Recruiting momentum picked up again on Thursday for the Texas Longhorns when Flower Mound Marcus defensive end Andrew Fitzgerald rather unexpectedly announced his commitment via Twitter:
The 6'5, 245-pounder is a consensus three-star prospect ranked as the No. 716 recruit overall, the No. 31 strongside defensive end, and the No. 97 player in the state of Texas, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Now holding over 20 offers, Fitzgerald is something of a high-value three-star prospect because there are some solid schools on his offer list -- Baylor, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas State, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, and Texas Tech are all in the mix for his services.
During the summer, Fitzgerald took a trip through the Midwest, stopping at Iowa and Kansas State in addition to taking in a camp at North Carolina, the perceived favorite before his pledge with two 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions. After those visits, he named a top five of Baylor, North Carolina, Oregon, SMU, and Vanderbilt.
However, official visits to Kansas State and Oregon were not enough to slay him away from his eventual Texas pledge, with a visit to Austin after his offer looming large in his decision.
Still a rangy athlete at around 245 pounds, Fitzgerald has the frame to eventually grow into the size of former Texas defensive end Cedric Reed or even continue maturing into a defensive tackle, so he's projectable at several different techniques. He's known as a strong technician for his size and his verified 40-yard dash time of 4.90 seconds is solid for a prospect of his size. Additionally, he and looks to have a solid motor.
Most impressive for Fitzgerald is the fact that he appears to have good flexibility in his joints -- he can bend to create leverage and he can also dip his shoulder as a pass rusher, a good sign for his ability to remain outside as a defensive end. Supporting that belief is the fact that he caused 14 quarterback hurries and recorded four sacks through the first four games of his senior season.
Though Texas lost wide receiver commit Tren'Davian Dickson this week, the news has been better at the defensive end, with Fitzgerald becoming the second defensive end commit in a week, joining Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Prep Academy's Malcolm Roach. Both look like strongside defensive ends who could eventually play three-technique defensive tackle or end in odd fronts.
The Longhorns are now back at 10 commits for the 2016 recruiting class, which ranks No. 56 nationally and No. 7 in the Big 12, according to the 247Sports Composite team rankings.