The weekend of bad news concerning the Texas football program continued early this week. Yet, this time the bad news came for Texas and head coach Steve Sarkisian on the recruiting trail instead of on the field with the current team.
Sark and the Longhorns staff wound up whiffing big-time on the highly touted four-star Woodlawn (LA) cornerback Jordan Matthews at the hands of cornerbacks coach Willie Martinez and the Tennessee Volunteers. Matthews announced his commitment to Tennessee over the likes of the Longhorns and Michigan Wolverines on the afternoon of Aug. 15.
This might be one of the biggest shocks of the recruiting cycle thus far for the Longhorns. And it is surely the biggest stunner of any of the recruitments that cornerbacks coach Terry Joseph was involved in for the Longhorns 2023 class.
Matthews was one of the clear priority targets of the Longhorns 2023 class heading into the fall. And nearly all indicators pointed to Texas having a pretty heavy lead in the race to land a commitment from Matthews coming out of the weekend.
There wasn’t much in the way of smoke legitimately connecting Matthews to Tennessee on his decision day. But that clearly didn’t stop him from spurning Texas for Tennessee early this week.
4-Star CB target Jordan Matthews shocks Texas football by picking the Vols on Aug. 15
Moreover, it’s difficult to exactly pinpoint what went wrong with Matthews as far as the Longhorns are concerned. Many could point to Texas’ pursuit of the elite five-star Arlington-Martin cornerback Javien Toviano in the 2023 class.
And if Toviano is legitimately leaning to Texas ahead of an anticipated fall announcement, that could play a role in Matthews picking Tennessee on Aug. 15.
Yet, we don’t really have any concrete proof of Toviano being a reason why Matthews would look elsewhere.
A report from Hayes Fawcett of On3 on Aug. 15 shows Matthews indicating that he had the closest relationship with Tennessee CB coach Martinez and that he likes the direction the Vols are headed in as a program under head coach Josh Heupel.
Considering how it was presumed that one of the best longstanding relationships for Matthews was with Joseph, it is noteworthy that the Louisiana-native DB mentioned his best relationship was with the Tennessee CB coach. That is tough to hear for the Longhorns staff since Matthews was such a frequent visitor on campus since last offseason.
In fact, Matthews visited Texas four times more than Tennessee just in 2022. That is usually a good indication that Texas is in a great position with a priority target on the recruiting trail. Yet, that clearly was not the case with Matthews.
Furthermore, losing out on Matthews will definitely heighten the importance of a recruit that was already a priority target of the Longhorns 2023 class in Toviano. It’s hard to see Texas having a more important defensive target in the 2023 class at this point of the cycle than Toviano. Five-star EDGE Damon Wilson and five-star DL David Hicks might be the only ones that could challenge for that title heading into the fall.
It will also be interesting to see some other potential directions that Texas might look hear. There is still the angle that Sark, Joseph, and the Longhorns could take their time with scouting out another DB target in the 2023 class.
Texas currently holds commitments from 21 recruits in the 2023 class. According to the 247Sports Team Composite Rankings, the 2023 Texas recruiting class ranks at No. 3 in the nation and in the top spot in the Big 12 ahead of the Oklahoma Sooners.