The entire Javonne Shepherd saga came to a halt on Wednesday afternoon when he decided to stay true to his verbal commitment and sign with the Texas Longhorns.
The four-star offensive tackle made his verbal commitment to the Longhorns in late July, and as everyone knows, his recruiting process was up in the air from last summer until he actually signed his National Letter of Intent. Texas A&M was always the biggest threat to the Horns, but after Shepherd made it public that he would be making official visits to College Station, Alabama, and Georgia, no one had a clear read as to where Shepherd might ultimately end up going.
The Longhorn community and the entire nation finally received that official answer as to where Shepherd will be taking his talents, and through all of the ups and downs, he stuck with the program he first made a pledge to — Texas.
“Man, it feels real good! I’m happy with where I’m going,” Shepherd said of how it feels to finally be done with the recruiting process and officially signed with the Longhorns. “I just felt right doing it.”
When Shepherd picked up the Longhorns hat, placed it on top of his head, and signed his name and date on the papers, you could really sense a sigh of relief from him. It was like a moment of clarity for the young standout.
Shepherd’s official visit to Texas made National Signing Day a lot easier. With Tom Herman and offensive line coach Herb Hand having Shepherd and his family down in Austin for a last impression, any and every final question he had was answered. That last official visit solidified everything.
“I’d say just me going on that last visit,” Shepherd said. “It just hit home for me. I felt really comfortable being there.”
There have always been questions surrounding what kind of person and player Shepherd is, particularly because of how his recruitment played out. The size and athletic ability is there, as Herman expressed in Wednesday’s presser, but what is Shepherd willing to do to take his game to an unbelievable level is the real question.
Shepherd understands his capabilities and is willing to do whatever it takes to make things work while on the Forty Acres.
“Looking forward to working and going hard everyday,” Shepherd said. “I’ll be able to bring a lot of size, strength, and speed.”
A talented student-athlete like Shepherd clearly brings a ton of potential and more depth to a team on the come up like Texas, but the Longhorns were at one point nearly on the outside looking in. Texas A&M really made a ton of ground during the fall and had Shepherd contemplating his verbal pledge to Texas, but the Houston North Forest product remained loyal to the Longhorns regardless of the rumors that surfaced.
When asked if the Aggies were ever a true threat to the Longhorns, Shepherd said, “Yeah they were. I’d say they were a big factor around sometime last year while I was committed, but I’m a Longhorn.”
When it comes to stature and overall size, Shepherd already exceeds the average height and weight of an FBS offensive lineman at 6’6, 327 pounds. Shepherd’s ability to move as swiftly as he does at that magnitude is certainly impressive. When Shepherd is on his A-game he’s really a force to be reckoned with as a run blocker, as he overpowered defenders on the high school level, sometimes sending them back 15 yards after first making contact. Seeing Shepherd climb his way up to the second level to take on linebackers is also a beautiful thing to witness from a prospect of his caliber. When Shepherd extends his arms and latches on to defenders, he’s in total control, especially when his feet are churning under him. His athleticism and overall upside alone is up there with the best in the nation at his position. Once Shepherd puts it all together, there’s no doubt about it that he can potentially play this game at the highest level.
Now that Shepherd is officially a Longhorn, he joins an impressive three-man offensive line haul to cap the #fUTure19 class, along with early enrollee Tyler Johnson and Sugar Land Dulles signee Isaiah Hookfin.
Ranked as the nation’s No. 338 player and No. 28 offensive tackle prospect, Shepherd helps the Horns keep hold of the No. 3 nationally-ranked recruiting class, per the 247Sports Composite.