National Signing Day 2017 is now just two days away and a handful of key targets still remain in play for the Texas Longhorns. As of Monday morning, Tom Herman's recruiting efforts have lifted Texas' 27th-ranked class from six members to 15 total commits (three early enrollees) and it's quite likely that total increases come Wednesday.
With official visits now in the rear view and decisions on the horizon, here's a look at where Texas stands with each of its key remaining targets.
K'Lavon Chaisson — 4-star WDE
There's plenty to feel optimistic about regarding Texas' chances with its top target down the stretch. The 'Horns have prioritized K'Lavon Chaisson dating back to the Charlie Strong era, in which the Houston North Shore edge rusher then trimmed his list to Texas, LSU and Houston. The majority of the staff that pursued Chaisson’s services have continued to do the same in Austin and pressure from LSU — Texas biggest competition — hasn’t relented.
Chaisson officially visited LSU on January 13 and followed that up with a January 20 official visit to Texas, which reportedly went tremendously well, as did an in-home visit from the burnt orange brass. The four-star pass rusher also took an official visit to Colorado on January 23 and is coming off of a January 27 weekend visit to Florida, but this appears to be a two-horse race between Texas and LSU with the ‘Horns holding the edge.
Whether his National Signing Day decision features a hat, shirt, or whatever else he may elect to announce with, expect it to be of the burnt orange variety.
Chevin Calloway — 4-star CB
One by one, key cornerback targets trickled off Texas' big board and if the next few days play out as expected, four-star Bishop Dunne corner Chevin Calloway will be headed elsewhere, also. An Arkansas native with a strong relationship with the Razorbacks coaching staff, it would have been a tall task for any program to lure Calloway from Fayetteville.
There was reason to believe Texas may very well be the program capable of doing so during his January 13 official visit, but reports indicated that the visit didn’t blow him away, leaving Calloway unconvinced that Austin was worth passing up on out-of-state options.
Set to choose between Arkansas, Texas and Ole Miss on National Signing Day, the Longhorns coaching staff would need some luck and their most convincing sales pitch within the next two days, which adds further difficulty as we enter the dead period preventing in-person contact.
Kary Vincent Jr. — 4-star CB - LSU commit
In case you missed it, four-star Under Armour All-America cornerback Kary Vincent Jr. recently made it clear: “I’m not going to Texas.”
There was a sliver of hope that the ‘Horns could earn a flip from the LSU pledge following his surprise Jan. 20 official visit, but Vincent remained faithful to his numerous claims that he was solid to LSU.
Stephan Zabie — 4-star OT
Much like his former high school team Sam Ehlinger, four-star Westlake offensive tackle Stephan Zabie may be continuing his football career within the Austin city limits. Much like many of the prospects still on the board for Texas, Zabie wasn’t offered until January (on the 16th), but the ‘Horns immediately began surging in his recruitment as 16 Crystal Ball projections poured in favoring Texas.
The Longhorns staff would get Zabie on campus for a January 26 official visit, as did UCLA (January 20) and Ole Miss (January 27), which consist of Zabie’s final three. He will make his decision on National Signing Day on ESPNU.
Ryan Johnson — 4-star SDE
With a final three of Auburn, Texas and Stanford, take your pick as to which place the ‘Horns are in down the stretch, but most would agree it’s not first. An Alabama native, Johnson finally made it to Austin for a Jan. 26 official visit, which he called “wavy” and reportedly boosted Texas’ chances down the stretch, but Johnson has long been projected to remain home for college and with Alabama no longer an option, the expectation is he’s set to join Gus Malzahn’s 2017 class.
UT visit very wavy so far .We Live Bebyyy, Hook Em . pic.twitter.com/8GsM35w5th— Ryan Johnson 4⃣4⃣ (@ryanjohnson_50) January 29, 2017
Bryan Jones — 3-star SDE — Houston commit
There wasn’t much going in Texas’ favor for Madison Prep Academy (La.) defensive end Bryan Jones down the stretch and that door is now completely shut, as the three-star prospect committed to Houston on Sunday night.
A former teammates of Texas freshman standout Malcolm Roach, Jones was scheduled to officially visit Texas over the weekend, but didn’t make it.
Amik Robertson — 3-star CB
Texas finally officially jumped into the Louisiana product’s recruitment just days ago with a Jan. 25 offer and it appears the ‘Horns will be too little, too late. The former Louisiana Tech commit never made it to the Forty Acres for a visit down the stretch, though he did officially visit Louisiana Tech (January 13) and LSU (January 27).
On Monday morning, Robertson re-committed to the Bulldogs:
Prediction: Louisiana Tech
Jordan Pouncey — 3-star WR
There was a time when it would have been considered a surprise if the former Notre Dame commit landed anywhere other than Miami, but that’s no longer the case.
Following his January 20 weekend visit to the Forty Acres, which Pouncey called a "dream come true," the 'Horns quickly began surging in the Winter Park product's recruitment and are now the favorite to earn his commitment. Between his official visit and a visit from the coaching staff, Pouncey has become acclimated and comfortable with what he can expect if he committed to a school he admittedly grew up rooting for.
For Texas to secure his commitment on National Signing Day, the ‘Horns will have to survive a late and considerable push from Butch Jones and Tennessee, who also visited Pouncey and got him on campus for an official visit. Miami is still a threat and Notre Dame is still an option.
B.J. Thompson — 3-star ATH
England (Ark.) athlete B.J. Thompson recently included the ‘Horns in his top five, but Texas never really seemed like a legitimate landing spot. Texas jumped into the mix late with a January 19 offer and considering Thompson has already taken or scheduled each of his official visits (he visited each of the other four programs in his top five), the ‘Horns offer was essentially bait with hope for a bite.
Thompson is currently projected to commit to the only other Big 12 program in his top five — Baylor.
Samuel Cosmi — 3-star OT
Atascocita offensive lineman Samuel Cosmi already committed to Herman and Derek Warehime once at Houston and the staff should feel good about their chances in earning his commitment yet again with a flip, which could come at any time.
Cosmi finally picked up a Texas offer last Thursday before making it to the Forty Acres for an official visit Jan. 27, which reportedly made a big impact in his recruitment. It would be a significant surprise if Cosmi isn’t a Longhorn by the end of National Signing Day.
Update: As expected, Cosmi flipped to Texas on Monday afternoon, becoming the 16th member of Tom Herman’s 2017 class.
I am so excited and proud to say I will be a longhorn!!!— SamuelCosmi (@SamCosmi) January 30, 2017
God is so good❗️#HookEm pic.twitter.com/yWAvAl4U8T
Larrell Murchison — 3-star JUCO DT — Ole Miss commit
Another JUCO prospect, Texas was able to get the Ole Miss commit on campus for a Jan. 13 official visit, when ended with a Jan. 15 offer. The visit reportedly went well, but the Rebels received his final official with a Jan. 27 visit.
Texas doesn’t yet have a defensive tackle commit in this class, but don’t expect that to change with Larrell Murchison.
Prediction: Ole Miss
If things play out as projected down the stretch and Texas adds Chaisson, Zabie, Pouncey and Cosmi, Herman and his staff will have transformed a six-man class into a 19-man haul that likely ranks somewhere between 20 and 25 nationally. More impressively, the staff will have done so with Texas coming off a five-win season, missing on a multitude of targets that were once projected to commit to Strong, and with limited time to build relationships after taking over in late November.
Considering the circumstances, this would prove to be a substantial recruiting victory for Herman and the Longhorns. The next tall task would be translating recruiting success to on-field success, which has yet to come to fruition following back-to-back top-10 classes in 2015 and 2016.