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Pre-Portal Madness: The final stretch of the 2023 recruiting cycle

Taking the pulse on recruiting prior to the opening of the Transfer portal window.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Baylor at Texas Photo by Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Today is the last of the calm before the storm. Come tomorrow the window for the NCAA’s Transfer Portal officially opens and that means schools will legally be able to reach out to players who have already declared their intentions to seek out a new destination. Up until now, unless you were a FCS player or a graduate transfer you could simply only state your intentions on getting into the portal, but your name wouldn’t officially be in there and schools couldn’t communicate with you until the contact window opens. At least that’s the rule in theory and we know rules have never stopped people from bending them.

Like everyone else, Texas is expected to be very active in the portal market for players that could help them in the immediate future. Between graduates, early declarations, and outgoing transfers the Longhorns will have holes on the roster that need to be addressed. Some of the holes are more pressing and the staff will likely want to find a veteran hand from the portal rather than trying to sign an additional body from the high school pool.

Speaking of the high school pool, Steve Sarkisian and his staff continue to plug away on some high priority targets and have begun making the rounds for in-home visits, as they prepare for what is sure to be a hectic couple weeks heading into the early signing period. Sarkisian, Tashard Choice and Kyle Flood made their way out to Florida to go in-home with five star running back Cedric Baxter Jr. this past week, as schools like Florida and Florida State continue to try to get him to stay home.

The staff also went in-home with Texas offensive line commit Payton Kirkland.

It is going to be a very busy few weeks for the Texas staff between the early signing period and and the transfer portal. It is looking like the Longhorn staff is pushing to have one more big recruiting weekend just before the early signing period, as both Texas commits are planning to make their way to Austin later this month and official visits are being scheduled as well.

Today we will take a look at where the class stands and will layout things out so everyone understands who is in the picture at this point in the cycle.



Arch Manning - New Orleans (LA) Isidore Newman - Five Star



Absolutely zero drama here despite many trying to speculate it into existence at different points in the cycle. Arch Manning was priority number one for Sarkisian and his staff from the beginning and they were rewarded for their efforts with a commitment back in the summer. Manning has been a very proactive recruiter for the Longhorns for months now and that will continue to be the case as the staff tries to make a push down the home stretch.

Running Back


Cedric Baxter Jr. - Orlando (FL) Edgewater - Four Star

Tre Wisner - DeSoto (TX) - Four Star

Targets: None

Doesn’t look like there are any surprises in the cards here at this position either. At one point it looked like Texas was kicking some tires just in case, but things appear to have quieted down. Baxter is a future bell cow back who could potentially see touches as soon as 2023 and Wisner is a solid take at RB2 to compliment him. As previously mentioned, schools like Florida and Florida State have continued their pursuit of Baxter, but he and his father have been adamant that he will be signing with Texas and will be enrolling in January.

Wide Receiver/ Tight End


Johntay Cook II - DeSoto (TX) - Five Star

Ryan Niblett - Aldine (TX) Eisenhower - Four Star

Will Randle - New Orleans (LA) Isidore Newman - Three Star

Shannon Spencer - Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei - Three Star


Duce Robinson - Phoenix (AZ) Pinnacle - Five Star

Jaden Greathouse - Austin (TX) Westlake - Four Star - Notre Dame Commit

Kyle Parker - Lucas (TX) Lovejoy - Three Star - LSU Commit

Deandre Moore - Bellflower (CA) St. John Bosco - Four Star - Louisville Commit

Ja’Kobi Lane - Mesa (AZ) Red Mountain - Four Star - USC Commit

The Texas staff has been working diligently at these skill position spots for awhile. They are all in on trying land the nation’s top tight end in Duce Robinson, but that is likely a longshot with Georgia and USC looking to be leading the way. The staff was able to get Robinson on campus last month for an official, but they have been working from behind the whole way.

At wide receiver the staff remains in pursuit of several committed prospects. Greathouse, Moore, and Lane all made their way to campus last month and the lines of communication remain open with Parker. The staff wants to take at least one more high school receiver and they will likely be active in portal for another depending on how the market shapes up.

Offensive Line


Jaydon Chatman - Harker Heights (TX) - Four Star

Payton Kirkland - Orlando (FL) Dr. Phillips - Four Star

Trevor Goosby - Melissa (TX) - Three Star

Connor Stroh - Frisco (TX) Wakeland - Three Star

Andre Cojoe - Mansfield (TX) Timberview - Three Star



The hay has been in the barn on the offensive line since the summer and there has been next to no drama with this group as a whole. Cojoe has flirted with TCU and even took an unofficial to see the Frogs, but things seem to have quieted down in that regard. Kyle Flood got his guys in the boat early and they’ve remained firm in their commitments.

Defensive Line (included EDGE defenders here)


Derion Gullette - Teague (TX) - Four Star

Colton Vasek - Austin (TX) Westlake - Four Star

Sydir Mitchell - Oradell (NJ) Bergen Catholic - Four Star

Dylan Spencer - Houston (TX) C.E. King - Four Star

Billy Walton - Dallas (TX) South Oak Cliff - Three Star


David Hicks - Katy (TX) Paetow - Five Star - Texas A&M Commit

Justin Benton - Covington (GA) Newton - Three Star - West Virginia Commit

Roderick Pierce - Oak Lawn (IL) Brother Rice - Three Star

Cameron Brandt - Chastworth (CA) Sierra Canyon - Three Star - Stanford Commit

Rylan Kennedy - Mansfield (TX) Lake Ridge - Unranked

The Texas defensive staff have remained diligent about adding another body along the defensive line. They’ve tried to keep plugging away in pursuit of Hicks, but the interest just doesn’t seem to be there and he and his family haven’t made their way to campus in awhile. Both Benton and Pierce have been on the radar for the last month or so and both are set to make officials this month. Texas will have to out muscle Michigan for Pierce, who recently de-committed from Wisconsin and Arkansas is in the mix for Benton.

Both Brandt and Kennedy are recent offer recipients and it remains to be seen how hard the staff will push in those recruitments.



S’Maje Burrell - Fort Worth (TX) North Crowley - Four Star

Liona Lefau - Kahuku (HI) - Four Star


Anthony Hill Jr. - Denton (TX) Ryan - Five Star

Jelani McDonald - Waco (TX) Connally - Four Star

There isn’t a bigger target left on the board than five star linebacker Anthony Hill. The Longhorns have been heavily pursuing Hill for what feels like five years now and even when he committed to Texas A&M this summer they kept their foot down on the gas. Texas being relentless in their pursuit of Hill has put them in prime position to earn his commitment after he decided to re-open his recruitment due the lackluster season that took place in College Station.

After de-committing from the Aggies, Hill immediately made his way to Austin to take in the TCU game and since then Hill has not taken any trips despite the best efforts of schools like Alabama, Ohio State, and Oklahoma. A&M and Texas were Hill’s top two schools prior to his first commitment and it looks like his final decision will once again come down to those two schools, with both staffs angling to get him on campus one last time before the early signing period.

McDonald has been on the radar for the Longhorns for over a month and has been on campus a time or two, but the staff has not brought him in on official visit just yet. McDonald took an official to TCU recently and the Frogs are firmly in the mix there as well.



Derek Williams - New Iberia (LA) Westgate - Four Star

Malik Muhammad - Dallas (TX) South Oak Cliff - Four Star


Peyton Bowen - Denton (TX) Guyer - Five Star - Notre Dame Commit

Javien Toviano - Arlington (TX) Martin - Four Star

The Longhorns have two talented defensive backs in the boat, but are still trying their hardest to make headway with two other elites. Landing Williams and Muhammad over the summer were huge wins for the staff and the staff has had to play a considerable amount of defense on both with other schools not relenting in pursuit. Muhammad took an official to Texas A&M in late October, but nothing ended up coming of it and despite planning to take a trip to Alabama at one point, he has since said he is locked into Texas and won’t be taking visits anywhere else. On the other side of the coin, Williams is still considering taking some trips this month and has some schools trying to get him to push his signing until NSD2. This Texas staff knows they will have to recruit him to the whistle with schools like Alabama and LSU still trying and it will be imperative to get him to sign this month to avoid another month of potential drama.

In the cases of Bowen and Toviano, both parties have been very elusive when it has come to making their way to campus despite the staff’s best efforts. Both Bowen and Toviano were both initially slated to make it to campus for the TCU game and neither of them made it in. In the case of Bowen, he seemed to backtrack on visiting shortly after it got out about him visiting and in Toviano’s case he allegedly no-showed despite tweeting out that he would be visiting. Toviano recently set a decision date of December 15th, and as of today it seems the smart money is on LSU.

Both players are talented enough that the staff will stay on them until the ink dries on their letters of intent, but like with David Hicks the writing seems to be on the wall based on the actions they are taking.

Buckle up for a very hectic month, folks. Between NSD1 and the portal market about to explode its going to be bananas.