Texas football flips impact 4-Star EDGE Colton Vasek from OU

Colton Vasek, Texas football
Colton Vasek, Texas football /

The news that all Texas football fans were hoping for arrived via the recruiting trail in the 2023 class on the afternoon of Nov. 8. Texas was able to secure a commitment of the highly touted four-star Austin Westlake edge rusher and former Oklahoma Sooners pledge Colton Vasek early this week.

During a big week on the recruiting trail for head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns in the 2023 class, this group just got a massive boost by flipping the commitment of Vasek. Edge was maybe the biggest positional need remaining in the Longhorns 2023 class at this point.

And Texas is potentially getting an immediate impact edge rusher out of Vasek. But we’ll talk more about the impact of Vasek on this Texas defensive front a bit later.

First things first, how did this come to fruition for Texas?

Vasek was a high-priority recruit for the Longhorns on the trail for more than a year now in the 2023 class. Texas fought the likes of Oklahoma and the Oregon Ducks among the top schools in Vasek’s recruitment.

But Oklahoma started to take the lead over Texas and Oregon during the summer, leading to an Aug. 1 commitment to the Sooners.

New head coach Brent Venables and the Sooners staff did a good job building a solid relationship with Vasek, also taking advantage of his wanting to get away from home. Or, at least it was the case initially that Vasek wanted to experience something new away from Austin.

After Vasek committed to Oklahoma in early August, Texas kept its foot on the gas in this recruitment. Texas stayed in constant communication with Vasek and hosted him on a couple of visits for game weekends this fall.

And it looks like Texas is going to get another visit from Vasek this weekend when it hosts the undefeated TCU Horned Frogs at DKR.

Texas football gets a huge flip in former 4-Star OU EDGE commit Colton Vasek

Moreover, some of the struggles that Oklahoma faced on the field this fall in the first year under Venables, combined with the heightened success of Texas in the win column, also played a big role in Vasek flipping his commitment this week. It also helped that so many big-time Texas commits in the 2023 class were constantly in Vasek’s ear to flip (i.e. Arch Manning).

Last but not least, it’s clear that freshman edge rusher and former Westlake teammate Ethan Burke pushed so hard to reunite with Vasek at the collegiate level. The “twin towers” off the edge from Westlake can now play together once again in the same city they played high school football.

So, what does Vasek bring to the table for Texas off the edge?

The 6-foot-6 and 230-pound Vasek is a towering edge rusher that is physically gifted and hits hard. Vasek has a wide array of pass-rush moves and is excellent at the point of attack. He can play standing up off the edge or as a three-technique along the defensive line.

Vasek will need to put on some weight, though, if he is going to be commonly lining up as an end in the three-technique along the defensive line. It will also be key for him to add some weight to be able to consistently set the edge in run defense.

Furthermore, Vasek’s quickness off the line of scrimmage is something that has an impact on the pass rush and run defense. He’s able to use his length and arsenal of moves to get by opposing blockers and blow up the ball carrier in the backfield.

And Vasek has a lot of pop when the pads meet. He’s a hard-hitting edge player, especially for playing at under 240 pounds.

Vasek is able to use that length and hard-hitting nature of his game to force turnovers. He’s forced a few fumbles since the start of last season, with at least a couple coming in run defense and as a pass rusher.

Where Texas can really utilize Vasek’s skills right away, though, stems from his tools as a pass rusher. Vasek has posted double-digit sacks in each of the last two seasons playing at the top level of high school football at Westlake.

While he could play at either edge rusher spot, I think Vasek will fit a need at the buck end spot right away. Vasek has good hands and is pretty agile for an edge rusher of his size. He uses his hands and feet well to bolster a pretty wide variety of moves to shed blocks. Vasek has a good spin move and can also beat opposing blockers quickly on moves to the inside.

Vasek’s long arms and strength at the point of attack make him a real issue for opposing quarterbacks and ball carriers. He’s adept at finding the ball fast. And once he gets a wrap on the quarterback, he doesn’t miss finishing off the tackle very often.

He will be a nice long-term fit alongside Burke as they form a lengthy and dynamic one-two punch off the edge for the Longhorns. But the immediate spot for him to compete for playing time could be as a buck end, with Texas expected to lose senior edge rusher Ovie Oghoufo next offseason.

All in all, Vasek fits the mold of an edge rusher that can fill multiple needs for Texas right away. He’s got a skill set that should allow him to compete immediately for key live-game reps as soon as next season. And Vasek is an impactful edge rusher in the pass rush and in run defense. He can help a Texas defense that was sorely lacking an impactful edge rusher in both of those phases of the game.

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After landing the commitment of Vasek on Nov. 8, Texas now holds 21 recruits in the 2023 class. According to the 247Sports Team Composite Rankings, the 2023 Texas recruiting class now ranks at No. 6 in the nation and in the top spot in the Big 12 ahead of Oklahoma.