The Texas Longhorns are feeling it after beating Notre Dame in double overtime to start the season, and that momentum carried over to the recruiting trail.
Just a day after Texas’s exciting win over the Fighting Irish, the Longhorns landed a big commitment. Taquon Graham, a four-star weak-side defensive end from Temple, Texas, announced his commitment. He verbally pledged to Texas over Oklahoma and TCU.
Arkansas, Baylor, Georgia, Michigan, Oregon and USC were also options, according to EJ Holland of 247Sports.
“Texas has always been that childhood school,” Graham told Holland. “I grew up watching Texas. Everything around here is all Texas. I felt comfortable there. I’ve liked them for a long time. It felt right.”
For Charlie Strong and the Longhorns, the addition of Graham is an important one. His commitment moved Texas up 16 spots in the 247Sports Composite rankings, from No. 59 to No. 43. That ranking will change as the recruiting trail ebbs and flows, but a jump of that size in the rankings shows how big a verbal commitment Graham is for Texas.
According to the 247Sports Composite, he’s the No. 12 weak-side defensive end and the No. 189 recruit in America. Perhaps most important for the Longhorns, Graham is the No. 32 recruit from Texas. In-state recruiting used to be a lock for the ‘Horns, but with the rise of Texas A&M, TCU, Texas Tech and Baylor (before the scandal), landing the top recruits in state has become much harder.
That doesn’t even include the fact that just about every other major school in college football considers Texas to be one of the first places it looks for elite recruits. To that point, only one of the top ten 2017 recruits from the state of Texas, four-star defensive end Lagaryonn Carson, is committed to the Longhorns.
LSU, Ohio State, Texas Tech, Notre Dame and Oklahoma have all landed one recruit from the state’s top 10 this cycle.
There is good news for the Longhorns, though. Of the eight players committed so far to Strong’s 2017 class, all eight are in-state recruits. The addition of Graham to that group is a notable one. He’s currently the fourth-highest-rated recruit in the class.
Texas is finally starting to build some momentum in Strong’s third year as head coach, and for what it’s worth, Graham did tell Holland that the Longhorns’ coach was a big reason he decided to commit.
“I really like Coach Strong,” Graham said. “He keeps it real with you, and he’s a great coach. My mom really likes him too. I like Coach (Brick) Haley a lot. He’s a great coach. I just feel comfortable around them.”
Today’s U Scouting Report
Graham is 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds. He runs a 4.75 40-yard dash, according to his HUDL account (Nike Verified).
He has the height and length to play defensive end — those qualities come across on tape. He has long arms and legs — length is huge for a defensive end when it comes to creating separation from the offensive tackle and being able to grab the quarterback from the edge — but it’s not as though he’s lanky. He has a solid build and should only continue to put good weight (muscle) on his frame as he goes through his senior year and starts preparing for the rigors of college football.
Keep in mind: Football players (especially linemen) generally develop the most mass growth in their first year on campus — especially if they take a redshirt season and focus on getting bigger, faster and stronger.
Graham does a good job of wrapping up and not letting go. He uses his long arms well at the point of attack and can get off blocks.
Though his 40 speed isn’t anything to write home about, he does have football speed on the edge. He seems to have a natural bend and can turn the corner on the edge of the pocket.
Graham does a really good job of coming down the line and closing the edge as a run-defender. He’ll make an impact as a pass-rusher, but he plays the run like a strong-side defensive end. He gets off the block, gets down he line, and closes quickly. He’s a big-hitter, and if he does add 30 to 40 pounds of muscle over the next few years — while keeping his agility — it’s easy to see him becoming a star for Texas.