Texas recruiting 2015: Assessing the offensive tackle needs/targets

Keaton Sutherland - Wescott Eberts (SB Nation)

Looking at 2015 recruiting position by position.

Previously: QB | RB | WR | TE

Offensive tackle

Needs: Two or three

Commits:

  • Connor Lanfear, Hays
Offers:
  • Mitch Hyatt, Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett
  • Jake Fruhmorgen, Tampa (Fla.) Plant
  • Maea Teuhema, Keller (LSU commit)
  • Keenan Walker, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral
  • Trevor Elbert, Rockwall-Heath (Texas A&M commit)
  • Keaton Sutherland, Flower Mound Marcus
  • Toby Weathersby, Houston Westfield
  • George Brown, Jr., Cincinnati (Ohio) Winton Woods

The two main story lines here at the moment are of loss and potential loss.

The younger Teuhema is a five-star prospect, one of the top offensive linemen in the country, and formerly the top-rated recruit in the class, the type that Texas has had trouble landing in the last two classes. His flip to LSU on Signing Day was a major hit to the offensive line group and the class overall. To the program's future.

More concerning at the moment is the status of Lanfear, who may be on the verge of decommitting after taking in Junior Days at Texas A&M and Oklahoma in recent weeks. Since there are already some offers out, the next task for offensive coordinator Joe Wickline is to re-recruit Lanfear because he's an absolutely huge part of this class and his rapidly growing offer list is a sign of how much his stock is rising around the country -- Florida State, MIami, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M have all offered in the last several weeks.

In terms of the remaining targets, it would be fantastic to receive some interest from players like Hyatt, Walker, and Frugmorgen, all elite prospects, but the fact is that the Texas brand is hardly on the upswing nationally at the moment, so absent any strong connections, the chances with those prospects just aren't that strong.

So the focus returns to the state of Texas, where Sutherland and Weathersby are the top targets after receiving offers in January shortly after the new staff was assembled.

After taking only two prep tackles who project at the position in college in the last two classes, landing three in this class would secure longterm depth at one of the hardest positions to evaluate and recruit in college football.

Keeping Lanfear and then adding at least one of Sutherland and Weathersby is the reasonable best-case scenario here. Losing Lanfear and then missing on both of the in-state prospects would probably set this group up to be a disappointment without a lot of luck elsewhere.

How much does Wickline's reputation as an evaluator and developer of talent help him on the recruiting trail now that he's at a program that has traditionally been able to recruit prospects Oklahoma State rarely had a chance at landing?

It's going to be a big storyline for the offensive line class in 2015 and evidence of why recruiting does come down to selling relationships and coaches -- it's simply the best strategy for Wickline to adopt as the overall program's cachet has dropped.

To a large extent, the same reputation will reduce heat on him if he has to settle for prospects that aren't as highly regarded, but the point here is still to recruit the best prospects available and then develop them instead of having to settle.

And it's not really about recruiting rankings as much as it is the perspective of other offensive line coaches and offensive coordinators and head coaches. Elijah Rodriguez was more valuable in the coaching community than he was by the recruiting rankings at the end of the process, as evidenced by the interest from LSU and Florida State late. Connor Lanfear's offer list is now approaching or even surpassing his recruiting rankings after the flurry of offers in recent weeks.

The loss of the massively talented Teuhema will reverberate through and past Signing Day for this class, as his combination of size, feet, and pure punch is unlike anything that I've seen in person as an evaluator. I find that film for top offensive linemen can be underwhelming at times, but Maea Teuhema's film blew me away from the first time that I saw that, a feeling that was supported by 247Sports not long thereafter with their lofty rankings for him.

Now Wickline has to limit the attrition to Teuhema and do some work in-state while still working for that home run nationally. In reality, the latter probably isn't going to happen until Texas starts wining again, so the class will be made or broken by what happens in state.

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