Early Enrollee Analysis: Defense

What kind of impact can each of the defensive early enrollees have? Here's a preview for each of the three semester transfers on that side of the ball.

Alex De La Torre, linebacker

You don't have to look far to see the value for De La Torre in enrolling early. Just last year, Chet Moss — a player many compare De La Torre to — arrived in the spring and proceeded to nail down the second spot on the depth chart at middle linebacker in a similar type situation, when Texas was gung-ho about its starter but was in need of depth. Moss wound up being moved to fullback for two reasons: 1) to clear room for Steve Edmond, a potential future star at the position and 2) a need at the fullback position. Without a need for him to move, and without a five-star, all-everything middle linebacker on the horizon competing for the backup position, look for the savvy De La Torre to win the No. 2 spot and potentially hold it down even into the fall.

Brandon Moore, defensive tackle (JUCO)

Moore is one of the two junior college players in this class, and faces both an ideal, and non-ideal, situation heading into the spring. On one hand, he joins a tackle group looking to replace the production of graduated star Kheeston Randall. But on the other, the Longhorns have a number of tackles who saw major action a year ago. Moore has better size than anybody on roster, and that could help him win a nose tackle spot, though he shouldn't be pigeon-holed as simply a big body. He ran in the 4.8-second range coming out of high school, and is a much better athlete than his size would dictate. If he can get the nuances of the position down — he played defensive end at Alabama — he has the talent to be a major contributor from day one in a really deep position group.

Orlando Thomas, cornerback

Thomas is another incoming freshman who could see a major long-term benefit to enrolling early. He'll start his career off on the defensive side of the ball, despite excelling with the ball under his arm as Copperas Cove's quarterback. So the spring could be tremendous for him in terms of gaining extra one-on-one attention and learning the details that go into making a successful cover cornerback. Bryson Echols is already ahead of the class in that respect, and the Longhorns appear set at cornerback for a few years. So this spring will be important for Thomas's development as a player. Can he grasp enough to pressure Leroy Scott, Eryon Barnett and A.J. White for the No. 4 cornerback spot after Carrington Byndom, Quandre Diggs and Josh Turner? The athletic ability is there to make a move, but there's a ton of competition.

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