As the Texas Longhorns prepare for the 2013 football season, it's worth assessing the entire scholarship chart to take a deeper look into the immediate and distant future for the program at each position.
(Italics indicate a player who is committed but not yet signed.)
|1||Donald Hawkins||Josh Cochran||Kennedy Estelle||Kent Perkins|
|2||Josh Cochran||Desmond Harrison||Kent Perkins||Camrhon Hughes|
|3||Desmond Harrison||Kennedy Estelle||Camrhon Hughes||Garrett Greenlea|
|4||Kennedy Estelle||Kent Perkins||Garrett Greenlea||Connor Lanfear|
|5||Kent Perkins||Camrhon Hughes||Connor Lanfear|
|6||Camrhon Hughes||Garrett Greenlea|
|7||Garrett Greenlea (medical)|
The Longhorns don't exactly have ideal depth at the offensive tackle position entering the 2013 season, but Desmond Harrison's eligibility is a huge help in that regard. Developing Carmhon Hughes into a contributor is a huge key for the position moving forward and the early returns on Kent Perkins are extremely strong -- he sounds like he has already moved ahead of Hughes in the rotation. The only real question there is whether he can play left tackle, but Texas has managed at times with Hawkins there, whose best position may be guard, and Cochran, who had to play on the left as a true freshman.
The problem with Hughes is that he's so tall that moving inside isn't a real option -- he can either hang at tackle or he's going to wash out. About a year removed from his ACL injury, it's too early to write him off, but the early prognosis isn't entirely positive.
And even before the medical redshirt, the news on Garrett Greenlea wasn't that positive either, with rumors about a lack of interest in developing his skills swirling. Right now, he's an attrition candidate and unlikely to ever contribute at Texas.
Without a 2014 target on the recruiting radar and only one clear tackle among the four 2015 commits, the Longhorns aren't in especially great shape moving forward either. The program has had major issues landing high school tackles who can remain at the position in college and that trend is continuing, even as programs like Baylor and Texas Tech have found answers outside in players Texas passed over early (Spencer Drango and La'Raven Clark).
In 2015, top tackle target Trevor Elbert loos like he's headed to the SEC at the moment and there aren't many other options currently on the radar in that class either. The situation isn't quite as dire as tight end, perhaps, but it's not too far behind. As scholarship charts like this show, relying on junior college transfers is a short-term solution to a long-term problem and as well as it worked with Hawkins and should work with Harrison (notwithstanding his eligibility issues recently), line coach Stacy Searels absolutely has to find some high school tackles.
Somehow other schools in the conference have managed the feat.
|1||Trey Hopkins||Sedrick Flowers||Sedrick Flowers||Curtis Riser|
|2||Mason Walters||Curtis Riser||Curtis Riser||Rami Hammad|
|3||Sedrick Flowers||Taylor Doyle||Taylor Doyle||Darius James|
|4||Curtis Riser||Rami Hammad||Rami Hammad||Maea Teuhema|
|5||Taylor Doyle||Darius James||Darius James||Aaron Garza|
|6||Rami Hammad||Maea Teuhema||Patrick Vahe|
|7||Darius James||Aaron Garza|
For the first time in years, the Longhorns should be legitimately two deep at the guard position, but with two starters graduating and no reinforcements in the 2014 class, the Longhorns will have to count on the development of James and Hammad as contributors next season, which doesn't seem like an absolute stretch. In 2015, the concern lessens significantly based on the experience level that should be available, but missing on Hammad or James would be a pretty significant hit, as Doyle's ability to provide quality snaps remains in doubt.
The excellent 2015 guard group represents the long-term future of the program and eases pressure on the 2016 class to produce high-level prospects because Maea Teuhema is an absolute freak and has the potential to become the type of dominant run blocker Texas hasn't had in a number of years. Vahe isn't too far behind and while it's hard to get a read on Garza based on limited film, the Horns couldn't really ask for a better start in 2015 recruiting along the interior.
|1||Dominic Espinosa||Dominic Espinosa||Jake Raulerson||Jake Raulerson|
|2||Garrett Porter||Jake Raulerson||Terrell Cuney||Terrell Cuney|
|3||Jake Raulerson||Terrell Cuney|
The Horns are in decent shape at the position moving forward -- while Espinosa hasn't exactly been a plus-player so far and there's a decent chance he could be displaced at center in favor of Hopkins at times, James played the position in high school and could slide over despite his current projection at guard and Raulerson and Cuney are both well-considered prospects.
A lack of pure mass and ability to anchor surrounds both Raulerson and Cuney, though, especially given the lessons inherent in Espinosa's time in Austin -- it can be hard for undersized centers to hold their ground against bigger nose tackles. The good news, again, is that James is a behemoth at around 330 pounds and could solve that issue quickly in the future as long as he doesn't flame out of the program or otherwise disappoint.
The 2016 class is probably the next group in which the Horns will target a pure center, though they could potentially find one from the big group of interior prospects already committed in 2015.