A massive day for Texas football on the recruiting trail before signing day on Dec. 20 saw head coach Steve Sarkisian and staff land three commitments from multiple avenues and in multiple classes. Arguably the biggest commitment Texas landed on Dec. 18 came courtesy of a flip of the elite five-star McKinney (TX) safety Xavier Filsaime from the Florida Gators.
Within the span of a few hours on Dec. 18, the Longhorns landed commitments from two priority safety recruits heading into signing day in a couple of days. Texas first landed a commitment from the former Clemson Tigers junior safety Andrew Mukuba.
Texas football flips priority 5-Star S Xavier Filsaime from Florida
Filsaime announced on social media on Dec. 18 that he is flipping his commitment from Texas to Florida after taking an official visit to Austin last weekend. Filsaime's multi-day official visit to Texas was considered to be a resounding success, which was the final piece of the puzzle for the Longhorns to flip his commitment from Florida.
The No. 2 safety recruit in the nation in the 2024 class in the 247Sports Composite and On3 Industry Ranking was the top remaining priority for the Longhorns in this cycle heading into signing day. Texas added two instant impact defensive backs from the high school level in the 2024 class in the last week, Filsaime and the elite Waco (TX) Connally cornerback Kobe Black.
He is the 22nd recruit to commit to the Longhorns in the 2024 class, and the fourth five-star. According to the 247Sports Team Composite Rankings, the 2024 Texas recruiting class ranks fifth nationally and third in the SEC behind the Georgia Bulldogs (No. 1) and Alabama Crimson Tide (No. 3).
Texas lands Filsaime after multiple in-home and campus visits late in the cycle
Filsaime's official visit to Texas last weekend was his first return trip to campus and his second overall since Texas offered him in early October. He also visited for the Red River Rivalry game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas against the Oklahoma Sooners on Oct. 7.
The first time Filsaime visited campus after Texas offered was an unofficial trip to see the Longhorns practice midweek in late November. Texas coaches also made a couple of in-home visits with Filsaime in the last few weeks.
Filsaime was committed to Florida since April 13 until Texas flipped him early this week.
Filsaime gives Texas an explosive athlete at safety with great range and instincts
The 6-foot-1 and 180-pound Filsaime is an uber-athletic safety who plays a really physical brand of football. He's the type of dynamic athlete you would normally find at wideout, given his fantastic straight-line speed and agility. He ran a 10.52 100-meter dash time as a sophomore at McKinney High School.
Filsaime is also a gifted vertical athlete. He competed in the long jump in track and field at McKinney. That verticality, speed, and agility Filsaime brings makes him a very rangy safety in coverage. Combine the physical tools with the high football IQ and instincts in pass coverage, and you get the perfect recipe for a rangy playmaker at field safety.
The high football IQ shows up on the field with Filsaime's ability to quickly diagnose and read plays. He's a smart DB that identifies route concepts well in coverage and is quick to sniff out the ball carrier playing downhill in run defense.
Filsaime is a natural in pass coverage
Given Filsaime's impressive straight-line speed and acceleration, he's not often beaten by opposing wideouts in pass coverage. And while he is an average safety regarding height and a little below average regarding wingspan (around 31 inches as a junior in high school), Filsaime is physical and fast enough to hang with just about any wideout in coverage.
Filsaime has quickness and fluidity in his hips. He's quick to change directions with tremendous lateral movement. That combination of physicality and fluidity gives Filsaime the versatility to match up with all the skill positions in coverage at multiple levels of the field.
Good tackler in space
Tackling ability is something Filsaime has constantly worked to improve in the last few years. It shows up on film that FIlsaime has become a much better fundamental tackler in the last two or three seasons at McKinney.
As Filsaime has developed into a good fundamental tackler, he has become a real physical force as a tackler in space. He's got a natural nose for the football, and tremendous closing speed to get to the ball carrier and bring some pop in the pads.
Filsaime's hard-hitting nature to his game helps to generate turnovers for his team.
Areas of improvement
The biggest knock against Filsaime tends to be the lack of turnover production. Despite him possessing elite physical upside and tremendous ranginess and instincts at the safety position, he doesn't have a ton of takeaways during his high school career.
While MaxPreps doesn't have complete stats for Filsaime's senior campaign at McKinney, we do have two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and one forced fumble from his film and highlights this season.
Lastly, Filsaime can still develop a bit more as a tackler. He's a drastically improved and productive tackler compared to where he was skill set wise a few years ago at McKinney. But Filsaime is still occasionally caught taking poor tackling approaches while contesting space and overpursuing the ball carrier in run defense due to his physical style of play and insane straight-line speed coming down from the safety spot.
Projection and fit at Texas
Filsaime is very capable of coming in and immediately competing for starting reps at the field safety position for the Longhorns. He is expected to sign and enroll early at Texas after flipping from Florida early this week, which means he can compete right away for the first-team safety reps in spring ball.
Texas now has multiple SEC-caliber defenders with high end physical tools and range at the safety position in freshman Derek Williams Jr. and Filsaime. The Longhorns also added a key piece to the secondary on Dec. 18 in Mukuba, who is expected could start immediately at the star position next fall.
Filsaime's special skill set and physical tools could see him developing into a first-round NFL Draft pick in the future.