Editors Note: This week’s roundtable responses were due before the Longhorns earned three commitments on Saturday.
It’s been a good couple of weeks on the recruiting front for Texas and not just for football. David Pierce has been busy in the transfer portal and Rodney Terry secured his only 2023 signee with Chris Johnson. Which commitment are you the most excited for?
Daniel Seahorn (@DanielSeahorn) - For me, it would have to be Jerrick Gibson. With Gibson you have yet another dynamic back heading into Tashard Choice’s stable in Austin right after he dipped into Florida last year to land CJ Baxter. Gibson is an explosive back with low miles on the tires who will compete for touches the moment he arrives on campus.
Gerald Goodridge (@ghgoodridge) - I’m going to go against the grain and say Chris Johnson just because we’ll get to see him on campus first. RT needed to add pieces to the backcourt for 2023 and of all the names left on the board this was the one that would have the biggest impact on campus next year.
Cameron Parker (@camerondparker) - Jerrick Gibson for me because of his ceiling. He’s explosive on the edge but also isn’t someone who goes down after the first bit of contact. Plus, he was Tashard Choice’s first take out of this year’s RB class. Texas has been able to land who they want at the RB position lately.
Wescott Eberts (@SBN_Wescott) - Hard not to choose Jerrick Gibson, the nation’s No. 2 running back who has a chance to finish the cycle in the top spot with a strong senior season, just like CJ Baxter did last year. But it’s not just about Gibson’s prodigious ability with the ball in his hands – it’s what his commitment says about Tashard Choice as a recruiter and his capacity to convince a recruit like Gibson to join such a talented backfield. As long as Choice is on the Forty Acres, the Longhorns will feature one of the most talented running back rooms in the country, if not the most talented.
Last year, Arch Manning was the signing that changed the recruiting class for Steve Sarkisian. Would Duncanville’s Colin Simmons be that for the 2024 class?
Daniel - I don’t think we will see anything like the Arch effect of the 2023 class. Not only did Manning’s commitment grab headlines in the recruiting world, it grabbed headlines across the entire sports world and was everywhere you looked. With that said, Simmons committing to Texas would provide the Longhorns with some serious juice and provide them with instant credibility with some of their top targets. Texas hasn’t landed an edge defender of Simmons’ caliber in over a decade and when you look at schools they have to beat out for his services it puts it even more into perspective.
Gerald - Last year Arch’s commitment was to the football world what Beyonce did to pop culture when she dropped her self-titled album in 2013. There was no hype, no buildup, just a bomb dropped and everybody that was even remotely interested had to stop and take notice. I don’t think there’s going to be that convergence of name and coverage for a long time to come. However, I think Simmons buying into Texas would go a long way for the momentum and perception of a class that until now had seen few fireworks, while also adding an instant impact kind of edge rusher as Texas prepares for the SEC.
Cameron - I’ve been fortunate enough to broadcast a few of his playoff games for Duncanville and the dude is the real deal. I know it’s high school, but offenses have to gameplan around where he’s at on the field. He makes game-changing plays and reminds me of Anthony Hill in terms of a guy you can’t miss on.
Wescott - To the extent that any recruit in the 2024 class can impact the current cycle for Texas like Manning did last year, Simmons is that player as the nation’s No. 7 recruit and an absolutely elite edge prospect. But Simmons doesn’t have as much pull as Manning, whose recruitment was arguably the biggest in the modern era, and it’s not even clear that Simmons is planning on making a decision in the near future, the type of timetable that would help him emerge as a difference maker pushing other elite recruits to pick the Horns. So there’s some definite separation between Manning and Simmons in that regard.
It looks like Tashard Choice has solidified his backfield in the 2024 class, adding a pair of 4-star RB’s in Christian Clark and Jerrick Gibson. What do they bring to Austin?
Daniel - Choice has really made a name for himself over the past few years as a recruiter. As I mentioned earlier, he went head-to-head with elite competition to wrestle CJ Baxter out of Florida and then he followed it up by grabbing Gibson out of IMG. Clark made visits to Oregon and Florida State before canceling a visit to Georgia to shut it down in favor of the Longhorns. If you want to go a little further back, Choice was also the lead recruiter on Jahmyr Gibbs when he was at Georgia Tech. Gibbs was recently selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. As long as Choice is in charge of running backs in Austin they will never be short on talent.
Gerald - This might be a controversial take, but with the way Sark and Flood scheme, I’m fairly confident that nearly any running back will find some measure of success on the ground. I think what makes these two guys ideal fits for this RPO scheme is that they’re both backs you have to account for on the run and the pass. They’re both skilled at catching the ball, which was an element that made Bijan so special last year. I’m not saying these guys are Bijan-level, but the skill sets they bring — in addition to their willingness to compete, evident by being a part of a two-back class — makes them a great grab for Texas.
Cameron - Both are two guys that find the mold of running backs Steve Sarkisian likes to have in his offense. I wrote about Gibson’s ability on the field but Clark seems to be a more balanced runner in between the tackles yet has the ability to make plays out on the backfield through the passing game.
Wescott - Gibson is a prospect with a rare combination of high-level athleticism and enough size and physicality to project as a player who can break tackles at the next level. He’s also a no-nonsense, one-cut runner who puts his vision to decisive use. Clark complements Gibson well in that he’s a more accomplished receiver out of the backfield and split out while still having a blanched skill set that features some big-play ability and a strong lower body to make plays through contact and finish runs with authority.