Despite an emphasis on high school football recruiting, Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff are already aware of needs in the NCAA transfer portal as the transfer window opened for 30 days on Monday.
Those needs include high-priority positions like wide receiver and defensive line and a handful of other positions where the Longhorns could look to add potential starters or contributors — Sarkisian has taken between five and seven transfers in each of his first three cycles on the Forty Acres and could hit the low end of those numbers to buttress the 2024 recruiting class.
Some clear targets are now emerging for the Texas personnel department.
The Longhorns could take two wide receivers from the portal with the biggest need a proven contributor who could step into the No. 1 or No. 2 role next season. At a deep position, players with ties to the state stand out.
South Carolina’s Juice Wells
The name most closely linked to Texas so far is South Carolina’s Juice Wells, a James Madison transfer who played with former Longhorns linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey. A 6’1, 208-pounder, Wells will be one of the top wide receivers in the portal when his decision becomes official after recording 68 catches for 928 yards and six touchdowns last season in Columbia. Wells missed almost the entirety of the 2023 season after suffering a preseason left foot injury that required surgery during preseason camp.
On Tuesday, Texas reportedly emerged as a team to watch for Wells.
Tennessee and Texas are emerging as schools to watch in the recruitment of South Carolina transfer Juice Wells, multiple sources tell @On3sports.— Pete Nakos (@PeteNakos_) December 5, 2023
The wide receiver has 2,818 career receiving yards with 28 touchdowns.https://t.co/9WQadsD44K pic.twitter.com/QKFzWJ1Vhy
Texas Tech’s Jerand Bradley
Texas Tech WR Jerand Bradley intends to enter the NCAA Transfer Portal with two years of eligibility remaining. In his two seasons at Tech, Bradley has 1,175 yards and 10 touchdowns https://t.co/EarIDcamWW pic.twitter.com/azKfkPD6kj— Mike Roach (@MikeRoach247) December 1, 2023
A DeSoto product who signed with the Red Raiders in the 2021 recruiting class, Bradley saw his production regress from 2022 to 2023 and is a bigger receiver than Sarkisian typically prefers, but there’s no question that he’s talented and fits the mold of a potential take since he’s from the state.
Purdue’s Deion Burks
Deion Burks has become one of the most sought-after names in the transfer portal.— Pete Nakos (@PeteNakos_) December 4, 2023
Texas, Miami, USC, Auburn, Utah, Washington and Oregon have all expressed interest and offered, a source tells @On3sports.
"Just about everybody is after him."https://t.co/SN8tzCUYtN pic.twitter.com/bjGj7tlA3h
The Longhorns have reportedly offered the Boilermakers transfer, who had a breakout redshirt sophomore season with 47 catches for 629 yards and seven touchdowns.
Notre Dame’s Holden Staes
NEW: Notre Dame TE Holden Staes has entered the Transfer Portal.— ChadSimmons (@ChadSimmons_) December 1, 2023
The former 4-star TE out of Atlanta Westminster has two years of eligibility remaining. https://t.co/RHWWJwVZVf pic.twitter.com/AeczkkUWCf
A top-300 prospect and the No. 11 tight end in the 2022 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Staes was recruited by Jeff Banks at Texas, so there is already a tie to the staff. But the 6’4, 242-pounder is set to visit Tennessee this weekend in a recruitment that may move too fast for Texas with the possibility remaining, however slim, that junior tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders could return to school.
Texas A&M’s Walter Nolen
The former No. 2 prospect in the 2022 recruiting class entered the portal after Texas A&M defensive line coach Elijah Robinson accepted the defensive coordinator position at Syracuse. After recording 8.5 tackles for loss and four sacks this season, Nolen would become a rare interior lineman in the portal with a combination of recruiting pedigree and production in college. Unsurprisingly, Texas has been in contact with Nolen.
Texas A&M’s LT Overton
Texas A&M defensive lineman LT Overton is the No. 8 overall prospect in the @247Sports Transfer Portal Rankings. He has been contacted “LSU, Ohio State, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Oregon, Alabama, Georgia” per his family since going in the portal. https://t.co/5hnwRkd0pN— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) December 7, 2023
Although not nearly as big or productive as Nolen, Overton is still young and was an elite prospect out of high school ranked as the No. 14 player nationally.
UTSA’s Trey Moore
NEWS: UTSA EDGE Trey Moore has entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, On3 has learned.— On3 (@On3sports) December 5, 2023
The AAC defensive player of the year tallied 45 tackles, 17.5 TFLs, and 14.0 sacks this season https://t.co/g4KkQwNNVh pic.twitter.com/4o22scLDPU
The redshirt sophomore from San Antonio had a breakout 2022 season and then earned AAC Defensive Player of the Year honors thanks to a monster 2023 campaign with 17.5 tackles for loss and 14.0 sacks, three passes broken up, one interception, and one forced fumble. A source close to Moore told Burnt Orange Nation last year that Moore was considering entering the portal and had interest in Texas, but he remained at UTSA after head coach Jeff Traylor complained about other programs tampering with his players. Although Traylor repeated those complaints recently, it didn’t stop Moore from exploring his options on this open market this year. The development of sophomore Ethan Burke on the edge this year decreased the need at the position for the Longhorns, but Moore is too good not to contact and try to get on campus.
Clemson’s Andrew Mukuba
BREAKING: Clemson DB Andrew Mukuba has entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, On3 has learned.— On3 (@On3sports) December 5, 2023
Mukuba recorded 143 tackles and an INT during 3 seasons with the Tigers. Former Top-50 recruit in the 2021 On300 https://t.co/mugVObvQ7F pic.twitter.com/aY1V598nkS
Mukuba signed with Clemson out of Austin LBJ in the 2021 class as a significant miss for Texas and turned in there productive seasons for the Tigers, including 42 tackles, two tackles for loss, and six pass broken up this year. There’s now an even deeper tie for Mukuba to the Longhorns than simply growing up in Austin — Texas hired his high school coach, Jahmal Fenner, as the program’s Director of High Schools Relations last January. This one would make sense for both sides and could happen quickly.
12/7 3:00 p.m. Central
Moore is trending towards Texas, his dream school growing up, in what would be a huge addition to the pass rush for the Longhorns next season — the UTSA star recorded 14 sacks in 2023, a number only one Texas player has ever surpassed in a single season.
NEW: I’ve entered in a Crystal Ball prediction in favor of Texas to land UTSA EDGE transfer Trey Moore— Jordan Scruggs (@JScruggs247) December 7, 2023
Moore is rated as the No. 11 overall player in the transfer portal and the No. 1 EDGE in the transfer portal according to @247SportsPortal
VIP STORY: https://t.co/FYmtPKycQh pic.twitter.com/keDVLO6L4q
12/7 5:46 p.m. Central
BREAKING: Houston star WR Matthew Golden plans to enter the Transfer Portal, he tells @on3sports— Hayes Fawcett (@Hayesfawcett3) December 7, 2023
The 6’0 190 WR totaled 76 receptions for 988 yards & 13 TDs in his 2 years at Houston
Will have 2 years of eligibility remaininghttps://t.co/4fGGGUteOG pic.twitter.com/qiPGx5LyjD
The Klein Cain product who played with Texas sophomore running back Jaydon Blue in high school will instantly become one of the most sought-after wide receivers and players overall once his name his the portal. The Longhorns offered Golden late in the 2022 cycle following his decommitment from the Horned Frogs, but at that point the Cougars had been recruiting him for about 15 months and the hometown school won out. In addition to Golden’s pass-catching skills, he’s also an elite kick returner and could quickly became the priority portal target for Texas at wide receiver.
12/8 12:45 p.m. Central
South Carolina transfer wide receiver Juice Wells is expected to be on campus at Ole Miss and Texas this weekend, multiple sources tell @On3sports.— Pete Nakos (@PeteNakos_) December 8, 2023
He had 68 catches for 928 yards in his first year in the SEC in 2022. https://t.co/YaRa1EesBp pic.twitter.com/kS3yZop5TK
Things are moving forward with the Longhorns and Wells with competition emerging from the Rebels and head coach Lane Kiffin.
12/8 2:06 p.m. Central
NEWS: Clemson DB transfer Andrew Mukuba will visit Oklahoma, Texas, Oregon, and USC according to @MattConnollyOn3.— On3 (@On3sports) December 8, 2023
Mukuba ranks as the No. 1 safety in the On3 Industry Transfer Portal Rankings https://t.co/xkjRPtiCub pic.twitter.com/gOobqHNZEN
Mukuba is set to do his due diligence with visits planned to Oklahoma, Oregon, and USC in addition to trip home to Austin to visit Texas. The Longhorns remain the favorite, but the other visits do serve notice that Mukuba is approaching this as a business decision, in line with most other transfer portal players.
12/8 2:13 p.m. Central
Juice Wells will not be visiting Texas this weekend, a source tells @On3sports.— Pete Nakos (@PeteNakos_) December 8, 2023
I reported the wideout would be making a stop on campus this weekend. Those plans have changed. The visit could be pushed back, but that is uncertain, per @BobbyBurton87.https://t.co/7RtjdNyzHX pic.twitter.com/KNAMN2cCcZ
The visit by Wells is not happening, which could be a sign of changing priorities on one or both sides with Golden entering the portal on Thursday.
12/8 7:13 p.m. Central
In addition to his expected visit to Texas, UTSA EDGE transfer Trey Moore is also expected to visit Ohio State, sources tell @247sports.— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) December 9, 2023
The Ohio State visit is expected to take place next week. Moore ranks third nationally with 14 sacks.https://t.co/h8mngFnH54 pic.twitter.com/Dnsqcdjode
The Longhorns have at least one major competitor in the Buckeyes for Moore, one of the top players available in the portal.