Elite Austin Bowie wide receiver Elijah Higgins’ recruitment is seemingly in its final stages.
Weeks ago, Higgins announced a top seven featuring Texas, Florida, Ohio State, Arkansas, Stanford, Ole Miss, and Auburn, and if all goes according to plan, one of that bunch will be adding the nation’s No. 83 player in the weeks to come. For the four-star pass catcher whose recruitment has seen its fair share of twists and turns, the plan is place is to shut things down in August. But as Higgins told Burnt Orange Nation, that deadline could be delayed if he’s not fully confident in his decision.
“I’m really hoping to get that done by then, but if I’m not ready for it then I’m not going to do it. It’s not a rush,” Higgins said. “This is once in a lifetime so you might as well enjoy it and make sure you’re making the right decision for yourself and your family.”
If Higgins sticks with his currently planned August decision timeline than these next few weeks will be critical for the seven teams still vying for his services. The first step will be for Higgins to spend the final weekend of July visiting one of his finalists, although the destination isn’t set in stone just yet.
“Next weekend, I’m not sure yet, but I want to go somewhere that both of my parents haven’t been to yet,” — Higgins said, noting that he and his parents have already been to Ohio State, Florida, and Texas.
Of course, given that a mere 12 miles separates the Forty Acres from Higgins’ high school stomping grounds at Austin Bowie, visits don’t need to be planned as extensively as a trip to Stanford, Auburn, Arkansas, or Ole Miss, but Higgins has already been to Texas multiple times this offseason. One more quick trip likely won’t be what tips the scales in Texas’ favor if Higgins is leaning elsewhere, so ideally, the Longhorns would like for this recruitment to drag on.
Higgins didn’t give any hints as to which team is the frontrunner at this point, but he did note what the deciding factor would be.
“My ability to go in and know what’s going on early before I even show up and know that I’ll be able to step on the field and compete for a spot early on.”
If early playing time is the pitch, the path isn’t perfectly clear at Texas with a trio of former four-star prospects in Brennan Eagles, Joshua Moore, and Al’vonte Woodard set to suit up for their first season on the Forty Acres, but Higgins said he’s talked at length with the ‘Horns staff about how he could fit into that young nucleus.
“That’s a conversation I have with them all the time. They just show me on the roster how things work out and how everybody fills into a different spot and how four receivers isn’t just four receivers. There’s an X, a Z, different positions,” Higgins said, adding that Texas envisions him as a player with upside comparable to Collin Johnson and versatility similar to that of Lil’Jordan Humphrey.
In the meantime, Higgins has spent the past three months training with Austin-area sports performance coach Chux Nwabuko II, and he’s often sharing the field with talents such as five-star Ohio State commit Garrett Wilson, three-star Baylor commit Jaylen Ellis, and explosive three-star Hutto athlete Chux Nwabuko III.
“It’s real good,” Higgins said of training with several other Division I prospects. “You see everybody else working and what they’re strong on so you kind of build up from everybody else and learn new things.”
Physically, Higgins has what it takes for Power 5 football at 6’3, 214 pounds ahead of his senior season, and the footwork and finesse is coming along through his work with Nwabuko. The mental aspect of the game is what’s next on his development to-do list before ultimately making the jump to the collegiate level.
“My body’s ready, that kind of stuff is going to come along in the weight room with college coaches getting my body right,” Higgins said. It’s really going to come down to the mental aspect of it and getting ready to play big boy ball, especially if I go to the SEC.”
As it stands, four of Higgins’ seven finalists represent the SEC, but he said he doesn’t have any particular preference as to which conference he plays in, only that he ends up in a pass-friendly spread system. With Dan Mullen bringing that style to the Sunshine State, and the fact that the Under Armour All-American has family in Florida, it’s understandable why the Gators are favored with 38 percent of Higgins’ Crystal Ball projections and each of his last five.