Texas lands shop-wrecking priority 4-Star LB Elijah Barnes

Texas football adds a commitment from a top in-state priority on the defensive side of the ball in the 2025 class entering the weekend.
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Texas football / John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Texas football landed a big commitment in the 2025 recruiting class on April 12, the highly touted four-star Dallas (TX) Skyline linebacker Elijah Barnes.

Texas football lands speedy, powerful 4-Star priority LB Elijah Barnes

On3's Hayes Fawcett announced on social media on April 12 that Barnes committed to the Longhorns over the SMU Mustangs, Nebraska Cornhuskers, TCU Horned Frogs, Oregon Ducks, Alabama Crimson Tide, and Ohio State Buckeyes, among other schools.

Barnes becomes Texas's first linebacker and sixth overall commitment in the 2025 class. He is also the second commitment in the last week as head coach Steve Sarkisian andthe Longhorns are picking up serious momentum on the recruiting trail in the 2025 class this spring.

The commitment from Barnes comes just after he was on campus at Texas for an unofficial visit for Longhorn City Limits on April 6. He took a successful multi-day trip to Texas last weekend, where he got to see the Longhorns in the first scrimmage of spring ball on Saturday.

This is clearly a massive win on the recruiting trail for new Texas co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Johnny Nansen. Within the first few months after being hired at Texas to replace new Nevada head coach Jeff Choate this offseason, Nansen connected almost immediately with Barnes.

Barnes was one of Texas's top in-state linebacker priorities in the 2025 class, along with McKinney (TX) high-four-star Riley Pettijohn. Texas was arguably leading for both priority in-state linebacker recruits entering spring practice, which clearly remained to be the case with Barnes after he committed to Texas entering this weekend.

Barnes is a freakish athlete with dynamic upside at LB

The 6-foot-2 and 215-pound DFW linebacker Barnes is an elite athlete with tremendous speed for a defender of his size and frame. He is a truly dynamic athlete that brings good closing speed and great read and react ability to the linebacker position in the 2025 class.

It's rare to find the type of athlete that runs a sub-11 second 100-meter dash time, like Barnes has clocked in high school track and field.

Barnes plays inside linebacker at Skyline High School in Dallas. His read and react ability and downhill speed to find the ball carrier and get hats to the football makes him a real shop-wrecker for the defensive front at Skyline.

Run defense is the part of Barnes' game where he really shines. He's quick to read and shoot gaps to find the running back and effectively sheds blocks from opposing offensive tackles and tight ends. He utilizes his lengthy wingspan and upper-body strength to overpower most opposing blockers in pursuit of the ball carrier.

Once Barnes finds the ball carrier, he's quick to close and lay the lumber. He's a hard-hitting linebacker who brings a really physical edge to the linebacker position.

Versatility is a major strength for Barnes

Barnes plays both sides of the ball in high school. He's played linebacker and running back during his sophomore and junior seasons. The ability to play both sides of the ball gives Barnes a good understanding of different blocking concepts and offensive schemes.

His ability to play running back has also helped Barnes develop good hands as a receiver. That translates to him coming up with some real highlight-worthy turnovers when he drops back into pass coverage at linebacker.

Areas of improvement

The two biggest areas of development for Barnes are his agility and speed in change of direction and instincts when dropping back into pass coverage. Barnes looks lost at times on film when he drops back into zone coverage or when he has to cover more complicated developing route concepts in man coverage schemes on defense.

Projection and fit at Texas

The type of versatility that Barnes brings makes him an intriguing fit in Pete Kwiatkowski and Nansen's defense at Texas. He could play mike linebacker in the first couple of years at Texas, which would probably be the most natural transition positionally from high school football playing inside at Skyline.

Inside Texas's Ian Boyd mentioned in his evaluation of Barnes that the most upside he could have is at boundary linebacker. It's an interesting point to start to transition Barnes to more of a true outside backer role along the Texas defensive front to take advantage of his large frame and speed to get hats to the football.

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