Erick Fowler to Texas: Longhorns Land 4-Star OLB Prospect

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIFebruary 3, 2016

Credit: 247Sports

Edge player Erick Fowler, a 4-star recruit from the class of 2016, announced Wednesday that he'll play college football for the Texas Longhorns, per Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman.

Fowler is a product of Manor High School in Texas. The composite rankings from 247Sports have him as the 75th-best prospect in the country and the No. 7 outside linebacker.

Measuring at 6'1" and weighing 226 pounds, there's room for Fowler to add bulk to his frame as a means of becoming an even greater edge-rushing force, though he already does have adequate size for a rising freshman.

Even as a sophomore at Manor, Fowler was producing at a mind-boggling level, racking up 21 sacks, 73 tackles and two interceptions in 2013. Although Fowler's sack total dropped to 12.5 as a junior, the versatility and raw talent he brings to the gridiron is tantalizing.

The quickness Fowler flashes off of the ball allows him to effectively speed rush, though he could use additional, functional upper-body strength to better hand fight and disengage blockers on a consistent basis.

Until that area of his game improves, he will be hard-pressed to be a legitimate star in the trenches at the college level if Texas asks him to put his hand in the dirt. What may be better for Fowler is to be a playmaking linebacker, which would suit his skill set as it stands.

Fowler originally committed to LSU last June, but he continued to go through the remaining portion of the recruiting process. He provided a simple standard for what it would take for another school to change his choice, as noted by Ryan Autullo of the Austin American-Statesman.

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"If a college can offer more than LSU can in the long run," Fowler said.

Apparently Texas managed to do exactly that leading up to signing day. It's a major coup for the Longhorns given Fowler's status as one of the top outside linebackers in the class.

He is set to join a Texas defense that ranked 111th in rushing defense last season in large part due to struggles with inexperience at the linebacker level. It gives him an opportunity to earn playing time right out of the gate if he can provide stability in the area.

That said, a lot will depend on how quickly Fowler makes the collegiate transition while also settling into a position. He's capable of playing either defensive end or outside linebacker, but his technique will need polishing regardless of where he ends up.

Wherever Fowler ultimately lines up, he has the skills to be a special player. A lot of that hinges on development and how he progresses through the Longhorns' program, which may test his patience if he doesn't see the field often early as he tries to settle into his proper position.

Fowler's collegiate career would benefit most from easing his way into the lineup. Should he sharpen up his technique, add to his pass-rushing arsenal and thus become craftier at shedding blocks, Texas ought to eventually see Fowler blossom into a strong starter.

Recruit star ratings and information via 247Sports, unless otherwise noted.

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