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Texas is one of the schools in contact with Rice graduate transfer DT Zach Abercrumbia

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The former Owls co-captain is one of the hottest names on the graduate transfer market.

NCAA Football: Rice at Texas El Paso Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Now that starting nose tackle Chris Nelson has exhausted his eligibility for the Texas Longhorns, the coaching staff is evaluating potential graduate transfer options at the position. A week ago, Rice Owls defensive tackle Zach Abercrumbia announced his intentions to become a graduate transfer and the Longhorns have already been in contact with him, Abercrumbia told Burnt Orange Nation:

As a May graduate, Abercrumbia will enroll at the school of his choice for summer classes before using his final season of eligibility. And there’s already plenty of interest in him, as the 6’2, 285-pounder has set up official visits to Mississippi State (Jan. 25) and Iowa (Feb. 1) and also plans to take an unofficial visit to SMU.

Other schools that have been in contact with Abercrumbia include Michigan, Memphis, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Oregon State, Penn State, TCU, Toledo, Tulane, and Vanderbilt.

So there will be plenty of competition for those other three official visits, with Texas looming as a potential contender because of his ties to the program — Abercrumbia played for Reginald Samples at Dallas Skyline, the father of current Longhorns quality control assistant Ra’shaad Samples, and also played with Texas graduate transfer offensive tackle Calvin Anderson at Rice.

In fact, Anderson has already provided his endorsement of Abercrumbia on Twitter:

As a result of that connection, Anderson can provide some background information for the coaching staff about Abercrumbia, who was a co-captain for Rice in 2018 and finished with 55 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, six quarterback hurries, and two fumble recoveries.

Abercrumbia played early and often for the Owls in his career before suffering a season-ending upper body injury in 2016 that resulted in a medical hardship to preserve that year of eligibility. As a junior in 2017, he started all 12 games and finished with 37 tackles, four tackles for loss, and two sacks.

Texas does return two seniors to be in Gerald Wilbon and D’Andre Christmas-Giles at the nose tackle position, as well as freshman Keondre Coburn, who redshirted in 2018 after appearing in three games for the Longhorns.

So there is some depth there, but the coaching staff is at least considering adding more experience by reaching out to Abercrumbia, who has not yet met with Texas defensive line coach Oscar Giles in person, but Giles plans on reaching out next time he’s in Houston.

If the Longhorns do end up offering, Abercrumbia said that he would be interested in Texas.