Soni Fonua, EDGE
Texas did get some much-needed depth help by way of the transfer portal earlier this offseason in the Tucker-Dorsey from James Madison. But there are still going to be some question marks at the linebacker position for co-defensive coordinators/linebackers coaches Pete Kwiatkowski and Jeff Choate heading into fall camp.
This is where adding a portal player such as the former JUCO transfer and senior LSU Tigers edge rusher Soni Fonua could come in handy for Texas. It’s hard to imagine that Texas could find a better value linebacker addition out of the portal at this point of the offseason than Fonua.
What I really like about the adding of Texas adding a versatile defensive player such as Fonua by way of the portal this summer is the fact that he could fill multiple roles for Kwiatkowski. He got snaps for LSU in the last couple of seasons as a three-technique defensive end, standing edge rusher, and an outside linebacker.
That type of versatility from the 6-foot-4 and 260-pound Fonua could be a good fit for Kwiatkowski in this defensive front. Fonua has more than enough size to earn some reps as a jack or buck linebacker. He might be too light to play as a three-technique defensive end in this 3-4 front for Kwiatkowski.
But the lack of proven depth that Texas has among edge rushers/linebackers is something that could be helped by landing Fonua out of the portal.
Fonua found some success rushing the passer for LSU in the last two seasons. He was also pretty disruptive stopping the run. Last season alone, Fonua came up with seven tackles for loss, one sack, 16 quarterback pressures, and 14 run stuffs.
His pressure rate last season (just north of eight percent) puts him above the average pressure rate for Texas pass rushers. And his ability to make plays stopping the run while minimizing mistakes (only three missed tackles compared to 30 total tackles last season) is the type of efficiency that could help improve this defensive front in multiple respects for the 2022 season.
I’m not saying that I believe Kwiatkowski and the Longhorns staff need to be on the prowl for pass-rushing help at this point of the offseason. But if they are, it’s hard to find a better option than Fonua.