Moving On From Starts

Just a month or so ago, people looked at the Longhorns' offensive line recruiting and thought: "Curtis Riser, Camrhon Hughes, Michael Starts, Kennedy Estelle and potentially Andrus Peat … that's a heck of a class."

But with Starts pulling a rare cap off the table and picking another school over the in-state Longhorns, that class all of a sudden seems to have some holes in it. Sure, the Longhorns are still considered the favorite for Estelle, the top offensive line prize in the state, but Texas was also considered the favorite for Starts not so long ago.

Likewise, the Longhorns appear to sit well with out-of-staters Peat (Arizona) and John Theus of Florida. But both are heavily recruited players who don't have major ties to the Texas program, and will be difficult pulls. The Longhorns found that lesson out the hard way a year ago, when Christian Westerman, one of the country's top linemen, decommitted from the Longhorns late in the process. Westerman chose instead to attend Auburn, and the Longhorns were left scrambling for another lineman in the class … a void they weren't able to fill.

Texas coach Mack Brown admitted on National Signing Day that the 2011 class, for all its strength, left the Longhorns one lineman short of their target. That means that Texas came into the 2012 class looking to make up for that gap by signing four or five linemen.

The most important step at this point is to lock up Estelle. Not only is he the state's top lineman this year, he has the most raw ability of any tackle the state has produced in the past few seasons. He's of added importance in that he's a pure tackle, a spot of particular importance, and rarity, on the Texas roster.

Peat and Theus are also tackles, and the Longhorns could go a long way toward advancing their cause by inking at least one of the two. If not, it might be time to put out feelers to some of the state's top committed prospects like Michael Wilson and Halapoulivaati Vaitai, committed to Texas A&M and Texas Tech, respectively. Other top in-state tackles like Trey Keenan might not have the kind of ability that Texas is looking for, and it's difficult to make up ground with an out-of-stater this late in the process.

The Longhorns already have two excellent 2012 building blocks in Riser and Hughes, the former a mauling guard and the latter a mobile tackle with a great frame. But now it's time to add the nuts and bolts, to swing for the fences and pull in some top talent.

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