How Did Texas Miss Out on Seven In-State First Round Draft Picks?

The Lone Star State set a new record by producing seven first-round draft picks, so how did none of them suit up for the Burnt Orange?
By Chris Dukes ,

The state of Texas had plenty to brag about after the first day of the NFL draft last month. 

The state's love for high school football has been well-publicized in the past and its alumni have gone on to write many of the most profound chapters of the game's history at the professional level. 

This past draft class was a particularly fruitful one for in-state products. The seven players taken in the first round took down a previous record of six set in 2010—the class that featured the likes of Lufkin's Dez Bryant, Longview's Trent Williams and West Orange-Stark's Earl Thomas. 

So with so much celebration over the state's football prowess, how is it the institution that bears the state's name, is located in the state's capital and has the richest football tradition of any program within its borders didn't produce any of the picks? 

The story isn't a simple one. The national state of recruiting has allowed schools from all over the country to communicate constantly with players from inside the state's boundaries. The SEC adding a footprint with the addition of Texas A&M has also had an profound effect on the state of recruiting. Some if it comes down to old-fashioned player evaluation. 

The program wasn't exactly in its strongest position during that time, either. As Texas head coach Tom Herman said in a recent radio interview. 

“Any time there’s instability for multiple years, that sets a program back quite a bit,” Herman told ESPN Radio’s Will Cain recently. “We had four different AD’s I think in a five-year span, two presidents and three football coaches. And any time you lack stability, when you take over you’ve gotta generate that stability back. When we took this over it was quite literally the worst three-year stretch in terms of three straight losing seasons in the 120 years that Texas has been playing football. A lot of mistakes were made in recruiting.

“Trust me, nobody was more upset that of the 32 players taken in the (first round of the NFL draft), seven of them played high school football in the state of Texas and none of them played at the University of Texas.”

There's no blanket answer that explains everything when it comes to this anomaly, but adding up each individual story does paint a broader picture. From  of a program that struggled to evaluate talent and win high-profile head-to-head recruiting matchups. 

Whether it's being late to the game on Jalen Reagor, failing to see potential in CeeDee Lamb or losing in high-profile head-to-head matchups with programs like Ohio State and LSU this is a chronicle systemic problems in the Texas program 3-4 years ago.

Here's a look at all seven 2020 first round NFL Draft picks from the state of Texas and why they didn't land at Texas. 

Pick No. 3 - Jeffrey Okudah (South Grand Prairie) - Ohio State 

Texas offer? Yes 

The Longhorns made it clear they were extremely interested in Okudah from early on in his recruiting. Texas made an offer on April 15, 2015 during an unofficial visit to Austin. 

Unfortunately for The Longhorns, Okudah fell in love with Ohio State during a camp over the following summer. He named the Buckeyes the leader a couple of months later. Texas made the hard sell during junior day in the spring of 2016 and looked like they were potentially back in the race when he rated the trip a "10:".

"The relationships I have with Coach Strong and Coach Bedford (is why Texas visit was a 10)," Okudah told 247Sports. "Those guys are going to keep it honest with me throughout the whole process, and I know that's how it is going to be when I get to campus." 

A pair of unofficial visits to Columbus over the following summer all but sealed the deal as Okudah became part of a massive 2017 haul from the state of Texas for the Buckeyes that also included La Grange's J.K. Dobbins (a second-round pick) and Kennedale's Baron Browning (stayed for his senior year). 

Cornerbacks Texas took instead: Kobe Boyce (Lake Dallas); Kosh Thompson (Nacogdoches) 

Pick No. 17 - Ceedee Lamb (Richmond Foster) - Oklahoma 

Texas offer: Yes 

There's a famous story that has circulated among the recruiting circuit concerning Lamb and Texas. Word has it he was so interested in the Longhorns his junior year, he tried to initiate a conversation between himself and Charlie Strong, but since he hadn't paid the entry fee to the camp, strong's staff wasn't able to talk with him at that point. Not that this is a real excuse, of course. Strong's staff had ample more opportunities to reach out to Lamb, but never extended a scholarship opportunity. 

To Tom Herman and his staff's credit, one of the first things they did upon arriving at Texas was extend an offer to the 6-foot-2 receiver. Herman had actually offered Lamb while the head coach at Houston and was well-aware of his high ceiling, but it was too little, too late as the Richmond Foster product had already been committed to Oklahoma for quite some time at that point. It's crazy to think what could have been had Texas lined up Collin Johnson and CeeDee Lamb on opposite sides with Devin Duvernay and Lil'Jordan Humphrey and Devin Duvernay each getting a shot in the slot. 

Wide receivers Texas took instead: Jordan Pouncey (Winter Park, Fla.)

No. 20 - K'Lavon Chaisson (Galena Park North Shore) - LSU

Texas offer: Yes 

Of the seven first rounders from Texas in the 2020 draft, Chaisson might have come the closest to ending up a Texas Longhorn. Texas was included in Chaisson's final two and the Longhorns' staff was fighting tooth and nail with LSU right up until national signing day including a visit to Austin just 12 days before he made his decision. 

It wasn't meant to be, however and Chaisson would go on to play the role of villain to the Longhorn fanbase a few years later when LSU came to Austin. He had harsh words for both the Longhorns team.

“Obviously, going against guys from the Texas area, those guys really strongly believe they have a chance," he told the media the week leading up to the game. "I don’t."

He saved his harshest words for Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who he had already faced off against in the Texas high school football playoffs. 

"I’m glad we get to go against him (Ehlinger) again," he said. "I don’t really find him too much of a threat. Not taking a shot at him, but he uses his legs more than his arm. Just like high school. He has a decent arm, but it’s more about his legs.” 

Ehlinger did manage to throw for 409 yards and added 60 more on the ground, but Chaisson won the day in a 45-38 victory. 

Outside linebackers Texas took instead:  Marqez Bimage (Brenham)

No. 21 - Jalen Reagor - TCU

Texas offer: Yes 

Reagor had an eventful recruitment to say the least. By the time Texas offered the blazing-fast receiver from Waxahachie he had already committed to Texas Tech, de-committed and recommitted to Oklahoma. 

He would go on to decommit from the Sooners and eventually end up with TCU before it was all said and done. 

Some could say Texas jumped in the game too late, but that doesn't seem to be the case as Reagor was clearly open to new pitches despite a verbal commitment. TCU offered 16 days after Texas and eventually landed the receiver. 

This was just a case of a player not feeling a fit. While that is certainly going to happen in any class, it also represents a bigger problem in 2017. The Longhorns weren't able to reel in a single in-state receiver in what turned out to be a talent-rich year at the position in Texas. 

Wide receivers Texas took instead: Jordan Pouncey (Winter Park, Fla.)

No. 23 - Kenneth Murray (Fort Bend Elkins) - Oklahoma 

Texas offer: Yes 

The Longhorns were considered the favorite to land Murray for quite some time. He attended a camp, visited for a game against Texas Tech and attended Texas' junior day the following spring. Shortly after on May 25 of 2016 he was offered a scholarship and many experts had him as a heavy Longhorn lean. 

On July 26 of the same year he made a trip to Norman for an unofficial visit and was verbally committed to the Sooners less than two weeks later. It's obvious looking back at it that the Oklahoma staff brought up the Longhorns' lack of success under the Charlie Strong regime during his recruitment. He would recall the difference between the two programs at Big 12 Media Day in 2019. 

Inside linebackers Texas took instead: Gary Johnson (Dodge City, Kan. - JUCO)

No. 27 - Jordyn Brooks (Houston Stratford) - TCU 

Texas offer: No 

Yes, Texas missed on  Brooks, but so did a lot of other schools. He ended up with only six Power Five offers (Washington, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech and Arkansas) and though some of the schools were decent football programs, it wasn't exactly the murder's row of blue bloods one would expect to line up for a future Butkus Award Finalist and first-round draft pick. 

Outside linebackers Texas took instead: Malik Jefferson (Mesquite), Anthony Wheeler (Dallas Skyline), Cameron Townsend (Missouri City)

No. 31 - Jeff Gladney (New Boston) - TCU 

Texas offer: No 

Like Brooks, Gladney flew under the radar in  Tucked away in the far Northeast corner of the state, some weren't even sure what position the then 6-foot, 174-pounder would play at the next level. 

Players like Gladney can be chalked up as a testament to Gary Patterson's ability to find and coach up hidden talent rather than a recruiting failure on Texas' part. 

Cornerbacks Texas signed instead: Holton Hill (Houston Lamar), Kris Boyd (Gilmer) and Davante Davis (Booker T. Washington, Miami Fla.)