It's the most wonderful time of the year—especially for Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian, who helped his team to the fifth-best recruiting class in the nation as the Longhorns signed more than two dozen players for National Signing Day on Wednesday.
Sark will finally have the ball in his court for the first time after a not-so-great 2021 season, which saw the first-year coach grapple with a six-game losing streak in 2021.
Eager to redeem the team's reputation, Longhorn recruiters successfully flipped three high-profile athletes from other schools on Signing Day and stacked the roster with five- and four- star recruits. Two recruits, Conner Robertson and Ethan Burke, are Austin natives from suburb Westlake High School.
Here's a look at the players who signed for '22:
The Longhorns may have fumbled former five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers after head coach Tom Herman was fired last season, but the former No. 1 QB of the class of 2022 is now safely back in Texas.
Ewers originally committed to the Longhorns but flipped for Ohio State, spending a season there before becoming the first Texas signee announced early Wednesday morning.
Kelvin Banks Jr.
Arguably even more crucial—and hard-fought—than Ewers, Banks was the No. 2 offensive tackle prospect and No. 15 overall prospect in the country this year. The Humble, Texas, native visited Oregon, LSU, and Texas A&M and even committed to Oklahoma State University before choosing to stay in his home state. He rebuffed 24 other offers in choosing the Longhorns.
Austin native Connor Robertson, a Westlake High student, will likely play center for the Longhorns—after he helps his current team to a hopeful state championship this Saturday.
Another product of Westlake High, Burke will compete in the state championships with teammate Robertson before switching to burnt orange as an edge rusher for the Longhorns. Originally a Maryland and Michigan commit, Burke swapped both schools and sports: he was once looking to play college lacrosse.
Coming in alongside Ewers is quarterback Maalik Murphy, the No. 11 QB prospect in California and No. 11 quarterback in the country who just wrapped up a state championship win with his high school last weekend.
Murphy chose Texas after a long relationship with the school and Sarkisian himself. He chose the Longhorns over 30 other schools.
It's been a year since Bledsoe played a game per UIL rules after his transfer from 2A Texas school Bremond, but the defensive lineman managed to impress enough his junior year with over 100 tackles and 1,000+ rushing yards.
He's the 21st DL pick in the country and a four-star recruit overall.
The former Texas 5A Defensive Newcomer of the Year, safety BJ Allen was described as a "potential early-round NFL Draft pick" for his ease in the center of the field. He was the 10th safety prospect in the nation and a four-star recruit.
Defensive lineman Derrick Brown turned down 27 offers, including Baylor, when he committed to the Longhorns in late July. The Texarkana High School player racked up 88 tackles, including 12 sacks, in 2021.
Louisiana native J'Mond Tapp chose Texas even over nearby finalist LSU, saying he was looking forward to a new environment and change of scenery. The defensive lineman will be an edge rusher alongside Bledsoe.
The sole running back chosen by Sarkisian and co., Jaydon Blue has been committed to Texas for nearly a year after giving an early offer to the four-star recruit.
Blue impressed without playing his senior season after deciding to give his body a rest. And his prior seasons alone were enough—he amassed nearly 3,800 rushing yards and 46 touchdowns in 2019 and 2020.
Austin Jordan, a cornerback-turned-safety from Denton Ryan, helped his school to a state title in 2020 and is now a four-star recruit committed to Texas.
Three-star linebacker Travel Johnson has been committed to Texas since February and was called a potential replacement for Longhorns standout Demarion Overshown by Burnt Orange Nation's Cody Daniel. Although he missed his senior season, the Arlington Martin High School athlete accumulated 208 tackles and five sacks in his prior seasons.
Formerly a wrestler, Alabama native Justice Finkley brings that to the field and was named to the MaxPreps Alabama all-state team. Finkley chose Texas for its football program as well as its academics—he hopes to be a neurosurgeon in the future.
Four-star recruit Bremen Thompson is one of just two wide receivers picked up by Texas, a standout from past years when the Longhorns would sign at least four to five each season.
Thompson chose the Longhorns over 35 other offers and despite a slightly smaller size, is the No. 12 wide receiver in the nation.
Mississippi native Aaron Bryant is one of the state's top picks. He racked up 68 tackles, 12 for loss, six sacks and four forced fumbles in his junior season and chose Texas over rivals A&M and Alabama.
Like Ewers, Guilbeau formerly committed to Texas but flipped to TCU after Herman's firing. The defensive back then flip-flopped back again on Thanksgiving following the firing of TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson after choosing between 24 different offers.
Left tackle Neto Umeozulu was one of the most desired in the class of 2022 when he chose Texas over 33 other schools. While a junior at Allen High School, Umeozulu earned the District 5-6A Offensive Lineman of the Year and went on to become the No. 7 interior offensive linemen in his class.
Burly lineman Cole Hutson is the 16th-rated guard in the country and was Steve Sarkisian's first OL signee.
Texas swiped versatile player X'Avion Brice from rival Oklahoma upon his signing this morning. The three-star recruit chose the Longhorns after a last-minute visit and will likely be looked at as a receiver for the team.
Zach Swanson is a top-five Arizona prospect who played defensive end in high school, but he'll look to swap to defensive tackle with the Longhorns.
Lance St. Louis
Texas snagged the best long snapper in the country when it signed St. Louis on Wednesday, following in his father's footsteps—his old man was a long snapper in the NFL.
Three-star offensive tackle Cameron Williams made a late change from Oregon to Texas on Sunday. He's the No. 38 tackle in the country and 63rd in the state.
A little lower than other Texas recruits in ranking, Savion Red is Texas' third receiver signed. Despite his three-star status, Red had over 3,000 all-purpose yards and 39 touchdowns while in high school at Grand Prairie.
Red was a former SMU commit before swapping for Texas after a trip last weekend.
Four-star offensive lineman Malik Agbo chose Texas over Auburn, Miami, Oklahoma, LSU, and Florida on Wednesday's signing day. The OL is ranked 22nd in his class and position and rounds out Texas' wave of linemen recruits.
"Stone cold" kicker Will Stone is the lone kicker among Sarkisian's signing class so far. Ranked as a five-star recruit by Kohl's Professional Camps and No. 9 nationwide, Stone will attempt to seamlessly replace talented kicker Cameron Dicker next season alongside walk-on Bert Auburn.
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- San Marcos favorite Industry Burger opens "mid-October" on E. 5th, featuring "low key healthy" Texas fare.
- Still Austin Whiskey Co. introduces "The Artist," its new rye whiskey.
- Domain NORTHSIDE favorites Bakery Lorraine, Grimaldi's Pizzeria, Jeni's Ice Cream and Sprinkles released their fall flavors.
- Cinnaholic at The Arboretum opens Friday, October 14, serving "create your own" cinnamon rolls and other sweet treats.
- San Francisco's Marufuku Ramen opens next Wednesday, October 12, in the Mueller District.
- Carpenter Hotel announces its popup food truck, Lil Carpenter, open Fri-Sun both ACL weekends, serving what you want, early to late, coffee to donuts, to dogs/burgers/fries/beer.
With major entertainment events slated for October, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is gearing up for a busy month.
Artists and music lovers are set to pack into Zilker Park for The Austin City Limits Music Festival in the coming two weekends. Following that, Formula One will bring racing fans to the Circuit of the Americas.
For those two events, the airport is anticipating high passenger days with 30,000 or more people departing flights.
ABIA recommends arriving at least two and a half hours in advance for domestic flights on those days. For ACL, it's expected on both Sundays of the festival along with the Monday and Tuesday after. The F1-driven high passenger days are expected on Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 23-26.
\u201c#AustinCityLimits visitors, you\u2019re in for a weird and wild ride \ud83e\udd18\u262e\ufe0f \n\nFlying in or out of our airport? We got firm and fun tips for you: https://t.co/RawVRalOXN\u201d— Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) (@Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)) 1664894083
F1, especially, could draw in loads of travelers as the three-day event saw 400,000 attendees last year. ABIA warns that highways leading to the airport may see even higher traffic than usual around the event and that travelers should plan their route accordingly.
Bailey Grimmett, a spokesperson for ABIA, said travel numbers come in 24 hours in advance. So, it's hard to predict if the airport will see travel volumes at the same levels that have happened around previous F1 races or if it'll top ACL's flight traffic.
Still, she says historical knowledge points to a chance for it.
“We've had that Monday after F1 break the record for single busiest in airport history," Grimmett said. "So context clues I would say yes, but I can't confirm that. But the historical background points to that."
In anticipation of the high volume of flyers, the airport received additional TSA officers for security screening through the end of October. To prepare even further, the Department of Aviation and partners hosted a job showcase and hiring fair to address the continued labor shortage the airport has experienced.
Relief from hectic travel days is on the horizon with November likely to see a slowdown.
"I don't anticipate it will be as busy as October just because we don't have as many events going on," Grimmett said. "Thanksgiving is kind of our primary holiday that we see a lot of passengers coming in and out of the airport."