Beefing up the defensive front during this recruiting cycle has not been an area of overwhelming success for the Texas Longhorns coaching staff, but landing several defensive ends with speed off the edge and some significant upside has been a bright spot.
Do rankings matter? Of course. Does it hurt to miss out on top targets? Of course.
But, just for a moment, simply trust in the evaluations of position coach Oscar Giles and the entire Longhorns staff. After all, Giles evaluated and developed Houston superstar Ed Oliver Jr. and produced two Ted Hendricks Award winners at Texas in Jackson Jeffcoat (2013) and Brian Orakpo (2008). Along with numerous other eventual NFL standouts. The list is long enough that it’s not polite to suffer you with its entirety.
In the 2019 recruiting class, the Longhorns hold only two commitments from players along the defensive front — three-star Huntsville strong-side defensive end T’Vondre Sweat and three-star George Ranch weak side defensive end Peter Mpagi. Other targets, like Converse Judson standout DeMarvin Leal (Texas A&M) and Fort Worth Nolan Catholic product NaNa Osafo-Mensah (Notre Dame) plan to head elsewhere.
However, what stands out about Sweat and Mpagi is the upside possessed by both — Sweat is a low-key Piney Woods kid who didn’t attend many camps and Mpagi is young for his class, skinny, lengthy, and relatively raw. Those realities justifiably damp down the respective rankings of both players, but also don’t tell the whole story of Sweat and Mpagi as prospects and why they are members of #fUTure19.
Mpagi gave his commitment to the Longhorns just two days after receiving an offer from the staff and nearly a week after he made a visit to the Forty Acres in the middle of June. He chose Texas over programs like Arizona State, California, Duke, Houston, Northwestern, TCU, and Washington. Mpagi knew that Texas was where he wanted to be since he was an adolescent.
“Texas has always been my dream school since I was young,” Mpagi told BON. “I always watched them. My dad went up there and my sister ran track there too. So it was an easy decision for me.”
Recruits that have been around the new and improved Texas program usually rave over a multitude of facets that the staff has put in motion. Mpagi sees the new era that Tom Herman and company have developed over their time in Austin, and believes he’ll adapt perfectly fine.
When asked what about the Texas program stands out the most, Mpagi had this to say, “The culture [Tom Herman] is building and the tradition. I really think that Coach [Oscar] Giles has done a really great job with the defensive line. I think they’re producing really well, and I could see myself fitting there as well.”
Mpagi is a hybrid defensive player with enough versatility to rush the quarterback from a three-point stance or standing up as an outside linebacker. He sees himself being productive at the next level as a B-backer or a defensive end if he adds enough mass.
“I think I can bring a great pass rush because I’m really fast,” Mpagi said. “I think I can be fast off the edge and get to the quarterback, and if they send me on blitzes as a B-backer I think I can get to the quarterback easily. I think I can fit where Breckyn Hager is on the team and come off the weak side.”
The defensive performances over the past weeks by the Longhorns are what Mpagi wanted to see from them.
“The Texas defense is lights out. They’ve done really well the past few games.”
Mpagi is ready to make an impact with the Longhorns in his first year and hopes to be one of the top freshmen in the country.
“My first-year goals at Texas are to get my first sack there as a freshman, and if possible and I really work hard, I feel like I can be a freshman All-American.”
At 6’4.5, 224 pounds, Mpagi is ranked as the nation’s No. 710 prospect and as the No. 87 player in the state, per the 247Sports Composite. As a mid-three star recruit, Mpagi isn’t as highly considered as Orakpo was coming out of high school at Lamar in Houston, but Mpagi is more twitchy. And Giles managed to coach up Rak fairly well.