After failing to find much success landing defensive line talent throughout the majority of the 2018 cycle, the Texas Longhorns are now surging in that regard.
On National Signing Day, the ‘Horns picked up their fourth defensive line pledge of the new year, with the latest coming in the form of elite Conroe Oak Ridge weak-side defensive end Joseph Ossai.
Moments later, Ossai’s signing was made official by the school.
A four-star prospect from north of the Houston area, Osaai was largely considered a heavy Texas A&M lean throughout much of the recruiting process. However, when a 7-6 finish in 2017 led to the Aggies firing Kevin Sumlin, defensive coordinator John Chavis departed for Fayetteville and the door swung wide open for the ‘Horns to make their strongest impression as Jimbo Fisher constructed his own staff.
As evident by Ossai’s pledge, Texas certainly did capitalize when the opportunity presented itself. In doing so, the ‘Horns bolstered what was once at risk of being just a one-man defensive line class by adding one of the nation’s premier edge rushers.
With Ossai on board, the Conroe native joins what's shaped up to an impressive five-man defensive line haul along with Houston Westfield defensive tackle Keondre Coburn, Katy defensive tackle Moro Ojomo, Independence (Mo.) William Chrisman strong-side defensive end Daniel Carson and Baton Rouge (La.) Dunham School athlete Michael Williams, who projects as an edge rusher at the next level.
In Ossai, Texas adds further depth to a position of need, and at least on the surface, finds a replacement for Breckyn Hager following his final season on the 40 Acres. Ranked as the nation’s No. 11 weak-side defensive end prospect, per the 247Sports Composite, the 6’4, 220-pound Ossai totaled 58 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, eight sacks and three forced fumbles in 2017.
247Sports provided an evaluation on what makes Ossai such a coveted prospect:
“Joseph Ossai is a long-framed, athletic edge defender who could play 4-3 defensive end or odd-front hybrid outside linebacker at the Power Five conference level. Ossai possesses a terrific frame to add weight and he flashes a quick get-off. He has fast, violent hands that will be even more useful as he improves his pass-rushing repertoire.”
Ossai’s versatility makes him a unique prospect — he has the quickness to play B-backer and rush off the edge, but he’s also an excellent speed rusher from a three-point stance. Against the run, Ossai is a perfect fit for Todd Orlando’s defense because he’s capable of slanting across the face of offensive linemen to create penetration. For someone who played in high school between 220 and 230 pounds, he’s remarkable effective playing between the tackles.
Along with becoming the 27th member of Herman’s first full recruiting cycle in Austin, which ranks No. 3 nationally, Ossai gives Texas its 12th commitment from a prospect ranked within the top 20 in the state, per the 247Sports Composite. Only four other programs — Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Michigan — landed a top-20 prospect from Texas with the Aggies coming the closest to the Longhorns effort with just four pledges.
At the conclusion of a recruiting cycle in which Herman assured the Longhorns simply needed to win Texas, Ossai is just the latest example of the ‘Horns doing just that.