Texas football landed its second commitment from the NCAA Transfer Portal in the last three days on Dec. 18, with the former Clemson Tigers junior safety Andrew Mukuba announcing his pledge. Mukuba joins the former Houston Cougars sophomore wide receiver Matthew Golden as the two portal commits for Texas so far in the December window.
Mukuba and Golden were the two portal visitors whom head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns staff hosted in Austin last weekend. Golden committed to Texas in the midst of his official visit to Austin last weekend.
Texas football adds an immediate starter at DB in Clemson transfer Andrew Mukuba
Just a couple of days later, Mukuba gave his pledge to the Longhorns via a post on social media on Dec. 18.
Texas is well connected with Mukuba, who is a native of Austin, TX. Mukuba played his high school football at Austin (TX) LBJ under the now Texas director of high school relations Jahmal Fenner. He is also friends with many of the players on this team for the Longhorns.
Mukuba can slot into Jahdae Barron's role at nickel in 2024
Texas adding a portal commitment from the No. 1 safety transfer in the 247Sports Composite is a big deal for multiple reasons. First, Mukuba can be slotted at nickel next year to replace senior standout Jahdae Barron, who is expected to enter the NFL Draft next spring.
Barron is among the most crucial pieces of this secondary. He is a quality cover DB with great range, physicality, and a high football IQ. Getting a proven DB such as Mukuba who has multiple years of starting experience at a top notch Power Five program at Clemson means Texas won't suffer too much of a drop in performance level at the star position next season.
But exactly what makes Mukuba a natural fit skill-set wise at nickel?
It is the combination of strong football instincts and QB, fundamental tackling ability, and stickiness in coverage that makes Mukuba a good fit for the nickel position at Texas. The 6-foot and 185-pound third-year defensive back Mukuba is a strong and agile athlete who has quick hips and good straight-line speed, with quick hips and acceleration.
It's not often that you see opposing wide receivers create much separation in one-on-one man coverage when matched up against Mukuba. He also does a nice job of finding and making a play on the ball while contesting space.
Mukuba is productive playing around the line of scrimmage and playing out in space in run defense. He ranked second among Clemson defensive backs this season in run stops.
In his first full season starting at nickel this fall for Clemson, Mukuba's production in coverage ranked among the best players at the position in the ACC.
Second, while Mukuba is most needed to start at safety for the Texas defense next season, he still has the versatility to play at multiple positions for the Longhorns' secondary. Texas loves to cross train its defensive backs, and Mukuba has starting experience at nickel and safety from his three seasons at Clemson.
Mukuba was tremendous during his one full campaign starting at safety at Clemson, as he was named Freshman All-American during the 2021 season.
While it's probably best for Mukuba to play nickel for the Longhorns next season, it's an added bonus that he can move over to safety if needed, given the stellar reps he gave Clemson at the position a few years ago.
Third, Mukuba is a physical safety and a disruptor roaming the box and finding the ball carrier in space. Mukuba loves to hit hard, but it doesn't come at a cost of missing tackles. The combination of Mukuba's hard-hitting nature and his ability to find the football is a way he can generate turnovers for the Texas defense.
Add Mukuba's good hands and timing to break on the ball in coverage, and you get a defensive back who can disrupt and create turnovers in multiple ways. He also tends to land on fumbles, which could be seen as him being in the right place at the right time. Mukuba had two fumble recoveries in his three seasons at Clemson.
Mukuba can still improve his tackling approach in run defense
The biggest downside I've seen while watching Mukuba's film and crunching the numbers is the tendency to sometimes take bad approaches to tackling the ball carrier in run defense. Inside Texas brought up the very valid point that Mukuba can be too aggressive with his angles while playing in run defense.
Mukuba can improve his tackling approach and consistency wrapping up the ball carrier. It feels like he can get too focused on laying a big hit on the ball carrier instead of keeping the play in front of him and getting them to the ground.
The occasional over-aggressive approach from Mukuba in run defense led to some missed tackles at Clemson last season. While Mukuba ranked among the top run-stopping defensive backs for Clemson this season, he also had hte most missed tackles on the team in run defense.
Texas gets two potential immediate starters in the secondary on Dec. 18
It goes without saying that Dec. 18 has been a massive one on the trail for the Longhorns via the transfer portal and high school recruiting. Texas not only added an immediate impact starter at nickel via the transfer portal on Dec. 18, but the Longhorns also flipped the elite five-star McKinney (TX) safety Xavier Filsaime from the Florida Gators.
Mukuba will be expected to take the first-team reps at nickel immediately in spring ball in 2024. Filsiame also has a shot to compete for first-team reps at safety, as he is expected to be an early enrollee who will be on campus for the spring semester.