Perhaps the biggest miss for head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff for the Texas football recruiting class of 2023 occurred earlier this week. At noon on July 30, Texas officially missed Denton-Ryan’s elite five-star linebacker, Anthony Hill, who announced his commitment to the state rival Texas A&M Aggies on social media.
Hill’s commitment to head coach Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies came after his unofficial visit to College Station earlier in the week. Hill’s unofficial visit to College Station this week was his first since his official visit to Austin the weekend of June 24 to watch the Longhorns.
Hill’s July 30 announcement was a bit of a surprise because it was originally assumed that he would be on a decision timeline that would see him commit in August or September.
But this accelerated decision timeline indicates a successful push that the Aggies were able to close the summer visiting loop on the recruiting trail.
So what was the main factor that sealed the deal for the Aggies about the Longhorns getting this coveted commitment from Hill?
There is a lot of speculation that NIL had a lot to do with choosing the Heels over the Longhorns. And while it’s certainly highly plausible that NIL money played a role in Texas A&M’s choice over Texas, I don’t think it’s the only factor here.
It seems like the two main reasons Hill chose the Aggies over the Longhorns are his relationship with the College Station staff and the impact he can have on the Texas A&M defense.
A report from AggieYell (Texas A&M rivals site) this weekend indicated that Hill felt he had the strongest relationship with the Aggies staff during his recruiting. He pointed to Texas A&M being essentially the first major FBS school to offer it as a big reason for the strong connection he developed with that staff.
It just goes to show how important it is to identify talent early in the state. Still, it appears that early identification of the state’s elite talent is something Sark and the Longhorns staff are beginning to do better.
We must remember that SAARC and his staff are only in their second year in command. Meanwhile, Fisher and his staff prepare for their fifth season on College Station.
Texas will be able to convert more of these early identifications of elite talent for the 2024 and 2025 recruiting cycles, especially if they can have superior success on the field this fall.
Plus, it’s also worth noting that Hill will be in a perfect situation where he can make an immediate impact on this defensive front with the Aggies. Hill is the kind of talent who could be an immediate starter at most Power Five schools. And that will be if he hangs out until signing day with Texas A&M or if Texas is able to pull off the unlikely and trade him to the Longhorns in the next few months.
Texas A&M has elite talent and depth on the defensive line, largely thanks to the acquisition of the No. 1-ranked class of 2022. Hill will benefit from lining up on this defensive front behind all of this NFL-caliber talent in the trenches.
It was a very simple and effective pitch for the Aggies’ staff to convince Hill that his immediate impact on this defense and the talent around him in the front seven would create the best situation for him. Texas doesn’t have that proven talent on the defensive line yet, though I think Bo Davis is making progress on that front.
Overall, it appears that the combination of the strong bond/relationship Hill has with the Aggies’ personnel and the advantageous situation he will find himself in with this defensive front has given Texas A&M an advantage over Texas in this draft. . Texas A&M has shown it can recruit at an extremely high level lately on the defensive side of the ball.
Losing from Texas Hill doesn’t mean the coaching staff will stop recruiting him. I think Texas may still have a chance to turn Hill’s commitment if he continues to push as he shows substantial improvement on the defensive end of the ball this fall.