Waco La Vega OL/DL Michael Starts isn't a normal athlete. A two-way standout as a junior who was on the field for nearly every snap, the 6-4, 280-pounder will have the option to play on either the offensive or defensive line in college. Given the relatively unusual nature of his abilities, perhaps it's understandable that his recruitment has been as cloudy as whether he will play offense or defense for the school of his choice in 2012. That school will learn of his choice Thursday morning in a 10 a.m CST announcement at La Vega.
There has been little news on Starts, who has declined to publicly name any favorites or leaders throughout the process. A message board favorite Starts is not after the definition of a low-profile recruitment. In fact, the elder Starts has as much of an idea about where his son is planning on going as anyone -- which is to say that he has no idea at all ($). It seems that even those deeply plugged into the recruiting world have virtually no idea about where Starts will land. There's simply so little available information on which to base a prediction.
Starts has expressed a preference for playing defense in the past, but has also hedged that statement by saying that he is willing to play on offense as well if that is what the coaches at his eventual choice prefer. It is definite that the Longhorns want him as an offensive tackle only. As for the other schools receiving heavy consideration, including Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Baylor, Starts may have the option of playing on either side of the ball, though there is some thought that both Texas Tech and Texas A&M are recruiting him primarily as a defensive lineman, with Baylor the only school giving him the option of offense or defense.
If Starts does decide that he wants to play defense, the likely destination is Texas Tech, a likelihood perhaps made stronger by some talk of him attending the Red Raider camp this weekend in Rockwall. With no visit planned for the Texas camp, if Starts does make it to Rockwall, it will be as a Tech commit and the first major in-state recruiting coup for Tuberville in Lubbock.
The only in-state offensive tackle with an offer other than Kennedy Estelle, the athletic Starts is key to Texas recruiting along the offensive line, especially since the out-of-state targets all appear to be uphill battles for Stacy Searels and company. Land Starts, and Texas can focus on securing Estelle, which would make tackles like Andrus Peat and John Theus luxuries in the class. Loss out on Starts, and Texas may have to think seriously about offering an in-state lineman just to ensure that there are numbers in the class.
Finding at least two more tackles remains the overwhelming need overall for 2012 and a decision by Starts for a school other than Texas won't be enough to necessitate use of the panic button, but it would make it much more difficult to land the numbers needed, while ensuring that the takes are elite prospects.