One of the top edge rushers in the country made quite the splash in the Red River Rivalry as Tausili Akana committed to Texas over Oklahoma and a host of others on National Signing Day. Akana made the commitment live on the 247Sports Youtube channel, choosing the Longhorns over a list of finalists that included Colorado, LSU, Texas A&M, Utah and the rival Sooners who were considered the favorite in the recruitment right up until Wednesday afternoon.Akana ranks as the No. 34 overall prospect and No. 4 edge rusher in the 2023 cycle, according to 247sports, carrying the status as the top-rated player from the state of Utah. Projections for Akana’s commitment zeroed in on Oklahoma at the beginning of the month, but on Wednesday morning, the 247Sports Crystal Ball began to include some buzz around Texas. The Longhorns already boasted an extremely strong class with quarterback Arch Manning at the helm and as many five-star prospects on board as anyone not named Alabama. Now, though, Steve Sarkisian and his staff have created some quality depth at the edge position while also stealing a prioritized prospect from their biggest rival.Texas may have heavy star power at quarterback with Manning, running back Cedric Baxter and wide receiver Johnny Cook II, but when you dig deep into the Longhorns’ 2023 haul, you’ll find a real commitment to the kind of athletes that can excel in modern defenses. Of the players in the class at the time of Akana’s commitment, more than a third of them are listed as defensive linemen, linebackers or edge rushers. Sarkisian is an elite offensive coach, and he’s got the quarterback position set until at least 2026, but he knows the “All Gas, No Brakes” offense needs a athletic and disruptive defense as a partner if the Longhorns are going to compete for championships. Akana fits that mold.
Akana was an All-American Bowl selection, and 247Sports’ Cooper Petagna writes that though he will need some time to develop beyond a role as a situational pass rusher, he “projects as an all-conference prospect at a Power Five program.” Exhibits good knee bend and hip flexibility in and out of stance. Flashes some quick twitch explosiveness and a good first step off the line of scrimmage. Shows the ability to bend the edge with ease. Demonstrates good play speed with active hands at the point of attack. Can play the run and seal the edge, flashing good play strength in both the run and pass. Displays good lateral chase and backside pursuit ability, showing the ability to close space quickly. High motor player that possesses the athletic ability to drop in coverage situationally if need be.Depending on size and growth potential possesses the ability to play in both a 4-3 and 3-4 defense, in a two or three point stance. Active perimeter that flashes some athletic upside off the edge as a pass-rusher and shows the ability to play the run.