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Taylor Doyle Fills Need Along the O-Line

Instant analysis -- One of three commits to make their pledges to the Longhorns on the eve of the first Junior Day, Doyle is part of what almost certainly will become the defining position group of the 2011 class -- the offensive line. Even though Doyle fills a huge need as a tackle candidate in the class, many Longhorn fans questioned Doyle as a take, in large part because  his ranking falls in the lower part of the top 50 in the state.

Basically, even though Doyle fills a major need in the class and does project as a tackle, the specific position of need on the offensive line, Longhorn fans are still clamoring for the big names in the class -- the national names that have that sex appeal that local, lifelong Texas fans just don't seem to possess. Unfortunately, the undeniable fact is that the big-name prospects have other options worth pursuing before making a decision. And, as the recent cases of Kolby Griffin, Brandon Williams, and Trevon Randle indicate, even a guy like Griffin who seems like a major Texas lean, if not an absolute lock to commit, may end up elsewhere without the proper attention. Were the Longhorns to attempt to string Doyle along throughout the process, there's a strong possibility that Doyle could have accepted an offer from Arizona, Texas Tech, Baylor, or any other school that could have come along in the next several months.

Taken in that context and, honestly, any other context, Doyle is an excellent pick up for the Longhorns and stands a strong chance of being a contributing member of the offensive line in the future. He may not currently project as a superstar, but landing top national recruits from out of state like Christian Westerman and Matt Hegarty isn't easy. Just because recruiting Taylor Doyle was (seemingly) easy doesn't mean he isn't worthy of being a Longhorn.

Instant scouting report -- Like Garrett Gilbert and Paden Kelley, Taylor Doyle is a winner. In each season as a starter on the Lake Travis offensive line, the Cavaliers won state championships. In fact, Doyle hasn't lost since one of his first starts on varsity, early in his sophomore season against Westlake. Clearly, Doyle has done nothing on the line to cost his team a game.

More than simply the success at Lake Travis, his work in the spread offense as a right tackle for two seasons and as the left tackle replacing Kelley as a junior, Doyle has extensive game repetitions in pass protection, providing not only a great deal of game experience, but also a volume of game film for coaches to analyze while making their evaluations.

What becomes apparent is that Doyle has excellent feet and uses his hands well both in pass protection and in the running game. Lake Travis also uses the screen game extensively, particularly for do-everything receiver/running back Andy Erickson both from the running back position and from the receiver position -- Doyle has experience in space, where he can use his quick feet to get to the second level. Since he does shoot his hands well and uses them to control defenders, Doyle does a solid job of maintaining his balance and leverage. Failure to do either one of those things is a death knell for offensive linemen and, like most linemen his age, are areas in which Doyle occasionally struggles.

One of the reasons that camp performances often carry so much weight in evaluations is that top prospects have a chance to go against each other in one-on-one settings. Likewise, when top prospects meet between the lines on Friday nights in the fall, their matchups provide deep insights into their abilities. For Doyle, two such matchups tell different tales about his ability to compete at the highest level. His sophomore season, Lake Travis played host to Evangel Christian and star 2011 defensive end Jermauria Rasco, a game in which Rasco got the best of Doyle several times. On the other side of the ledger, doyle was able to take 2010 Florida State commit Holmes Onwukaife out of the game, a strong pass-rusher from the outside linebacker position at Cedar Park.

Jeff Howe sums up well Doyle's strengths and weaknesses ($):

The bottom line is he doesn’t have the frames of either Spencer Drango of Cedar Park or Klein Collins’ Garrett Greenlea and he doesn’t have the pure body mass of North Shore’s Sedrick Flowers.

Outside of looking at how his body will grow and develop, Doyle is right there at the top in terms on nastiness, footwork, quickness and overall talent. I have no doubt that he is an elite line prospect based on talent alone.

In looking at Doyle's offer sheet, it's not exactly chock-full of major names, but the common demominator between Arizona, Baylor, Houston, Tulsa, and Texas Tech is that all those programs run some variant of the spread offense and most use a zone-blocking scheme, suggesting that other coaches on other staffs who run a similar, if ultimately more effective, scheme than the Longhorns also value Doyle's talent and that speaks volumes about the evaluations of Doyle by the experts -- the coaches themselves.