Texas lands key recruits, misses key opportunities on National Signing Day

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Head coach Tom Herman addressed the media Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Wednesday marked a hectic day in college football. As desks topped with college-branded hats scattered across the nation, high school seniors committed to their football futures on National Signing Day.

A series of players decided to commit their respective football careers to head coach Tom Herman and Texas. Herman reeled in 18 commits in his inaugural recruiting class as the head of the Longhorn program.

“We wanted to make sure we were bringing in quality young men that we had relationships with that we knew could fit our way of doing things,” Herman said. “We did extensive background research on all of these individuals and are really, really excited about where they fit.”

The stars of Texas’ recruiting class included several early commits. Houston-area running back Toneil Carter and former Westlake High School quarterback standout Sam Ehlinger — both four-star recruits — headlined the Longhorns’ 33rd-ranked recruiting class, according to ESPN.

The No. 33 ranking places Texas second among Big 12 programs and second among programs that missed out on bowl eligibility in 2016. One year ago, former Texas and current South Florida head coach Charlie Strong landed a top 10 recruiting class for the Longhorns, but the ranking was unable to translate to on-field success. But Herman believes his class can prove even better than its ranking.

“What the rankings don’t do is crack their chests open and look at their heart,” Herman said. “They don’t look at their work ethic. They don’t look at what their coaches say about them. There are a lot of three and four-star guys that are undervalued in my opinion, because of those intangibles.”

National Signing Day proved rather uneventful for the Longhorns. Texas’ major signing on Wednesday was Florida-native wide receiver Jordan Pouncey. The three-star receiver announced his commitment to Texas in the early afternoon, selecting the Longhorns over Notre Dame, Tennessee and Miami (Fl.).

Despite a large herd of new Longhorns, Herman and company missed out on several esteemed prospects. Chevin Calloway, the Dallas-native 11th-ranked ESPN cornerback, selected Arkansas over Texas and Nebraska.

Stephan Zabie, another four-star Texas target, slipped away from Herman. Hailing from Westlake High School, Zabie elected to take his talents out of state and play for the UCLA Bruins. Zabie was the No. 24 ESPN offensive tackle, a four-star prospect. 

Texas’ other hopeful entering the day, four-star defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson, committed to LSU in the morning. Chaisson, from Houston, contributed to the current trend of high school athletes from the Lone Star State playing college football elsewhere. Only one of the top-10 recruits from Texas committed in-state — wide receiver Jalen Reagor for TCU.

The full Texas recruiting class includes five out-of-state players — Pouncey, defensive tackle Jamari Chisholm, tight end Reese Leitao and junior college commits Gary Johnson (linebacker) and Joshua Rowland (kicker). 

Carter, Ehlinger, linebacker Marqez Bimage, tight end Cade Brewer, offensive tackle Samuel Cosmi, offensive guard Derek Kerstetter, defensive ends Max Cummins and Ta’Quon Graham, wide receiver Damion Miller, running back Daniel Young and defensive backs Kobe Boyce, Montrell Estell and Josh Thompson round out Herman’s first class.

“The group we’ve assembled from a staff standpoint is totally aligned with our mission,” Herman said. “We recruit and sign kids at the University of Texas that we think can play for and win us a national championship.”