Charlie Strong has long valued versatility and hybrid-type players in his system to increase the amount of speed he could put on the field. Two of those players in his '30 Stack' defense were hybrid safety/linebackers, and while Strong may employ more four-man fronts at Texas, that position still figures to play a major role.
In that vein, Strong's second commitment for the 2014 class was a huge one, with the new Texas boss luring longtime Longhorn target Arlington Bowie S/LB Edwin Freeman. At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Freeman has the size and the speed — he clocked a 4.6-second 40-yard dash at Texas camp this past summer — to play both safety and linebacker at the next level. In short, he's a fantastic position fit.
Freeman spent time at both safety and linebacker at Arlington Bowie the past few years, showing better-than-expected hips for his size and tracking down ball carriers with outstanding acceleration. And while the previous Texas staff seemed to evaluate Freeman as a linebacker early on in the process, his performance at Texas summer camp left them open to playing him in a more withdrawn safety role.
Still, even if he sticks at safety, Freeman isn't going to be a centerfield free safety type who makes plays from hash to hash. That isn't his game, and further, it better fits the game of Texas commitment John Bonney, and last year's commitment Chevoski Collins. But Freeman's skill set is no less valuable as somebody who can excel as a box player, whether that's as an extra safety or as a hybrid linebacker type who can cover tight ends and slide out to cover slot receivers in the right situation.
Texas has long been a top choice for Freeman, though he seemed to bounce at times between Longhorn rivals Oklahoma and Texas A&M as his top pick as well. In the end, he decided between Texas and Texas A&M, picking Texas after meeting with Strong.
Freeman helps to loosen some of the blow from missing out on a number of high-profile defenders in the 2014 in-state class, and could provide Strong with a nice hit of momentum heading into a big official visit weekend. There are still some intriguing defenders on the table — many of them out-of-staters — and players like Freeman could help to supply a nice young foundation of players around whom Strong can build his defense.