Former four-star prospect and Under Armour All-American outside linebacker Erick Fowler nearly didn’t make it to the Forty Acres due to eligibility concerns after flipping from LSU on National Signing Day.
Now three games into his freshman season with the Texas Longhorns, the once-coveted talent is yet to see the field and while many of his fellow 2016 signees have already gained game experience — 14, to be exact — numerous others looked destined for a redshirt season.
It’s unclear which faction Fowler will find himself in going forward.
"We haven't figured that out with Erick Fowler yet," defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said of whether or not Fowler will be redshirted.
If you ask Charlie Strong, he’ll likely tell you Fowler knows where he stands in the rotational pecking order and his chances of seeing the field as a freshman.
“We don’t have to have that conversation,” Strong said of potential redshirts. “We’re three games into it. If you haven’t played in three there’s a good chance it’s going to happen you, especially if you didn’t travel the last game.”
Fowler, though, unlike a slew of teammates including Patrick Hudson, Tope Imade, Chris Daniels and Eric Cuffee, did travel with the team to Berkeley for the game against Cal.
Traveling with the team certainly doesn’t guarantee he’s due to join the other 14 true freshmen that have already seen the field, but it does indicate that the coaching staff isn’t against giving the Manor native some reps if the situation arises.
Thanks to the collective emergence of Fox ends Breckyn Hager and fellow freshman Malcolm Roach, we could be due for a decision on Fowler’s redshirt status if he doesn’t play this weekend against Oklahoma State, as the ‘Horns weren’t expected to see such significant production from the two entering the season.
Considering freshman outside linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch, who can be used as a Fox end similarly to Fowler, has already burned his redshirt with special teams and defensive reps, there’s little reason to risk a season of eligibility with McCulloch seeing so few reps.
But on the other hand, it has been noted that Fowler has had some productive practices recently as is in the discussion to get on the field. Bedford and the staff haven’t made that decision yet, but we’ll likely have our answer after Saturday.