KELLER, Texas -- The Texas Longhorns picked up the massive pledges of Keller brothers Sione and Maea Teuhemaon Thursday night after their spring game and their head coach Carl Stralow was kind enough to add some insight into what makes them such highly-coveted prospects.
For Sione, the 2014 defensive end who held offers from a number of schools, including LSU and TCU, as well as receiving heavy late interest from Alabama, a move from a defensive line position that often had him shifting inside the tackles as a junior will now give him an opportunity to display the skills he will use more often in college at Texas.
"He'll come down and put his hand on the ground and move the front and do things like that, but we're going to let him play in space a little bit," Stralow said Thursday night. "I think with the people we have coming back, it's our best chance of getting our best players on the field and the best chance to be successful."
Of course, with any move like that, the question becomes one of transition. Does the player have the athletic savvy and instincts necessary to make it smoothly? According to Stralow, Texas fans shouldn't have any concerns in that regard.
"Athletically, there's been no transition for Sione -- he's very, very capable of playing in space. We had a coach take a defensive coordinator job at another school and I put my whistle back on and coached the outside 'backers this spring. It was a lot of fun working with the young man with the amount of talent that he has. He bought in and he's going to do a real good job for us there."
Some previous experience probably helped the 6'3, 211-pounder this spring.
"He dabbled in it a little bit as a sophomore before we got here, but the approach that we're taking is that he can be a dynamic pass-rusher from there and a force out in the open field," Stralow said.
However, coach Stralow wasn't willing to guess about how Texas will employ Sione, noting that they make a lot more money than him and are a lot smarter, but Sione confirmed after his announcement that Texas does plan to use him like a 3-4 outside linebacker, much as he will be used this season, having shown his film on former star Brian Orakpo, a move that helped convince the formerly skeptical prospect that the 'Horns were the right fit.
There's no question that Sione is a bit of a developmental project, but it's not out of the question that he arrives at Texas at 225 pounds or so, close to where he will need to be to contribute. Consider that Shiro Davis had a similar developmental curve during his last season in high school, especially after starting on the Texas strength and conditioning program he was given after unexpectedly signing with the 'Horns.
The bottom line is that LSU was willing to take Sione in a year when they will probably have the best class in the country and don't have a ton of slots available because there are so many fantastic prospects in the state, as well as out-of-state studs like Oklahoma's Deondre Clark. And TCU as well, a school that is known for evaluating as well or better than anyone in the state.
In other words, don't call him a reach, because he isn't.
As for younger brother Maea Teuhema, the mammoth 6'5, 340-pounder 247Sports has as a five-star prospect? It's simple.
"He's got everything," Stralow said.
Asked if he had every seen a prospect carry 340 pounds that well, the Keller head coach had to pause and think about it for a minute.
"They are very few and far between and I feel real fortunate," he said. "Every once in a while, you wonder if you're ever going to get a chance to coach a kid that good again and he's only scratched the surface. He's 16 years old and he can physically do things that I've seen kids who are in their second year of college can't do in the weight room and on the football field."
The presence of the younger Teuhema at right tackle for Keller will make the offensive game plan pretty simple for Stralow and his offensive assistants.
"We're going to run to the right a lot for the next two years. I don't claim to be very smart, but we're going to run to the right for two more years."
Vision won't be a necessary requirement at running back at Keller. The instructions will be simple, as coach Stralow put it -- "follow the big guy."
The major question mark surrounding the Tongan offensive lineman is where he will end up playing in college. He's talented enough that moving inside to guard won't hurt his value greatly because he's just that good, but tackles will always be more coveted because they are more rare.
"He pass protects well," Stralow said. "He can play guard or tackle. Once again, that's two years from now and however things change and how he grows -- which is kind of scary -- will impact that. Our job is to make sure that we do right by him now and keep him in great shape, capable of doing all the things that we ask him to do. He has an opportunity that very few kids have in front of him beyond high school football."
The mobility that helps Maea to find and maul second-level defenders in the run game also helps him in pass protection. His body quickness and reactive quickness are elite for a player of his size, but the truth remains that there aren't a lot of tackles his size in college football. However, given that he's pretty much an anomaly and freak of nature, it's clear that common perceptions and conventional wisdom just don't apply to him.
As for the devastating punch that consistently puts defenders on their back, Stralow said his development there has resulted from a combination of factors.
"He's got a very good offensive line coach who was a heckuva college football player in his own right. It's a combination of being naturally gifted and his offensive line coach has been a great job with him."
On a parting note, coach Stralow gave the brothers about the highest praise that a coach can hand out when asked his favorite thing about them.
"Better kids than they are players. Texas will be very fortunate to get them," he said.