The eligibility saga of Texas Longhorns defensive end/outside linebacker Erick Fowler has come to an end with positive word from the NCAA Clearinghouse, according to Fowler’s father on Twitter:
MY BOY ERICK FOWLER IS CLEARING HOUSE CLEARED !!!!!!!!!!!!— Jfowl (@Jfowl88) August 15, 2016
PROUD OF YOU SON !!!!!
UT HERE HE COMES !!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/9IkdLQ0roP
The school confirmed the news on Monday afternoon, so Fowler should be able to enroll at Texas and begin practice at some point this week. In fact, he may even arrive on campus on Monday, but will have to get a physical before he can officially join the team for workouts.
The consensus four-star prospect was a huge flip from LSU for Texas on National Signing Day.
“He's a guy we can move around. He can play outside, inside, get his hand down, and go rush,” said head coach Charlie Strong at the time. “We're really excited about getting big 'E'."
Indeed, Fowler is the hybrid player that Strong coveted in the 2016 class. The Longhorns missed on Cibolo Steele product Mark Jackson and numerous other Fox end candidates (seven others, actually), leaving Fowler as the only prospect left on the board, increasing the stakes on National Signing Day.
As Strong mentioned, Fowler is versatile enough that he could play at a number of positions, including traditional linebacker spots -- his ability to wreak havoc from anywhere at the first or second level is limited only by his capacity to understand the demands of each of those spots.
Consider Rivals as extraordinarily high on Fowler's potential to do exactly that, as the service ranked as him as a five-star prospect, the No. 13 player nationally, the No. 2 outside linebacker, and the No. 2 player in Texas at the end of the process.
For a quiet guy, notice how Rivals recruiting analyst Jason Howell describes Fowler as someone who plays with an edge? The highlights back it up -- Fowler is using his hands to defeat blockers or simply playing through them with effort. Furthermore, he earned that fifth star in large part because he impressed observers like Howell while in San Antonio going against other top prospects at the Army Bowl.
At 6'1, the edge and motor are not only qualities that endear Fowler to coaches like Charlie Strong and evaluators like Howell, but also key requirements for a guy set to play on and around the line of scrimmage in college at that height. In other words, his height isn't ideal, but his better-than-average length and desire should help negate that disadvantage.
There is some depth in front of him at the Fox end position — junior Naashon Hughes, senior Quincy Vasser, and sophomore Breckyn Hager. Aldine Davis star Jeffrey McCulloch could eventually join him there, too, and fellow freshman Malcolm Roach is starting there despite the fact that he’s already listed at 263 pounds.
So the moving parts at the position could determine when Fowler truly gets a chance to shine this fall after missing more than a week of fall camp. Judging by his motor and relentlessness, the worst-case scenario is that he merely pushes his teammates in practice for a year or two before making an impact on the field.