The elevation of Major Applewhite to playcalling duties following the departure of former co-offensive coordinator and the subsequent changes to the staff have opened up the position of running backs coach for the Texas Longhorns.
It's not a position that requires a lot of coaching expertise and will most likely be most likely be filled by a coach who can take on some of the recruiting load that Applewhite will no longer be able to carry. The 247Sports Big 12 Recruiter of the Year in 2011 for his work keeping the 2011 group together in the midst of all the coaching changes, Applewhite also did an extraordinary job building the Texas running back position through recruiting after some major misses and poor evaluations.
As a result, the ideal candidate for the position would probably have ties to the Houston area that Applewhite formerly recruited.
However, that may not be a priority for Mack Brown, as neither of the two names that have surfaced so far have strong ties to that area.
The top name for many is that of DeSoto head coach Claude Mathis, who has ties to the Austin area as the former coach at LBJ and ties to the Texas program after sending multiple players to Austin. As a result, he's considered to have a strong relationship with Mack Brown and harbors some ambitions, as evidenced by his short stint as the Houston running backs coach before deciding to return to the Metroplex and his job as the coach of the powerhouse Eagle program.
He also happens to coach a player in all-purpose back Dontre Wilson who would fill the need for a running back in the 2013 class created by the recent defection of Kyle Hicks.
Since DeSoto is still alive in the playoffs, set to battle Allen this weekend for a birth in the state title game, Mathis obviously isn't thinking about a future past the big game on Saturday. However, when contacted by Horns Nation, Mathis did not seem to deny any interest, but rather to deflect any speculation for the time being. Once DeSoto is done with their season, be it this weekend or the one after, expect for there to be more conclusive word about any potential interest.
The other name is one thrown out there by Hookem.com ($) -- former Wisconsin running backs coach Thomas Hammock. Another African-American candidate who was left behind when Bret Bielema bailed for Wisconsin and decided to retain the running backs coach already at Arkansas, Hammock is seen as instrumental in the rise of the Badger running game and the massive success of backs like Montee Ball.
Hammock also held the positions of assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator at Wisconsin, so he has some chops on the recruiting trail, as well as experience at the position as a standout at Northern Illinois in the early part of the decade.
Somewhat overqualified for the position after handling playcalling duties at Minnesota late in the 2010 season as the co-offensive coordinator, Hammock would provide a nice blend of recruiting ability and positive on-field results.
Stay tuned as other names emerge or more information comes to light about the two candidates mentioned.