The No. 20 Texas Longhorns will be without redshirt senior guard Denzel Okafor on Tuesday in the Alamo Bowl against the Colorado Buffaloes due to COVID-19 tracing, according to multiple reports on Monday.
Inside Texas confirmed the news after an initial report on Horns247 earlier in the day.
The 6’4, 317-pounder became a full-time starter in 2020 for the first time in his career and recently announced his intentions to return for the 2021 season.
With Okafor out, fellow redshirt senior Tope Imade and redshirt freshman Tyler Johnson are listed as the co-backups at the right guard position. On Monday, head coach Tom Herman praised Johnson’s work in practice in the lead up to the game, but it’s not clear which player will start against the Buffaloes.
If Imade starts, it will be the most significant contribution of his career — he’s only appeared in seven games over five years and hasn’t ever started. Johnson is yet to appear in his two-year career. A 2019 signee, Johnson was the highest-rated offensive line signee for the Horns since 2013, making an in-game evaluation of him in the Alamo Bowl much more significant for the program moving forward than giving Imade his first start.
Okafor’s absence means that Texas will have three offensive line starters out for the Alamo Bowl after redshirt junior left tackle Sam Cosmi opted out to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft and senior center Derek Kerstetter suffered a dislocated ankle and broken fibula against Kansas State.