San Antonio Warren defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao ended his recruitment Saturday by committing to the school just an hour up the road. Lealaimatafao made the announcement official by tweeting: "Commited [sic] to the University of Texas #HOOKEM" Saturday night.
Lealaimatafao was as close to a must-get at this point as you could find. Texas struck out in a packed defensive tackle class in 2013 — a blow lessened significantly by the fact that the Longhorns were able to keep redshirts on three of their five defensive tackle signees in 2012. But going without filling that position in one class is one thing. And going 0-fer in two consecutive classes, at one of the harder-to-fill positions is another. Texas didn't have to load up on tackles n 2014, but the Longhorns had to get at least one — and preferably two — more young interior guys in the pipeline.
But even looking beyond the simple narrative of "Texas needs a defensive tackle," Lealaimatafao is an outstanding catch. He's the rare big body with a smaller body's motor, the type of guy who plays with aggression and gets off the ball and changes plays on a regular basis. Despite facing consistent double teams, Lealaimatafao had 17 tackles for loss and eight sacks a year ago. While some shorter defensive tackles struggle to overcome their lack of length, he uses his lack of height — he's probably 6-foot-1 — as a weapon, coming off the ball low and hard and keeping leverage.
With that shorter height, it would seem like a no-brainer to throw the already 300-pound Lealaimatafao in as a nose tackle, but not so fast. His quickness and get-off makes him more of a gap-jumping three-technique at this point. He anticipates snap counts so well, and because of that, he displays solid pass-rush potential, despite a lack of overwhelming speed at the position.
Texas had to get a tackle in this class, and elected not to offer TCU commitment Zaycoven Henderson after DeShawn Washington called it for Texas A&M. And Lealaimatafao is probably right there in Henderson's class. Don't be surprised if the two battle it out for the second-best tackle in the in-state class this year.
In 2015, the defensive tackle crop should be far more sumptuous, and Texas already has a commitment from DeSoto's Bryce English, from earlier this week. And with his quickness, nastiness and work ethic, Lealaimatafao should serve as a perfect bridge between the big 2012 class and a multiple-tackle class in 2015.