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Addressing Texas’ lack of linemen in the 2018 class

Linemen are thin on both sides of the ball for the 2018 class, but Texas currently has depth at the position.

NCAA Football: Texas Spring Game John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

Though Tom Herman and the Longhorns have been excelling on the recruiting trail in getting skill players to commit to 40 Acres, Texas is currently thin on linemen commits on both sides of the ball.

As it stands, three-star offensive tackle Reese Moore is the only lineman to pledge to the burnt orange, and there aren’t any more “big ugly” commits on the horizon.

BON user Hook Em Horns 2015 wrote a Fan Post on June 20 that asked the question, “Is anyone else a tad bit worried we are not going after more linemen for the upcoming classes?”

Despite the lack of linemen considering the ‘Horns in this recruiting cycle, Texas may not be as depleted as one would think in the trenches in 2018.

The ‘Horns currently have 16 scholarship offensive lineman, and only two will definitely exit after the 2017 season — Senior Tristan Nickelson and NFL bound junior Connor Williams.

With the addition of Reese Moore, that gives Texas 15 o-linemen set for 2018. While many of these guys lack significant college experience, there are plenty of intriguing players already on the roster who could become major contributors.

Patrick Hudson, the nation’s No. 2 OG for his class, was perhaps the gem of Charlie Strong’s 2016 haul and will be a redshirt freshman in 2017. Fellow 2016 commit Jean Delance is a former Under Armour All-American and was the No. 5 OT for the class.

Derek Kerstetter, Tom Herman’s top OL commit of the 2017 class, already has the frame to contributor for the ‘Horns as a freshman and could be a future starter.

While 2018 is not considered a good year for offensive line prospects in the state of Texas, there is still plenty of time for Herman to add another pledge or two up front.

Four-star offensive tackle Rafiti Ghirmai named Texas in his top six on June 14, and the ‘Horns could be the front runner for the top 300 recruit.

In March, the ‘Horns offered offensive tackle Sione Angilau Jr., who has now picked up his fourth star and is predicted to go to Texas by 100% of experts on 247’s Crystal Ball.

If both of those players commit to Texas, the ‘Horns should already be in solid shape. And if the ‘Horns can excel on the field this season, there’s no reason to believe there won’t be more elite offensive linemen who emerge as potential targets.

At defensive line, Texas lost both Marcel Southall and Jordan Elliott to transfer during the spring. Elliott leaving particularly stings, because the Houston native was a four-star recruit who was already showing flashes of potential in his freshman season in 2016.

Still, Poona Ford is the only senior at defensive line, and Texas has solid junior options in Chris Nelson and Charles Omenihu. Sophomore Malcolm Roach started five games as a freshman at defensive end and notched eight tackles for a loss and three sacks in 2016.

Add in four-star Taquon Graham, workhorse three-star Max Cummins, and highly touted redshirt Andrew Fitzgerald — all of whom will be first year players in 2017 — and it appears that Texas should have some options in the future on the defensive line.

As for the 2018 class, Texas may have lost the commitment of Ron Tatum, but four-star prospect Keondre Coburn is high on the ‘Horns.

“I’ve got a lot of interest in Texas, especially because of the U of H [Houston] staff and I loved the U of H staff,” Coburn told Burnt Orange Nation in February.

Defensive line for Texas is not exactly star-studded, even with some intriguing pieces on the team. The ‘Horns will definitely want to add a few players on d-line, which may be the biggest unfilled position of need in the 2018 class.

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Linemen in the 2018 class could prove to be a more pressing issue if young contributors don’t pan out this season, or if further attrition occurs.

For now, Texas at least has depth in the near future in the trenches.

If Texas ends up largely missing on linemen commits this cycle, the ‘Horns will be lacking class balance, but not numbers for the positions in 2018.

That’s the worst case scenario, but Tom Herman has plenty of time to get his guys. Errybody season isn’t until the spring, after all.