Texas football adds gifted pass rush specialist in 4-Star EDGE Tasili Akana

Texas football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Texas football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

The first pickup among high school recruits to the 2023 class for Texas football on Early National Signing Day came in the afternoon of Dec. 21. Texas landed a commitment from the highly touted four-star Skyridge (UT) edge rusher/outside linebacker Tausili Akana over the likes of the Oklahoma Sooners, LSU Tigers, and Texas A&M Aggies.

Despite a lot of the buzz surrounding Akana’s commitment going to the Sooners in the last few days, Texas was able to close out this recruitment on the right foot. Akana will now be joining his sister, Texas volleyball’s Keonilei Akana, on the Forty Acres.

Co-defensive coordinators/linebackers coaches Jeff Choate and Pete Kwiatkowski were able to beat out Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables when it was all said and done. PK, Choate, and the Longhorns now have a very strong mix of linebackers and edge rushers in the 2023 signing class coming out of NSD1.

Texas football adds a polished pass rusher in 4-Star EDGE/OLB Tausili Akana on signing day

Akana brings the number of blue-chip linebacker/edge rusher signees in the Longhorns 2023 class up to a half-dozen. Texas surely is going to have a formidable group along the defensive front for a long time into the future.

Akana’s strengths

What the Longhorns are getting out of Akana is a very polished and skilled pass rusher. Akana has some incredible closing speed and a motor that just doesn’t stop. If PK, Choate, and the Longhorns wanted to get an edge prospect that doesn’t give up on the play until the whistle blows, Akana is definitely their guy.

Akana should be able to thrive as a pass rush specialist with the Longhorns, likely playing from the sam linebacker or buck end edge rusher position. He’s got a wide array of moves in his pass-rushing arsenal.

He just has an insane motor and a level of explosiveness that is unmatched in terms of how difficult it will be for opposing blockers to contain in the pass rush. Akana has really good hands and bend coming off the edge. Combine that with how Akana uses his hands well in the pass rush, and you get one of the best pass rushers among the edge players in the 2023 class.

While the most talked about strength of Akana’s game is his pass-rushing ability, we shouldn’t sleep on what he can do in run defense. Akana can effectively set the edge and his speed in pursuit of the ball carrier allows him to blow up plays in the backfield on a regular basis.

The chase-down speed that Akana brings to the table coming from the backside in run defense is also something to behold.

One of the other strengths worth noting for Akana is his ability to cover the flats and underneath in pass coverage. Akana is active and aware in the short passing game, making him an interesting fit with the Texas front seven as a hybrid sam linebacker. He can also drop back into pass coverage underneath from the buck end position.

Areas of improvement

While Akana does have some plusses in this part of his game, pass coverage is still a work in progress for the blue-chip Hawaii native. Akana can get lost in pass coverage when he gets drawn out from the flats or is pulled too far back in the intermediate or deep part of the field.

Another issue that creeps up when watching Akana’s high school film is the tendency to overrun the play when approaching the ball carrier or rushing the passer. Akana’s occasional poor tackling angles mostly show up in run defense, but it can plague him at times when getting too far outside rushing the passer.

His frame is also on the smaller side at the moment for an edge rusher recruit. Akana stands at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. If he’s going to fit in this Texas defensive front as a buck edge rusher, he’ll need to put on at least 15 or 20 more pounds before he’s ready to consistently compete against Power Five opposition.

All in all, though, Texas is getting a quality pass rusher out of Akana. He’s just another potent defensive player that Texas is getting to line this building bunch that has some elite talent coming in via the 2023 recruiting class.

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After landing a commitment from Akana on Dec. 21, Texas is sitting at 22 high school recruits in the 2023 signing class. According to the 247Sports Team Composite Rankings, the 2023 Texas recruiting class ranks at No. 3 in the nation and in the top spot in the Big 12 ahead of Oklahoma.