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Top-ranked JUCO ILB Lakia Henry chooses Ole Miss over Arkansas, Texas

The Longhorns made a push for the talented defender late, but the Rebels ultimately won out for the elite JUCO prospect.

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The Texas Longhorns made a late push, but were unable to seal the deal as Dodge City C.C. inside linebacker Lakia Henry signed with the Ole Miss Rebels on Wednesday.

Henry was on campus on the final weekend before signing day, along with four-star Texas offensive tackle pledge Javonne Shepherd for his official visit, but Henry’s first trip to the Forty Acres wasn’t convincing enough for the nation’s top-ranked JUCO inside linebacker to take his talents to Texas.

Following his trip to Texas, Henry made a last-minute visit to Arkansas, so the Razorbacks looked like the likely choice, but the Rebels managed a late surge on Wednesday to close with the nation’s top junior college inside linebacker.

Henry would have potentially been a day-one starter for Texas, following in the footsteps of another former Dodge City C.C. linebacker in Gary Johnson, who spent the previous two seasons in Austin. Instead, he’ll take his talents to the SEC.

The talented inside backer earned his Texas offer more than a year ago, but Henry was committed to the Tennessee Volunteers until early January. Henry reopened his commitment and named the Longhorns as one of the teams he was still considering as a part of his recruitment.

The Longhorns hoped to add a day-one starter with Henry, but must look for contributors from those already on campus. That said, the cupboard isn’t bare for the Longhorns after securing inside linebacker Ayodele Adeoye last cycle, and signing early enrollee De’Gabriel Floyd and David Gbenda this time around. Floyd, an early enrollee from the 2019 class, looks like a true freshman contributor on tape and could see major playing time next season. Adeoye saw the field as a freshman, participating in the four games allowable to maintain a redshirt season.

The Longhorns also previously cashed in on the JUCO market in the form of another Johnson; Caleb Johnson, who also comes with plug-and-play potential.

As a unit, experience may be lacking, which is especially where adding Henry into the mix would have been helpful, but there is talent on hand, nevertheless.