With four Texas Longhorns offensive linemen forfeiting eligibility to move on from football — on top of the loss of All-American offensive tackle Connor Williams — head coach Tom Herman said on Friday that the ‘Horns will pursue a graduate transfer offensive lineman this offseason.
An offensive tackle is the biggest priority, but given the overall lack of depth along the line, Herman and offensive line coach Derek Warehime could also evaluate the market for guards, too.
Taking a junior college offensive tackle also remains a possibility, though top target Jahmir Johnson, the Arizona Western College standout, is now off the board for Texas after eliminating the ‘Horns on Thursday.
As for names of graduate transfers, that market won’t heat up for a few more weeks, if at all before the end of spring practice. Last year, part-time starter Brandon Hodges became a graduate transfer after he was held out of spring practice due to academic concerns, so he’s the type of player Texas could end up targeting — someone with starting experience looking for more playing time.
Herman projected the offensive line (from left to right) as Elijah Rodriguez, Patrick Vahe, Zach Shackelford, and Derek Kerstetter. Denzel Okafor could serve as a swing player (or displace Kerstetter), but the Texas head coach believes that mid-year junior college transfer Mikey Grandy will need to play right away. With Jake McMillon giving up football, Grandy’s probable position is right guard.
In the spring, the ‘Horns are set to have 10 scholarship offensive linemen, so depth is a concern. However, several players already on the roster could provide it next season.
According to Herman, redshirt sophomore guard Tope Imade was good during bowl preparation, while redshirt freshman tackle JP Urquidez is still working to add weight — he’s up to 288 pounds, but since he’s a hard gainer, keeping that mass isn’t easy for him.
Without any further additions, multiple injuries could force those players into action, putting pressure on Warehime to develop them during the offseason.
The staff is aware of the need to add bodies, as evidenced by numerous offers to junior college prospects and several late offers to high school players, but those efforts haven’t yet paid off at the tackle position.