ARLINGTON, Texas — Leadership. Brilliant line calls. Glue.
In five words, those are the three takeaways from Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman in a soundbite from Big 12 Media Days at AT&T Stadium on Tuesday.
If the senior is healthy on Aug. 31 when the Horns take the first offensive snap of the season, Shackelford will snap it to Sam Ehlinger after both feel like they have the offensive line, in the case of Shack, and the entire offense, in the case of Ehlinger, on the right page.
It will be the 41st appearance for the Belton native, who has started 27 of those games. The first came against Notre Dame after decommitting from Kansas State and flipping to Texas to enroll early in Austin that spring.
It includes the last game against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl and every other game when he’s been healthy. Unfortunately, he missed three games in 2018 and didn’t start another due to a foot injury. Fortunately, Texas didn’t lose any of those games. In 2017, he missed three games after he rolled his surgically-repaired ankle in practice. In 2016, it was repeatedly rolling that ankle that required surgery, which caused him to miss two games and played injured for much of his freshman season.
Maybe all of it, basically? The internet knows, I suppose. He had a lot of problems with that ankle, including multiple high ankle sprains that led to the surgery in early 2017.
In any case, Texas needs Shack to stay healthy this season for the first time in his career. That would be ideal, at least — the football gods may have other plans, of course.
Regardless of how many games he plays, becoming the nation’s top center will be a tough task. Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey will see to that. Both players participating in every game would be fun to watch this season.
Sort it out at the end.