The first offensive talent to side with Texas this cycle is now officially a member of Tom Herman’s 2019 class, as do-it-all Cuero star Jordan Whittington put pen to paper and signed his National Letter of Intent with the Texas Longhorns on Wednesday.
A longtime Longhorns pledge, Whittington elected to take his talents to Texas on March 10 over a final group that also featured Texas A&M, UCLA, and Florida. However, though the four-star talent took the time to tour UCLA and Florida, his recruitment was essentially considered a two-horse race between Texas and its old Big 12 rival.
Thought to be an Aggies lean early in the process while boasting interest from a multitude of major programs, including Alabama, Georgia, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Stanford, Whittington visited Texas A&M on numerous occasions. His most recent trip to College Station came during the Aggies Junior Day, and he was expected to return prior to announcing his commitment, but that tour never materialized.
Whether or not that visit could have altered Whittington’s March 10 commitment matters nor more, as one of the top talents the state has to offer quickly solidified himself as a cornerstone and a key recruiter in Texas’ 2019 class.
Prior to arriving on the Forty Acres in the coming weeks as an early enrollee, the four-star talent still has one final appearance remaining before his caps a storied high school career, as Cuero is set to contend for a state title this coming weekend.
It’s safe to say Whittington’s efforts are a significant reasons Cuero has reached that stage.
After missing the first four games of the season with a groin injury, Whittington has once again served as a Swiss Army knife of sorts for the Gobblers. Just as his did last season while blossoming into one of the nation’s most electric athletes, Whittington plays a bevy of roles for Cuero, from taking snaps out of the backfield to returning kicks and punts to serving as a safety, and of course, starring at wide receiver.
Considering his skill set, such a substantial role shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
At his best in open space, Whittington is tremendously shifty and elusive and displays good quickness and change of direction speed, which isn’t surprising given that he registered an elite 20-yard shuttle time of 4.07 seconds. When space isn’t readily available, Whittington has the vision necessary to find a create his own opportunities, which when paired with his ability to high-point and pluck the ball out of the air, has helped pave the way for his 46 receptions for 905 yards — an average of 19.7 per catch — and 12 touchdowns this season.
Whittington’s top-end speed isn’t quite as elite as his lateral quickness, but as his film reveals, he still has more than enough speed to turn on the jets and break free. He won’t rely solely upon his elusive ability, though. As is often the case when he’s utilized out of the backfield, Whittington is an especially physical talent capable and willing to lower his shoulder, thanks in large part to his college-ready frame at 6’1, 198 pounds. In person, Whittington quite simply looks the part of a developed running back, which he became at times this season to the tune of 512 yards and nine touchdowns on 31 attempts; good for an average of 16.5 yards per carry.
Between his ball-carrying and pass-catching efforts, Whittington is averaging 18.4 yards per touch this season.
Once his season ends, the second-best piece of Tom Herman’s 2019 class, per the 247Sports Composite, will enjoy only a brief break before gearing up for the U.S. Army All-American game, and then going on to Austin as an early enrollee.
“I’m just ready to get into the program. My first goal is to start as a freshman and get that starting position,” Whittington told BON’s Joe Hamilton. “From there, just keep it and continue doing what I’ve been doing and take my game to the next level.”
Whittington’s wishes to start from day one won’t come without competition.
Depending on the looming NFL decisions of Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey, it’s quite possible that Texas returns three starting receivers, as Devin Duvernay will return to his role as the Z receiver as a senior. If this does come to pass, Texas will still search for a full-time answer at the slot opposite of Humphrey, where graduating senior Jerrod Heard and true freshmen Joshua Moore and D’Shawn Jamison each saw opportunities this season.
Furthermore, fellow four-star signee and newly-minted National Gatorade Player of the Year Jake Smith should have a say in who sees the field in the slot, though Whittington will enjoy the extra few months on campus to develop and learn the system.
On the other hand, however, Whittington may ultimately need time to develop before he’s ready to contribute at a high level. As is the case with Smith, despite his undeniable talent, 2019 will mark the first time Whittington will be playing only one position, and there is room for improvement, whether it be polishing up route running at times and simple developing his pure speed to beat Power 5 defensive backs.
Fortunately for Whittington, regardless of his desire to do so, he won’t necessarily be required to contribute immediately, especially if a talent such as Humphrey returns for one final season and others including Moore and Jamison progress. If he does end up seeing the field early and often, however, then at the very least, Texas will enjoy the luxury of incorporating yet another dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands into the two-deep.