Updated: Apr 8
Recruit rankings data has been manually collected by TSR contributors from multiple, reliable sources. Transfers and foreign recruits who are not expected to have four years of eligibility are excluded from these rankings. Order of rankings was decided by all TSR contributors.
Did we miss someone? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know!
Back in 2017, when TSR was just getting started, we decided to publish rankings for the best distance recruitment classes in the NCAA. Since then, a ton has changed. However, the one constant is that you will still find Texas at the #10 spot in our rankings...which is the same rank we gave them two years go.
Pete Watson will now enter his second year as the distance coach with the Longhorns. In doing so, he is looking to make a major statement with a deep recruiting class that offers the potential for high-ceiling stars and a plethora of depth.
Let's begin with Cruz Gomez, the standout Texas native who will headline this incredible pool of talent. The two-time NXN qualifier and one-time Foot Locker national qualifier brings extremely valuable cross country experience to the Austin-based program...and it couldn't have come at a better time. The Longhorns no longer have veteran Alex Rogers on their roster and the rest of their varsity lineup is nearing the end of their eligibility. Luckily, Gomez could step in to have an instant impact on this team as soon as this fall. With a 5k personal best of 14:48, it's not crazy to think that he could end up as a scorer for Texas come October and November.
However, Gomez can do more than just cross country. The youngster also boasts strong personal bests on the track with PR's of 4:13 and 9:02. Luckily for him, Coach Watson has had a ton of recent success with developing milers such as 2016 indoor mile national champion Henry Wynne and sub-four milers Alex Rogers and Sam Worley.
Despite the great accomplishments from Gomez, incoming freshman Haftu Knight deserves just as much attention. The future Longhorn ran 14:33 on the track at the Texas Distance Festival after a cross country season where he ran 14:51 on the grass. The raw potential of Knight, when paired with Gomez, suddenly makes this recruiting class extremely interesting. Cross country hasn't always been Texas' strong suit, but it seems like they are attempting to change that narrative with these two high-powered stars.
Guys like Kobe Yepez and Yassan Abdalla are also strong roster additions. Both of these young men ran all three of their listed PR's as high school seniors, which is a strong indicator that they have plenty of room to grow and improve. Don't overlook that aspect of this recruiting class. With an aging lineup, it'll be important that the Longhorns have capable scorers available in both track and cross country a year or two from now.
The same can be said for the Williams twins out of McAllen Memorial High School. Both Evan and Trevor ran all of their personal bests this past year, making them nice developmental pieces for the future.
While depth may not seem like the sexiest part of a recruiting class, it is arguably the most important. Coach Watson was known for his long-term development of young talents during his tenure at Virginia. While it may have taken some time, he left the program with a handful of contenders who were relevant on the national stage. Depth, after all, was a staple of the UVA program over the last few years.
Then there are the guys who can do it all. Both Liam Walsh and Crayton Carrozza will bring incredibly strong range to Austin in an effort to beef up Texas' middle distance groups. Walsh finished 10th at the Texas 6A Cross Country Championships this past fall and followed that up with a 4th place finish and 1:53 personal best in the 800 meters at the outdoor state meet.
As for Carrozza, he has the potential to be the next Sam Worley: an outstanding middle distance runner in both the 800 and 1500 who can contribute in cross country if called upon. His PR's of 1:50 and 3:46 (1500) makes Carrozza maybe the most underrated recruit in our entire rankings, especially because he fills an immediate need within the Texas roster. Having someone like him will be crucial if the Longhorns want to put together another podium-contending DMR in the winter. On a team that is crowded with long distance runners, Carrozza's speed will make him the x-factor of this 2019 recruiting class.
Speaking of great middle distance runners, we shouldn't forget about Donovan Josey who is staying in-state to attend UT. Much like Walsh and Carrozza, he'll bring some much-needed speed into a program thanks to his 1:53 PR. The Texas half-mile group is slowly showing signs of promise and Josey will help them continue their encouraging progress.
Texas is still in a transition stage as they adjust to Coach Watson's vision for how he wants to build this distance program. This year's incoming group may have a few select stars like we've grown accustomed to seeing, but Watson's "strength in numbers" mindset is clearly still alive and well.
Could these eight recruits help push Texas over the edge and make them consistent national contenders rather than just national qualifiers? It's too early to tell, but if their high school performances tell us anything, it's that the future is bright for the Hook 'Em faithful...