– Team Note | Jeffrey McCulloch & Malcolm Roach: A couple notes of interest on the linebacker front. I’m told that the staff has been working Malcolm Roach out at OLB and McCulloch has been taking reps at MLB.
Was told that there is a belief that Roach can play, and is taking to, the OLB spot. He currently weighs around 255 lbs. So, perhaps a bit bigger than you would normally see a Jack/B LB but the man moves well.
I’m told that McCulloch will likely get reps at both MLB and OLB and is expected to play both. One person I spoke to believed McCulloch has ample athleticism and diversity of skill to handle both spots.
This seems like an obvious move to find the combination of guys that ensures the best athletes are on the field. We’ll see how the experimentation goes.
– Many of you may already know this by now but we haven’t commented on it. Jimbo Fisher came out and essentially said that they don’t want (or perhaps won’t allow) committed players taking visits. This is obviously an old school way of doing things and while the argument may have merit, I found in the time coach Stoops at OU held that same position, it ultimately backfired.
In fact many people don’t know this but K’Lavon Chaisson actually tried to commit to Oklahoma during his recruiting process but told Stoops he planned on taking visits. Stoops wouldn’t take his commitment. Perhaps Chaisson would’ve ended up at LSU anyway but the point is they weren’t even in the race at the end.
I’m told that the Bobby Wolfe decommitment was directly related to this issue. We’ve noted that Demani Richardson is planning on visiting Texas after spring break. So, it’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out.
– Garrett Wilson will be heading up to Columbus on the 23rd for his first visit to Ohio State. Wilson’s father tells me they will also “likely” visit Notre Dame and Nebraska while they’re in the Midwest.
In terms of visits to Texas, Wilson’s father simply said the visits will be frequent, “We live in Austin so (we can go) all the time to Texas (for visits)”. I would expect to see Wilson hit up at least one spring practice and probably be at the spring game.
This first visit to Columbus will be the big one to watch. – (Super K)
– DeGariel Floyd: As you will see in the Big Board article below, LB DeGabriel Floyd is trying to attend the Longhorns’ Spring Game. There is nothing solid right now, but getting the elite LB out of Los Angeles to come to Texas on two unofficials would be HUGE for the Longhorns. With him having an uncle in Austin and seeing a clear line to playing time, Texas would turn from the probable leader to the clear leader for his commitment. – (Will)
– Recently, we mentioned 2019 DE/DT, MJ Anderson (St. Louis, MO) as a talented player that Texas has their eye on. In fact, Anderson told me that he and coach Giles speak everyday.
He doesn’t yet have an offer from Texas, though he does hold many others including offers from Nebraska, South Carolina, Minnesota, Iowa State to name a few.
I suspect Texas will offer Anderson once he makes it down on a visit. Anderson tells me that he does have his visit now scheduled and he plans to be in Austin on April 7th.
– Another defensive linemen who could pick up a Texas offer in the near future is in-state DE/DT, Jason Gold (League City). Gold holds offers from TCU, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Virginia Tech and others.
He’s another DE guy, like Anderson, who is already 250-260 lbs with a big frame and the athleticism to gap exchange, slant and attack.
Gold tells me that he visited Texas about month ago, mid February for an unofficial visit. He added that he and coach Giles communicate regularly and that coach Giles wants him back in Austin for a spring visit.
Anderson also tells me that Texas A&M has been in regular contact with him as well.
– 5-star DT and Texas offer, Faatui Tuitele (Honolulu, HI) is on the mainland this week taking unofficial visits. He visited LSU earlier this week. He plans to visit Oklahoma today (March 15th) and will make his final stop Austin for a visit to UT on March 17th.
Tuitele announced that he will also visit Alabama and Ohio State in April. We hope to have more on his timeline, visit, etc., soon.
– Earlier this week, 2019 DE, Marcus Hicks (Wichita, KS) released his top ten which included…
I thank God for blessing me with the opportunity to get a degree and play football at the next level. In no specific order, these are my top schools at this time. Thank you to all the coaches who believe in me. I am truly grateful. Marcus Hicks pic.twitter.com/vKBqNI7bwA
— Marcus Hicks (@harcus_micks) March 13, 2018
It is no surprise that Texas made the cut. Hicks made a return trip trip down to Texas earlier this year and things went very well. I did speak with Marcus’ father about their spring visits. Below are the visits they have scheduled:
*Michigan on the 20th and the 21st (keep in mind that Hicks’ father is originally from Michigan).
*Nebraska on the 31st
*Oklahoma Sate on April 28th
Marcus’ father also noted that they plan on narrowing things down further, likely towards the end of the summer afer they’ve had a chance to visit Washington and Oregon. – (Super K)
– Tyrion Davis: You might remember I recently mentioned that 2019 Baton Rouge, LA Southern University Lab School RB and LSU commit Tyrion Davis let me know he was looking to visit Texas around the time he attended The Opening Dallas Regional Camp at the end of April Feb 22 Quick Hitter. It now sounds like the visit could happen sooner.
Just reached out to him to see if anything had been scheduled to which he said the plan is now to visit Austin during his Spring Break between March 29-April 8. Now at this moment, a certain date has not been decided just yet.
Davis let me know he is planning to unofficially visit both Texas and OU during his break. Once we hear of a specific date, if it does come to fruition, we will let you know. – (Alex)
2019 Big Board Introductions | Rover and Mac
Texas is going to need to be able to fill the huge hole that will be left behind by the departure of Gary Johnson and Anthony Wheeler. Where they go? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Beats me. Texas is currently toying around with their depth chart to figure a way to get some talent and depth in the second level and the state does not have much top-line talent outside of the top 3 guys. Furthermore, the special ILB positions Texas has makes it a bit more difficult to project a perfect fit. Texas will be scouring inside and outside the state to replace – probably – the largest need of the 2019 class.
To break down what you’re looking for in a Rover is tricky because they are tasked with doing a lot of different things. Basically Rover is the weak-side linebacker or a boundary linebacker. Sometimes, the Rover is tasked with doing normal linebacker things like filling gaps and reading flow, but other times they are responsible with playing the flats, forcing the edge, or picking up the slot receiver. They are also blitzed quite frequently under Orlando, so ability to blitz is a must. Basically, you need a heck of an athlete. Here are who the Longhorns are looking a right now.
– 5-star RLB Owen Pappoe – Grayson (Loganville, GA) 6’0″ 211
Gary Johnson has shown the Longhorn faithful that you can be a great linebacker standing 6 feet tall. Owen Pappoe should cement the idea. If Owen were to come to Austin to play he would be in the immediate discussion for playing time and a possible starting spot on the Longhorn defense. He is quick, smart, and knows how to hit. He has shown exceptional ability to blitz off the edge and corral the run or rush the passer. Pappoe is just a fantastic athlete and would be a perfect replacement for Gary Johnson/Malik Jefferson.
However, it will be extremely difficult to pull the 5-star out of the southeast, much less out of Georgia. Pappoe plans to officially visit Texas on 27th April and will be announcing his commitment a week later on May 5th. I wouldn’t count Texas out until he visits because Texas is going to have some help recruiting from the inside, which will get him to possibly take an unofficial visit; however, it will be a tough battle for his services. Pappoe was offered this January on the 24th.
– 4-star RLB DeGabriel Floyd – Westlake (Los Angeles, CA) 6’2″ 220
Strong, quick, fast and athletic. It’s as simple as that. It’s hard to find guys this nimble and quick at this size. The guy has wide receiver movement and catching ability, as a linebacker. He returns punts for his team and plays safety at times. Pass coverage is definitely not a concern of mine for the Big 12. Combine this, along with the fact that he is exceptional at run fits and plays like a mad man, means Texas fell in love with him.
Luckily he fell in love with Texas as well. I have talked with Floyd a number of times and each time he reiterates how much he enjoyed his trip to Texas stating something along the lines of, “I miss it more everyday… It felt like home.” Floyd wasn’t too thrilled that USC brought in a huge LB class in 2018. This really helped Texas. The fact that Floyd sees an immediate role for himself at the Rover position, which is where the staff want him, and sees the success of players like Malik Jefferson and Gary Johnson has really excited him about the prospect of player in Austin. Add to it that he has family there and connected with players like Cam Rising and Ayodele Adeoye and Texas finds themselves in a very good position.
The team Texas will be fighting here are Oregon, Auburn, UCLA, and USC (still). While Floyd is “very” interested in Texas, he wants to check out those other schools before making a pick. Oregon seems to be the other school he really enjoys and plans to take a visit there with his 7on7 team later this Spring while he tries to find a way to make it into Austin for the Spring game. I’d expect him to make a pick in May, and right now expect it to be Texas. Texas offered Floyd January 28th.
– 4-star RLB Marcel Brooks – Marcus (Flower Mound, TX) 6’3″ 200
Brooks is a wonderful all around linebacker. He has great burst off the line as he is able to kick into a top gear in a matter of moments. He is has displayed an ability to cover the pass like a corner in 7on7. More than all of this, he has displayed the athleticism that you look for as a Rover. He will be a wonderful recruiter for any team that gets his commitment.
Right now the teams he has announced as his favorites are Alabama and LSU. Let’s just say there is a reason he’s going out of state. While Texas has maintained contact with him and reassured him that they are interested in him being a Longhorn, I don’t know if Texas is willing to show Brooks the love he wants. Perhaps later in the process Texas will come back into the picture. Texas offered Brooks on May 28th, 2017.
The Mac is more your traditional ILB. They still are tasked with some of the responsibilities that OLB usually have, but since they are typically on the same side of the field as the Nickel, the Mac will spend most of their time either blitzing, reading the flow, and filling in gaps. For this position you’re looking for a more traditional ILB who excels at gap filling.
– 4-star ILB Donte Starks – John Ehret (Marrero, LA) 6’1″ 225
I mean seriously… It’s not fair. How does Louisiana continuously put out this level of talent year-in and year-out. Donte Starks fills gaps with authority and I fear his victims may have some sort of whiplash. He is a big guy on the field and hits like he was shot out of a cannon. He shows an uncanny ability to work through the trash upfront, find a hole, and blaze through it. If I were on the field with Starks lined up in front of me, I’d put the ball on the ground and go home. I’m not taking a hit from him.
Getting him out of the state of Louisiana will be as difficult as getting any blue chip out of the talent rich state. LSU is the obvious favorite here after he named them his leader. I do not feel confident in Texas’ chances here, but anything can happen if you get him on campus. Texas offered Starks on January 26th.
– 4-star ILB David Gbenda – Cinco Ranch (Katy, TX) 6’0″ 212
Once again, it doesn’t matter if you stand 6-foot tall, if you can find your way through the trash between the offensive and defensive line, find a hole, and fill your gap then you’ll succeed as a linebacker at any level. That’s what Gbenda brings to the table. Despite his height, he has a quick first step, great field vision, and the ability to slip off of blocks or through gaps. If you need a guy for contain, Gbenda has the speed at his size to track down anything coming out of the backfield. While he could use a bit of refinement in his game, some extra muscle, and a step to his speed, he’ll be phenomenal.
Texas is by far the leader here. Gbenda visited Texas a couple weeks ago on March 4th where Texas offered Gbenda. Gbenda told me yesterday that the trip opened his eyes and got him really excited about Texas. While they will be battling TCU and Texas A&M for him, we feel that Texas is sitting pretty right now. If he committed today he’d be rocking the burnt orange.
– 4-star ILB Lakia Henry – Dodge City CC (Dodge City, KS) 6’1″ 230
In case you were not aware, Dodge City CC is where Texas grabbed Gary Johnson from. But, unlike Johnson, Henry is built in the mold of your more typical MLB. He’s a hard hitting, big bodied guy who makes his living filling gaps and patrolling the middle of the field. Lakia Henry is built ready for the next level, and has great instincts on the field. He shows power in his tape and the ability to stand up and sit down running backs inside or outside the tackles. He also has great quickness inside 10 yards, which is a huge plus.
Lakia blew up around mid-February when he received offers from Alabama, Texas A&M, Texas, and Nebraska in the span of 3 days. Texas feels confident in their ability to land the #1 rated JUCO ILB in the state again with the help of none other than Gary Johnson. Lakia plans to visit the Longhorns after he has completed his Freshman year of JUCO this May. He received an offer on February 14th.
– 4-star ILB Shammond Cooper – Trinity Catholic (St. Louis, MO) 6’2″ 190
I’m a huge fan of Coopers athleticism. While he probably needs to add some muscle weight on him, his power is that of a player packing 220 and quickness to match anyone coming out of the backfield. Cooper has displayed the ability to do pretty much anything needed from him on his film and has a frame that can withstand more weight. If Texas can pull him in and give him a year, he’ll be a weapon.
St. Louis is a fertile recruiting ground, and Texas and other programs are just now starting to figure that out. If Texas can establish a pipeline to the Gateway to the West then it’d assure them some beasts in the future. Orlando and Cooper text on a weekly basis to keep the relationship steady; however, the team to beat would be Oklahoma who is making a hard push for him. Cooper received a Texas offer last September 29th. – (Will)
2019 Big Board Introductions | B-Backer
This position is a hybrid linebacker and defensive end. The responsibilites of the B-backer vary from play-to-play, but they usually are tasked with coverage of the flat, blitzing the passer, or edge setting in the run game. They do this by initially keying on the Y-WR or a certain player. For this position you are looking for a long player with athleticism, somewhere around 200-250lbs. This position is one where the coaches have to do a lot of projecting, and there are not as many guys in Texas who fill this role as the Longhorn staff would like. It seems they will be searching throughout the country for guys they believe can fill this roll and be interested in moving to Texas. While I’m sure there will be more prospects the staff identifies throughout the year, these are the guys that have caught their eye so far:
– 4-star BLB Kevin Harris – Grayson (Loganville, GA) 6’4″ 210
Harris has the long frame the staff looks for in their B-Backers and the violence off the line that every team covets. He is just a nasty man on the field. He will do anything he can to find his way to the ball and stick his shoulder into the place where it’ll hurt the most. He is able to play the 4i position at his current school, but he won’t be asked to do that if he comes to Texas. He’d come in and they’d have to shape him for the B-Backer position.
Harris was offered by Texas on January 25th. Being teammates with Kenyatta Watson really helps here and might even coax him to make his way to Austin for an unofficial. Right now the leaders here are Clemson and Georgia, but as I always say, just get him on campus. Texas offered Harris on January 25th.
– 4-star BLB/4i Marcus Hicks – Northwest (Wichita, KS) 6’5″ 236
Hicks is a long and well built athlete who shows to be filled with a lot of untapped potential. They don’t usually step off the planes of Kansas looking like him, so I’m not sure there is a coach up there that can groom him to his full potential.
Hicks made it down in early February to visit Texas for the Junior Day, and he’s just as big in real life as he looks on the film. Dude is a beast. Texas will be battling quite a few other blue bloods for him like Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Michigan. While Texas probably trails Oklahoma in the recruitment, they’ve set themselves up in good position to nab the Kansas boy. Texas offered him way back on September 17th, 2017.
– 3-star BLB/TE David Ugwoegbu – Seven Lakes (Katy, TX) 6’5″ 215
Potential is the word here. Ugwoegbu has the size and athleticism to succeed at the next level. He has shown he is smooth enough and has the ability to play either offense or defense. Ugwoegbu is a guy, where if you can clean up his game and build on it’s finer points on either side of the ball, he can become a starter early on in his career.
This recruitment will likely be a Texas vs Texas A&M battle. He has made his way up to College Station already for their Junior Day. While Ugwoegbu hasn’t been able to make it to campus yet, I would imagine he’ll make it to Texas at some point. Ugwoegbu got his Texas offer this past February 1st.
– 3-star BLB Rian Davis – Wekiva (Apopka, FL) 6’3″ 225
Davis is a guy who has the perfect insticts to play the BLB position at Texas. One play in particular that demonstrates this best is when he was tasked to put his hand in the dirt and blitz, but read his key to realize it was a pass, dropped back, and picked off the ball. He is able to shed blocks with quick hands, has good burst off the line when blitzing, and has shown quite a few time that he can drop back to cover the pass. It’s no wonder he has blown up on the trail and will likely gain an extra star in the composite pretty soon. Texas was one of many schools to bombard Davis with offers at the beginning of March. They gave him their offer on the 5th, and within the span of a week Rian picked up offers from Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, and Alabama.
In 2016, the Rian was playing inside linebacker at Clear Lake in Houston before he moved back to Florida where he is originally from last year. Davis does have a relationship with Texas defensive line coach Oscar Giles and has told us that he will visit Texas at some point this offseason. Unfortunately, Texas will be going up against other recruiting big dogs in Clemson and Georgia; however, having grown up here in Texas for a bit and being familiar with the state should help Texas maintain a foothold in this race.
– 4-star BLB Nelson Ceaser – Ridge Point (Missouri City, TX) 6’3″ 215
Nelson Ceaser plays outside and inside in Ridge Point’s 3 down defense. While he doesn’t have the quickest get-off, he is speedy and uses his long arms and athleticism to track down defenders and keep blockers at arms distance. He’s an outside rusher and doesn’t have the frame to play inside, so if he came to Texas, it’d be as a B-Backer because he has the athleticism to drop back in coverage, track down a running back, or get to the quarterback.
Texas has yet to offer Ceaser, but if Texas were to enter the race they’d be competing the most with Oklahoma. Nelson grew up cheering for OU because his father committed to OU, to play football, during his senior year. His father never made it campus because he joined the Marines instead. While his father is no longer with us, Nelson has always held OU in high regard because of him. It’d actually be a cool story if he ended up going there. It doesn’t seem like Texas has shown much interest in Ceaser because his body in person looks a bit different than it does on tape, which changes perception quite a bit. Still a guy to keep an eye on.
– 3-star BLB Peter Mpagi – George Ranch (Richmond, TX) 6’3″ 220
Mpagi (great name by the way) is the defensive end in the base 3-4 defense of George Ranch. He has the frame that the Longhorn staff is looking for: long arms, long torso, long legs, high butt, wide shoulders (like a swimmers body). This means he is prime to stack on muscle and hold the line or cover the flats.
Mpgai will be making his decision June 8th and taking his official in the Spring due to him being an early enrollee. Texas has shown Mpagi some love by keeping in contact and inviting him to every event. While the offer hasn’t come, I wouldn’t be surprised if one came after a Summer camp. Right now the teams that he is favoring are TCU, Northwestern, and Arkansas, but if Texas were to enter the race with an offer, they’d likely shoot to the top.
– 3-star LB Zach Zimos – Fort Bend Travis (Houston, TX) 6’4″ 205
Now here is a sleeper. While he doesn’t have the elite pass rushing ability that you look for in an ideal B-Backer, the elite athleticism you look for in a Rover, or the size you look for in a MLB, he shows on tape the ability to flow with an offense to stop the run and superior pass coverage skills to most LBs out there (he also plays a bit of safety). He has shown his ability to cover the pass time and time again, and once any ball-carrier gets the ball, he is there with a sure and powerful tackle. He is not a nice dude on the field.
Do yourself a favor and just watch his film
Texas hasn’t offered Zimos yet. He does receive occasional contact from Texas and Texas A&M, but right now the schools that are pursuing him the most are Cal, Houston, SMU, and Texas State. I think if he goes off for his Senior season, he’ll open a lot more eyes and be a more coveted player by bigger programs. – (Will)
Quick note: Our X’s and O’s guy, Gabe Alcocer, was a guest on the 4th and 5 podcast talking about the potential scheme changes Texas will implement over Spring practices.
Check him out!