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Texas Longhorn football recruits: 2021 season in review

Four future Longhorns ended the 2021 high school football season as state champions.

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2022 Texas Longhorn signee Kristopher Ross poses with his medal after his Galena Park North Shore team won the UIL Class 6A Division I state championship on December 18, 2021.
Guy Frazier (@UncleFraz)

The 2021 high school football season concluded nearly four weeks ago on Saturday, December 18, after the last three Texas UIL state championship games were held that day at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Three Texas Longhorn football signees left Arlington as state champions that week, and another signee won a California state title in the prior week.

Those Longhorn signees helping their teams to a state title in December kept alive a streak that I’ve documented in past years: at least one future Texas Longhorn has been a member of a UIL state championship team in every season going back to 1996. I’ll share the updated listing of those recent state champions at the end of the post.

This column followed the week-to-week action of UT’s football commits throughout the 2021 season, something I’ve now done for six seasons. The year I started this column was the 2015 high school season, which was Shane Buechele’s senior year at Arlington Lamar, and Sam Ehlinger’s junior year at Austin Westlake. Tope Imade was a commit that year, and some other interesting names figured into that season’s posts, though the only future Longhorn to win a state title in the 2015 season ended up being Katy running back Kyle Porter. With the exception of the often chaotic 2020 season, I’ve covered every high school season since then with that same focus on following the fortunes of UT’s commits and their teams.

My most recent post on December 17 focused only on previews for the four Longhorn signees who were going to participate in a state championship game, and I chose to wait until later to write about the new signees who had not been part of the class before that week. Since the week that began the first National Signing Day period in mid-December, the Longhorns have added nine signees or commits who have not previously been mentioned in this column. Rather than do any kind of scouting report on everybody, this post will serve as a recap of the 2021 high school season for each of the program’s current commits, some of whom have signed and are moving onto campus this week. Along with a season recap you’ll also find a ton of fun facts and bits of UT history trivia as it relates to the schools or states these athletes come from.

Four members of UT’s 2022 signing class won state championships as seniors, and eight signees or commits in all have been part of a title-winning team at some point in their high school careers. Hopefully that championship pedigree and work ethic they’re bringing with them to Austin will be a strong asset in the development of the Longhorn program’s culture in the coming years.

2022 QB Maalik Murphy — Gardena (California) Junipero Serra

Junipero Serra went 1-2 in its first three games of the 2021 season, despite Maalik Murphy passing for over 300 yards in two of those games, his only two 300-yard passing performances of the season. Murphy suffered a shoulder injury in the first half of Serra’s 14-0 loss to Downey Warren on September 10, and he didn’t play again until four weeks later. But Serra lost only once after Murphy returned to the field on October 8, winning nine of its last ten games en route to winning the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section Division 3 championship, and then two weeks later claimed the CIF Division I-A state championship.

In ten games after returning from his early season shoulder injury, Murphy completed 65.6% of his passes and threw for 2,051 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions, and also rushed for four touchdowns. He became the first Texas Longhorn quarterback commit to win a state championship in any state since Jerrod Heard led Denton Guyer to back-to-back Class 4A Division I state titles in 2012 and 2013.

Murphy didn’t put up gaudy passing numbers because he attempted 30 or more passes in a game only twice in his senior season, and only five times total as a varsity QB, according to Junipero Serra’s MaxPreps stats. But he’s a high-ceiling talent and, with the likely exception of incoming Ohio State transfer Quinn Ewers, will have the strongest arm of any QB the Longhorns have had in quite some time the moment he reaches campus.

2022 RB Jaydon Blue — Klein Cain

Jaydon Blue opted out of playing his senior season in May of 2021, and he did not end up suiting up for Klein Cain this pas season. As a junior in 2020, he rushed for 2,155 yards and 30 touchdowns in 11 games, and was atop most analysts’ lists of the state’s best running backs in the 2022 class at this time a year ago. In his absence in 2021, Klein Cain finished with a record of 9-3, and its top two senior running backs combined to run for 2,223 yards and 29 TDs.

2022 WR Savion Red — Grand Prairie

Savion Red committed to SMU in September of 2020, and remained in the Mustangs’ 2022 recruiting class until he decommitted on November 24, 2021, shortly before SMU head coach Sonny Dykes was hired for the same position at TCU. He then committed to Texas on December 15 and signed that same day.

Red primarily played receiver for Grand Prairie through his junior year, then as a senior in 2021 he mostly played quarterback and led the Grand Prairie Gophers into the playoffs for just the second time in the span of three decades, and helped the team to its first playoff win since 1989. He finished the season with 857 passing yards with 7 TDs and 3 INTs, 1,367 yards and 20 TDs rushing, and 10 receptions for 128 yards and one TD. For his senior year heroics, the coaches of District 8-6A unanimously voted Red as the District MVP.

At a listed 5’11” and 210 pounds, Red has the build of a running back, but in UT’s signing day release last month he was listed as a wide receiver.

Fun fact: UT has had some notable players from South Grand Prairie in recent memory, but its only previous football letterman from Grand Prairie High School was early 1970s QB Mike Presley.

2022 WR Brenen Thompson — Spearman

Brenen Thompson was injured fairly early in the 2021 season and was sidelined for most of it. He returned to the field in Spearman’s regular season finale, a must-win district game against Tulia with a playoff berth due for the winner. Thompson was limited in his snaps but scored one TD and made for an effective decoy on other plays, as Spearman won 45-28.

Once in the playoffs, Spearman’s season ended quickly, with the Lynx falling 44-11 to state-ranked Lubbock Roosevelt. Thompson will be one of the very fastest Longhorns the minute he first steps on the practice field. As a junior he showed himself to be one of the fastest sprinters in the state, and at last year’s UIL Class 3A state track & field meet, he won the 200 meters with a time of 21.27 seconds, and finished second in the 100 meters with a time of 10.40 seconds, just 0.02 behind the winner. Not since Devin Duvernay in 2016 has Texas landed a receiver with such sprinting bona fides as Brenen Thompson.

Fun fact: Thompson’s hometown of Spearman is in the far north end of the Texas panhandle, only about 21 miles south of the Oklahoma border. The only Longhorn football letterman to come from a Texas town further north was 1970s QB Brad Beck, who hailed from Perryton.

2022 OL Malik Agbo — Federal Way (Washington) Todd Beamer

Malik Agbo committed to Texas at the beginning of the first National Signing Day period in December, so this is the first time I’ve written about him in this column. He was rated a composite four-star recruit and was part of the Longhorns’ outstanding offensive line haul in the 2022 class. Agbo didn’t win a lot of games in his high school career, as his Todd Beamer High School team won just two games in 2021, lost its only two games in an abbreviated 2020-21 season, and went 4-5 in 2019. He’s a versatile athlete who also competes in basketball and throws the shot put and discus during track & field. According to a Sports Illustrated article from April of 2020, his father is a legitimate Ghanian prince.

Fun fact: Agbo could add his name to what has been a very thin list of Washington state Longhorns. UT’s list of historic football lettermen includes only one who went to a Washington high school: former kicker Raul Allegre, who transferred to Texas from Montana State in 1980, and who was actually from Torreon, Mexico but attended Shelton High School near Tacoma, Washington as an exchange student for his senior year of high school.

2022 OL Kelvin Banks — Humble Summer Creek

Kelvin Banks committed to Oklahoma State and Oregon at different points in his recruitment, but ultimately de-committed from Oregon and pledged to Texas shortly before the first National Signing Day period, after former Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal left for Miami. With a five-star grade in the 247Sports Composite, Banks is the highest-rated Longhorn offensive line signee in many years. His Summer Creek team finished fourth in a very competitive district that included 6A Division I state champion Galena Park North Shore and highly-ranked Humble Atascocita, but the Bulldogs then went on the longest playoff run in the program’s 12-year history, reaching the fourth round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs before losing to 2nd-ranked Katy (the defending Class 6A Division II state champion) 34-31 in the state quarterfinals.

For his outstanding play at left tackle in 2021, Kelvin Banks was voted the Offensive MVP of District 21-6A.

Fun fact: Kelvin Banks will be the first Banks and only the second Kelvin in UT football history, after early 1980s wide receiver Kelvin Epps, who came to UT from Dallas Carter.

2022 OL Cole Hutson — Frisco

Cole Hutson was a road-grading guard in Frisco’s offense, which routinely piled up well over 300 rushing yards per game. The Frisco Raccoons lost only once in the regular season and finished in a three-way tie for first place in District 7-5A Division II. In the playoffs, the team advanced to the second round for a fourth straight year (a first in program history), before losing 35-24 to eventual state champion South Oak Cliff.

Cole Hutson was voted to the all-district first team for a third straight season, and is the only one of UT’s offensive line signees in the 2022 class who is set to enroll early this spring. The Texas high school football all-state teams have not been announced, but the Dallas Morning News named Cole Hutson to its All-Area first team.

Fun fact: Hutson will potentially be the very first Longhorn football letterman from Frisco High School, which has played varsity football for roughly a century.

2022 OL Connor Robertson — Austin Westlake

Connor Robertson helped his Westlake team win a third straight state title in 2021. The Westlake Chaparrals won the Class 6A Division II championship with a 40-21 victory over Denton Guyer, a team they had previously beaten in the 2019 state final. That championship win gave Westlake its 40th straight win, and sent head coach Todd Dodge (who was a Longhorn QB in the early 80s) off to retirement with his seventh state championship ring.

Westlake went wire-to-wire as the top-ranked team in Class 6A this season, and USA Today ranked the Chaparrals #2 nationally in its final Super 25 high school football rankings. They were utterly dominant in their 2021 run, holding 10 of their 16 opponents to single digits in scoring and outscoring their foes by an average margin of nearly 48 points. Only two opponents played Westlake to within 20 points, and their 19-point win over Guyer in December’s state championship was the team’s smallest margin of victory for the season.

Fun fact: nearly two dozen Westlake alums have earned football letters at Texas. Westlake played its first season of varsity football in 1970, and in its first four seasons was coached by future UT assistant Ken Dabbs, who is noted for recruiting Earl Campbell to the 40 Acres. Westlake’s first two Longhorns were defensive tackle Brad Shearer and offensive guard Rick Ingraham, who were both freshmen at UT in 1974 and graduated as four-year lettermen. Shearer was a Longhorn team captain as a senior in 1977, and that season he was also a consensus All-American and became the third Longhorn to win the Outland Trophy.

2022 OL Neto Umeozulu — Allen

Neto Umeozulu committed to Texas two days before the start of the early signing period. He is categorized by 247Sports as an interior offensive lineman, but he worked out at offensive tackle during practices for the Under Armor All-America Game, and played left tackle for Allen.

His Allen Eagles reached the fourth round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs this past season, before losing 47-21 to Southlake Carroll. Allen finished with a record of 11-3, the first time since 2005 that the Eagles had more than two losses in a season. Umeozulu was unanimously voted to the All-District 5-6A first team.

Fun fact: Neto Umeozulu’s younger brother Zina Umeozulu is a highly-coveted 2024 defensive end recruit, with offers from Texas and a dozen or so others. Only three Allen alums have earned a football letter at Texas, the most recent being wide receiver Dan Buckner in 2009. Perhaps the brothers Umeozulu will be the start of an Allen-to-Texas pipeline.

2022 OL Cameron Williams — Duncanville

After being committed to Oregon for five months, Cameron Williams re-opened his recruitment on December 8, two days after former Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal left the school to take over the same position at Miami. Williams committed to Texas on December 12 and signed with the Longhorns three days later.

Williams played right tackle for Duncanville, which lost its season-opener 45-3 to California program Santa Ana Mater Dei, the season-long top-ranked team in the nation, according to USA Today. The following week, Duncanville beat eventual Class 5A Division II state champion South Oak Cliff 42-27, and proceeded to win 13 consecutive games to reach the Class 6A Division I state championship game for the third time in four seasons. But that trip to the state final ended the same way the two preceding it did: with a heartbreaking loss to Galena Park North Shore. In their 13 games between the lopsided loss to Mater Dei and their 17-10 loss to North Shore in the state championship, the Duncanville Panthers beat their opponents by an average of 44 points and topped every foe by at least 15 points.

The Dallas Morning News named Williams to its All-Area first team, and he also made the All-District 11-6A first team.

2022 DL Jaray Bledsoe — Marlin

Jaray Bledsoe had an outstanding junior season at Class 2A Bremond, finishing the 2020 season with 104 tackles and 17 tackles for loss, and also rushing for over 1,200 yards and 21 TDs. He transferred from Bremond to Marlin (the two schools are just 18 miles apart) in the summer before his senior year, and was subsequently ruled ineligible for U.I.L. competition. He was forced to sit out his senior season after the U.I.L. denied his eligibility appeal in late August.

In his absence, Marlin had its best season in many years, going 11-4 after winning just ten games total in its previous four seasons, and reaching the Class 2A Division I state semifinals before losing to eventual state runner-up Hawley.

Fun fact: UT has had two previous football lettermen from Marlin High School: guard Travis Roach, a 6th round NFL Draft pick in 1973, and early 1920s quarterback George Gardere, the grandfather of four-time Red River Showdown-winning quarterback Peter Gardere.

2022 DL Aaron Bryant — Southaven (Mississippi)

Aaron Bryant was a key member of one of Mississippi’s best scoring defenses in 2021. He helped lead his Southaven team to a 9-4 overall record and into the second round of the Class 6A playoffs. Southaven held six opponents to single digits in scoring, and its three regular season losses all came in games in which the opponent scored 14 points or less. The Chargers’ 42-27 loss to Starkville in the playoffs was the first time all season in which they allowed more than 20 points.

For his efforts, Aaron Bryant was named to the Mississippi High School Coaches All-State first team for Class 6A.

Fun fact: former Longhorn offensive tackle Donald Hawkins, a starter in 2012 and 2013, was the first Mississippi high school product to earn a football letter at Texas. Aaron Bryant will potentially be the fourth Longhorn letterman from the Magnolia State.

2022 DL Kristopher Ross — Galena Park North Shore

Kristopher Ross’s play at defensive tackle was a big part of his North Shore team winning its third state championship in four years. North Shore suffered an early regular season defeat against a tough Spring Westfield team in September, but did not taste defeat again. The Mustangs beat three consecutive ranked teams in the Class 6A Division I playoffs to reach the state championship, and there they defeated Duncanville 17-10 to win their school’s fifth state championship overall, and the fourth in the eight-year tenure of head coach Jon Kay.

Ross was a member of North Shore’s 2019 state championship team as a sophomore, so he’ll arrive in Austin as one of a very small number of current Longhorns with multiple state championship rings.

Fun fact: seven North Shore graduates have earned football letters at UT, with the first being 1992 All-American safety Lance Gunn. Remarkably, all seven North Shore Longhorns were four-year lettermen, which bodes well for Kristopher Ross being a multi-year contributor.

2022 DL Zac Swanson — Phoenix (Arizona) Brophy College Prep

During his senior season, Zac Swanson was credited with 42 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, a blocked punt, a fumble recovery, and a forced fumble. He helped his Brophy Prep team to a 7-5 overall record and a berth in the second round of the AIA Conference 6A playoffs. For his efforts, he was named to the All-Conference 6A first team.

Fun fact: Seven Arizona high school products have earned football letters at Texas, five of whom attended UT within the past 20 years. The first Grand Canyon State high schooler to star at UT was early 1950s halfback Gib Dawson, a 4th round NFL Draft pick in 1953.

2022 Edge Derrick Brown — Texarkana Texas

Derrick Brown was a leader of the #22EFFECT class off the field, and had one of its best senior seasons on the field. He helped lead the Texas Tigers to a second consecutive undefeated regular season and into the fourth round of the playoffs, where they lost 14-7 to Crosby in the Class 5A Division II state quarterfinals. It was the first time for Texas High to post consecutive unbeaten regular seasons since 2002-2003, and was the Tigers’ longest playoff run since 2003. For his efforts, Derrick Brown was voted the Defensive Player of the Year for District 9-5A Division II.

Fun fact: a dozen players from Texarkana high schools have earned football letters at UT. Nine were from Texas High, two from Arkansas High, and one from Liberty-Eylau.

2022 Edge Ethan Burke — Austin Westlake

Ethan Burke had a unique senior year recruiting journey, going from being a Maryland lacrosse commit, to a Michigan football commit in early December, to surprisingly flipping to Texas and joining his Westlake teammate Connor Robertson in the #22EFFECT class on the first National Signing Day.

His football stock rose considerably as his senior year film made the rounds. The 6’7” 225-pound edge was a disruptive force against opposing offenses, and last fall he was credited with 58 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, 1 interception, 3 forced fumbles, and a blocked punt. He was a key member of a defensive unit that helped Westlake hold its 2021 opponents to just under nine points per game en route to a 16-0 record and a third straight state championship. Burke was also a member of Westlake’s 2020 Class 6A Division I state championship team, but was primarily seen as a lacrosse prospect until his senior season.

Fun fact: Texas has never previously had a football letterman with the first name Ethan or last name Burke.

2022 Edge Justice Finkley — Trussville (Alabama) Hewitt-Trussville

Justice Finkley earned Class 7A All-State first team honors from the Alabama Sports Writers Association after a senior season in which he was credited with 96 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery. His contributions on the defensive line helped Hewitt-Trussville to a 9-3 overall record, and its season ended in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs with a 24-23 overtime loss to top-ranked Hoover. Hewitt-Trussville’s three losses in 2021 all came against Alabama’s top two ranked teams: a pair against Hoover in the regular season and playoffs, and one against eventual state champion Alabaster Thompson.

Fun fact: Five Alabama high school products have earned football letters at Texas, most recently linebacker Gary Johnson of Douglas, Alabama in 2018. The first Alabaman to wear a Longhorn uniform was Winston McMahon, who graduated from the University of Alabama in 1903 at 19 years old, then moved to Texas the following year to study law and eventually enrolled at UT and played on its football team. McMahon is recorded as being the man who threw the first forward pass in UT history in 1906, the first season in which it was legal.

2022 Edge J’Mond Tapp — Donaldsonville (Louisiana) Ascension Catholic

J’Mond Tapp’s Ascension Catholic team had a delayed start to its 2021 season, with multiple early games being canceled due to weather-related reasons. But the Bulldogs had a fairly successful season and were ranked fourth in Class 1A going into the postseason. The team advanced into the second round of the LHSAA Division IV playoffs, where they were bounced 42-0 by Class 1A’s top-ranked team, Monroe Ouachita Christian, the eventual Division IV state runner-up.

Tapp’s Rivals profile indicates that he is now attending Assumption High School in Napoleonville, which is about 14 miles south of his prior school, Ascension Catholic. A local news report in late October stated that a handful of Ascension Catholic players had been kicked off the team and expelled from school after a complaint about an alleged hazing incident. The players in question were not named but one was said to be a “Division I commit”, a description that applied to Tapp and nobody else on that squad. No follow-up reporting has been done on that incident, as far as I can tell, and it doesn’t seem to have affected Tapp’s prospect status, as he signed with Texas in December and took part in this month’s All-American Bowl in San Antonio.

2022 LB Trevell Johnson — Arlington Martin

Trevell Johnson missed essentially all of his senior season after undergoing surgery for a labral tear in one of his hips. He had dealt with the injury for several months leading up to the 2021 season but hoped to be able to play at least part of the season before having surgery. That plan lasted all of one game, as he appeared in enough of Arlington Martin’s season-opening 40-28 loss to Lake Travis to record a pair of tackles, but announced after that game that he would undergo surgery and miss the rest of the season.

In his absence, Martin won its district and advanced to the playoffs for a 16th consecutive season, an Arlington ISD record. At present, Johnson is the Longhorns’ only linebacker commit or signee in the 2022 class.

2022 DB Bryan Allen Jr. — Aledo
2024 DB Jaden Allen — Aledo

The brothers Allen were mainstays in the secondary for an Aledo team that won its 14th consecutive district title and advanced into the third round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs before losing 33-28 to eventual state champion South Oak Cliff. Bryan Allen was a member of Aledo’s state championship teams in 2019 and 2020, and Jaden Allen saw the field as a freshman during Aledo’s 2020 state championship playoff run, but they and the Bearcats were unable to win what would have been the program’s fourth straight state title, and 11th overall.

In the 2021 season, Bryan Allen was credited with 32 total tackles, 4 interceptions, and a forced fumble, and he was voted to the All-District 5-5A Division II first team at safety. Jaden Allen was credited with 28 total tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 2 interceptions at cornerback.

Bryan committed to Texas in late February of 2021, so he was been featured throughout this column during this past season, but Jaden — who is UT’s first commit in the 2024 recruiting class — only committed in late December, so this is the first time I have given him specific mention.

2022 DB Xavion Brice — Arlington Seguin
2023 DB Jamel Johnson — Arlington Seguin

Xavion Brice and Jamel Johnson were both standouts for Arlington Seguin in 2021, but their efforts weren’t enough to get Seguin into the postseason, as the Cougars finished 5-5 overall and in fifth place in District 5-5A Division II.

Brice committed to Oklahoma on July 4, 2021, but flipped to Texas on the first National Signing Day in December, so this is his first appearance in this column. Some recruiting services listed him as an athlete or wide receiver, but UT’s signing day release listed him as a cornerback. As a senior he played primarily on offense, lining up at both QB and WR and finishing the 2021 season with 574 yards passing, 566 yards rushing, and 304 yards receiving, and he had a hand in 16 total offensive touchdowns. He made the All-District 5-5A Division II second team as a quarterback. Seguin’s defensive stats have not been posted to the team’s MaxPreps page, but Jamel Johnson made the all-district first team at cornerback.

2022 DB Terrance Brooks — Little Elm

Terrance Brooks, the state’s #10 recruit in the 2022 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, was committed to Ohio State for nearly six months before flipping to Texas and signing on the first National Signing Day on December 15.

Brooks attended John Paul II High School in Plano for his first three years of high school, and as a junior he made the TAPPS Division I all-state first team. He transferred to Little Elm for his senior year. Little Elm started off the 2021 season very well, winning its first five games and beginning district play with a 59-56 overtime win over a Prosper team that would later advance to the fourth round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs. But the wheels came off after that, and Little Elm lost its final five games to finish 1-5 in district play and effectively in last place in District 5-6A. Despite Little Elm’s poor district showing, Brooks and his teammate Keyshon Mills (a Colorado signee) got two of the three cornerback spots on the All-District 5-6A first team.

Brooks had 76 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 10 pass break-ups as a senior, and was named by the Dallas Morning News to its All-Area first team.

2022 DB Jaylon Guilbeau — Port Arthur Memorial

Jaylon Guilbeau committed to Tom Herman’s staff at Texas in September of 2020, decommitted in July of 2021 but reportedly remained in contact with Steve Sarkisian’s staff, committed to TCU on September 26, then flipped from TCU back to Texas on November 25, just over three weeks after Gary Patterson’s departure from the TCU head coaching position.

His Port Arthur Memorial team went 8-2 in the regular season and finished second in District 9-5A Division I after losing 28-27 to Friendswood in the regular season finale in a battle for the district championship. The Titans lost 24-21 in the first round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs to a Fort Bend Hightower team that would advance to the state quarterfinals before losing to eventual state champion Katy Paetow.

Guilbeau, who was listed as a cornerback in UT’s signing day release, was voted as his district’s Special Teams Player of the Year.

Fun fact: historically, UT has had over two dozen football lettermen who came from Port Arthur high schools, but only two who went to Memorial, which opened in 2002 after the school district’s three existing high schools (Austin, Jefferson, and Lincoln) all merged. Running back Jamaal Charles and safety Robert Joseph are the only two Port Arthur Memorial products who have made UT’s all-time lettermen list.

2022 DB Austin Jordan — Denton Ryan

Austin Jordan was a member of Denton Ryan’s 2020 team that won the Class 5A Division I state championship. The Ryan Raiders were ranked atop their classification going into the 2021 season and remained at the top of the rankings going into the playoffs. They reached the state quarterfinals but were unable to repeat as state champions, losing 26-21 to eventual state runner-up College Station.

Jordan put his skills to work on both sides of the ball; he was Ryan’s third-leading receiver with 22 receptions for 271 yards and 4 TDs, and was credited with 28 total tackles, 2 interceptions, and a forced fumble while on defense. He was voted to the All-District 5-5A Division I first team as a cornerback.

Fun fact: Austin Jordan will potentially be the fifth Denton Ryan product to earn a football letter at Texas, joining defensive tackle Derek Lokey (2004-07), safety Ishie Oduegwu (2006-07), fullback Alex De La Torre (2012-15), and tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders (2021).

2022 DB Larry Turner-Gooden — Mission Hills (California) Bishop Alemany

Larry Turner-Gooden, who was committed to Arizona State for seven months in the middle part of 2021, publicly announced his commitment to Texas on January 8 during the All-American Bowl in San Antonio. He graduated from high school in December and will enroll at Texas for this spring semester.

Gooden attended three different high schools in his high school career, finishing up at Bishop Alemany in suburban Los Angeles after previously attending Playa Del Rey St. Bernard (which apparently did not play a football schedule in 2021), and Calabasas High School. Between a senior year injury and California having a delayed and shortened football season in the 2020-21 school year due to COVID-19, Turner-Gooden only played in six games between his junior and senior years.

2022 DB Ronald Lewis — New Orleans (Louisiana) Warren Easton

Ronald Lewis committed to Texas on August 5, 2021, and though he officially remains committed to Texas he is the program’s lone 2022 commit who did not sign in December, and it’s unclear at this point if he will end up signing with the program.

Lewis’s Warren Easton team went into Louisiana’s Class 4A playoffs as the #3 seed, and won lopsided victories in its first four rounds, including a 45-17 domination of 2nd seed Neville in the state semifinals. But the Eagles were upset in the state championship by #5 seed Westgate in heartbreaking fashion by a 14-13 final score. Trailing late in regulation, Easton had a first and goal from the 1-yard line, but was stopped on three attempts to punch the ball into the end zone, and on 4th down the Eagles went for the score rather than line up for a game-winning field goal due to shaky special teams play that had already resulted in a missed PAT earlier in the game. That 4th down try was unsuccessful and Westgate got the ball back with less than 30 seconds remaining to ice the game.

Fun fact: The Longhorns have had one previous football letterman from Warren Easton High School: a 1940s halfback named Fred Brechtel. Brechtel began his college career at Rice and played for that school’s football team at the start of the 1944 season, but later in that year he was transferred to Southwestern University by the Navy. Brechtel was part of the Navy’s World War II-era V-12 officer training program, which was hosted by many colleges nationwide and led to a lot of male student-athletes who were part of that program being transferred multiple times during the war. The only loss suffered by the 1943 Texas Longhorns was, in fact, at the hands of a Southwestern team that had several ex-Longhorns on its roster who had been transferred there. Brechtel was a member of Southwestern’s team that played in the Sun Bowl on New Year’s Day 1945, in which the Pirates came away with a 35-0 win over the University of Mexico. He was later transferred from Southwestern to Texas and was a member of the 1945 Longhorn team.

If Ronald Lewis does indeed sign with Texas he could potentially be the second or third Warren Easton alum to earn a letter with the Longhorns, as current UT wide receiver Casey Cain also went to that school.

2022 K Will Stone — Austin Regents

Will Stone’s Austin Regents team came into 2021 as the defending TAPPS Division II state champions. The Knights appeared to be well on their way to repeating as they won their first 11 games without a single opponent playing them to a margin of less than 24 points, but they were upset in the second round of the playoffs by Houston Second Baptist, which knocked off the defending champs by a 26-16 score. Second Baptist went on to lose 33-14 to Dallas Christian in the state championship game.

Stone was named to the TAPPS Division II All-State first team at kicker.

Fun fact: the TAPPS all-state teams list several players by their full names, including Will Stone, whose full name, it turns out, is William Turner Stone. As a class of 2022 kid, he was likely born less than a year after the 2003 release of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Given that, one can’t help but wonder if his parents were fans of the movie, and of Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner character in particular.

2022 LS Lance St. Louis — Gilbert (Arizona) Williams Field

Lance St. Louis’s Williams Field team went 10-3 overall and reached the semifinal round of Arizona’s Conference 6A playoffs before losing 35-28 to Scottsdale Chaparral. After the season he was chosen for the AIA’s 6A All-Conference first team at long-snapper.

Texas Longhorns who have played for Texas U.I.L. state championship teams since 1996

As promised earlier, here is the list going back to 1996 of teams that won a UIL football state championship with a future Longhorn on their roster. Based on my own research, 1995 was the last season in which none of the state championship-winning teams had a future Longhorn player. One of these days I’ll put together an all-time list of Longhorns who are in this club.

The below list is just for U.I.L. (i.e. public school) champions and does not include Longhorns who won state titles with private school teams, like new signee Will Stone with Austin Regents in 2020, or 2020 signee Jaden Hullaby with Dallas Bishop Dunne in 2018. It also does not include recruits who were part of state championship teams in other states, such as Maalik Murphy, 2021 signee Gunnar Helm of Colorado, or 2019 signee Brayden Liebrock of Arizona.

2021: Galena Park North Shore (Kristopher Ross) and Austin Westlake (Ethan Burke and Connor Robertson)

2020: Austin Westlake (Ethan Burke and Connor Robertson), Aledo (Bryan Allen and Jaden Allen), and Denton Ryan (Austin Jordan and Ja’Tavion Sanders)

2019: Galena Park North Shore (Kristopher Ross), Austin Westlake (Connor Robertson), Alvin Shadow Creek (Xavion Alford, Terrence Cooks), Aledo (Bryan Allen), and Carthage (Kelvontay Dixon)

2018: Longview (Sawyer Goram-Welch), Highland Park (Prince Dorbah), and 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 with this column during the 2021 season. It was quite a weekly undertaking with so many players in so many states who were committed to the program during the season. Hopefully there are bright days ahead in Austin for all of the players mentioned.

Now that I’ve spent four seasons following the UT program’s future members, it’s time to get back to looking at its past. In the coming months I hope to have more to share on the topic of Texas Longhorn football history, my previous contributions to which can be read here.