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Friday, February 22, 2013
2014 DTs still a question mark for Texas

By Max Olson

Where’s the next Malcom Brown? The junior edition of Justin Manning or A’Shawn Robinson?

It’s a question college recruiters in this state have to be asking right now. The crown for best 2014 defensive tackle in the state of Texas has yet to be bestowed upon any prospect just yet.

Zaycovian Henderson
Class of 2014 defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson won't be able to make it to Texas' junior day.
Going into this week, Texas had yet to offer a defensive tackle prospect in this class. That may be a tad concerning, considering the Longhorns didn’t sign any in 2013 following Robinson’s decommitment, but we may have a better sense of where things stand after Saturday.

On Wednesday, Nederland (Texas) defensive tackle DeShawn Washington said he officially became the first to receive that coveted Texas offer. In fact, he became the first in-state defensive tackle Texas A&M offered this week as well.

Washington is one of several tackles expected to visit campus on Saturday for the Longhorns’ second junior day.

“I was really excited,” he said. “Texas was a school I always loved when I was young.”

Does Washington, who was also offered by Oklahoma on Wednesday, have the inside track on becoming the state's No. 1 defensive tackle prospect? Offers don’t decide that, sure, but he’s one of the few who’s landing big-time ones.

And the Longhorns have a knack for landing those most coveted linemen. Consider this: The state of Texas has had two defensive tackles make the ESPN 150 in each of the past four years. Texas signed five of those eight prospects.

Right now, only one Texas defensive tackle -- Euless Trinity’s Hafoka Olie -- is a member of the ESPN Watch List for 2014.

Cedric Johnson looks forward to proving this spring that he’s one of the state’s best. The Rowlett, Texas, standout will visit Texas this weekend and already has an offer from Baylor. He’s hoping UT follows suit.

“I don’t know how close they are, but I do feel like they will offer soon,” Johnson said. “I’ve talked to their coaches quite a bit. I think so, but I don’t know when they’ll pull the trigger.”

Johnson said he doesn’t pay attention to recruiting rankings, but he does care a great deal about being regarded as the state’s next dominant defensive tackle.

“I feel it’s one of my goals. I want to be one of the best there is,” he said. “To be the No. 1 guy takes a lot of hard work, but I’m willing to put forth the effort. Even as a sophomore I wanted to be that guy in my senior year, the No. 1 defensive tackle. That means a lot.”

Texas hoped to bring in another fairly coveted defensive tackle this weekend in Longview’s Zaycoven Henderson, but he won’t be able to make it to campus. If anyone is next to be offered after Washington, it could be Henderson. The 6-foot-2, 270-pound tackle already has offers from Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and SMU. Ole Miss joined the list on Thursday.

Another recruit who’s aiming for the top spot: Trey Lealaimatafao. The San Antonio (Texas) Warren lineman’s recruitment has picked up after Missouri recently offered.

He has three schools on top at this point: Missouri, Baylor and Oklahoma. Lealaimatafao is confident he’ll be getting an offer from the Sooners as soon as they hire a new defensive tackles coach.

Texas coaches have stopped by his school to watch him work out, but Lealaimatafao said that’s been the extent of his contact with UT. He won’t be visiting Austin this weekend, but an offer from the Longhorns would intrigue him.

“That would be a good deal, a real cool deal,” he said. “That’s not one of my top schools yet, but it would be up there.”

Count Lealaimatafao among the many who have noticed a lack of interior star power in his class. While he points out that might just be a product of the 2013 defensive tackles getting so much attention, he too is wondering who’s No. 1.

“I really haven’t heard of a lot of defensive tackles in the state in my class,” he said. “I know there’s some good defensive ends though.”

Everyone knows about Solomon Thomas, Myles Garrett and Derick Roberson. The next big name at defensive tackle? That's still up for grabs.