The headliner of Tom Herman’s 2021 class is now officially in the fold, as five-star Denton Ryan athlete Ja’Tavion Sanders put pen to paper and signed his National Letter of Intent with the Texas Longhorns on Wednesday.
5-star athlete Ja’tavion Sanders is officially a Longhorn. Sanders ranks 13th on the ESPN 300. pic.twitter.com/CZrOFmr7B0— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) December 16, 2020
As expected considering his status as the nation’s No. 1 athlete, per the 247Sports Composite, Sanders ultimately earned offers from a multitude of prominent programs, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, , Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Oklahoma. Nevertheless, Sanders brought his recruitment to a close relatively early, committing to Texas ahead of the Horns’ showdown with LSU in 2019.
Much more notably, as part of a 2021 class that has suffered its fair share of attrition and losing the likes and elite talents in Katy Tompkins quarterback Jalen Milroe (Alabama), Dallas Skyline receiver Quaydarius Davis, and Denton Ryan teammate in athlete Billy Bowman, Sanders remained solid to the Longhorns throughout a recruitment that was largely quick and quiet.
The only five-star prospect in Texas’ 2021 class, Sanders is a legitimate two-way talent, as his 6’3.5, 220-pound frame initially thrived as an edge rusher before his emergence as a star pass catcher throughout the previous two seasons. As the latter, Sanders features reliable hands and positions himself well to pluck the ball away from defenders en route to 76 catches for 1,341 yards and 16 touchdowns the past two seasons.
He’s impressive after the catch as well, flashing surprising speed to run away from defensive backs and the physicality to simply toss would-be tacklers aside. However, that same burst of speed and strength helps him possess special potential as an edge rusher — he displays a natural ability to explode around the edge and a relentless pursuit after doing so, finishing as a ferocious tackler, of which he totaled 26 tackles for loss and 13 tackles for loss the last two seasons after amassing 54 tackles and 23 tackles for loss as a sophomore.
Given the current needs in Austin with Jack linebacker Joseph Ossai’s departure for the NFL, as well as Sanders’ skill set presenting an opportunity for him to ultimately develop into an elite talent on the edge, we’ll likely see him get his first looks with the Longhorns as a Jack linebacker, where he’d compete with options such as Jacoby Jones and Reese Leitao.
Sanders is ranked as the No. 21 prospect nationally.