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Curtis Riser Gives Texas a Force Along the Line

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Horns_bullet_mediumInstant analysis -- Pipeline school. Top-rated prospect. Vote of confidence for Stacy Searels. Momentum on the first Junior Day.

Basically, Curtis Riser's commitment was pretty important for the Texas Longhorns.

DeSoto produces as much talent as any school in the state and Riser's pledge to Texas continues a march of Eagles to Austin, as the Longhorns took two DeSoto stars in the 2010 class and another in 2011. Those players also provide a support group ($) for Riser in Austin:

Oh yeah that's a good thing too because if I get a little bit homesick I have some people from home I can talk to them.

Considered one of the top offensive line prospects in the state, Riser gives Texas a good start in recruiting at the offensive line position, even though he's not the left tackle prospect the Longhorns desperately need. 

New offensive line coach Stacy Searels hasn't been in Austin long enough to build deep relationships with the prospects he's recruiting in the state of Texas for 2012, so making a strong first impression was extremely important. It sounds like Searels did that with Riser and a lot of it was based on his reputation for putting linemen in the NFL:

Definitely, how many people he put in the League. He's put more than 10 people in the League and everybody wants to go to that next level so that stood out. Basically, he's a good guy and a good personality. He said he likes to get hyped up on the field so we have that in common. 

Riser's commitment also gave the Longhorns some much-needed momentum on a Junior Day that featured far fewer pledges than normal. In fact, when Riser gave his pledge, he was only the second prospect to do so during the actual Junior Day and his comfort level with Stacy Searels in so short a period of time is positive news for the Longhorns moving forward.

All in all, landing Riser was big for the Longhorns in a variety of ways.

Horns_bullet_mediumInstant scouting report -- First, the bad news about Riser. Despite being listed at 6-4 in some places, Riser, measured in at 6-2.5 and 283 pounds at a recent combine ($). At that height, it isn't likely that Riser can play tackle at the next level, especially since his pass protection at the event reportedly needed some work. One Rivals report from a game viewing even questioned his ability to bend and his overall athleticism ($). So unless Riser significantly improves his pass protection during his senior season, particularly with his fundamentals in terms of getting a proper drop step on the snap, his lack of height may not be able to make up for his long arms at the college level. At this point, call it likely that he plays guard.

Negatives aside, Riser is one of the top-rated offensive linemen in the state for a reason. First playing varsity as a sophomore -- no small task at a powerhouse like DeSoto -- Riser quickly earned a reputation as a strong run blocker. Now at about 280 pounds and with a reported 40 time of 4.9, Riser does have above-average athleticism for an offensive lineman of his size and does show some ability to pull into the hole and engage defenders. 

As expected for a lineman of his caliber, Riser shows off the strength from his thick lower body by delivering some serious pop out of his stance and he can keep his back flat and use good leverage to overwhelm opponents from a three-point stance. Riser has the motor to plant defenders once he gets his hands on them. Rare is the evaluation of Riser that doesn't include the words "nasty" and "mean streak."

The question, then, is how much of the recent criticism surrounding Riser's game is simply a result of exposure fatigue. Some of it may have to do with early talk of Riser being able to play left tackle ($), partly a result of a listed height of 6-5 for Riser. Obviously he's a little bit shorter than that and those 2.5 inches are pretty significant along the offensive line. 

Was Riser a guy who just matured more quickly than most of his peers and that led to his early high rankings? The thought here is that the truth, as it often does, lies somewhere in the middle. Riser has some areas in which he could definitely improve, particularly pass protection, and he doesn't have the overall value at guard as he would at tackle, but he's still an excellent pick up for Texas and still projects to be a good college player.