Herman, Longhorns gear up for National Signing Day

Keshav Prathivadi

Unlike years before, Texas didn’t need a late push to make a statement on National Signing Day. Thanks to the early signing period in December, the Longhorns won’t be sweating too much come Wednesday. Texas currently has the nation’s third-ranked recruiting class per 247 Sports, and Wednesday should be a culmination of one of the most successful recruiting cycles in the program’s recent history. Here are some quick notes surrounding National Signing Day:

Getting players to stay home

Since former head coach Mack Brown departed the Forty Acres after the 2013 season, the Longhorns have struggled to maintain a hold of in-state talent. Texas consistently lost out on big-name recruits to rival schools such as Baylor, TCU and Texas A&M until Brown’s successor, Charlie Strong, turned the tide with a strong 2016 recruiting class.

After Strong’s firing, Tom Herman managed to make an immediate impact on the recruiting trail, getting to work early on filling out the 2018 class. Having a strong presence in Texas, one of the nation’s premiere hubs for high school football talent, can give the Longhorns a competitive edge both on and off the field.

A fresh look

 Texas’ 2018 recruiting class didn’t come without some behind-the-scenes work, either. After Herman arrived in Austin, he put an increased emphasis on the team’s facilities.

This started with a $7 million renovation of the team’s locker room, with each personalized locker coming with a $8,700 price tag. Along with it came a flashy photo studio where recruits could don Texas jerseys on visits. Official visits also give recruits a chance to experience the Texas environment. The Longhorns recently hosted a group of recruits this past weekend at the Frank Erwin Center to take in Texas’ 79-74 upset win over No. 12 Oklahoma.

Signing update

Texas has had 19 recruits already sign their national letters of intent. In addition, nine recruits enrolled for classes early, giving Herman and his staff more spots to fill come Wednesday. Some of the players still left on the Longhorns’ board include four-star wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, defensive end Joseph Ossai and wide receiver Tommy Bush.

Texas currently has an even number of players secured on both sides of the ball, including six defensive backs to anchor a secondary with holes left by NFL-bound juniors. The Longhorns also found help on the offensive line, nabbing four new players to handle things up front.

Texas filled one of its vacant spots Sunday by receiving a commitment from wide receiver Joshua Moore. The Yoakum, Texas, native became the third receiver in the 2018 class, adding much-needed depth to a team which has lacked a consistent passing game.

Key new faces

 Texas’ star-studded class features a group of key players who can make an immediate impact. Defensive backs Anthony Cook, Jalen Green and B.J. Foster should lead the charge in the secondary, adding to a Longhorn defense that ranked second in the Big 12 in interceptions last season.

On the offensive side of the ball, a quarterback battle is under way with four guys, including two new enrollees, vying for the starting job. Newcomers Cameron Rising and Casey Thompson will be thrown in the fire with sophomore Sam Ehlinger and junior Shane Buechele during spring football. With each player possessing his own unique skill set, Herman and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tim Beck will have a key decision to make.