In the midst of futilely chasing a running back and another wide receiver for the 2013 class, recruiting along the offensive line has been much more positive, as evidenced by the Monday commitment of Contra Costa CC offensive tackle Desmond Harrison to Texas.
A former resident of the state while growing up, Harrison turned down an opportunity for more playing time at Arizona State, where his close friend and Contra Costa teammate Demetrius Cherry has signed.
The ties to the state clearly helped, but this was never a slam dunk for Texas considering that both starting tackles are back for the 'Horns next year.
And that's where things start to get interesting when discussing Harrison. The coaching staff believes that he can come in and compete for a starting job immediately, meaning that offensive line coach Stacy Searels hasn't been particularly impressed with the play of one or both of his starting tackles, senior Donald Hawkins and junior Josh Cochran.
The guess here is that Hawkins is more likely to either slide inside to guard or end up as a back up. A scenario with Hawkins moving to guard would most likely result in the benching of Dominic Espinosa, with Trey Hopkins or Mason Walters moving to center. Walters, some may recall, played center at Wolfforth Frenship.
But how likely is Harrison to come in and impress? He doesn't have the advantage that Hawkins had enrolling early, as he'll arrive in Austin in June for summer school and will only have fall camp to unseat one of the starters.
At the least, the addition of Harrison puts the Longhorns closer to achieving some level of depth and margin for error at the tackle position, which has been an ongoing problem as recruit after recruit comes in and fails to hack it outside, whether due to developmental problems or poor evaluations. Or both.
What Hawkins brings to the table is a great deal of athleticism. Offensive line coaches often like to see prospects who can play basketball to see evidence of their athleticism and footwork on the hardwood. The 6-8, 310-pound Harrison is a former power forward who only recently came to the game of football, having started playing the game less than three years ago.
As a result, Harrison doesn't always use the best hand placement and certainly doesn't pack the punch of someone like Texas target Andrew Billings. But few prospects do and the great majority of those compared to Billings in that regard will come up well on the short end.
Where Harrison excels is in those skills that translate to basketball, most notably his athleticism. For someone over 300 pounds, Harrison moves exceptionally well, with the ability to block and redirect in space because of his body control and foot quickness. He should be excellent downfield in the screen game in college.
The finer points of pass protection will need some work, but again, Harrison has the feet and overall athleticism to succeed in that regard. Of paramount importance, though, is the fact that he has the flexibility and knee bend to do be able to sit in his cylinder and maintain his balance as he pass sets and punches.
The hope is that the Longhorns are finally starting to turn the corner in terms of overall line depth and talent capable of contributing, especially with Darius James and Kent Perkins showing well at the Under Armour and US Army games, respectively.
And Harrison is a definitely a big piece moving forward in that process as the top junior college offensive tackle in the country by 247Sports.
Desmond Harrison 6'8" 310lbs. OL (FR.) Contra Costa College Football 2011 (via JACAIIDEAS)