On Sunday, Ochaun Mathis is coming home.
Nebraska, Ole Miss, Penn State, and USC are the other four finalists for the former TCU standout. News broke that he would enter the NCAA transfer portal on Jan. 11, instantly making him one of the most coveted players on the market — last week, The Athletic ranked him as the top available prospect in the portal.
With five predictions for the Longhorns in the 247Sports transfer portal Crystal Ball, Texas is considered the leader, in large part thanks to the presence of former TCU head coach Gary Patterson on the Forty Acres as a special assistant to head coach Steve Sarkisian. The fact that Mathis could play a final season or two of college football about 15 miles from where he grew up is probably a bonus for the Horns.
A consensus three-star prospect out of Manor in the 2018 recruiting class ranked as the No. 746 player nationally, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Mathis was identified by Patterson early in the cycle, committing at a Junior Day in January 2017. The belief that Mathis had in Patterson, who made his career at TCU identifying and developing players like Mathis, kept the Austin-area product in the class even after he received an offer from Oklahoma.
Mathis played sparingly as a freshman, appearing in four games for the Horned Frogs to maintain his redshirt status, then began to make an impact in 2019, starting all 12 games and tying for fifth on the team with 40 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
As a redshirt sophomore in 2020, Mathis had his breakout season, recording 46 tackles, finishing third in the Big 12 with 14 tackles for loss, and leading the conference with 11 sacks, the most for a TCU player since Mat Boesen in 2017, and earning second-team All-Big 12 recognition.
In 2021, Mathis wasn’t quite as productive with 46 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and four sacks, but he still would have led Texas in tackles for loss and sacks.
The Longhorns did add some promising edge recruits in the 2022 class, including Justice Finley and J’Mond Tapp, but landing Mathis would reduce the pressure on those prospects to contribute early or for older but unproven players like Prince Dorbah and Derrick Harris Jr. to break through.
Mathis will be a summer enrollee at the program of his choice as a senior with two potential seasons of eligibility remaining, so it’s unlikely he’ll shut down his recruitment in the immediate aftermath of his trip to the Forty Acres. But it is a chance for the Longhorns to make a big impression.