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Scratching The Itch: Texas Longhorns Offseason Roster Review

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As the 2007 college football season officially closes, I find myself having a hard time officially letting go. Plus, as every Longhorn football fan knows, there's never really an offseason. And that's true here, as well. We'll continue to talk football from now through August.

We'll spend the next couple weeks on the 2008 recruiting class, but for tonight, while it's all still fresh in our minds, let's look at who's leaving from the 2007 team and what that means for the '08 depth chart. As far removed from next season as we are, this will be for overview purposes only. We won't know the answers to half our questions until August at the earliest. (Try not to think about that. August, I mean. How far away it is.)

RB Jamaal Charles*
TE Jermichael Finley*
LT Tony Hills*
C Dallas Griffin*
WR Nate Jones
WR Limas Sweed*
WR Billy Pittman
*Denotes starter

LB Scott Derry*
LB Robert Killebrew"*"
CB Brandon Foster*
S Marcus Griffin*
S Erick Jackson*
LB?CB?RB Drew Kelson
DT Derek Lokey*
DT Frank Okam*
DT Thomas Marshall
P Justin Moore*
*Denotes starter

That's five starters gone from the offense, seven from the defense, plus our punter. Bear in mind, though, that not all losses are equal. Though I wish Robert Killebrew well and thank him for his time on the 40 Acres, I shall not weep when Sergio Kindle plays his downs next season. Briefly, then, an overview of the roster at each position:


Quarterback McCoy, Chiles, and Harris all return - at least in theory. I'm not sure anyone would blink if Harris decided to transfer.

Running Back The million dollar question. McGee's the favorite to be your starter, and Ogbonnaya returns as a senior. As useful as OG is to a football team, we're in trouble if he's getting 10-15 carries a game as the coaches struggle to find playmakers to field the position. Ideally, McGee takes a step forward and Fozzy Whittaker shows us something special. If Christmas comes in February, maybe Darrell Scott's in this mix.

Wide Receiver Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley return and will start. Mack's recruited this position well, and a lot of young talent has been sitting on the sidelines as the older group's eaten up the playing time. This is a huge offseason for some of them (including, perhaps, some of the true frosh '08 kids) to make a move for a big role. We're in desperate need of a playmaker or two at this position. Candidates include: James Kirkendoll, Phillip Payne, Montre Webber, Malcolm Williams, Brandon Collins, Dan Buckner, and DJ Grant.

Tight End Blaine Irby, Ian Harris and Ahmard Harris will battle to be the pass catching tight end at Texas. Peter Ullman returns as a senior, and has some utility as a blocker, but he's backup material.

Tackle Adam Ulatoski, Tray Allen, Kyle Hix, Chris Hall, and Aundre McGaskey are your tackles heading into 2008. With Hills gone to graduation and Webb gone to transfer, it's definitely a thin group if injury were to strike. Ulatoski's battled injuries throughout his young career, so keep an eye on this over the spring and summer. All-purpose lineman Chris Hall can play tackle if needed, but it's not his best position. Oddly, his value seems to be like that of the "Utility Infielder" in baseball, in that he can fill in at all five spots on the line. That may well be his role in '08 as well.

Guard Chris Hall, Charlie Tanner, Michael Huey, Britt Mitchell, Steve Moore, and Cedric Dockery all return with experience at guard. It's looking more and more like Huey will be hard to keep on the sidelines, and Dockery's a sure starter at right guard. Hall's services may be needed more to help with our tackle and center situation. A lot depends on how Tray Allen does this offseason. Kyle Hix has already made enormous strides, but Allen was the state's top prospect in 2007.

Center The coaches would like Buck Burnette to win this job, but Chris Hall will again be of use here. Redshirt freshman Greg Smith is another guy who can play the position, but he's undersized to play regularly.


Defensive End Brian Orakpo, Sam Acho, Lamarr Houston, Eddie Jones, Aaron Lewis, Henry Melton, and Russell Carter all return for Texas to keep a position of strength well-stocked. Given the depth and situation at DT, one of these guys may be asked to move in to the interior, but I don't yet know enough about what Muschamp will prefer to make any comment on that.

Defensive Tackle Roy Miller returns and if he stays healthy will be among the Big 12's best. The kid is a bull with tree trunks for legs and a motor that never dies. Beyond him, the situation gets sketchy. Ben Alexander will be a junior, but has very little experience. That leaves the staff counting on redshirt sophomore Brian Ellis or a pair of redshirt freshmen (Tyrell Higgins and Michael Wilcoxon) who have a LONG way to go in the weight room before they'll be viable. Again, we'll see what Muschamp wants, but someone on the edge may be moved inward.

Linebacker Rashad Bobino, Rodderick Muckelroy, Jared Norton, Sergio Kindle, Dustin Earnest, and Keenan Robinson return at linebacker for Texas. Muck-Norton-Kindle are your presumptive starters, with Bobino backing up Norton in the middle. Robinson's drawn rave reviews from his teammates and shouldn't be dismissed. A position of weakness the past two seasons could be the anchor of defensive strength in 2008.

Cornerback Ryan Palmer, Deon Beasley, Curtis Brown, Ben Wells, and Chykie Brown are the returnees at cornerback, though I'm not so sure Ben Wells isn't headed for work at safety. I actually like this group of kids - between Palmer, Beasley, Brown & Brown, we're two-deep with guys I'm okay with playing. Palmer's the most experienced and least talented, but experience ain't a bad thing at this position. Though he's limited, Palmer had a much better junior season than I expected.

Safety Along with DT, this is the big worry. There's Ishie Oduegwu, who struggled mightily in limited '07 action, and there's redshirt freshman Christian Scott. And maybe, I suspect, Ben Wells. (It's not a position you want a true freshman to play.)

And let's leave it at that for now. Consider this your roster primer heading into Offseason 2008.