Some of Texas’ star-studded recruits have enrolled early to get jumpstart on spring football

Emmanuel Ramirez, General Sports Reporter

The recruiting trail was set ablaze by Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff, as they nabbed a top-three recruiting class, which includes four five-star and seven four-star athletes. Some of these recruits forwent the rest of their time in high school and enrolled early at Texas to participate in spring workouts. 

Incoming freshmen Arch Manning, Cedric Baxter Jr., Johntay Cook II and Colton Vasek are just a few of the fresh faces who now call the Forty Acres home. Early enrollment gives the young players an opportunity to get accustomed to their team, coaches and teammates much quicker than their fellow recruits who enroll over the summer.

Arriving in January means Manning and other recruits will have eight months to get acquainted with the playbook until the season begins in September. Both defensive and offensive playbooks are extensive, so the mental challenge involved with learning them confidently requires a bit of time. 

Football is mentally taxing and physically taxing. Players move much quicker at the collegiate level than what these recruits are used to seeing in high school, but more time for preparation can allow the younger players to better adapt before the season begins. The athletes will begin to train under Texas’ strength and conditioning program to get their bodies ready for Power Five football. 

College athletes are now allowed to make money off of their name, image and likeness, which may play a role in their early enrollment. These newly enrolled freshmen are eligible to make NIL money as soon as they step foot on campus, and with the connections they make in Austin, players can earn from a variety of avenues.

The Longhorns struggled keeping leads and creating explosive plays through the passing game at times last season. Five-star wide receiver Cook can take this offense to the next level, especially if he plays opposite of star sophomore receiver Xavier Worthy. Additionally, Cook is entering a wide receiver room that not only includes a new wide receiver coach, Chris Jackson, from the Jacksonville Jaguars, but also junior Jordan Whittington. Whittington’s experience may pay dividends for younger players like Cook to learn from.

Early enrollees are also granted the opportunity to compete in the Longhorns’ annual spring game. The “Orange and White” game is the inter-team scrimmage where coaches can see how their players match up with each other while testing playbooks. The early enrolled freshmen will not only get a chance to compete against their more experienced teammates, but to also showcase how well they have adjusted to the speed and physicality of college football.

A new season means new question marks surrounding the team. However, these players could make an immediate impact on all facets of the game.