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National Signing Day HQ: Texas still pursuing several targets

What Longhorns fans need to know about the two commits and the remaining targets as Steve Sarkisian makes one of his first impressions as a recruiter.

Texas athletics

With 18 prospects already signed for the 2021 Texas Longhorns recruiting class back in December, new Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian’s transition class will look different than the one signed by Tom Herman after his arrival four years ago.

The implementation of Early Signing Day means that the vast majority of the class is already in place and the vast majority of the top prospects around the nation have already signed. In addition, Herman and his staff left a number of spots open for graduate transfers or other transfers, a plan that Sarkisian has continued to follow through on by adding two more graduate transfers to join McNeese State’s Darion Dunn.

So it’s not surprising that Wednesday will look more like other National Signing Days since implementation of the early signing period and less like the scrambles to the finish following the two previous coaching changes — that’s the new reality for transition classes.

Here’s how things look for the Longhorns heading into the day with the nation’s No. 17 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite team rankings.

Commits to sign on Wednesday

Bryan Rudder wide receiver Keithron Lee — The shifty and speedy Aggieland wide receiver committed to the former staff on Christmas Day. When Lee signs with the Longhorns on Wednesday, he’ll provide the class with a much-needed, dynamic threat from the slot position.

[Update 2/3 7:47 a.m. Central]: Lee signs with Texas.

Dallas Kimball cornerback Ishmael Ibraheem — Ibraheem has remained committed since he was charged with evading arrest back in December, but didn’t sign during the early period. Now it looks like Ibraheem will officially join the class on Wednesday.

[Update 2/3 8:38 a.m. Central]: Ibraheem signs with Texas.

Remaining targets

Cy-Fair running back LJ Johnson

The rather inscrutable recruitment of the nation’s No. 45 player overall and the No. 4 running back in the 2021 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, will finally come to an end at 1 p.m. Central on Wednesday. Texas is still in the mix with Johnson, who named a top four that also included LSU, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M back in September. The most recent predictions for the Aggies in the 247Sports Crystal Ball projections don’t have a high level of confidence, but Texas A&M does hold seven total heading into Wednesday.

If the Horns do miss out on Johnson, the late rise of Jonathon Brooks in the 2021 class and Tuesday’s pledge from 2022 standout Jaydon Blue should help dull the loss.

[Update 2/3 11:24 a.m. Central]: Too early to know if it means anything, but Texas running backs coach Stan Drayton did send out this tweet:

Update 2/3 1:30 p.m Central]: Johnson commits to Texas A&M.

Lakeview Centennial running back Camar Wheaton

Wheaton lands on this list thanks to the likelihood that Johnson ends up signing with the Aggies and because of his connections to Steve Sarkisian — Wheaton pledged to the Crimson Tide just before Christmas, when Sarkisian was still the offensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa. Wheaton’s primary recruiter, Charles Huff, also recently left to take the head coaching job at Marshall. However, the expectation is that the consensus five-star prospect will follow through on his intentions and ink with head coach Nick Saban’s program.

[Update 2/3 9:02 a.m. Central]: Wheaton signed with Alabama as expected:

Dallas Parish Episcopal offensive tackle Austin Uke

Given the well-documented offensive line recruiting issues under Herb Hand, there’s some pressure for new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Kyle Flood to land the remaining target at the position. A late offer from the Longhorns hurt the previous staff with Uke, but there’s some hope that the coaching change benefited the only in-state program that Uke is still considering.

Other finalists include Northwestern, Stanford, and USC. Uke is expected to announce at noon Central. Which school will win out? Perhaps some Rivals FutureCasts or 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions come in throughout the morning, but as of Wednesday morning even the experts don’t have any idea which school is set to receive Uke’s signature.

[Update 2/ 3 12:54 p.m. Central]: Uke picks Stanford.

Mansfield Legacy defensive end David Abiara

In late March last year, Abiara committed to Notre Dame nearly two months before Texas extended an offer. When Abiara decided to reopen his recruitment in late November, the previous staff renewed their pursuit of the 6’4, 248-pounder, efforts that continued under the new coaching staff. Although Abiara officially has a top seven ahead of his announcement on Dave Campbell-Texas Football’s Instagram page at 10 a.m. Central, Texas is the heavy favorite.

[Update 2/3 10:49 a.m. Central]: Abiara commits to Texas.

2022 DT Bear Alexander set to commit

The Longhorns are expected to suffer another blow in the 2022 recruiting class when Denton Ryan standout defensive tackle Bear Alexander makes his decision at noon Central. Georgia is the heavy favorite with eight 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions.

[Update 2/3 10:26 a.m. Central]: Alexander commits to Georgia.

Sarkisian will hold his National Signing Day press conference at 2:30 p.m. Central on Longhorn Network, Austin Radio Network, and