With starting left tackle Connor Williams off to the NFL, the Texas Longhorns need more bodies along the offensive line. Fortunately, there’s good news in that regard, as head coach Tom Herman revealed on Sunday evening that junior offensive lineman Elijah Rodriguez is back practicing after he was cleared for the season finale.
Rodriguez missed all 12 games of the regular season after suffering a high ankle sprain early in preseason camp that required surgery. Since his return, Rodriguez has been working at guard, according to Herman, but should also receive reps at tackle this week.
“He’s been practicing with the (No. 2) offensive line right now and he’s looked pretty good doing it,” Herman said. “Hopefully he can work his way back into the starting lineup.”
A 6’6, 300-pounder who has played across the line in his career, Rodriguez could step in for Williams at left tackle or could play the position he was occupying in preseason camp — right tackle. That calculation will depend in part upon how well he’s moving in pass protection and the development of sophomore Denzel Okafor and freshman Derek Kerstetter.
Okafor played some at left tackle while Williams was out earlier in the season, while Kerstetter has consistently held the starting role on the opposite side since the start of conference play.
However it works out, having an option like Rodriguez, who is now the team’s top healthy blocker, should help the ‘Horns against the Tigers.