The next commit arrived to continue the wave of momentum on the trail for the 2023 Texas football recruiting class on Aug. 5. Heading into the weekend, Texas landed a commitment from the highly touted four-star Teague (recent Marlin High School transfer) linebacker/edge rusher Derion Gullette.
This is a big get for head coach Steve Sarkisian and co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Pete Kwiatkowski in the Longhorns 2023 class. It’s hard to overstate how much PK needed a win in this position group at linebacker/edge rusher.
Texas hasn’t recruited amazingly well compared to other position groups among high school prospects and NCAA Transfer Portal targets in the last two offseasons under PK. Landing this commitment from Gullette could help to change that narrative for Coach K and the Longhorns.
Moreover, Gullette announced his commitment to Texas on social media on the afternoon of Aug. 5. He gives Texas the 21st commitment in the 2023 class, which includes 15 blue-chip recruits.
Texas landed this commitment from Gullette over other top schools such as the Texas A&M Aggies and Ohio State Buckeyes. Sark, Kwiatkowski, and the Longhorns were able to stave off a late run from the Aggies on the recruiting trail after an unofficial visit that he took to College Station last weekend.
Texas football adds essential edge rusher depth in 4-Star Derion Gullette
It stirred up some Texas fans last week when Gullette passed on visiting Texas for the July BBQ/pool party on July 28 to unofficially visit Texas A&M just a couple of days later.
At the end of the day, though, Texas’ longstanding strong relationships with Gullette won them this recruitment. Texas seemed to have the best relationship built with Gullette for the longest period of time among his top schools.
What PK and the Longhorns are getting out of the physically gifted 6-foot-3 and 230-pound Gullette is an incredibly athletic edge rusher/linebacker that has a high ceiling at the next level. Texas will have to be patient while Gullette rehabs through a knee injury that will cause him to miss his senior season in high school.
But if Gullette can effectively rehabilitate this knee injury and continue to develop those insane physical gifts on the Forty Acres, PK is getting a real difference-maker out of this blue-chip in-state product.
Gullette also brings excellent length to the table that should make him an ideal fit as a buck or sam linebacker. He’s a twitchy athlete with an insanely quick first step. And when you combine that with his lateral quickness, length, and quick reads off the snap, you get a lethal physical specimen as a PK-style edge rusher.
You can see the phyiscal traits that Gullette brings to the table both in his film on the basketball court and the football field.
Gullette has insane reach and is very vertically gifted. That will help him to be more disruptive than your average buck/sam linebacker both when dropping into pass coverage assignments and trying to blow up plays in the backfield.
This short area quickness that is evident on film for Gullette will also give him the ability to use his wide reach to really swallow up the opposing ball carrier in the backfield in a seamless manner.
Another aspect of Gullette’s game that jumps off the screen at you on his film is his quick change in direction. The aforementioned short-area quickness that Gullette possesses translates well when he needs to change direction in chasing down the ball carrier.
That is an incredibly helpful trait when Gullette is trying to find the ball-carrier when playing off the ball at linebacker.
And it’s worth noting that even some of the more elusive and agile dual-threat quarterbacks will have trouble escaping from Gullette’s grasp when he’s rushing the passer.
Where Gullette still needs to improve comes in terms of his fundamental tackling ability, adding muscle mass to prove he can hang in the trenches with Power Five-caliber offensive linemen, and showing more effort covering ground sideline-to-sideline when he’s playing off-ball. There can be times when Gullette looks slower or just lost when he’s put in situations where the play goes to the other side of the field and/or he gets a slow jump when he’s blitzing the opposing quarterback.
It looks like there are still some maturity aspects physically and mentally where Gullette needs to make some strides before he’s truly ready to assume key live-game reps against Power Five competition.
Gullette’s likelihood to graduate early and rehab his knee on campus at Texas will help develop him in some of these areas of physical and mental maturity, though. It will be very advantageous in Gullette’s situation for him to be able to enroll early at Texas next spring.
All in all, though, the importance of Texas landing this commitment from a high-ceiling edge rusher such as Gullette is paramount in the 2023 class. Texas wasn’t recruiting particularly well at edge rusher so far for this cycle. It looks like Texas is bound to miss four-star Friendswood edge rusher, Braylan Shelby, after missing out on four-star Austin-Westlake’s Colton Vasek to the Oklahoma Sooners a few days ago.
But Texas being able to hold off Texas A&M to land this commitment from Gullette staves off some of the concerns that could’ve emerged for edge rusher recruiting otherwise.
According to the 247Sports Team Composite Rankings, the 2023 Texas recruiting class now ranks at No. 5 in the nation and in the top spot in the Big 12 after landing Gullette. Texas is now up to two edge rusher commits in the 2023 class with Gullette and the three-star South Oak Cliff product Billy Walton now in the mix.