The Texas Longhorns will have some extra beef along the defensive line in 2013 with the addition of former Houston defensive end Zeke Riser, who will join the Longhorns as a graduate transfer and preferred walk on.
Eric Nahlin of Inside Texas broke the news on Tuesday morning that Riser will in fact be joining the program after weeks of rumors. The 6-4, 255-pounder was in attendance at the Texas open practice on Saturday and apparently liked what he saw enough to join the program. An official announcement has not yet come down from the 'Horns because Riser has not enrolled for classes yet, according to Horns Nation.
There was speculation that Riser would be picking up the final available scholarship for the fall, but it appears that is not yet the case, though it could certainly happen after fall camp starts.
A likely strongside defensive end who will be expected to provide some quality depth, Riser had 38 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 6 quarterback hurries during his senior season after starting only four games as a junior.
As Nahlin reports, Riser has some ties to the Texas program -- he camped at Texas while in high school at La Vernia and received some interest, and also played under Jim Jeffcoat at Houston, so he knows Jackson Jeffcoat, the senior Texas defensive end.
Coming out of high school in 2009, Riser was a two-star prospect with Houston his only offer reported by Rivals. Based on limited film, it seems that his best attribute at the time was his ability to set the edge in the running game by controlling blockers with his size and hands, then shedding them to make plays. Unless he's gotten more athletic while at Houston, that skill probably remains his best quality and suggests that he'll be a situational player against teams that want to run the ball from heavier looks, though there definitely aren't many of those in the Big 12.
Riser sounded confident of his ability to earn some playing time when he spoke with ESPN Horns Nation's Max Olson:
I wouldn't go to any place that I wasn't expecting to compete for a starting spot. I've never sat on the bench in my life and I don't plan to at Texas. I'm definitely going to be fighting for a starting spot and at the very least in the playing rotation. I'm not coming to Texas just because it's a big name. I'm coming to Texas to play.
The Longhorns experienced a great deal of success last fall bringing in Duke graduate transfer Alex King as the team's punter and hope to replicate that success with Riser, though he has much less of a chance to play such as significant role for the 'Horns. Unless he can punt as well.