Kitan Crawford, S
Texas's safety room underwent some attrition early this offseason. Safeties coach Blake Gideon and the Longhorns have lost five scholarship safeties to the portal, some of which started multiple games this season.
The safeties with starting experience that Texas lost to the portal since the December window opened last month are senior Jalen Catalon, senior Jerrin Thompson, and senior Kitan Crawford.
Multiple reports on Jan. 5 (including from On3/Inside Texas) indicated that Crawford and Thompson intended to enter the transfer portal.
That leaves redshirt sophomore Michael Taaffe as the only upperclassmen safety who started a game for the Longhorns this season.
This highlights the youth movement that Texas is looking to undergo at defensive back this offseason. Texas is looking to usher in a new era of this secondary entering the SEC in 2024 after the defensive backs were among the most inconsistent position groups performance-wise on the team during the 2023 season.
Texas has added multiple impact defensive backs via high school recruiting and the transfer portal to rejuvenate the secondary heading into the 2024 season. The Longhorns added an instant impact starter at nickel from Clemson in the former Freshman All-American Mukuba.
Texas also signed the top defensive back class in the nation in 2024, highlighted by five-star safety Xavier Filsaime and high-four-star cornerback Kobe Black. Filsaime and Black will each push for early reps as spring enrollees during camp in a couple of months.
If the youth movement is a necessary move for the Texas secondary, why is it detrimental that the Longhorns are losing Crawford to the portal?
First, Crawford was a valuable contributor on special teams as a consistently-impactful gunner for the coverage units. Crawford graded out among the five-highest-graded special teamers on Texas's coverage unit in each of the last two seasons.
He was also the only active player on the coverage units for the Longhorns with over 15 career tackles on special teams.
Second, Crawford was among the Longhorns' most experienced defensive backs in this secondary. He had four years of experience as a starter or rotational defensive back for the Texas defense.
Texas is upgrading the talent in the secondary with the new additions via high school and portal recruiting. But Texas will be very green in the secondary after losing nearly 20 starts at safety between Thompson, Crawford, and Catalon to the portal.