Texas splashes on first day of early signing period

Trenton Daeschner

The hashtag has been circulating on Twitter for months on end.


It’s been the rallying mantra for Texas’ much-anticipated 2018 recruiting class — the first full class for head coach Tom Herman, and the first class of players that are essentially ‘his guys.’

The hype surrounding this pivotal class had been building for months. But on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period, pens were finally put to paper, with 19 players signing with the Longhorns. Herman said he expects nine to enroll early for the spring semester.

“We feel like we’ve taken a very, very important first step in our 2018 class,” Herman said in a press conference late Wednesday afternoon. “We signed some unbelievable young men.”

The statistics of this recruiting class are impressive to say the least. ESPN and 247Sports each currently have Texas with the No. 3-ranked class in the nation.

Per the national rankings, the Longhorns signed each of the state’s top-five ranked players — defensive backs B.J. Foster, Anthony Cook, Caden Sterns, Jalen Green and wide receiver Brennan Eagles — and eight of the state’s top 12. Add in defensive tackle Keondre Coburn and running back Keaontay Ingram — who each have committed to the program but are yet to sign — and Texas can claim 10 of the state’s top 15 players.

“To me, I didn’t think we did anything superhuman,” Herman said. “I grew up in a world where that’s supposed to happen.

“I felt like this was ‘Bizarro World’ on signing day last year when all of these kids are going to the Midwest, going other places, going out of state. I was just like, timeout, what’s going on?”

In fact, the aforementioned signing day back in February that Herman referred to didn’t see a single player from the state’s top-10 rankings sign with Texas. Now, Texas boasts seven of the top 10 for 2018.

“We had to make sure that these players stopped leaving the state,” Herman said. “I think it is just unbelievable proof at the power of relationships in recruiting. Parents and kids don’t want to go places where they don’t trust their coaches.”

There’s a lot to like about this class for the burnt orange.

From a host of elite defensive backs to two dynamic quarterbacks to one of the best kickers in the nation to another Australian punter, the Longhorns made a splash nabbing some critical pieces and adding more depth.

A lot will be made of the crop of defensive-back talent on its way to Austin. The six defensive backs who have signed with Texas are all ranked inside the position group’s top 22 in the nation, per 247Sports. And with the Longhorns needing to replace the likes of future NFL draftees DeShon Elliott and Holton Hill next season, as well as P.J. Locke III and Kris Boyd in 2019, the fresh talent in the secondary gives Texas no reason to panic about the state of “DBU.”

Texas also suddenly has a crowded quarterback room with the additions of Cameron Rising and Casey Thompson. Next season, Sam Ehlinger will be a sophomore and Shane Buechele will be a junior, but don't assume either has the starting quarterback job locked up heading into the spring.

Asked on Wednesday if Rising and Thompson can make pushes for the starting job, Herman gave a firm answer.

“Yes, they can,” Herman said. “As long as we have quarterbacks, they will all compete.”

The Longhorns also addressed a big need on special teams by signing Lake Travis product Cameron Dicker, the No. 5-ranked kicker in the nation. The Austin native could be the immediate answer to Texas’ kicking woes over the past few seasons.

And if junior punter and Ray Guy Award winner Michael Dickson happens to decide to leave for the NFL Draft, the Longhorns won’t have to worry. Dickson’s cousin, Ryan Bujcevski, who trained at the same punting and kicking academy as Dickson in Australia, signed with Texas on Wednesday and is expected to enroll early.

Come National Signing Day in February, Herman said he could see the 2018 recruiting class grow to about 27-29 players in total.

National championships aren’t won on signing day, but the foundation for championships are laid on days like Wednesday. Herman has a top-three recruiting class with loads of talent, something he wants Texas to start getting used to having at the end of each recruiting cycle.

“This needs to be the new normal,” Herman said. “And I’m committed to making sure that it is.”