commits between their 2020 and 2021 recruiting classes when the 2019 Texas high school football season began, and they have 24 now, with a few de-commitments and new pledges along the way.
The program did not have quite so many commits during the 2018 season, though they did have a number of out-of-state commits whose season began one or two weeks earlier than the Texas schools, which necessitated a couple more posts than in most prior seasons. When the 2018 Texas high school season began the Longhorns had 16 total commits; when I wrote my season recap post in December of 2018 there were 25 total commits.
Altogether I wrote in excess of 98,000 words on UT commits and their games in 2018, a few thousand more words than Tolkien wrote in The Hobbit. The total damage for this past season’s posts went above 116,000 words, which made the 2019 edition of “Texas football commits in action” longer than any of the first three Harry Potter novels.
I’m excited about the future of the 2021 commits, especially Bowman and Sanders, and I’m very interested to see what a healthy Lake McRee can produce in his senior year. Whether I’ll be back to write about them in this space in August and September remains to be seen. I may decide to get a bit more sleep instead next fall. But for now, I thank you for reading and wish you all a Happy New Year!