The state of Texas continues to produce some of the top recruiting battles in the country, and the Class of 2018 is more of the same with 40 ESPN 300 prospects, and 67 four-stars attracting every top football program in the country. While the early signing period took a bite out of the number of recruiting battles that normally go to the wire, there are still nine of the top 20 in the state, and 19 four-star prospects still left to send in a fax in February.
Where things stand
The in-state schools are doing a much better job of keeping the best at home in the 2018 cycle. After signing just 18 of 46 ESPN 300s and only 21 of 63 four-stars in the class of 2017, 23 of the 40 ESPN 300s and 33 of 67 four-stars in the 2018 cycle are staying home.
There are four in-state schools in the top 40 of the ESPN class rankings. Texas sits at No. 3 with the room to add as many as eight more prospects to the stellar class; a resurgent Baylor checks in at No. 16, with TCU at No. 19 and Texas A&M at No. 35. The Longhorns have 17 ESPN 300 signees and commitments, tied with Ohio State for most in the 2018 cycle.
Texas is the dominant winner
Tom Herman and staff have rebounded from a tough transition class a year ago. After signing just one of the top 20 ranked prospects in the state in the 2017 cycle, the Longhorns have commitments from 10 of the top 20 in 2018, with a realistic chance to sign 12 of the top 20 and lock up their first top-five class since 2012.
The dominance inside the state lines includes signing the top three ranked prospects in the state, which also happen to be the top three ranked safeties in the country in B.J. Foster, DeMarvion Overshown and Caden Sterns.
While Texas has signatures or commitments from prospects from every position on the field in the class, it’s the defensive back haul that has garnered the majority of attention. Along with the three safeties, the Longhorns also have commitments from three of the nation’s top-16 cornerbacks., making Texas is the first program in the 14 years ESPN has ranked prospects to sign six defensive backs ranked in the top 150 prospects in the country.
Three recruitments to watch for Texas
WR Joshua Moore (ESPN 300 No. 45): The one-time Nebraska commitment is a considered a lean to Texas after an official visit Jan. 19. Oregon, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Florida State round out the final five with a decision not expected until signing day. Should Moore pick Texas, that would mean he and brother Jordan Moore would pick the arch-rivals in the same class -- which might be a first in the long history of Texas and Texas A&M.
DE/OLB Joseph Ossai (ESPN 300 No. 140): While once, heavily favoring the Aggies, the Longhorns have moved into the lead after the coaching change in College Station and continued pursuit by Texas. Should the Longhorns win out for the edge pass-rusher, it would be a nice bit of icing on top of the cake of a very talented defensive class.
DT Moro Ojomo (ESPN 300 four-star): The senior riser has made official visits to Oklahoma, Notre Dame and now Texas, with TCU, Texas A&M and Oregon still in the mix. The Sooners wowed the defensive tackle. Adding two more defensive linemen is key for the Aggies, and Ojomo sits atop of the uncommitted board.
Texas A&M must close strong
Much like Herman’s transition class a year ago in Austin, Jimbo Fisher is in the last two weeks of an uphill battle made even more difficult by the inaugural early signing period, which gives new hires in December a nearly impossible window to build any momentum.
The Aggies entered the final two official visit weekends with 14 commitments, with 10 having signed early. The good news for Fisher and his experienced staff of talented recruiters is there are around 10 spots remaining that could be filled in the class, and the Aggies have nearly a dozen four-star prospects still on the board.
Finishing with a top-25 class is paramount for Texas A&M with momentum at a premium and a number of 2019 battles with Texas and Oklahoma already underway.
Three recruitments to watch for the Aggies
WR Jaylen Waddle (ESPN 300 No. 77): If there is a “must-get” prospect, it’s the electric playmaker out of the Houston area. The problem with the plan of adding this instant-impact slot receiver to replace Christian Kirk is Nick Saban. This is looking like a first of many Texas A&M vs. Alabama battles in the coming years with the national champions looking like the favorites headed into the final two weeks.