Texas Head Coach Tom Herman speaks during a press conference as he updates the local media about recruiting and incoming players during signing day at Moncrief Athletics Complex on Wednesday, Feb 1, 2017. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN


Potential Texas running back targets not named Keaontay Ingram

Posted March 17th, 2017

Story highlights
  • Texas might need more options at running back with only four offered in the 2018 class.
  • Ta'Zhawn Henry could become Houston Lamar's fourth 2018 prospect with a Texas offer.
  • Cibolo Steele running back Brenden Bray looks like a prototypical Tom Herman running back.

Texas signed two running backs in 2017, making the position less of a need for this cycle. The Longhorns have been stingy extending 2018 offers. Texas has offered four running backs so far. Three of them are from out of state. Two are already committed to other schools and another, T.J. Pledger, isn’t considering the Longhorns.

Carthage’s Keaontay Ingram is the lone Texan with a UT offer. He’s extremely high on the Longhorns, but it’s never bad to have a backup plan.

Longhorns coach Tom Herman has signed five running backs in three recruiting cycles as a head coach, two at Houston and one at Texas. The shortest is Daniel Young, a 5-10 back who signed with Texas this year. But Young’s also the heaviest, at 206 pounds. The lightest was 2015 Houston signee Kevin Justice, at 6-0, 175. So history suggests Herman wants running backs who are at least 5-10 and 175 pounds. He’s yet to sign a big-bodied back as a head coach.


The state of Texas once was a national hotbed for running back talent, but the 2018 cycle is light on blue-chip prospects. There are a few prospects who fit the mold of a Herman running back:

1. Craig Williams, Crosby

FYI: 5-10/166; 4-stars

Texas offer: No

Top offers: Auburn, Baylor, Arizona State, Texas Tech, Houston

College: Undecided


Why Williams: Speed. Williams doesn’t have the ideal frame for a Herman running back because he’s a little light and might not quite be 5-10. Still, he’s a game-changer with legit track speed. It didn’t take him long to make an impact at the varsity level. He accounted for 13 touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards of total offense as a freshman and backed it up with similar numbers as a sophomore. A nagging injury kept him from putting up giant numbers as a junior, but he’s primed for a strong senior year if used correctly. Williams might not be an every-down back because of his size, and that might keep Texas from offering. If the Longhorns were taking at least two running backs in this class, Williams likely would get an offer as the second back. But since his skills are uniquely suited for third downs or maybe even as a slot receiver, Texas might look for a more dependable option.

2. Stanley Hackett, Pasadena Rayburn

FYI: 6-3/193; 4-stars

Texas offer: No

Top offers: Texas Tech, Baylor, UCLA, UTSA, Tulsa

College: Undecided

Why Hackett: There are three running backs on the American-Statesman’s Fabulous 55. Hackett is one of them. He’s a bigger running back than Herman normally recruits. He’s shifty for a player of his height, but he’s more of a one-cut running back without much experience catching the ball out of the backfield. Hackett is undoubtedly talented and he’s picked up offers from Big 12 rivals Baylor and Texas Tech, which aren’t necessarily known for power running offenses. If Ingram and the other out-of-state options commit elsewhere, Hackett should be one of the first players contacted by Herman’s staff.

3. Kelan Walker, DeSoto

FYI: 6-0/205; 3-stars

Texas offer: No

Top offers: Houston, UTSA, Colorado State, Tulsa

College: Houston


Why Walker: The top two players on this list — Williams and Hackett — might be more talented prospects, but Walker fits Herman’s preferred running back mold more than the four-stars on this list. He rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and scored 16 touchdowns as a junior, helping DeSoto claim the school’s first state championship when the Eagles knocked off Cibolo Steele in the Class 6A Division II title game. Walker is a diverse talent with athleticism to run and catch combined with the size to handle 20 touches a game. He was offered by, and committed to, Houston after Herman left the Cougars, but it wouldn’t be at all shocking for Herman to try and poach offensive talent from UH toward the end of the cycle if the Longhorns miss on their first few options.

4. Ta’Zhawn Henry, Houston Lamar

FYI: 5-7/157; 3-stars

Texas offer: No

Top offers: Baylor, Kansas State, Houston, Boise State

College: Undecided


Why Henry: Henry is shorter than any running back Herman has signed in his first three classes as a head coach. Henry did make it to Texas’ campus for a junior day visit. Despite his lack of height, he’s starting to build momentum in recruiting. Houston Lamar is loaded in the 2018 class with three players — Anthony Cook, D’Shawn Jamison and Al’Vonte Woodard — all listed on the Fab 55. Henry isn’t that caliber of player, but he’s an electric running back with the chance to contribute on third downs and on special teams. He’s the type of player a school like Texas takes as its second running back in a class, but it is unclear whether the Longhorns have the room to take two backs in 2018. That could leave Henry on the outside looking in. But if Texas feels like an offer to Henry could help land the star-studded trio from Lamar, it might be a risk worth taking.

5. Brenden Brady, Cibolo Steele

FYI: 5-11/190; 3-stars

Texas offer: No

Top offers: UTSA, Rice, Bowling Green, New Mexico

College: Undecided


Why Brady: He possesses the perfect frame for a Herman running back. If the five prospects Herman signed at the position were averaged out, Brady would fall around the mean. At 5-11 and 190 pounds, he’s big enough to handle a heavy workload yet shifty enough to get the edge on defenses and help as a receiver. Brady comes from the same high school that produced former UT running back Malcolm Brown. He’s not quite that type of prep prospect, but he amassed nearly 2,000 yards of total offense and 23 touchdowns during a junior season that ended with a state title berth.