Texas football upgrades already strong LB room with 5-Star Anthony Hill

Anthony Hill, Texas football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Anthony Hill, Texas football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The most significant commitment that head coach Steve Sarkisian and co-defensive coordinators/safeties coaches Jeff Choate and Pete Kwiatkowski could get in the 2023 Texas football recruiting class arrived during an in-home visit on Dec. 15. Texas landed a commitment from the elite five-star Denton Ryan linebacker Anthony Hill Jr.

The elite linebacker gave Texas his pledge in the midst of an in-home visit that Sark and the Longhorns staff were making with Hill and his family on the night of Dec. 15.

This comes before an anticipated decision date for Hill on the first day of the Early Signing Period (Dec. 21). But I still imagine that Hill is planning on signing his National Letter of Intent on the first National Signing Day.

Hill gives Texas the most sought-after prospect on the board for the 2023 class. Texas was giving more priority to the recruitment of Hill than any other recruit heading into the early signing day. And that wound up paying dividends late this week.

The path to Texas securing a commitment from Hill began well before last offseason. The staff had a good relationship with Hill and his camp. And despite Hill initially committing to the in-state rival Texas A&M Aggies over Texas late in the summer, Texas stuck with it through the whistle.

This is why you keep pushing through the whistle with these types of recruits. Texas was able to push through during the 2022 recruiting cycle with guys like the elite five-star Summer Creek offensive tackle Kelvin Banks Jr. and four-star Little Elm cornerback Terrance Brooks, and look what happened in those recruitments.

It’s a similar story for the Longhorns in the recruitment of Hill up to this point.

Texas football adds crown jewel to the 2023 defensive recruiting class with 5-Star LB Anthony Hill

Eric Nahlin of Inside Texas put it well by saying that “Texas’ relentless” won the day for the Longhorns to ultimately secure Hill’s commitment.

I didn’t really see Texas pushing as hard to land any defensive recruit in the 2023 class in the last few hard as it worked for Hill.

What Texas is getting out of the uber-talented 6-foot-2 and 225-pound linebacker is a true immediate impact player that should be a day-one starter along the defensive front. Hill should be able to come in and make an impact right away with the anticipated departure of senior linebacker DeMarvion Overshown looming large in 2023.

But Texas shouldn’t see much of a drop off for this linebacker unit next year as the duo of then senior Jaylan Ford and Hill could pick up right where the Third-Team All-American and Overshown left off during the regular season in 2022.

I don’t know any other way to sum up Hill’s game on both sides of the ball than just downhill and sometimes violent. He’s a hard-hitter on defense and can run through defenders when carrying the ball for Denton Ryan as a back.

Hill can chase down the ball carrier in the blink of an eye with his ability to find the ball and that rangy sideline-to-sideline speed. The range that Hill brings to the table from the linebacker position will be very meaningful for this defensive front next year since Longhorns fans are accustomed to seeing Overshown fly all over the field.

It’s nice that PK and the Longhorns are getting a linebacker that is already polished as a pass rusher and in run defense. Hill can turn that downhill speed into an explosive blitzing ability either up the middle on delayed calls or coming off the edge when he’s matched up against a tight end or a back.

Ryan High School was able to use Hill as a versatile pass rusher that could wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. He’s quick and strong enough up the middle or off the edge to get to the quarterback quickly.

And that hard-hitting tendency in his game just makes him that much more threatening when he’s coming at the quarterback.

The tendency for Hill to play with so much downhill speed and violence in his game makes him someone capable of forcing a lot of turnovers. He can be disruptive and force turnovers when rushing the passer off the edge when he catches opposing quarterbacks by surprise or when he’s chasing down the ball carrier down the field.

There’s a lot that Hill brings to the table that will help mitigate the loss of Overshown next season. And there are some plusses to Hill’s game that will bring even more long-term upside for this defensive front than they had with Overshown in the mix.

Hill can be a long-term fit at inside linebacker for the Longhorns. But PK and the Longhorns are probably going to mostly play him as a will linebacker that can stunt on blitzes up the middle or come from the boundary to wreak havoc in the opposing team’s backfield.

The main area of improvement in Hill’s game will have to be in pass coverage. Hill can get lost in pass coverage at times. And he doesn’t play the ball as well as Texas will need him to as an every-down linebacker that will need to drop back oftentimes.

All in all, there is a reason why Hill is tabbed as the No. 1 2023 linebacker in the nation. He’s an immediate impact defender with a ton of upside that should be able to be tapped into pretty fast given the insane amount of talent and polish he brings to the table.

Texas now doesn’t have to worry about hitting the NCAA Transfer Portal to find a solution at the linebacker position in 2023 following the departures of Overshown and fellow senior Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey.

As long as Ford is set to return next season, Texas will have a ton of talent and depth at the linebacker position all of a sudden. Texas is now looking to bring in the likes of Hill, four-star Fort Worth North Crowley middle linebacker S’Maje Burrell, and four-star Kahuku (HI) linebacker Liona Lefau.

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Texas is now up to 22 commits from the high school ranks in the 2023 recruiting class after securing this pledge from Hill. According to the 247Sports Team Composite Rankings, the 2023 Texas recruiting class now ranks at No. 3 in the nation and in the top spot in the Big 12 ahead of the Oklahoma Sooners.