Spring Position Outlook - OL

We continued our Spring Position Outlook on Thursday with a tight end position that is going to be asked to factor into the passing game a lot more than it has been over the past few seasons.

Today we'll look at a position in charge of keeping the quarterback upright long enough to allow that to happen.

Position:

Offensive line

Who is gone?

Mason Walters, Trey Hopkins, Garrett Porter, Donald Hawkins, Josh Cochran, Garrett Greenlea

Walters started the final 51 games of his career, including every game at right guard from 2010-13. That was tied for the longest streak in the nation among offensive linemen at the end of 2013.

Hopkins started in 42 career games and was a two-time All-Big 12 selection, earning first-team All-Big 12 honors from the Associated Press last season.

Cochran started the final 19 games of his career at right tackle before he sat out during the Kansas State game (Sept. 21) and has since decided to end his career because of a recurring shoulder injury.

Hawkins started in 24 of the 25 games he played at Texas, all at left tackle, and earned second team all-league honors from the AP in 2013.

Who is on campus?

Jake Raulerson, Dominic Espinosa, Darius James, Curtis Riser, Sedrick Flowers, Rami Hammad, Taylor Doyle, Alex Anderson, Desmond Harrison, Camrhon Hughes, Kent Perkins

What's that mean?

It means the Longhorns have a lot of ground to make up with the losses of starters Walters, Hawkins, Hopkins and Cochran. But enough talent in this group that should be able to plug those holes quickly and appropriately.

Raulerson, Espinosa, James, Riser, Flowers, Hammad, Hughes, and Perkins were all high school all-Americans. Doyle won three straight state titles at Lake Travis, Anderson was a first-team all-state selection out of Louisiana and Harrison was considered the top junior college tackle when he came to Texas last season.

The leader of the group is Espinosa, who has 39 career starts at center. He's really the only player you can pencil in as a starter right now. The rest are up for grabs.

Flowers played in 13 games last season, including a start in the Alamo Bowl at left guard. Harrison didn't meet expectations in 2013 and only played in seven games as a reserve offensive tackle. Riser saw time in four games last season as a reserve guard. Doyle played in two games. Perkins saw action in six games in a reserve roll. Anderson is a freshman early enrollee. Raulerson, James, Hammad, and Hughes all redshirted in 2013.

Who isn't on campus yet?

Elijah Rodriguez and Terrell Cuney

Cuney will join the program as the No. 6-rated center in the country and someone who thinks he can come in and play right away. He might be in for a bit of a rude awakening with three-year starter Espinosa in front of him. But Joe Wickline has to like Cuney's attitude.

Rodriguez flipped from Colorado to Texas in the final hours before signing day, and will enter as the lone true offensive tackle prospect in this class. He's more of a project than someone that should expect to see playing time within the next two seasons. But his ceiling is high enough that Texas could look back and say it got a steal late in the process.

Season prediction

The starting five for Texas in its season opener will be (from left to right): Harrison, Flowers, Espinosa, Hammad, Estelle.

Estelle was the starter at left tackle the first day of spring practice but probably only because Harrison was injured at the time. Once Harrison returns I wouldn't be surprised to see Estelle transition to right tackle where Perkins went down with an injury a couple of days ago.

James is going to find his way onto the field because he's just too talented. I think he'll challenge Hammad for that right tackle spot, and you could see the two rotate early on in the season to see which performs better.

Raulerson will be the backup to Espinosa and will remain the No. 2 guy at center when Cuney gets to campus. Riser will be the backup to Flowers and Hughes will be a backup at either tackle spot.


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