Thirsty Thursday | 2022 Standout, Issues at Home?, Combine
Welcome back to another edition of Thirsty Thursdays! As always, I’m here to try to help quench your thirst for Longhorn Football in the drought of the offseason, along with other topics of interest in Longhorn sports this week.
Duncanville standout 2022 DE Omari Abor talks Texas
Although it’s early, a few elite talents have already revealed themselves in the class of 2022. A name that Longhorn fans should start getting familiar with is 2022 Duncanville standout Omari Abor. I was able to catch up with Abor and his father, Mr. Barr, to get an update on the recruiting process for the family and an update on his current status.
Abor currently holds fifteen offers, with them coming from the likes of Alabama, Oklahoma, Michigan, Texas, Georgia, Auburn, Washington, TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Kansas State, Colorado, SMU, and Kansas.
Mr. Barr told me that they had already visited Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and TCU. The decision on where his son plays will be a “collaborative decision, but ultimately, he is the one that has to actually live it.”
Abor is recently measured in at 6’4 249lbs and qualified for the UIL State Regional Finals in Powerlifting despite suffering a broken bone in his hand. According to Abor, he wasn’t even able to go all out.
“The crazy thing is, I was able to qualify without doing my max on Bench or on Squat.”
That ladies and gentlemen is the sign of an explosive athlete. Abor was a starter at Defensive for a loaded Duncanville squad as a Sophomore that made it all the way to the UIL 6A D1 State Championship Game before falling to North Shore. Abor was named the District 8-6A Newcomer of the Year after his standout performance this past season.
Abor picked up an offer from Texas on Wednesday night. He said that Texas Head Coach Tom Herman gave him a call and extended the offer on the phone. This was his first interaction with the Texas staff so it came as a bit of a surprise.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been down to Texas. I do like their stadium, it’s really big. I actually talked to Ja’Quinden Jackson the other day and he was telling me that he felt like Texas was going to get me. I told him that we’ll see about that. Next time I’ll ask him about everything.”
Abor shared with me some of the main factors that will go into his decision:
“Trust in the coaches (Head Coach and DL Coach), chemistry with players on campus, and scheme fit.”
Both father and son voiced an interest in remaining relatively close to the DFW area.
“I want to go to a place that’s not too far, but also not too close to home.”
While Dad may be a fan of the SEC (he likes the numbers on SEC defenders and the NFL Draft), the younger Abor has a bit of a different perspective on conference branding.
“Conference affiliation doesn’t really matter to me. I think I’d rather go to an offensive program and be a guy that makes their defense better.”
Both father and son shared an opinion on one major part: Who is the Head Coach? Mr. Barr stated, “I want my son to go somewhere where the Head Coach is stable. Assistant Coaches move around, but an entrenched Head Coach isn’t going anywhere. That’s important for us. I want to know that the person entrusted to my son is going to be there for the duration of his time there.”
Texas having a strong season could go a long ways here as far as solidifying Tom Herman as the long-term answer. Let’s not forget, Herman took it upon himself to personally extend this offer to an underclassman.
Both father and son told me that they plan to take all five official visits and don’t plan on deciding until National Signing Day in 2022. This one is just getting heated up and it’s going to be quite a battle. Texas has officially thrown their hat into the ring for what will undoubtedly be one of the nation’s top prospects in 2022.
Does Texas have an issue with local prospects?
After reading our own CJ Vogel’s update on Austin LBJ prospects Latrell McCutchin and Andrew Mukuba I must admit that it didn’t give me the warm fuzzies. McCuthin, the state’s top Cornerback prospect, isn’t considering the Longhorns at all after they offered him “too late” during his Sophomore year of high school. Mukuba is much more open to Texas, but the two made it clear that they plan to play together at the next level. I don’t see how Texas is a real option if that truly is a requirement with McCutchin’s lack of interest. It got me thinking …
Does Texas have an issue with recruiting local prospects?
Before it gets mentioned, I’m not really counting places like Lake Travis and Westlake (although maybe I should, as Texas had their fair share of misses from both in the past decade). For more reasons than one, they are very different from Austin ISD programs and surrounding suburban districts such as Manor, Pflugerville, and Round Rock. For whatever reason, Texas has failed to either identify and land talent in their own backyard. Misses since 2017, the beginning of Tom Herman’s tenure at Texas.
2017: Levi Jones (Westlake), Stephan Zabie (Westlake), James Lynch (Round Rock)
2018: Nakia Watson (Westlake), Ochaun Mathis (Manor)
2019: Garrett Wilson (Lake Travis), Elijah Higgins (Austin Bowie)
2020: Quentin Johnston (Temple), Princely Umanmielen (Manor), Jahdae Barron (Pflugerville Connally)
Texas went hard after Levi Jones and Stephan Zabie in 2017, only to be spurned by both for Pac-12 programs. James Lynch was never seriously considered or recruited by Texas. He’s since gone on to be a Big XII DPOY Award winner.
Nakia Watson flashed often this past season at Wisconsin and appears to be next in line as the heir to the Wisconsin running game throne. Watson was not seriously considered by Texas. Ochaun Mathis is another guy that flashed big-time in 2019 and figures to be a potential standout in Big XII play this upcoming season. Mathis was not recruited by Texas.
Garrett Wilson had ties to Columbus and ultimately decided that Ohio was a better fit for him than staying in Austin and playing for the Longhorns. Simply a miss on the recruiting trail, but not due to lack of effort. Higgins is a guy that was high on Texas early in the process, but seemed to lose interest as time wore on. He ultimately chose Stanford over the local Longhorns.
The dynamics changed a bit in 2020, Texas once held commitments from both Quentin Johnston and Princely Umanmielen, only to lose Johnston to a flip to conference foe TCU and Umanmielen would decommit and eventually sign with Florida. Texas flirted with Barron but ultimately decided not to offer, despite only signing one Cornerback in the class (Kitan Crawford). Barron has verified track speed and showed ball skills and playmaking ability on tape while playing about 30 minutes from campus. Instead, he’ll head to Baylor and we’ll likely see him at the NFL Combine in 2023 or 2024.
Texas signed Hutto’s Dajon Harrison in the 2020 class, but that was only after Texas missed on several other targets. Harrison had to practically beg for an offer before they finally made the move. Texas had to fight tooth and nail for Alfred Collins all the way to NSD2 and that was with Collins having major ties to the program. Texas had to have an emergency meeting with Hudson Card and his family a few days prior to NSD1 in order to prevent a flip to Georgia despite Card being from Lake Travis and having been committed to the program for over a 18 months.
I’m concerned with what I’ve seen and heard from 2021 guys like McCutchin and Texas isn’t currently recruiting 2021 Del Valle Running Back Tavierre Dunlap, who is a quality prospect that is looking to stay in the region. This could hurt even more with Del Valle’s 2022 class where WR Caleb Burton is one of the nation’s elite and is leaning towards Oklahoma early, despite playing near campus.
To put things simply, Texas has to do a much better job of evaluating the talent within a 50-mile radius of campus. Players that would have jumped on a Texas offer in the past are now treating a Texas offer like any other. Players that could be priority guys in the future don’t feel a loyalty to the area. It’s up Tom Herman and co. to reverse that trend.
*P.S. I didn’t even mention Charlie Brewer 😉*
Longhorns at the NFL Combine
There were four Longhorns invited to the 2020 NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Devin Duvernay, Collin Johnson, Malcolm Roach, and Brandon Jones all earned a spot on the biggest stage for prospective NFL Draft hopefuls after putting together very successful careers on the 40 Acres.
Jones and Collin Johnson chose not to participate due to both players rehabbing injuries. They both went through interviews and measurements, however and both are expected to participate in Texas’ Pro Day. Duvernay and Roach were full participants, and below we’ll take a look at how both fared under the spotlight of all 32 NFL organizations being present.
Devin Duvernay (5’10 200lbs, 30 5/8 Arms, 9 ½ Hands)
Duvernay lived up to his reputation as a burner by putting down an official 4.39 40-yard dash, which was tied for the 3rd-fastest time of any Wide Receiver that participated. I thought that Duvernay performed well in the on-field drill, showing off his excellent hands while plucking the ball away from his frame.
I’m not sure that Duvernay really did anything to help his stock in Indy, he would have had to run in the low 4.3s or 4.2s to really open eyes. What he did was reinforce his current stock. Duvernay remains a relatively short WR with a small catch radius. He has tight hips and it can limit some of his route running ability. He’s basically a Running Back with great hands and top-end speed. I’m thinking we start looking for Duvernay to hear his name called early in the 4th Round of April’s draft.
Malcolm Roach (6’2 297lbs, 31 7/8 Arms, 9 5/8 Hands)
Where Duvernay didn’t really do much to improve his stock (he was already considered a middle-rounder), Roach opened some eyes in Indy when he ran a verified 4.84 40-yard dash at 297 lbs. What his 40 time will do is cause some organizations to either take a look at his film for the first time or give it another look if they already have.
Roach believes that the scheme that he played in at Texas didn’t showcase his skillset and I agree with him. The issue with Roach is he will likely have to add more weight and slide inside to Defensive Tackle for his best shot to make an NFL Roster. His 20 reps (his arms aren’t long) on the Bench Press show that he will also need to continue to get stronger at the next level. Roach is athletic and will have to improve his backside hustle in order to chase down plays like he will have the opportunity to playing more of a 3-tech role.
If Roach can add good weight, which is no guarantee, I think he really has a chance to stick somewhere. While he without question helped himself, I still err on the side of him being a priority Free Agent at this point.
Brandon Jones (5’11 198, 30 1/8 Arms, 8 ¾ Hands)
Let me state that I believe Jones is a near-lock to be drafted due to his versatility and value as a developmental Safety. He provides instant value to an NFL team on Special Teams as a Gunner on Punts, body on Kickoffs, and cover guy on Punt Returns. Jones showed versatility during his time at Texas, playing both Safety positions in addition to some Nickel during his four years. He’s intelligent and by all accounts shined in interviews.
If he tests well at Texas’ Pro Day, I think he has a chance to solidify himself as a middle-round guy. He’s considered undersized and he’s a willing tackler, but it leads to him missing time or having to play banged up. Jones also remains a liability in Man Coverage, which means he will likely be viewed as a Two-Deep Safety or Single-High Center Fielder type (although he lacks anticipatory instincts). If he meets expectations or slightly disappoints with his numbers, I think we could be looking at late Day Three here.
Collin Johnson (6’6 222lbs, 31 ¾ Arms, 9” Hands)
Collin didn’t shrink at all during the measurements at the Combine, which was a win in itself. He’s a legitimate 6’6 220+lbs, however, his wingspan is disappointingly the same as his height. He also has small hands for a guy his size. Basically, Collin’s height advantage is really the only physical advantage that he truly has and Defensive Backs have used his big frame to his detriment at time in press coverage.
Collin comes with injury concerns as he missed time every year he was in college with some type of soft-tissue issue. I think Collin is a polarizing prospect for many across the league and his stock will be much higher in some places than it is in others who may not value him at all. Johnson has a chance to really, really help himself big-time at the Longhorns’ Pro Day. If he’s able to test well, he could solidify himself as a draft pick in a one of the deepest drafts in recent NFL history. I think Collin is a late Day Three guy at this point, but he could test himself into conversations for the very end of Day Two if he surprises.
Recruiting Updates | Crowdus, Williams, Green & Turner
– Charlie S
*** 2021 wide receiver Dekel Crowdus (5’10.5″ 165) recently put out his Top 10 which included Texas
Crowdus tells Super K he will ‘Absolutely visit Texas’. Not yet sure if that visit will be an official or unofficial visit at this point.
**** Texas recently offered 2021 RB AJ Green (5’11” 190) out of Tulsa, OK
AJ tells Super K No visit date set up yet but it sounds like he plans on visiting.
The issue is that while he was offered as a DB, he wants to play RB in college. Now, he’s been pretty adamant about that but perhaps that position could soften as he continues to pick up DB offers.
*** 2021 wide receiver Mario Williams (5’10” 165) out of Plant City, FL
Again, is expected to visit Texas today. He had long maintained that he would take an official visit to Texas. Recently though, he didn’t seem quite as certain so this visit comes at a great time for Texas. Right now, the Horns are probably sitting somewhere towards the back of that top 5 so this visit could not only ensure the OV but also move them up.
*** 2021 DL Shemar Turner (6’3.5″ 260) out of DeSoto, TX was on campus this weekend.
Likely to stay close to home. Was expected to be at OU this weekend and pushed that visit back to visit Texas…again
Has visited Texas multiple since his last visit to OU. Still believe the Horns are currently the team to beat here.