Texas Football: Why Poona Ford Is the Longhorns' Must-Have 2014 Recruit

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Texas Football: Why Poona Ford Is the Longhorns' Must-Have 2014 Recruit
247Sports.com

Texas head coach Charlie Strong's first recruiting priority is to keep the 2014 class largely intact. With the exception of four major decommitments in January, he's done just that. 

But those losses have yielded a second priority: Beef up the defensive line portion of the class. Among the decommits last month were defensive tackles Zaycoven Henderson, who flipped to Texas A&M, Trey Lealaimatafao, who is weighing his options, and Courtney Garnett, who is verbally committed to Oklahoma. 

National signing day, which takes place on Wednesday, only starts the period in which recruits can sign a letter of intent. Still, Strong would like to have more signatures sooner rather than later. 

One of the new faces who could sign with the Longhorns is Hilton Head Island, S.C., defensive tackle Poona Ford. 

Ford, a 4-star prospect, was previously committed to Louisville when Strong was the head coach of the Cardinals. Shortly after Strong took the Texas job, Ford re-opened his recruitment and took an official visit to Austin on Jan. 17. 

Ford also visited Purdue on Jan. 24 and Missouri on Jan. 31. He's also received strong interest from South Carolina. In all, Ford has 24 scholarship offers. 

According to B.J. Payne, Ford's high school coach, the star defensive tackle is still mulling his options. 

"Last week, I would have said Texas," Payne said to The Island Packet last week. "Now, I honestly don't know. He was very, very impressed with Purdue."

eric gay/Associated Press

Ford will make his decision at 12"30 p.m. ET on national signing day, according to MaxPreps. Based on 247Sports' Crystal Ball predictions, Ford will sign with the Longhorns. 

Ford isn't a lock for the Horns, however. When it comes to recruiting, few things are certain. 

If Ford does sign with Texas, he would be in a position to compete for some rotational playing time early. 

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While the Horns should have a strong D-line in '14—defensive end Cedric Reed returns, along with defensive tackles Malcom Brown and Desmond Jackson—they must prepare for life afterward. That's where Ford, along with the other 2014 commits, could come into play. 

If Lakeland, Fla., defensive tackle Chris Nelson also commits to Texas, the Horns could have a nice D-line group in the '14 class. Other verbal commits include defensive ends Derick Roberson and Jake McMillon. 

It would be an impressive turnaround considering how dire that situation looked as recently as a few weeks ago. D-line was a position of need for Texas even before the trio of decommitments last month. It definitely was a position of need afterward. 

Ford would be a major part of that turnaround. If he commits to Texas, it wouldn't just be about replacing bodies along the D-line; it would be about adding serious talent that could make an impact for years to come. 

 

Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All rankings used courtesy of 247Sports

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