A year after three Texas Longhorns signees were unable to qualify, the biggest question mark in the 2016 class at this time is Manor defensive end Erick Fowler, the high-profile local prospect who flipped from the LSU Tigers in a surprising National Signing Day announcement.
Building on a report from Horns247 that indicated Fowler may have to take take summer school to qualify, The Football Brainiacs provided a little more information about the 6'1, 226-pounder's quest for eligibility:
We checked with someone close to the Fowler family and we were told that the necessity for summer school is indeed a possibility. However, we were told it's not yet set in stone. Fowler recently re-took the SAT and apparently everything is going to be contingent on how he finishes out this semester and the results of his SAT score.
The situation with the nation's No. 7 outside linebacker doesn't seem nearly as dire as those of wide receiver Gilbert Johnson or tight end Devonaire Clarington in 2015, but is much more in line with what happened with redshirt freshman offensive tackle Buck Major, who also had to take summer school and didn't receive his clearance from the NCAA until midway through fall camp. Junior running back D'Onta Foreman had a similar experience in 2014.
The hope in this case is that Fowler doesn't have to sit out for the first two weeks of practice, but that's certainly a possibility -- if not an out and out likelihood -- if he does need to take summer school.
On National Signing Day, recruiting coordinator Brian Jean-Mary was hopeful that Texas wouldn't experience any eligibility problems in the 2016 class, but did acknowledge how difficult it is to know with any certainty that far out.
"I feel pretty confident," he said. "Now, we're not in the high schools with them. There are some guys on paper who are qualified, but they have to complete their senior year. They're on track to graduate and qualify, but there's always unforeseen circumstances like what happened to us in the past that we didn't account for. We feel confident on all 24 of these guys qualifying."
If for some reason Fowler isn't able to get the SAT score and grades needed to qualify, it would be a significant loss for the 2016 class, as the Manor product is a consensus four-star product ranked as the No. 74 player nationally and No. 12 player in Texas, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, as well as a top-10 outside linebacker.
Aside from the rankings, one of the reasons why Fowler is so important to the class is because of his tenacious pass-rushing ability -- he's a natural off the edge and the only Fox end in the class after head coach Charlie Strong was unable to fill the need at that position until the final moments.
Maybe Fowler will even get Strong to dab again if he takes care of business in the classroom and makes it to Texas as planned.