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LEHI — The No. 34 prospect in the Class of 2023 by 247Sports is going to be a Longhorn.
Surrounded by his family and close friends, Skyridge linebacker Tausili Akana made official a commitment that has long been brewing as he flashed "Hook 'Em" for Texas from his family's home in Hawaii.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound four-star edge rusher who helped lead Skyridge to the first 6A football title in school history chose head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns over offers from Alabama, Hawaii, Penn State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Utah and LSU, among others. Akana took eight different visits before making his selection live on the 247Sports YouTube channel.
The commitment gave Texas the No. 3 recruiting class in the country, according to 247Sports Composite rankings, trailing only Alabama and Georgia.
"I definitely think with this next class coming in, we're building something special," said Akana, who joins a Texas class that includes No. 1 overall recruit in quarterback Arch Manning. "I can learn off of him, and he can learn off of me."
He won't be the only Akana in Austin, either; Akana's sister, Keonilei, is a sophomore setter in volleyball at Texas. The Nebraska transfer averaged 0.36 assists per set in 29 matches for the national champion Longhorns, where she also posted 170 digs and 34.0 points.
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl and Polynesian Bowl All-Star came to Utah from his home in Hawaii after the Aloha State canceled the season during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Akana initially played under his uncle at Wasatch High before moving in with his dad's sister in Lehi when his parents moved back to the islands, and he's been the top defensive player in the state for a Skyridge squad that boasted the best defense in 6A to go along with Utah cornerback commit Smith Snowden.
"It's been kind of hard being without my parents," Akana told KSL.com of the move to play under Skyridge coach Jon Lehman and his staff. "But I make the good times last and count. It was a good transition.
"Everyone here was so kind and opened their arms to me."
Akana finished his senior season with 63 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks, but his impact on the game was even greater as teams regularly schemed to run against his side of the field. He finished his Utah high school career averaging 4.9 tackles per game for 170 tackles, 28.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
"The part that people don't see is the amount of focus that the offense puts on him," Lehman said. "He has been all over the place, and not just sacks that everybody notices; it's the little details. He's making that kind of impact, even before the play, because the offense devotes so much focus to everything that he brings to the table.
"He just makes everybody's jobs easier."
Akana wasn't the only Utah high school player to sign Wednesday on the first day of the early signing period. Here's a look at others; if your high school athlete needs to be added to this list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and check back later as the prospects are updated throughout the next few days.
- Owen Borg, LB, Corner Canyon
- Ryder Burton, QB, Springville
- Miles Hall, ATH, Skyline
- Siale Esera, EDGE, Timpview
- Matthew Fredrick, TE, East
- Pokaiaua Haunga, RB/WR, Timpview
- Jared Esplin, WR, Timpview (PWO)
- Ian Sanches, K, Lone Peak (PWO)
- Spencer Fano, OT, Timpview
- Mateaki Helu, ATH, Stansbury
- Smith Snowden, CB, Skyridge
- Hunter Clegg, DE, American Fork
- Dax Iverson, K/P, Fremont (PWO)
- Zion Andreasen, DE, East
- Taliafi Taala, OT, Alta
- Justice Ena, OG, Sky View
- Jackson Olsen, WR, Ridgeline
- Kadiyon Sweat, S, Lehi
- Jr Sia, OT, Mountain Ridge
- McCae Hillstead, QB, Skyridge
- Will Monney, TE, Springville
- Charlie Holbrook, WR/S, West (PWO)
- Corbin Cottle, DB, Bountiful (PWO)
- Mason Obray, DB, Northridge
- Matthew Snarr, OL, Corner Canyon
- Michael Falatea, DB, Herriman
- Luke Hansen, LB, Farmington
- Jace Doman, WR, Skyridge
- Kason Jones, TE, Kanab
- Logan Dunfield, TE, Riverton
- Isileli Faletau, OL, Riverton
- Gage Schoeffler, OL, Enterprise
- Crew Erickson, WR, Wasatch
- Adam Stephens, OL, Skyridge
- Sione Westover, LB, Skyridge
- Jake Alles, OL, Ridgeline
Other local high school players
- Kai Sevy, Corner Canyon (New Mexico State)
- Cade Uluave, Mountain Ridge (California)
- Tyson Naufahu, Springville (Mcpherson, Kan.)
- E'Angelo Nunez, Ben Lomond (Lewis & Clark, Ore.)
- Aidan Carter, Weber (Eastern Washington) (PWO)
- Khalil Laufau, West (Washington State) (PWO)