June 13, 2024

The Longhorns went from having three scholarship returnees to having a full position room of ten in a matter of weeks.

Texas’s Austin Soon after the December opening of the NCAA transfer window, Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian was faced with an urgent issue.

And he was about to return three scholarship wide receivers, so it wasn’t just about figuring out how to upset the Washington Huskies in the Sugar Bowl as the Longhorns made their program’s first-ever participation in the College Football Playoffs.

Steve Sarkisian, Texas close to finalizing extension as Alabama's head  coaching search continues: report | Fox News

Replicas Standouts Xavier Worthy and AD Mitchell were almost certain to enter the NFL Draft a year early, and Isaiah Neyor and Casey Cain had just logged onto the NCAA transfer portal. Jordan Whittington, a senior in his fifth year, was set to run out of eligibility.

The wide receivers who were returning, all 2023 signees, also lacked experience; Johntay Cook played in all 14

With rumors growing that quarterback Quinn Ewers might return to the Forty Acres for a third season, the topic of who Ewers would throw to in the SEC began to surface.

Texas was linked to Purdue transfer Deion Burks and South Carolina transfer Juice Wells early in the transfer window, but in the end, coaching changes determined how the Longhorns reconstructed the wide receiver room through the portal.

Houston let go of Dana Holgorsen shortly before Thanksgiving. The fact that outstanding wide receiver Matthew Golden of the Cougars was scheduled to enroll surfaced a few days after the portal opened, making him an apparent target for the Longhorns program.

Texas made an offer to the former Klein Cain star late in the 2022 season after he broke his commitment to TCU, but

Golden, a receiver with the top-end speed to threaten a defense over the top and the dynamic ability to feature on run-pass options and the screen game after the catch, quickly became the clear top target for the Longhorns, giving him the chance to make up for the recruiting error.

Golden committed on an official visit to the Forty Acres a few days after logging into the site. He brought two years of eligibility, 76 career catches for 988 yards and 13 touchdowns, and two scores on kickoff returns in 2023.

Isaiah Bond, an outstanding slot receiver whom Texas acquired after he entered the portal, was recruited by the team thanks to fallout from Nick Saban’s resignation at Alabama.

After making his promise to Texas, Bond told ESPN, “Just like in the business world, you make the best decision for your company.” Right now, my draft stock is my company. I believe I’m positioning myself to have better draft stock and raise that.

Similar to Golden, the coaches had already established a rapport with Bond when Texas selected the No. 52 prospect in the country in the 2022 high school class.

“We really recruited Isaiah Bond out of high school at Buford High School in Georgia, who went to Alabama and had a great year for them this year. He’s an electric receiver for us and is here from Alabama,” Sarkisian said. “Exceptional speed, deep threat, and deep ball player.” We believe he is not alone.

Texas completed the portal class at wide receiver with Oregon State transfer Silas Bolden, who left Corvallis a few weeks after head coach Jonathan Smith and had his visitation plans significantly impacted by the fallout from Saban’s decision. Bolden was supposed to visit Arizona and Washington following his trip to Austin, but the California product shut down his recruitment as the coaching carousel turned.

The other one that is still at Oregon State is Silas Bolden. He will ultimately become a graduate transfer. He will graduate from Oregon State this semester, and he will come work with us in June. The veteran athlete, who is also an excellent speed receiver, had an outstanding year at Oregon State last year, according to Sarkisian.

Bolden concluded his work with

Chris Jackson, the new wide receivers coach, was tasked with persuading Micah Hudson, a former star player for Texas Tech, not to sign with the Red Raiders when he arrived in Austin in late January. Jackson was trailing other recruiters in building relationships with elite prospects. In the end, the Longhorns lost out on Hudson and a few other elite in-state talents, but they did manage to sign two excellent three-star players in the summer: Freddie Dubose of Smithson Valley and Parker Livingstone of Lucas Lovejoy.

“Parker Livingstone, again, comes from a really good program at Lovejoy. Coach [Kyle] Flood and I watched the game last year and I went and saw him play in person and was really impressed,” Sarkisian remarked. “He is quite long. He is a fantastic ball player. However, the item where

“Freddie’s competitiveness, playmaking ability, and one-on-one playmaking ability are evident to all of us, so we’re excited about what he brings,” Sarkisian remarked.

Landing St. Louis product Ryan Wingo in October over home-state Missouri—which had a late surge before Early Signing Day—was a big coup at wide receiver in the 2024 recruiting class. Wingo signed with the Longhorns. Wingo is a high-level talent who was rated as a consensus five-star prospect for the most of the cycle.

“We’re getting your ideal receiver, 6’2, 205, great length, elite speed, great long speed, if you could go into the lab and make one.” Once more, amazing young man from a wonderful family. Excellent high school curriculum. My brother was an NFL player. Thus, we’re getting

When Calabasas product Aaron Butler signed to Texas late in the early signing period without visiting Austin, the Longhorns concluded the high school class by adding extra speed. Butler’s decision was fortunate given the subsequent coaching changes. Butler had previously committed to Arizona and Washington.

The Longhorns had a severe lack of depth and talent at wide receiver, but in a matter of weeks, they were able to rebuild the position with high-caliber players from the gateway and promising freshmen.

“We lost Xavier Worthy and AD Mitchell, two receivers who declared early for the NFL draft. A few additional receivers made the independent decision to transfer. Following that Sugar Bowl, I suddenly looked up and saw that I had three scholarship receivers on our team.

“We signed Aaron Butler as a high school player to bring our total to seven after we had three receivers commit out of high school, leaving us with six. We then took three transfers to move up to the number 10 receiver position, which is more of an ideal number to have on your roster. Thus, that was very advantageous and useful to us.

It was unclear whether Texas recruited from the 2023 recruiting class after taking three receivers via the portal. Sarkisian had no choice but to add Bolden, even if he is only a one-year addition, and Golden and Bond are in Austin in the hopes of making the same leap that Mitchell and Worthy accomplished.

“We constantly strive to put together the greatest team we can. Let me reiterate that we want every player we bring on board to make a positive impact on our team and its performance. It is unclear how far they will go with it. However, we wouldn’t have signed the three players who are returning—DeAndre Moore, Ryan Niblett, and Johntay Cook—if they weren’t exceptionally gifted young athletes. Their future is quite promising because they possess size, speed, and ball abilities.

Bolden will arrive in the summer, leaving Sarkisian and his staff—including quarterbacks coach AJ Milwee—with ample time to integrate the new players and begin the season with nine scholarship players on campus for spring practice.


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