The media won’t have access to a depth chart for the Texas Longhorns until arriving at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday prior to the season opener against the Rice Owls, but Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian was willing to reveal that sophomore DJ Campbell will start for the Longhorns at right guard over sophomore Cole Hutson.
The role isn’t fully cemented, however, as Hutson will rotate in for Campbell with temperatures forecast close to 100 degrees in Austin on Saturday afternoon.
“We just have to monitor the whole thing at the line of scrimmage because, again, I’d love to tell you we’re going to play in 75-degree weather in perfect conditions Saturday. It’s not. It’s going to be warm, and so we just have to monitor it. We could have a total of six plays in two drives, we could have a total of 15-18 plays in two drives, and so that’s going to dictate a little bit of where we’re at and when we need to start rotating our people,” Sarkisian said on Thursday.
Campbell, who was the No. 1 interior offensive line prospect in the 2022 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, earned a spot in the offensive line rotation late last season, appearing in the final three games of the regular season and the Alamo Bowl against Washington.
During preseason camp, the 6’3, 343-pounder improved steadily, starting in both scrimmages.
“I’ve been proud of DJ — I think not only has he physically matured, I think that he’s mentally matured,” Sarkisian said on Monday. “I think when you’re in the fire a little bit more you understand the stove is hot and so you’ve got to be prepared. I think where he’s gotten himself to is that he’s earning the opportunity to play.”
For Campbell to hold onto the starting role he’ll have to perform consistently while continuing his trajectory of trusting himself and his teammates.
“I think two things for DJ when he’s going to be at his best,” Sarkisian said this month. “One is trust in his own ability. He’s a big, physical man, he’s very athletic, and when he knows and really cuts it loose down after down after down, he’s a problem, because he can move people.”
The need for trust extends to Campbell’s belief in his teammates, too.
“Second, he’s not as experienced as the two guys he’s playing next to in Jake Majors, a three-year starter, and Christian Jones at right tackle, who is also a three-year starter. They have a lot of experience, so trust in those guys — when they’re calling something and they want to block something a certain way, just trust them and go cut it loose and try to remove some of the doubt or the wondering,” Sarkisian said.
“When he does that consistently all the time, you see what we see every day now, and more and more each day, it gets better and better of him just playing. And when he does that, he’s really good.”