Gabe Brooks’ Take
My answer could probably apply to on-the-field and recruiting: the offensive line.
While plenty of people -- media and fans alike -- have voiced their concerns with Texas' offensive line during the past couple of seasons, I still think that the unit's issues are often overlooked because of the obsession with the quarterback position. I know I sound like a broken record, but without a quality performance from the offensive line, it probably won't matter who's taking the snaps.
That leads me to recruiting the offensive line. I think Texas landed some nice prospects in the 2015 class, led by top 100 prospect and the No. 2 guard in the state of Texas, Patrick Vahe. Plus, it sounds like Connor Williams may have a bright future ahead of him considering the progress he's already made as an early enrollee.
But looking at the 2016 class, the Longhorns may have some work to do.
It is indeed a long time until signing day, but the Lone Star State has two tackles in the Scout 300's top 35 in this cycle -- Greg Little and Patrick Hudson -- and both are already committed elsewhere in-state. Throw in J.P. Urquidez, another Baylor commit, and three of the state's top four offensive tackles have already committed. You would assume that puts a big emphasis for the Horns on the state's No. 3 tackle, four-star ex-OU pledge Jean Delance. The state's top guard, four-star Chris Owens, and the Anderson twins from Mineola -- both recently reported Texas offers -- appear to be where Texas' O-line concentration will be moving forward.
Jason Higdon’s Take
The biggest question mark I have to look into the 2015 football season is the wide receiver position. I do not believe Texas has a prime time player at this position that can take a game over, strike fear in the hearts of the opposing coaches or defenders.
I think Texas made some pretty bold statements with the amount/quality of wide receivers they went after and landed in 2015. Clearly they saw a huge void at the WR position and attacked it throughout the recruiting cycle.
Newsome is your slot/special teams player standing 5-foot-9, McNeal checks in at over 6-foot-2, Burt stands 6-foot-3 and Gilbert is 6-foot-4. Texas was as aggressive as possible recruiting this position in 2015. They already have verbal commitments from two of the top WR’s in the class of 2016 with Reggie Hemphill and Collin Johnson. While the WR position is nowhere near a strength, currently that is about to change.
Annabel Stephan’s Take
I believe there are two obvious questions right now, the first (surprise!) concerning the quarterback position. Post-spring game, Charlie Strong says that the job still belongs to Tyrone Swoopes, but Jerrod Heard's 20-29 for 177 yards and 12 carries for 15 yards with a touchdown prove that he's still in the fight. Strong said earlier this season that he's not opposed to a dual-quarterback system, but I can't help but think that could be hazardous to offensive production. I think they key to a strong offense is one quarterback, and I'm just curious to see what Heard would need to do to prove that he's ready for the job.
My second question surrounds the cornerback position. There was so much hype surrounding Sheroid Evans prior to his injury, but now he's out indefinitely. Jermaine Roberts and Duke Thomas were both out for the spring game, as well, also due to injury. It's not a secret that cornerback recruiting suffered a bit in 2014, but Strong signed some serious talent in the 2015 class (Holton Hill, Kris Boyd, and Davante Davis), so there's no reason to be worried yet. The question is whether these players, all elite at the high school level, will be able to come in, quickly learn the playbook, and be ready for the college level in week one versus Notre Dame.
I don't have an answer to either question yet, but it's pretty evident just how important fall camp - as well as summer conditioning - will be for both positions.
William Wilkerson’s Take
My biggest question outside of the quarterback debate is what exactly Texas is going to do at middle linebacker.
I think the coaches left the spring game a little more confident with what it had at the position given what Tim Cole did. He wasn’t great, but he had his moments. He was better than I thought he was going to be and showed great enthusiasm after hits.
But will he be able to hold off the incoming freshmen? And whether he does or doesn’t, how confident will the coaching staff be at that position heading into South Bend on Sept. 5?
I think Cole is going to hold off the true freshmen to start off the season. Vance Bedford doesn’t like to play true freshmen and I think he and Brian Jean-Mary will have enough confidence in Cole to line up with the first-team against Notre Dame. But he’d better be ready as the Irish have two QBs that can break a defense down with their legs.
Anthony Wheeler and Cecil Cherry are both viable candidates to play MLB. Both bring a physical toughness to the position. That won’t be their issue. But getting the defense adjusted and adjusting themselves to the speed of the game might take a little while.
So don’t be surprised if Cole lines up first against Notre Dame. But don’t be surprised to see either Wheeler or Cherry get a shot as the season grows long.
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