In a massive development for the Texas Longhorns, five-star Denton Ryan linebacker Anthony Hill announced his decision to commit to Texas just a month after decommitting from Texas A&M. How massive is Hill’s commitment?
Daniel Seahorn (@DanielSeahorn) - It’s huge because Texas landed one of the most coveted prospects in the country that was formerly committed to their in-state rival. Prospects flipping between Texas and A&M is very rare and the fact that a five-star recruit like Hill did it makes it even rarer. This was a huge battleground recruitment for Steve Sarkisian against Jimbo Fisher and the Texas staff deserves a bunch of kudos for seeing this recruitment through to the end despite a commitment to the Aggies in the summer. Hill is the cherry on top of a very stout linebacker class for Texas and he will enroll early next month to begin his college career.
Gerald Goodridge (@ghgoodridge) - It’s not every day you add a Day 1 starter to the defense and deliver a major blow to one of your biggest recruiting rivals. On a team with JT Sanders and Billy Bowman, Anthony Hill was often the player that popped the most whenever you watched that team play. It’s impossible really to overstate the impact that he will have both on the field and in the perception department.
Cameron Parker (@camerondparker) - It’s right up there with the Arch Manning commitment. If Hill signs, he’ll be the first 5-star LB to come to Austin since 2015. It’s another win over the Aggies on the recruiting trail AND Hill can play from Day 1. I don’t want to get greedy but can we land Colin Simmons next, please?
Nik Patel (@NothinButNik) - It proves that Sark has some amazing recruiting power and it is even more gratifying that it is A&M’s loss as well. Texas has always led in terms of talent in the Big 12 but failed to convert that to consistent domination in the past decade. It seems like Texas has brought themselves even with the SEC giants and we can only hope that Sark, K, and the rest of the coaching staff can develop them into a phenomenal team.
Since our last roundtable, the Longhorns lost offensive lineman Junior Angilau to the transfer portal, added punter Ryan Sanborn from Stanford, and host Wake Forest’s Gavin Holmes this weekend. Are you surprised by Angilau’s departure? And what can Sanborn and Holmes bring to the table?
Daniel Seahorn (@DanielSeahorn) - I was honestly a little surprised by Angilau’s departure mainly because I had thought for a while he would return and be a starter in 2023. His departure could speak to how Texas feels about some of the underclassmen in the program, but it’s hard to know exactly what played into his decision to move without being in the room. I think Sanborn and Holmes both are guys who will have a chance to be starters at their respective positions and it gives you an idea of what the Texas staff is hunting in the portal as they prepare to make another step forward for year three.
Gerald Goodridge (@ghgoodridge) - Angilau was surprising because he seemed like a shoo-in to start for 2023, but maybe behind the scenes the underclassmen are pushing him more than we knew. I was a huge fan, but sometimes it’s just time for someone to move on and I can’t begrudge him that. When Pearson popped into the portal, it became apparent that Texas needed a punter and they moved quickly. When you play the style of defense that Texas wants, you need a punter that can consistently flip the field. While Sanborn doesn’t have the biggest leg in the world, he is accurate and can boot it long enough to do what needs to get done. Holmes will obviously factor into the starting picture and I think it says a lot about how the coaches feel about the young defensive backs that the first scholarship offer out the door was to an experienced DB that raises the floor of the group, rather than the ceiling.
Cameron Parker (@camerondparker) - I was not expecting Angilau to hit the portal considering he was thought to be a starter next season but maybe Kyle Flood and Sark felt that Hayden Connor/Cole Hutston are the future. Or Angilau is just looking for a fresh start. It’s easy to forget but he’s been at Texas since 2018. Either way, he’ll land on his feet quickly and Texas has the depth to replace him. Sanborn is statistically the same punter as Danny Trejo but with Trejo and Isaac Pearson both gone, the options were limited. Landing Holmes would add some depth back to the corner room but he would bring starter experience to a potentially young secondary next year. If only Texas can land him AND Jalen Catalon…
Nik Patel (@NothinButNik) - Initially I thought maybe he feels like he’s lost the starting spot to the younger guys. But with Cole Hutson’s injury in the Baylor game, it still seemed like Angilau had the potential for a return. I am definitely happy to see Texas taking a proactive approach to the portal to fill in missing gaps. With much of the defense graduating, I know Coach K will need a great set of talent to pool from to develop next year’s team. Young DBs were a worry this past year and I am anticipating some great development at that position.
Let’s head to the hardwood where two of the Horns last three games have reached overtime but in completely different circumstances. Staying to just on-court things, is your stock up, down, or the same after the Illinois loss?
Daniel - I hate to say a team’s stock is down after one loss to a Top 25 opponent, but I’ll say it is slightly down following the game. I think the team will still be pretty good in the long, but they are going to have to show some resiliency and show the ability to put tough games like that behind them quickly and not let it carry over to the next one.
Gerald - I think it’s slightly down, but I won’t say that they are down bad or anything. In the Rice game, Texas was able to survive the storm with some of its best players playing terribly, only for those same guys to take over in overtime.
Cameron - You can throw out the Rice game result altogether and the Illinois loss is a reminder that when Marcus Carr and Tyrese Hunter both struggle, it’ll be hard to win games. The wins against Gonzaga and Creighton show this team can beat anyone in the country but it’s still December and conference play hasn’t started yet. I won’t draw any large conclusions until we get closer to March.
Nik - I think the atmosphere of the new Moody Center has definitely played a role. It showed in their matchup in Gonzaga and was well-needed against Rice. I think they have a relatively easy schedule for the next month until they face Tennessee. They will only host one ranked opponent in TCU. It is a good opportunity for the Longhorns to gather themselves after a little wake-up call and regain momentum.
Vic Schaefer’s squad has had an up-and-down start to the season having been bitten by the injury. Are you concerned with the 6-4 start to the season?
Daniel - Injuries will lower a ceiling for a team’s season in a hurry, but Schaefer is a heck of a coach and I think if anyone can coach them through an injury bug it’s him. The ultimate goal is to get to March, so he and his team will need to battle to keep this thing on the rails so that they can make their way to the big dance at the end of the year.
Gerald - I think the color to that conversation is that Texas started the season 1-3, then won five of six, including its last three games. Those contests were against some outmatched HBCU teams, but they did what you're supposed to do against less-talented teams and ran all over them. I think we’ll know a lot more after this USC game, but generally, Vic’s teams are built for March.
Cameron - No because the Horns haven’t been healthy all year. First, it was Rori Harmon, then Taylor Jones, and now Aaliyah Moore. Losing Moore for the rest of the season hurts the Texas frontcourt but DeYona Gaston and Jones will be able to step in. Plus, when Rori is healthy and on the floor, Texas has looked just as good as it did last year.
Nik - I think Marquette and USF are the only worrying losses but Schaefer has a great coaching record and it won’t be long until Texas is back in the top 25. No doubt he will get them to the tournament, but a top-10 finish is definitely seems more unlikely.
Texas volleyball plays in its ninth National Championship tomorrow and tries to win its first since 2012. Is this Jerritt Elliott’s best chance to get it done?
Daniel - They’ve been absolutely dominant all year. If this isn’t Elliott’s best shot at winning a natty then it’s top two for sure. Here’s hoping that they can finish the job.
Gerald - You’ve got the best player in the country and the best libero in the country, plus two more All-Americans on the squad. Texas was knocking on the door a year ago and somehow got better this year, so they definitely have a shot at the title.
Cameron - Hard to argue against it. After a poor opening set against San Diego, Logan Eggleston looked like the National Player of the Year and her chemistry with Madisen Skinner makes Texas look unbeatable when they’re on. Throw in Asjia O’Neal and possibly the best libero Elliott has ever had Zoe Fleck and this may be better than the 2020 team that fell short to Kentucky.
Nik - Texas has a great chance especially if they get to play a weaker Pittsburgh. Even if they do play Louisville, the Longhorns have just proven to be more consistently impactful throughout the season. Elliott has got a well-rounded squad this year with All-American impact players at every position: Zoe Fleck has put another libero-of-the-year campaign together, and Logan Eggleston has been unstoppable as an outside hitter. Combining that with Asija O’Neal and Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres, they have just been incredible to watch this year.