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Christian Jones raves about Texas freshman OG Cole Hutson

The only early enrollee in the big 2022 Longhorns offensive line class is in line for his first start on Saturday.

NCAA Football: Texas Spring Game Austin American-Statesman-USA TODAY NETWORK

For offensive linemen, one of the most important relationships they have is with the lineman who plays next to them and Texas Longhorns senior offensive tackle Christian Jones loves freshman offensive guard Cole Hutson, who is in line to play on the right side next to Jones.

“Cole’s my guy. Cole’s my guy, man. He’s ready. I tell Cole every single day that I love him,” Jones said on Monday. “He’s super, super cool. He’s very, very excited, very motivated for the season.”

Despite suffering a minor injury in the first scrimmage, Hutson was able to beat out consensus five-star signee DJ Campbell, who was ranked as the No. 1 interior lineman in the 2022 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. A Frisco product, Hutson benefitted from being the only early enrollee among the seven offensive line signees for the Longhorns.

A relentless work ethic has helped, too.

“He brings it every day, man.” Jones said. “Every day he brings it and he tries to get better every single step, every single misread he might have had or something, any type of corrections or whatever, he comes in ready to work. So that’s all you want from someone next to you.”

Considered the No. 362 player nationally and the No. 13 interior lineman who committed to Texas over offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M, among others, Hutson arrived on the Forty Acres with modest expectations as the fifth-ranked offensive lineman in the class. But Hutson took advantage of the lack of scholarship linemen during the spring and started with the first team in the Orange-White game.

Perhaps Hutson’s rapid ascent shouldn’t be so surprising given his senior film.

“Hutson does good job of coming off the ball with a low hat and shows good functional strength with his ability to drive block defenders and displace them from the LOS,” BON’s Daniel Seahorn wrote when Hutson signed. “Hutson shows a knack for playing with good leverage — with him projecting to the interior at the next level, that is imperative. Hutson moves well and shows off good athleticism, as he is often required to be a space blocker as a puller. He consistently shows the ability to track his assignment and arrive under control to execute his blocks.”

Indeed, Hutson does excel pulling into space, making him a strong candidate to receive those assignments in power and counter schemes at Texas because his body control makes him so adept at finding and finishing second-level defenders. But Hutson wouldn’t have won the starting job if he didn’t have the flexibility and strength to win at the point of attack on inside zone, showing the ability to displace opponents with his leverage and leg drive.

The biggest question mark for Hutson is in pass protection because Frisco used a run-heavy offense, although his ability in space speaks to his athleticism and the assignment inside is easier in some ways as long as he can anchor against a bull rush.

There will be some growing pains for Hutson, as there are for any young lineman, especially a true freshman playing in the trenches against older, more mature players, but it’s a strong sign for the class overall that one of the more lightly-regarded members of Kyle Flood’s group is already overachieving.