Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford are already on record noting the need for defensive tackles from the 2016 recruiting class to contribute this fall, but Euless Trinity product Chris Daniels could also get some playing time a little bit farther outside.
"I feel like I can contribute," Daniels told Horns247. "I feel like I'll get playing time this year. Coach (Brick Haley) sees me as very versatile. He sees me as a defensive tackle, but he said I could play some defensive end. That was a shocking thing to me, but he said I'm very athletic."
Don't expect to see Daniels working the hybrid Fox end position or even manning the strong side in an even front, but the 'Horns do need a capable four- or five-technique defensive end with some credible pass-rushing ability to work in odds front, a role that early entrant Hassan Ridgeway mostly occupied last season.
However, Daniels was listed at 6'4 and 328 pounds when he signed with the 'Horns, so he'll need to drop some weight after he arrives at Texas for the start of the summer session. The idea is to get back to around 300 pounds, which would help him tremendously in being able to showcase his athleticism outside.
Here's the assessment of Daniels at the time that he signed:
His ability to work some on the edge could make him extremely valuable in odd fronts capable of showcasing his athleticism in 2017. The area for growth will have to come when he's playing three technique, as Texas will have to ask Daniels to play half a man and exploit gaps more often for him to fulfill the ultimate upside teased at by his athleticism. Not to mention those usual pad level, hand technique caveats that apply to nearly every high school defensive tackle.
Even if he can't add much as a pass rusher outside, his strength and ability to stack and shed could help him play the run at any position for Texas, but especially lined heads up (four technique) against an opposing offensive tackle playing there due to mobility rather than squatty strength.
The 'Horns may need Gerald Wilbon to emerge as a space-eating nose tackle next to a player like Daniels in odd fronts at times when the starters get gassed, but just remember to watch out for Patrick Vahe's old teammate at defensive end if he can drop the weight. If not, he may simply have to play a little bit closer to Wilbon or Chris Nelson or Paul Boyette.