Hometown Texas Longhorns Recruiting Target Still Hasn't Hit High Ceiling

TD Jones

Andrew Mukuba gets a taste of college football every time he takes the practice field with his teammates at Austin LBJ High School.

A four-star defensive back coveted by Texas, Mukuba is part of a talent-laden roster at the school of 855 students on the east side of Austin. The talent is particularly prevalent in the secondary, where Mukuba lines up alongside Oklahoma pledge Latrell McCutchin. Both Mukuba and McCutchin also play wide receiver for the Jaguars, which makes for some intense matchups between arguably the top two recruits in the Austin area for the class of 2021.

“It gets competitive out there,” Mukuba told the Austin American-Stateman newspaper earlier this summer. “Sometimes, it gets out of hand with the trash talk. But we both want to win, and we both want to compete. You know what they say: iron sharpens iron.”

According to LBJ head coach Jahmal Fenner, Mukuba still has to iron out some details in his game since he has limited experience compared to other top recruits. Mukuba’s parents immigrated to the U.S. when Mukuba was just 9, and the athletic and feisty youngster preferred soccer, cricket and other sports popular in his native Zimbabwe. He didn’t play football until sixth grade, and he had to sit out his sophomore season of high school after transferring to LBJ from nearby Northeast High School.

 “He may have a higher ceiling than a guy like Latrell just because he hasn’t played as much football,” said Fenner. “His understanding of the game isn’t as developed as some other guys, but he’s a bright kid who picks up quickly on defensive concepts. The sky's the limit for Andrew.”

Fenner knows a thing or two about playing college football. An Austin native who graduated from Northeast (then known as Reagan High School), Fenner played defensive back at UTEP. He says the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Mukuba plays bigger than his size and is a natural safety, although he has the speed and shiftiness to line up at corner.   

“He’s a physical kid that can come downhill and be an enforcer in the run game,” Fenner said. “He has speed, burst, play-making ability. … he can be the total package.”

Fenner won’t get any argument from Mukuba, who caught 36 passes for 807 yards and 15 touchdowns, racked up 40 tackles and two interceptions and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in his lone varsity season as a junior in 2019.

“I feel I’m a complete defensive back,” Mukuba told Longhorns Country. “I can hold my ground in coverage, I come up in run support, I can play zone, I play man. I feel like I can do it all.”

But what does he like the best?

“You get to hit people and not get in trouble for it,” he said. “That’s what I loved most about the game when I first started playing, and that’s what I love the most now.”

The combination of athleticism and attitude - as well as the room for improvement mentioned by Fenner - is what makes Mukuba especially intriguing for Tom Herman’s staff as well as schools like Clemson, LBJ and Alabama, who have all offered Mukuba a scholarship.

Mukuba, who says he plans to study business management and marketing in college, has visited Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Tulsa. Oh, and he’s visited his hometown college campus four times.

Mukuba said he originally wanted to make his collegiate choice before the beginning of his senior year but says he’s waiting on the NCAA to make a decision regarding recruiting visits during the coronavirus pandemic.  

Mukuba's evaluation from SI All American:

Bottom Line: Mukuba is an athletic, versatile safety type a defensive coordinator can utilize to make plays at all three levels sooner than later at the collegiate level. His in-the-box game plays like an enforcer with downhill success while his high safety skill is equipped to be the last line of defense against the pass as needed. There are good speed, range and ball skills also at play on a frame that can likely carry another 20 pounds or so.

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