Texas Football: Position-by-position grades for the 2023 class post-NSD

Arch Manning, Duce Robinson, Texas football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
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Edge rusher

# of signees: 4

One of the deepest and most talented position groups that the Longhorns signed in the 2023 class on NSD1 is edge rusher. Texas signed a whopping three blue-chip edge players in the 2023 class on the first signing day. And there are four talented edge rushers that the Longhorns signed in total in the 2023 class.

Tausili Akana, 4-Star EDGE/OLB (Skyridge, Utah)

We already briefly touched on the Hawaii native and Skyridge (UT) High School product Akana committing and signing with the Longhorns 2023 class on NSD1. Akana was the lone pickup among high school recruits in the 2023 class on the first signing day.

I expect Akana to be an early contributor for the Longhorns as more of a pass-rush specialist. If he can bulk up a bit in the next couple of years, it would make more sense for Akana to be more of an every-down outside linebacker or edge player along this defensive front.

Colton Vasek, 4-Star EDGE (Austin Westlake)

The edge rusher that might be in the best position to contribute early for the Longhorns among the 2023 signees is the highly touted four-star local edge rusher Colton Vasek. It was huge for the Longhorns to flip Vasek from the Sooners the month before NSD1.

Vasek’s ability to contribute early will hinge on what he shows in spring ball and what the staff decides to do at the position in the portal. But Vasek already has the size and quickness off the edge to make an impact in the pass rush as a true freshman.

Derion Gullette, 4-Star EDGE/LB (Teague, Texas)

Coming off a lower-body injury that kept him off the field at Teague (TX) during the 2022 season, four-star edge rusher Derion Gullette could take some time to work his way back at the collegiate level. But depending on how the recovery timeline plays out for Gullette, he could still get some early live-game reps next fall.

Gullette is still a very impactful long-term edge rusher/linebacker fit along this defensive front. He’s really gifted physically and is one of the most explosive athletes in this class.

Billy Walton, 3-Star EDGE (South Oak Cliff)

Without a doubt, one of the most underrated signees in the Longhorns 2023 class is the three-star south Dallas edge rusher Billy Walton. The 6-foot-4 and 225-pound edge player has good hands and the necessary waist-bend to be an impact pass rusher at the next level. The biggest question surrounding Walton’s ability to make a splash with the Longhorns’ defensive front will be his ability to climb the depth chart in the next two years.

Edge rusher was a definite position of need in the 2023 class. And while Texas still wasn’t able to get that true standout edge rusher that catches your eye immediately in this recruiting class, I still love the pieces that the staff added at the position.

Grade: A-