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Texas lands preferred walk ons from Austin Westlake

Steve Sarkisian opted to keep the preferred walk-on program in place and John Michael Jones came through with two commitments over the weekend.

NCAA Football: Alamo Bowl-Texas vs Colorado Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Under former head coach Tom Herman, the staff’s emphasis on committing to a strong preferred walk-on program paid dividends. Those efforts continue under new head coach Steve Sarkisian.

Led by the recruiting efforts of Assistant Director of Player Personnel John Michael Jones, the Texas Longhorns landed two Austin Westlake products over the weekend — running back Zane Minors and cornerback Michael Taaffe.

A 5’10, 180-pounder, Minors also held offers from Air Force, Lamar, and Yale, where he was previously committed. Over the last two seasons as a starter, Minors racked up nearly 2,000 rushing yards and 34 rushing touchdowns, along with 735 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns.

Taaffe is a 6’0, 180-pounder who held offers from Brown and Colgate, along with a preferred walk-on opportunity at Rice. The Defensive MVP of the last two 6A state championship games, Taaffe had two interceptions in the Westlake win over Southlake Carroll, including a remarkable leaping one-handed pick of star 2022 Ohio State commit Quinn Ewers as Carroll attempted to spark at comeback down 14 early in the third quarter.

It might be easy to suggest that Texas took both players in some part to help with the recruitment of 2022 Westlake quarterback Cade Klubnik, who starred in the state championship game and was recently re-offered by the new coaching staff. But the fact is that the Longhorns program will benefit from having two two-time state champions who excelled at the highest levels of Texas high school football and received high-level coaching from Todd Dodge.