Longhorns return to prominence in recruiting at National Signing Day

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Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

Head coach Tom Herman entered a cramped multipurpose room inside the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center for his National Signing Day press conference Wednesday afternoon. He wore a visible smile.

Herman and the Longhorns had just wrapped up the No. 3 recruiting class in the country, but his tone didn’t reflect an attitude of excitement. He made one thing clear: This is how things should be at the University of Texas.

“That needs to not be an aberration. That needs to be the new normal,” Herman said. “When this place was winning championships on a regular basis, that’s the way it was.”

And that starts with recruiting the state of Texas. There’s no hiding it — the Longhorns lost the recruiting battle last season in their own state. Only two of 247 Sports’ top 25 players chose to come to the 40 Acres.

Herman knew that needed to change. One year later, it did. At the end of National Signing Day on Wednesday, Texas secured 12 of the top 25 players in the state of Texas, including seven of the top 10.

“The core of every one of our signing classes is going to be from the state of Texas,” Herman said. “(With) the numbers of good football players in the state, it makes no sense not to do that. Kids grow up wanting to play for the University of Texas … the bulk of every one of our classes from now until the time we leave here is going to be from the state of Texas.”

Of the 27 members in the 2018 recruiting class, seven come from outside the state, including two quarterbacks — Cameron Rising (Newbury Park, California) and Casey Thompson (Newcastle, Oklahoma) — as well as Ryan Bujcevski, a punter from Sydney, Australia.

“By stating our goal to keep talent in Texas, I certainly don’t want to diminish the quality of players we were able to get from out of the state,” Herman said. “We signed some really good out-of-state players as well.”

But much of this is old news, as 19 of Texas’ 27 commits made their decision during the early signing period, which allows high school prospects to commit from Dec. 20-22.

That’s when the two five-star safeties in Caden Sterns and B.J. Foster committed to Texas, as well as defensive backs Jalen Green and DeMarvion Overshown — the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the state.

“You know how you get better at defensive back?”  Herman said. “Go try and win your job everyday at practice. If you don’t, if you have a bad day or a bad couple of days, some young dude is gonna take your job.”

The eight remaining players broke the news today, including the state’s No. 1 running back — Keaontay Ingram from Carthage — as well as four pivotal defensive pieces: defensive linemen Daniel Carson (Independence, Missouri), Keondre Coburn (Houston), Moro Ojomo (Katy, Texas) and linebacker Joseph Ossai (Conroe, Texas).

“Today really solidified the class, especially from the defensive front,” Herman said. “We made some big-time strides, so that was really important knowing we didn’t sign any on Dec. 21 but knew that we were in really good position with a lot of them.”

Herman said he expects the class to climb to 28 or even 29 players with transfers. He also said junior quarterback Shane Buechele underwent successful surgery and is expected to be back for spring football, which begins March 20.

As for now, Herman and the Longhorns get to boast the third-best recruiting class in the nation, and easily the best class in the state of Texas and the Big 12. Herman acknowledged that one top-five class won’t win a championship, but it’s a start.

“I think they have truly bought into the notion that in order to win championships, you have to surround yourself with really good players and really good people,” Herman said. “We have that in this recruiting class.”