Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman has stated on multiple occasions that his staff is working on sealing the deal with recruits whom they have already built solid relationships and who fit into the vision of their program. Once such recruit is former Oklahoma State Cowboys commit Derek Kerstetter.
Kerstetter’s flip to Texas the day after Christmas went somewhat unnoticed by the media, despite the fact that Kerstetter is a US Army All-American and a consensus three-star prospect. 247Sports lists Kerstetter as the No. 41 offensive guard in the 2017 class, but he clearly fits the mold of more athletic offensive lineman that Herman and his staff are looking for at Texas.
Upon first glance, Kerstetter reminds me a lot of a late three-star flip from the 2016 class, Zack Shackleford, who received Freshman All-America honors from the FWAA on Monday. Some may not be too impressed by this statement, but let me remind you that Shack earned the starting job soon after arriving on campus and maintained it throughout the season on an offensive line which blocked for the nation’s leading rusher.
Surprisingly enough, Kerstetter also played center in last weekend’s game, a similar transition to the one Shack made in 2016, after starting at guard. There’s now a chance that the Reagan product could play tackle if he can improve his feet in pass protection.
Being that center is a definite position of need for the Horns, this flip from an in conference rival seems even more important.
The biggest takeaway from the weekend, though? In addition to showing versatility, Kerstetter earned the start at guard and proved that he belonged, a question mark entering the weekend because the level of competition in San Antonio is not as high as in Dallas and Houston.
With that said, lets start with the player profile:
Kersetter is athletic and moves well for a young offensive lineman. His Hudl profile lists an unverified 5.05 second 40 time, with a 355-pound bench press, a 505-pound squat, and a 325-pound clean. All of these vitals are in line with a solid Power Five offensive line recruit.
At the Army game, Kerstetter measured in at 6’4.5 and weighed 299 pounds, giving him adequate room to add lean mass with a solid collegiate strength and conditioning program.
Video clearly shows that Kerstetter is agile enough to get outside and seal a down defensive lineman from the tackle position. It is also clear that he has the athletic ability to be an effective blocker at the second level. He has adequate strength and size to compete with defensive lineman as a blocker and when his form is on, he can deliver quite a punch.
Hand placement and general blocking technique are good, and when Kerstetter gets inside the pads, he is an extremely effective blocker, both on the first and second levels. Lastly, Kerstetter played for newly hired Baylor assistant, and well-respected head coach David Wetzel at Regan High School in San Antonio, so his football knowledge should be better than average.
Kerstetter needs to continue to develop his blocking form. He sometimes narrows his feet out of his stance, resulting in a high release from the line or excessive waste bend. This can also cause the hips to be out of alignment, reducing the hip recoil. Reduced hip recoil results in reduced punch on contact.
This issue, which is likely due to weight distribution in the stance, sometimes leads to incorrect hand and head placement. Kerstetter seems to have improved in this area from his junior to senior seasons, and also progressed adequately as his senior season progressed. With more reps, and the input of position coach Derek Warehime, Kerstetter should be able to resolve these issues and become a dominant blocker at the collegiate level.
Kerstetter is a slightly underrated three-star prospect. While his talent an be developed to make him a much better player at the collegiate level, it is far from raw, and he shows adequate size, athletic ability, and strength to be competitive at the next level. Kerstetter profiles more as an interior lineman at the collegiate level and could move to center, as he showed in San Antonio.
While Kerstetter would likely benefit from a red shirt year on the 40 Acres, depending on the development of several redshirt offensive lineman from the 2016 class, and the potential that backup center Jake McMillon could be replacing Kent Perkins at guard, Kerstetter could be a long shot to make the two deep in the 2017 season. Beyond his ability to garner playing time in 2017, Kerstetter is projected to be a key contributor to the Texas teams in 2018 and beyond.
This is a key acquisition in a position of need and the only offensive line commit for the Horns so far in the 2017 class.