2018 recruiting class rises to No. 2 ranking,
State’s top-ranked tight end Epps says he’ll play for UT.
In one week, Texas’ 2018 recruiting class has gone from lacking to stacked at the tight end position.
On Aug. 1, Dominick Wood-Anderson — the nation’s No. 1-ranked junior college tight end — picked Texas over Alabama and Louisville. On Tuesday, Spring DeKaney’s Malcolm Epps — the state’s top-rated tight end — chose the Longhorns over Texas A&M, Alabama and Florida State.
Epps is the 17th pledge for Texas, which is expected to sign about 22 players in 2018. Epps’ commitment leaves five spots open; the Longhorns want pledges from another wide receiver, one more offensive lineman, one more defensive lineman and a pair of cornerbacks before turning their attention fully to the 2019 class.
They’re probably done with tight ends. Wood-Anderson gives them a player who can compete for a starting spot as soon as he arrives on campus while Epps offers longterm potential and a unique skill set.
Tuesday’s commitment boosted Texas’ class to No. 2 in the national rankings, trailing only Ohio State, per 247Sports’ composite ratings.
Epps, at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, offers a blend of athleticism and size rarely found at the high school level. Former basketball players have found a path to the NFL by trading in dunks for touchdown catches; Epps hopes to be ahead of the curve, physically resembling a small forward more than a football player.
Still, he’s not a three-down tight end yet. Epps lacks the physicality and bulk to be an effective in-line blocker at the college level. Growth is possible as he gets older and spends time in a college weight program.
He’s not an elite recruit because of those blocking skills, but Epps — who once was committed to Alabama — is wanted by major colleges because of the potential matchup nightmares he can create.
His specialty, at least early, will be as a tall, lanky weapon on third downs and in the red zone.
Epps can line up as a traditional tight end, flex out as a wide receiver or play H-back, much like 2017 signee Cade Brewer. Epps has a good shot at carving out a role if he continues to improve his all-around game.
Six of Texas’ 17 pledges are from the Houston area; like the others, Epps first built a relationship with Herman and most of his staff while they coached at Houston. The Longhorns signed two tight ends in 2017 and brought in a graduate transfer this summer.