Tausili Akana to join national volleyball champ sister, Keonilei, at Texas

Tori Garcia, General Sports Reporter

Sophomore libero Keonilei Akana lifted Texas volleyball to victory in the 2022 national championship with a service ace. Now, her brother Tausili Akana, an incoming freshman football player, will have a similar opportunity to make history for Longhorn football after he signed with Texas on Early Signing Day in December. 

After two seasons at Nebraska, Keonilei transferred to Texas at the start of the 2022 season. The 5-foot-9-inch defensive specialist was part of Texas’ plan to revamp its back-row defense, which ultimately led them to a national championship title.  

Four days after the Longhorn volleyball program claimed their national title on Dec. 17, it was announced that her brother would be joining Texas football’s recruiting class. 

Tausili is a 6-foot-4-inch, four-star edge from Kahuku, Hawaii. His commitment to Texas took many by surprise as he chose to join the Longhorns over other finalists such as LSU, Texas A&M and Colorado, but most notably Oklahoma — Texas’ biggest rival and the favorite up until his announcement.

According to 247sports, Tausili was ranked the No. 4 edge rusher and No. 34 overall prospect in the 2023 recruiting class. The All-American Bowl selection played his past three seasons for the Skyridge Falcons in Utah and closed his high school football career with a 6A state championship. He was credited with 21 tackles for a loss during his senior season and 63 total tackles. The ability for Texas to attract the top-rated player from the state of Utah will provide the Longhorns with a value of consistency and depth at the edge position.

“Akana is a designated pass rush specialist coming into the Power 5 level, and that’s a great thing for Texas fans,” Inside Texas’ Gerry Hamilton said. “The more pass rush guys (the Longhorns) have in the program, the better Texas will feel moving forward about where this defense is going and as it goes on the SEC.”

Texas’ offense, led by head coach Steve Sarkisian, needs an athletically well-rounded and sturdy defense to work in conjunction with if the Longhorns plan on contending for national titles.

With more than one-third of the players in Tausili’s commitment class recorded as linebackers, edge rushers or defensive linemen, the trajectory of Texas’ defense will change, especially with Taulsili alongside freshman edge rusher Colton Vasek, who will provide high-speed rigor to the Longhorn defense.

“(Taulsili’s) a kid who’s got really good feet, and he’s got strong hands,” Hamilton said. “He’s got some natural pass rush stuff to him. And in Utah he’s accustomed to playing against 275, 285, 300 pound guys. He’s accustomed to taking on big bodies.”

With a chance to join his sister in burnt orange, Tausili knew that he wanted to be a part of the Longhorn legacy.

“I kind of knew where I wanted to be in that final week,” Tausili said to 247Sports upon arriving at the All-American Bowl. “Coach Steve Sarkisian called me talking about all the great things I could accomplish in Austin and what I could do for that program. They’ve got a great culture and the class we’ve got coming in is special, so I’m excited to be a part of what the coaches are building.”