Javonne Shepherd’s official visit tour has begun.
The Houston North Shore product has been a Texas Longhorns pledge since late July, but before putting pen to paper, the four-star offensive tackle is, as expected, evaluating his options a bit further down the stretch, with Texas A&M being the first to roll out the Maroon carpet over the weekend during Shepherd’s first official visit.
The lone member of Texas’ 2019 class to remain unsigned following the early signing period, Shepherd entertaining interest — especially interest stemming from College Station — was to be expected once it became clear that he wouldn’t sign with the Longhorns in mid-December. Coming off of his trip to Texas A&M, Shepherd, will now spend the next two weekends officially visiting Georgia on Jan. 18, and then Alabama on Jan. 25, but neither of the two appear to be much of a threat to Texas at this point.
Texas A&M, on the other hand, has long been considered a major threat, and if any program is to lure Shepherd away from the Longhorns, it will be Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies.
However, there’s two points at least worth noting to that end: Shepherd’s Crystal Ball hasn’t registered movement of any kind in a few months, which can often be indicative prior to a pledge, or in Shepherd’s case, a potential flip. Far more notably, the Longhorns will enjoy the last say before Shepherd does ultimately put pen to paper, as he’s scheduled for his final official visit to Texas over the Feb. 1 weekend, just days ahead of the Feb. 6 signing day.
Febuary 6th ...— J. Shepherd (@JavonneShepherd) January 10, 2019
For obvious reasons, keeping Shepherd in the fold is paramount for offensive line coach Herb Hand and the Horns.
Listed at a colossal 6’6, 327 pounds, Shepherd comes equipped with college-ready size that could become monstrous under Yancy McKnight’s guidance, a nasty demeanor, and praiseworthy footwork and quickness for a prospect of his size. With some further polish to technique, Shepherd looks the part of a multi-year starter, and that could potentially come sooner than later as the Longhorns look to replace graduating seniors Calvin Anderson at left tackle and Elijah Rodriguez at right guard, whose departure likely pushes starting right tackle Derek Kerstetter inside. While the Longhorns will likely look for returning talents such as Denzel Okafor and Samuel Cosmi to consume those starting roles, Shepherd’s presence would provide ideal depth as he develops and any sign of injuries or attrition could see him earning snaps as a true freshman next season.
Of course, that’s all contingent upon whether or not Texas can keep Shepherd on board for the next three-plus weeks until his decision becomes final on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
As is currently stands, Shepherd, ranked as the nation’s No. 37 offensive tackle, per the 247Sports Composite, is one of three offensive tackles in Texas’ 2019 class, along with four-star signees in Tyler Johnson and Isaiah Hookfin.