Texas’ Quietly Historic National Signing Day

Two years ago it was historic, with last-minute, five-star flips and a surge up the rankings. Last year it was quiet, with a new coach grabbing what he could. The early February holiday celebrated by college football fans everywhere called National Signing Day was something different for Texas on Feb. 7. It was quietly historic.

The historic part first: With 27 overall signees, including two five-star safeties, a large number of defensive and offensive linemen, quarterbacks from Oklahoma and California, and—gasp!—a kicker and a punter, head football coach Tom Herman’s first full recruiting class at Texas is ranked as high as No. 3 in the country. Coming off four consecutive lackluster seasons, that’s a coup.

Then there’s the quiet part. Owing in part to the new early signing period in college football, today was also exceedingly ho-hum for Longhorn fans, especially compared to 2016. Nineteen out of 27 players signed their letters of intent back in December. That means less day-of elation for Longhorn fans, but a guaranteed solid crop of young players for the future. Such is the rub, though with such a highly ranked, diverse class coming in, any sane Texas fan would take it any day of the week. And they’ll take the 2018 season over a repeat of the 2016 season twice on Sunday.

“Pretty historic day,” Herman said. “Obviously a lot of the work was done by Dec. 21, but by adding the eight guys we added today it really solidifies the class, especially on the defensive front. We made some big-time strides there.”

The only real surprises—if you can call them that—were the additions of four-star pass rushing linebacker Joseph Ossai, from Oak Ridge HS (Conroe, Texas), and a pair of Houston-area defensive linemen, Keondre Coburn and Moro Ojomo. Ossai, a potential Texas A&M signee, decided on Texas late on the morning of Feb. 7. He’s a crucial piece, Herman said, for the Longhorn defense going forward. So are Coburn and Ojomo, whom Herman declared the two best defensive linemen in the state.

“I don’t think,” he said. “I know.”

Texas has to address problems at many positions, especially with stars on the offensive line (Connor Williams), defensive backfield (DeShon Elliott and Holton Hill), at linebacker (Malik Jefferson), and on special teams (Michael Dickson) declaring early for April’s NFL draft. When asked how early some of his new players, specifically Carthage, Texas, running back Keaontay Ingram will be asked to contribute, Herman was blunt.

“Everyone one of these guys, all 27 of them, we expect them to be the guy,” Herman said. “Or, we wouldn’t have signed you at Texas.”

Still, Herman didn’t rule out a transfer or junior college transfer joining the team before all is said and done. He said that 28 or 29 players might be the final number for the 2018 class. And, he reiterated that recruiting is a round-the-clock job, and that they’re already thinking about 2019.

“Recruiting is like shaving,” he said. “If you don’t do it for a couple days, you wake up looking like crap.”

Texas spring practice starts March 20. The Orange and White Scrimmage follows on April 21. The full list of 2018 Texas recruits can be found here.


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