Dec 16, 2021 - Sports

UT football's very good day

UT football coach Steve Sarkisian greets his players.
University of Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian greets players after UT scored a touchdown. Photo: Tim Warner/Getty Images

The University of Texas Longhorns football team got much-needed good news Wednesday, as a star group of high schoolers signed on to play in Austin.

Driving the news: Once the dust settled after a flurry of signing day activity, Texas held the fifth-ranked recruitment class in the country, per 247Sports.

  • Among the highly rated offensive and defensive linemen who have signed with the Longhorns are Westlake High School's 6'4", 296-pound offensive tackle Connor Robertson and the school's 6'7", 225-pound defensive end Ethan Burke.
  • "It's no secret that we like big humans," offensive line coach Kyle Flood said earlier this year.

The commitments come as UT boosters have pledged big money to paying student-athletes for sponsorship deals.

Between the lines: Earlier this month, Horns with Heart, a new nonprofit, announced its plan to pay every University of Texas offensive lineman $50,000 each per year.

  • Dubbed "The Pancake Factory," the program will compensate the student-athletes for their names, images or likenesses in exchange for making charitable appearances.
  • A "pancake block" describes a play by an offensive lineman that leaves a defensive player flat on his back.

What they're saying: "The ​​intent is to make everyone's life happy on the offensive line," Rick Vasquez, who helped launch The Pancake Factory, tells Axios.

  • He said the program makes it "extremely attractive" for potential recruits to attend UT — but is designed to stop short of an "inducement," which would violate the law.

Next fall, the offensive linemen are likely to protect Quinn Ewers, the much-heralded former Ohio State quarterback, who said over the weekend he's transferring to UT.

The bottom line: After a rough first season that saw his team finish with a losing record, UT head football coach Steve Sarkisian had to have a splashy signing day.

  • He got it.
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