Texas recruiting 2015: Vahe leads way for Horns at guard

Patrick Vahe with his invitation to The Opening at the Dallas NFTC - Student Sports

Right now, the Horns have the best guard in the state committed.

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Needs: Two

Commitments: Euless Trinity's Patrick Vahe

Offers:

  • Many (La.)'s Garrett Thomas
  • Galena Park North Shore's Tyler Moore
  • Atlanta (Ga.) Mays' Dallas Warmack (committed to Alabama)
  • Oklahoma City (Okla.) Cassady School's Josh Wariboko
  • Gadsden (Ala.) Southside's Tyler Carr (committed to Auburn)
  • Coppell's Connor Williams*
*There's some thought that Williams could end up playing center in college, which is why he's included in this list, but the Horns typically take a center every other year, so it's more likely that he would play tackle if he ends up at Texas.

Commitment overview: Patrick Vahe may not be the highest-rated commit in the class or the most important since he's not at a high-value position like offensive tackle, tight end, or defensive tackle, but there's a strong case to be made that he's one of the most ready to contribute among the players currently committed in the 2015 class.

There's no question that his performance at the Dallas NFTC was one of the most dominant by an offensive linemen that these eyes witnessed in four camps this year, as he lost few, if any, reps in a setting that tends to favor defensive linemen.

Vahe has adequate height for the position and will probably need to add a bit of mass to his 280 pound frame before he's ready to contribute at the college level, but he's mobile and uses his hands extremely well -- he knows where to place them and when he does, he can typically control his opponents.

Prior to the one-on-one sessions that he dominated, Vahe lasted longer than any of the other offensive linemen at the camp in a drill that asked them to sit in their stance for as long as possible, testing their flexibility, strength, and pure mental will. In all of those regards, he looks like a future contributor and quite possibly a multi-year starter.

He's also the lone holdover from the original four-man 2015 Texas offensive line class and the second highest-rated commit from that group, so it was no small feat to keep him pledged, especially since he's related to the Teuhema brothers who bailed for LSU right before Signing Day.

Moving forward: Texas is as well-positioned at guard as at any in the entire class with the commitment of Vahe looking solid and the Horns in excellent position with Thomas and Moore, though a recent visit to Oregon apparently helped the Ducks with Connor Williams, as both of his Crystal Ball predictions now favor Oregon.

At this point, Williams isn't a particularly crucial piece of the class and he's deficient right now in the strength department and isn't among the most athletic or best run blockers in the state, so missing on him and landing some combination of Madison Akamnonu and Tyler Moore or Garrett Thomas would be an ideal finish to the offensive line class.

As for where Moore stands with Texas, ramramSatya summed things up pretty well the other day in his class overview post:

Another guy to watch for is Tyler Moore, a massive offensive guard who received an offer from Texas on June 17th. Moore was ecstatic upon receiving his offer, calling Texas "his dream school" on Twitter; soon after the announcement, Moore's Crystal Ball received 13 predictions for Texas. Moore is currently waiting to see if he receives an offer from Oklahoma before making a decision; depending on whether one arrives, he could be the next commitment of the 2015 class. Wickline has loaded up on offensive linemen this year, and is looking to add only one or two more; so Moore may be in line for a grayshirt depending on how the rest of the year pans out.

If Moore does indeed receive an offer from Oklahoma and decides to extend his recruitment to take some visits to Austin and Norman, he could move off the commitment watch, even if the Horns would still seem to be in strong position with him as he continues his crash course in learning how to modulate his reactions on social media and in interviews.

In other words, as he backs off from his initial comments, that's probably as much about learning the process as it is about him changing his mind about how he felt about Texas.

As for Thomas, he's always been a bit more measured in his public comments about Texas, but it's clear that he likes the Horns and the industry consensus is overwhelming in favor of him ending up in burnt orange. An offer from LSU could be a game-changer in his recruitment, but it hasn't happened yet and it's possible that the delay would hurt the chances for the home-state Tigers.

In terms of physical make up, Thomas is probably the slightly more ideal choice at under 310 pounds and as the higher rated of the two, though Moore says that he's lost 15 pounds recently to get down to 315, efforts that should increase his physical upside by improving his conditioning, movement ability, and overall health. Call it a virtual wash now in that regard, excepting on-field ability.

In all, Wickline didn't have to do the work to secure Vahe initially, but he did have to give the hard sell quickly and effectively to avoid a visit by the aggressive offensive guard to LSU and managed to do exactly that. Combine that with the positive impressions made on Thomas and Moore and the early returns on Wickline as a recruiter at the offensive tackle position and Wickline looks to be the best hire made by new head coach Charlie Strong in terms of impact on the recruting trail.

As an evaluator, it's also clear that he's not beholden to the recruiting services, as the offers to Moore and Williams indicate. Given his past work at Oklahoma State, he certainly has the benefit of the doubt in that regard.

Continuing the recruiting momentum and landing another offensive guard should position the Texas offensive line well moving forward. As the recent past has made clear, the Horns need to throw some numbers at the position to avoid the type of depth issues that have seemingly plagued the line for years now, especially outside.

It may be true that offensive linemen tend to stick around too long if they don't play and can't contribute at other positions (hey there, Marcus Hutchins!), but it's also the case that Texas can't afford to repeat the mistakes that were made there by Mac McWhorter and to a lesser extent Stacy Searels.

Right now, Texas is unequivocally avoiding that fate as much as possible for this stage of the process.

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