The Texas Longhorns haven’t just been busy in the last few days adding commitments to the 2021 recruiting class — head coach Tom Herman and his staff also landed pledges from Michigan Wolverine graduate transfer wide receiver and former Baylor Bears cornerback signee Jahdae Barron.
On Monday, the school officially announced the two players as late additions to the 2020 recruiting class, which now stands at 20 members and slots at No. 8 nationally and No. 1 in the Big 12, according to the 247Sports Composite team rankings.
Black, a 6’3, 215-pounder from Connecticut, spent three seasons at Michigan, two of them plagued by injuries, and finished his career in maize and blue with 40 receptions for 507 yards and two touchdowns in 21 appearances (nine starts). He’s eligible immediately and could apply for a medical waiver to gain another season of eligibility in 2021.
“Tarik is a big target, an athletic receiver and a player who has displayed the ability to catch the ball in traffic,” Herman said. “He has competed against a lot of tremendous players in the Big Ten and at Michigan for three years, so he brings a great deal of knowledge and experience to our team. Tarik is a really talented player who will be a valuable veteran influence and can bring added leadership to our wide receiver room.”
Junior Brennan Eagles, with 23 appearances, narrowly edges Black in terms of overall games, but Black has an extra year of maturity — he’s now the oldest scholarship wide receiver on the roster. So it’s not surprising to see Herman mention that knowledge and experience in introducing the sixth graduate transfer to join the Texas program since the Longhorns head coach returned to Austin.
It’s more intriguing to have Herman mention Black’s ability to catch the ball in traffic.
There’s a strong chance that new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich plays both Eagles and Black at the X position depending on matchups and down and distance. For instance, which receiver is playing closer to the quarterback on third and medium when Sam Ehlinger is either looking for his slot receiver or his X on a slant route? It’s a spot Ehlinger is likely to target on a significant number of third downs this year.
With all the lost third-down conversions from Devin Duvernay last season — 24 in total — one of Eagles or Black needs to step up to become that reliable on the money down. Slot contenders Jake Smith and Jordan Whittington are both inexperienced enough that it could be a group effort to replace Duvernay’s production. And Collin Johnson also converted 10 times on third-down throws last season despite all of his injury troubles.
If Black was a take due to overall roster need, the Longhorns took Barron after he asked out of his National Letter of Intent with the Bears because of class need. Following two fall decommitments at the position, Texas tried to land late riser Ennis Rakestraw, who picked Missouri on National Signing Day in a bit of an upset for the Tigers.
The result was only one true cornerback take in the class — Tyler John Tyler’s Kitan Crawford.
After missing out on prospects like Kelee Ringo and Jahari Rogers, too, it wasn’t the best final cycle for former cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator Jason Washington, who is now at Mississippi State.
The decision by the 5’11, 195-pound Barron opened up an opportunity for the Pflugerville Connally product to stay close to home and Barron took it.
“Jahdae is a highly-regarded prospect and talented young man who is a great addition to our 2020 signing class,” Herman said. “He’s a local player from Pflugerville who we’ve followed closely for a long time and is fulfilling a lifelong dream of playing for Texas. In addition to Jahdae being a very productive player in high school, he’s really competitive, plays extremely hard and is just a great fit for what we’re looking for in our program. We’re so excited that he’s a Longhorn.”
A three-phase player at Connally, Barron produced 41 catches for 673 yards and three touchdowns, 43 tackles and three interceptions, and a punt return for a touchdown as a senior. During two other seasons on varsity, Barron totaled another five interceptions.
Even though Barron doesn’t have elite measurables in terms of height, length, and speed, he has run a 10.95 100m — he projects well enough in all those areas to rank as a top-150 prospect in the 247Sports Composite rankings.
So, once again, the Texas staff was able to address some important class and program needs after National Signing Day after three such additions last year and two in each of the previous years.