Even though the Texas Longhorns didn’t land former Rice Owls graduate transfer offensive tackle Calvin Anderson because of proximity, one of the ancillary benefits of being so close to his hometown is the opportunity to visit spring practice.
And so Anderson did exactly that on Thursday:
Headed to UT’s spring practice tomorrow— Calvin Anderson (@THE_CONDA25) March 21, 2018
The ability of Anderson to spend some time around the program before he graduates from Rice and enrolls at Texas should help him adjust quickly once he actually arrives back in Austin. So a major purpose of the visit on Thursday was to take mental reps with co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Herb Hand in order to learn the scheme.
“We’re excited to have him,” head coach Tom Herman said after practice. “We’re excited that a guy that’s not going to be here until June can be out here for some of these practices to watch and try and learn.”
However, as coaches are wont to do, Herman shot down speculation about whether Anderson could match the production of former All-American Connor Williams.
“It’s tough for him and the guys that are out there competing. He’s out there in shorts and a t-shirt with a script trying to learn the offense,” Herman said. “The rest of the offensive linemen are out there working their tails off. That’s the normal in today’s media climate, I guess, but it’s not fair to him. It’s not fair to the rest of the offensive line.”
Herman’s right — it’s not fair to write off players like junior Denzel Okafor and redshirt freshman Sam Cosmi, both of whom will compete for the starting left tackle position over the next 13 practices and into the summer.
In another development that was hardly surprising, Herman wasn’t willing to set the expectation that Anderson will assume the starting role immediately upon his arrival.
“No,” Herman said. “I expect him to come in here and if his best is what we think it is and he picks the offense up, then I think he’s got a great chance to earn it.”
To a large extent, that’s just coach speak — Anderson was recruited to come in and take over the position. And, of course, the coaches aren’t just going to hand him the job. Anderson surely understands that and expects to have to earn it.
Still, the bottom line remains that Texas will almost certainly need Anderson to be the guy at that position and Thursday’s visit helped steepen his learning curve.