Reese Leitao‘s career seemed in serious jeopardy in February, but by September it should begin like nothing ever happened.
Just weeks after signing with Texas, Leitao was arrested at his Tulsa, Okla., high school on a charge of drug possession with intent to distribute within 2,000 feet of a school — a felony — after he was found with 20 Xanax pills and nearly $1,300 in cash in his possession.
Leitao and his attorneys reached an agreement with Tulsa County prosecutors last week that allowed the player to plead guilty to a misdemeanor that came with no jail time and a 4-year probationary period that wipes the charge from Leitao’s record should he remain out of trouble.
“I’m happy,” Leitao’s attorney told the Austin American-Statesman at the time. “Hopefully the University of Texas is happy.”
Fast forward a week and, yep, they are happy.
Leitao is expected to compete for heavy playing time at a significant position of need in Tom Herman‘s offense. The 4-star prospect caught 34 passes for 423 yards and four touchdowns for powerhouse Jenks High School as a senior.
It appears the door to one member of Texas’ 2017 recruiting class arriving in Austin this summer has opened a little wider.
In late February, Reese Leitao was arrested at his Oklahoma high school on a charge of possession/delivery of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to sell within a thousand feet of a school, a felony. Tuesday, the Austin American-Statesman is reporting, Leitao pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug possession charge.
As part of the plea agreement, Leitao received a four-year deferred sentence; provided he stays clean during that time, the charge will be wiped off his record. The American-Statesman writes that, “[a]ccording to Leitao’s attorney, Leitao has ‘some probationary work,’including speaking engagements at schools, and will be under the supervision of the district attorney.” A $1,000 fine was part of his punishment as well.
The ball is now in the hands of first-year UT head coach Tom Herman as to whether Leitao will have a football future with the Longhorns.
“I’m happy,” the attorney, Allen Smallwood, told the newspaper. “Hopefully the University of Texas will be happy.”
At the time of Leitao’s arrest, a statement attributed to Herman said that “[w]e’re collecting information, will talk to Reese and his family, let the legal system run its course and then address it further at the appropriate time.” As of this posting, the university has yet to publicly address the development.
Leitao was a three-star 2017 signee, rated as the No. 19 tight end in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Oklahoma.
With Tom Herman now running the Texas offense, tight end is going to be an added emphasis for the Longhorns moving forward. This created an immediate problem for the 2017 club, considering the last Longhorn tight end to produce a prolific full season was Jermichael Finley, who last caught an NFL pass in 2013.
Herman rectified that by signing Reese Leitao, a 4-star tight end out of Tulsa, in February. (The Longhorns also added Cade Brewer, the brother of former Texas Tech and Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Brewer and son of former Texas quarterback Robert Brewer, as added depth.)
However, Leitao was arrested in February on charges of dealing drugs. So the tight end position became a problem again.
On Sunday, Syracuse graduate transfer Kendall Moore announced his intention to be the solution to that problem by committing to Texas. “Officially a Longhorn,” Moore stated on the Instagram post revealing his pledge. “Happy to call Texas my new home.”
As a senior in 2016, Moore appeared in 12 games but caught just one pass for 15 yards. He received four passes for 31 yards and a touchdown in 2014. A native of Chicago, Moore’s best season as a Orange was his first, registering 12 appearances with six catches for 65 yards in 2013. He is eligible to play for Texas thanks to a medical redshirt he received after missing nine games due to injury in 2015.
Though Moore’s stats may not immediately remind anyone of David Thomas, he may jump to the front of the line among UT’s tight ends. As Chip Brown notes for Horns Digest, Leitao has a felony hearing April 18 in Oklahoma, returning starter Andrew Beck is coming off a broken foot, Garrett Gray moved to wide receiver, Peyton Aucoin has battled a shoulder injury this spring and Brewer is a true freshman looking to bulk up to a Big 12 weight. Beck led the position last year with four grabs for 82 yards and two touchdowns.
James Conner will head to next week’s Combine with a clean bill of health, according to a report Thursday from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“Pitt RB James Conner, who missed most of 2015 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, received a clean scan today, a week prior to combine, per source,” Schefter tweeted.
Conner led the ACC in rushing in 2014, rushing for 1,765 yards and 5.92 yards per carry with 26 touchdowns in 2014, before a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis caused him to miss all but one game of the 2015 campaign. (And in that one game, Conner still rushed for nearly 10 yards per carry and two touchdowns.)
He battled back to return to the field in 2016, again leading the Panthers with 216 carries for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns while finishing third on the club with 21 grabs for 302 yards and four touchdowns.
Conner will compete at the Combine for draft positioning with fellow running backs Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and D'Onta Foreman, among others.
Lane Kiffin may be comatose onscreen, but off the field on the recruiting trail he’s a machine. Still.
UCLA has been in hot pursuit of DeAndre McNeal, a California junior college wide receiver who began his collegiate career with the Texas Longhorns. Instead of Westwood, however, McNeal has opted to commit to Kiffin and Florida Atlantic.
“I know FAU can make me the top wide receiver in the nation,” the receiver told 247Sports.com. “I already know their offense and I know I will get the ball there. At this point in my life I don’t need to go where I know I’m going to play and be used.”
As long as the commitment holds, this would make Kiffin 3-1 lifetime vs. UCLA, including 2-1 as USC’s head coach.
McNeal was the No. 8 JUCO receiver in the country entering National Signing Day. This is actually the second time he’s spurned UCLA as the Bruins were finalists during his initial recruitment before he opted for the Longhorns.
A four-star member of UT’s 2015 recruiting class, McNeal was indefinitely suspended by then-head coach Charlie Strong in August of last year. Not long after, the player opted to transfer out.