On Friday, the Texas Longhorns announced two additions to the program — Iowa Western offensive tackle Willie Tyler, who committed to the Horns on Monday, and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets graduate transfer offensive guard Parker Braun, who committed during his official visit last weekend:
Welcome to the family @TheWillieTyler!#fUTure19 #ThisIsTexas #HookEm pic.twitter.com/GMQx2P6Z7v— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) March 8, 2019
Welcome to the Texas Longhorns family Parker Braun. #fUTure19 #ThisIsTexas #HookEm pic.twitter.com/UqA05qswPz— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) March 8, 2019
Tyler took an unusual journey to Austin — he was a basketball player and defensive lineman in Racine, Wisconsin who wasn’t particularly focused early in his high school career. Then he missed most of his junior season of football with a foot injury. As a senior, he emerged in both sports and earned a football offer from Garden City Junior College.
The coaches at Garden City wanted him to play offensive line, however, and Tyler wasn’t ready to commit to that side of the ball, so he left Kansas after less than a month and went back to Racine. After some time away from the game, an offer from Iowa Western to play offensive tackle in January of 2018 sounded appealing to Tyler.
And that started the 6’7, 330-pounder’s remarkable rise, which eventually resulted in offers from Louisiana Tech, SMU, Texas, and West Virginia, along with interest from Alabama, Arizona State, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky,
“Sometimes, I think offensive linemen take a little while to develop,” Iowa Western offensive line coach Donnie Woods told the Racine Journal Times. “He’s kind of a perfect case of that where a big, super-athletic kid comes in and just spends a year or year and a half focusing on football. And the next thing you know, they’re a highly-touted kid coming out of the junior college ranks.”
Tyler has four years to play three seasons of college football and will enroll at Texas this summer.
The addition of Braun was yet another coup for co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand, who has reshaped the future of the Texas offensive line in a matter of months and beat out schools like Auburn, Florida, and Ohio State for his services.
A two-time All-ACC Selection at Georgia Tech, Braun was known as one of former head coach Paul Johnson’s best offensive linemen during his decade-long tenure in Atlanta.
“That guy is special,” Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi said. “If any line in the country had five of those guys, they would win a ton of football games.”
The biggest question is whether Braun decides to use his redshirt season to play in four games this fall and develop physically under strength and conditioning coach Yancy McKnight while Hand works on his pass protection — Braun even played in a triple option offense in high school.
In all likelihood, the staff won’t make a decision about whether the 6’3, 280-pounder will redshirt until preseason camp, but head coach Tom Herman may provide some perspective on what the coaches are thinking when he meets with the media next week.
Braun wore No. 75 and played left guard for Georgia Tech