The end of the recruiting dead period on Thursday kicks off the race to National Signing Day less than three weeks from now, so the Texas Longhorns are hosting a new target along the offensive line in New Orleans (La.) O Perry Walker offensive guard Alex Anderson.
Currently a soft pledge to the Arizona State Sun Devils, Anderson was planning on visiting the Oklahoma State Cowboys before making a decision and enrolling early at the school of his choice, but his relationship with new Texas offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Joe Wickline has brought him to Austin.
The consensus three-star prospect is rated as the No. 54 offensive guard and No. 50 prospect in the state of Louisiana for the 2014 class. Also a standout at defensive tackle for O Perry Walker, Anderson holds offers from Arkansas, Houston, Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Miami, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, Oregon State, Southern Miss, Texas Tech, and Tulane.
All told, the offer list for Anderson is more notable than his current rankings. In the case of 247Sports, Anderson hasn't been evaluated since March of 2013 -- he may be a better prospect now than he was after his junior season.
The bottom line though is that Anderson is the type of player that Wickline has had tremendous success with at Oklahoma State, so throw out the star rankings when considering Anderson's potential value to the program.
Listed at 6'5 and 300 pounds on his highlight tapes, Anderson is listed at 6'3 by 247Sports. An offensive lineman who plays up and down the line of scrimmage for O Perry Walker on offense, Anderson is notably thin in the lower body, especially his calves, which combined with his overall weight suggests that Wickline may target lighter offensive linemen since his version of zone blocking doesn't ask for the same type of displacement on inside zone that former offensive line coach Stacy Searels wanted.
The 2012 highlights for Anderson start off with some fine plays against five-star defensive end Gerald Willis, including a pancake that was a result of pure persistence and effort. Of course, that doesn't mean that Willis didn't have a couple of sacks in the game, too -- they are merely highlights after all. But more good efforts against Willis in 2013 help sell Williams as a prospect, as he picked up several more pancakes in pass protection when Willis got off balance.
Mobility and light feet are what really stand out about Anderson. In that way, he's similar to the only other 2014 offensive line commit in the Texas class, Jasper's Terrell Cuney, though Anderson has about 30 pounds on the US Army All-American.
Anderson is good getting depth on his kick step to stop edge rushers and can then use his hand placement and decent upper body strength to pancake opponents at times, as he did against the talented Willis. If he really was closer to his listed 6'5 than the 6'3 measurement that seems more likely, he would be a definite candidate to play tackle in college and could even end up there in a pinch, as Trey Hopkins did at times during his career.
The lack of depth at the defensive tackle position also makes Anderson a more appealing take since he has enough experience and credible film at the position to make him a candidate to switch sides of the ball if he ends up in Austin and doesn't work out along the offensive line.
Just before Wickline left for Austin, several predictions in the 247Sports Crystal Ball came in for Anderson to end up at Oklahoma State, but since Wickline's move, the trend has been towards Texas, meaning that it will be more than a minor surprise if the Louisiana product doesn't end up back in Austin for the spring semester.