Less than a week after Texas landed a strong-side defensive end, Malcolm Roach from Louisiana, it returns to the SDE well, this time in the Metroplex.
Flower Mound Marcus’ Andrew Fitzgerald committed to Texas today, per his Twitter account. He’s a testament to patience and handling recruiting diligently. One of the early players on the 2016 radar for Charlie Strong, he went a long time without contact from the staff. In the meantime he picked up offers from Oregon, Baylor, Cal, North Carolina, and Kansas State, amongst others, but a late September offer from Texas changed everything.
Fitzgerald always made sense as a fit for the Texas defense. A very large defensive end at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds (he may actually be taller and bigger), he’ll be strong against the run and occupy blockers to help the efficacy of Strong’s preferred linebacker blitzes. You also can’t rule out the possibility he grows to 290 pounds. As written in the Spring:
“3. Andrew Fitzgerald, Marcus (Flower Mound): Fitzgerald is a guy Texas identified pretty early but communication has been minimal of late. I love this kid’s size and skill, and believe him to be a very quality prospect. Resident o-line sage, Halas, had to deal with Fitzgerald this year and had glowing things to say about him. Namely, he’s much more than just a big kid out there. He plays his keys, uses his hands well, plays hard and just when you think you have him figured out he does something athletically that most can’t. His best offer is Cal at this point but I think he’ll have a hot streak when many more schools jump in the mix. 6-foot-4, 245-pound guys with his fluidity don’t grow on trees. If in a few years we’re talking about a 290-pound defensive tackle, that wouldn’t surprise me and also increases his value in my eyes.”
Within the span of a couple of days, Strong and staff have plugged needed holes in the class. Roach and Fitzgerald are both bigger defensive ends who could flourish in multiple fronts. Texas couldn’t afford to miss out on talent on the defensive line and now it has some workable pieces. Now it’s time to hold what you got and try to land some day one difference makers on the front. I look for one Fox-End to be added and two more defensive tackles. – Eric Nahlin
It was just a perfect fit.
When Marcus HS’s Fitzgerald pledged to Texas today, it was the culmination of a long recruiting process. Fitzgerald has been somewhat of a world traveler. He’s visited Oregon, Kansas State, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Iowa, Baylor, and Oklahoma State.
But ultimately, Austin felt like home.
Another connection: TE coach Jeff Traylor. The former Gilmer HC knows current Flower Mound Marcus HC Gerry Stanford. The duo coached in East Texas only a few years ago – Traylor with Gilmer, Stanford at White Oak – and are very familiar with each other. Just another example of Traylor’s high school coaching roots blossoming into recruiting success for the Longhorns.
“(Andrew) is exactly was Texas is looking for”, said Stanford. – Justin Wells
Excerpt from the Recruiting Notebook (05-8-15):
Andrew Fitzgerald, DL/LB – Flower Mound Marcus (2016)
How he fits at Texas: Fitz is the perfect type of player to help Texas transition into a 2-gap defense. He’s very quick in small spaces with fantastic COD for a lineman. He’ll probably grow into a true-sized DE at 280 or so that can collapse the pocket, stunt into gaps, and 2-gap the edge. – Ian Boyd
Coach Says: Kid is what you want from a physical stand point. He has good functional strength that shows up on tape and he tends to use it to his advantage. Young pass rushers love to fall in love with the bull rush and I saw him do it a lot on tape, he will need to develop more moves as he matures. His strength and length makes him a problem in the run game, he can’t be solo blocked. Not very twitchy and doesn’t scare you off the snap, but he still definitely a take by my standard.
How this affects Texas: Fitzgerald is a kid that even with the plethora of riches at FM Marcus, head coach Gerry Stanford says his potential is the highest. Fitzgerald went camping in Austin two weeks ago and had glowing reviews. The key is how he reacts to varsity experience in 2014. A few compare him to a developing Brian Robison. With muscle and technique, could be a surprising 3-star, turned all-conference. – JW
Fitzgerald is the 10th member of UT’s Class of 2016. He joins Malcolm Roach (Baton Rouge,LA), Obie Eboh (Southlake Carroll), Peyton Aucoin (Bother Martin, New Orleans), Collin Johnson (WR – Valley Christian (CA), Reggie Hemphill (WR – Manvel), Shane Buechele (QB – Arlington Lamar), Tope Imade (OL – Arlington Bowie), Gerald Wilbon (DL/OL – Destrehan, LA ) and DeMarco Boyd (ATH – Gilmer).