Texas adds key DL depth in Arizona transfer Bill Norton

Texas gets its first transfer commitment of the spring portal window with Arizona grad transfer Bill Norton on April 22.
Bill Norton
Bill Norton / Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

On3's Hayes Fawcett reported on April 22 that Texas football landed a commitment from the former Arizona Wildcats senior defensive tackle Bill Norton. This is Texas's first portal commitment during the spring transfer window, coming within 48 hours after Norton finished his visit to Austin last weekend.

Texas football adds vital proven depth at DT in Arizona transfer Bill Norton

It didn't take long for head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns staff to make a necessary move to add depth at a position of need in the transfer portal this spring. Norton was a priority at defensive tackle for the Longhorns to add depth and proven experience to an interior defensive line rotation that lost its two top producers from last season, T'Vondre Sweat and Byron Murphy II.

Norton has one year of eligibility remaining after spending one season at Arizona and four with the Georgia Bulldogs to start his collegiate career.

This is the second defensive tackle who has followed new Texas co-DC/LB coach Johnny Nansen from Arizona to the Longhorns this offseason via the transfer portal. Nansen and the Longhorns also added experienced depth at defensive line during the winter portal signing period with former Arizona grad transfer Tia Savea.

It's hard to overstate how important this addition is for the Texas defensive line this spring. Texas needed to add a proven defensive tackle who can play the zero tech, since most of those snaps last season were taken by Sweat and Murphy along the defensive front.

Norton gives Texas the size, technique, and proven experience they need to bolster the interior defenisve line at nose tackle. The 6-foot-6 and 325-pound Norton gives the Longhorns nearly 200 defensive snaps playing over the football against Power Five competition last season.

During the 2023 campaign at Arizona, Norton registered 32 combined tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 16 defensive stops, 11 quarterback pressures, 3 batted balls, and two forced fumbles.

He was one of only 18 P5 defensive tackles last season to register over 175 defensive snaps as a true nose tackle while registering double-digit tackles against other Power Five competition (per SIS Data Hub).

Arizona's defensive line was among the most improved in the Pac-12 last season. Texas now has both of Arizona's starting defensive tackles, Savea and Norton, from their 2023 squad.

The Wildcats' defense ranked 17th in the Power Five in rushing yards per game allowed (133) and 24th in yards per carry (4.5) on inside rushing attempts. Arizona also ranked in the top half of the Power Five in QB pressures and sack rate from the interior defensive line.

Texas adding Norton and Savea not only adds proven depth to the interior defensive line rotation, but it also gives the younger defensive tackles more time to develop while not being forced into live-game action in the SEC this coming fall. The Longhorns have a lot of potential with young defensive tackles like freshman Alex January and redshirt sophomore Aaron Bryant having bright futures over the next couple of years.

But most of Texas's defensive tackles outside of the new transfers and returning upperclassmen Vernon Broughton and Alfred Collins are still pretty raw and unproven in live-game action.

It's also noteworthy that Norton brings the type of size necessary to hold up physically in the trenches in the SEC this upcoming season. Before adding Norton, Texas didn't have a single defensive tackle who had taken double-digit snaps playing over the football in live-game action last season that weighed over 310 pounds.

Baker and Texas still seeking DT depth in the portal during the spring window

Texas is still looking to add proven defensive tackle depth via the transfer portal this spring. After landing Norton on April 22, the Longhorns' top DT priorities in the portal are former UCLA Bruins senior grad transfer Jay Toia and TCU Horned Frogs junior Damonic Williams.

Toia took a multi-day visit to Texas during the spring game last weekend with Norton. Texas has set the pace in Toia's portal recruitment after a successful visit to Austin in the last few days.

Williams is scheduled to take a multi-day trip to Texas on April 23 and 24. Texas is battling the Oklahoma Sooners primarily for Williams in the portal this spring.

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