On Thursday evening, the 2019 Under Armour All-America game got got underway in Orlando, Fla., and members of the Texas Longhorns #fUTure19 class made their presence felt throughout.
Arguably no other player, and certainly no other future Longhorn, had more of an impact on the outcome than Saint Louis (Mo.) Trinity Catholic wide receiver Marcus Washington. The four-star talent took home MVP honors after hauling in seven receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning score to seal a victory for Team Ballaholics down the stretch.
In addition to displaying strong hands, capable speed, and smooth route-running, Washington was maybe most impressive in his ability to find find creases in the defense and attack them, as he did while slipping free for his first touchdown once the protection broke down.
Roschon Johnson, too, put on a show.
A four-star passer out of Port Neches-Groves, Johnson earned the starting nod for Team Flash, and down the stretch, it was the Longhorns signee seeing all the snaps at quarterback.
As expected, Johnson’s mechanics will need a bit of tweaking — coaching he’ll enjoy over time with Sam Ehlinger returning as the starter in 2019 — but he did have a few nice flashes as a passer and impressively worked through his progressions on a few occasions. Johnson did throw an interception, but it was one that simply bounced off of his receiver’s hands and into the hands of the defense. However, it’s Johnson’s dynamic ability as a runner that make him such a special talent, and that was evident throughout, especially late as he showcased his speed on a 12-yard run on the first drive of the third quarter. Johnson later found a crease and exploded for a big gain on the first play of the fourth quarter, adding 15 more yards due to a late hit from former Longhorns target and Georgia signee Lewis Cine.
Texas has a need at inside linebacker, and David Gbenda appears capable of helping contribute in that role.
UT signee David Gbenda with a quick downhill read and stop. pic.twitter.com/OA27UjPrnU— EricInsideTexas (@EricNahlin) January 3, 2019
Whether it was the raw speed he flashed, his willingness to lay the wood on a ball-carrier, as he did on four-star running back Devyn Ford early in the second quarter, or simply the No. 33 Gbenda was wearing, I couldn’t help but draw similarities to Gary Johnson. If the tenacity and activity Gbenda displayed on Thursday translates to Texas, I wouldn’t expect a redshirt season for the Katy Cinco Ranch product.
Four-star Chandler (Az.) tight end Brayden Liebrock played often, but he wasn’t utilized in the passing game. However, he was impressive as a willing blocker in the ground game.
Similarly, four-star Loganville (Ga.) Grayson cornerback Kenyatta Watson II wasn’t overly impactful on the stat sheet, though that’s because he was limited as he worked through a hamstring ailment. The one play I did notice Watson, he allowed a quick catch, but also recovered quickly to make the stop on a curl pattern.