HD Roundtable: Biggest 2016 Need

Question: What do you view as Texas' biggest position of need for 2016 and how would you assess the Longhorns chances of meeting that need at the moment?

Chip Brown’s Take

I'm about winning up front, so I think the biggest position of need continues to be the offensive line.

Gone are Kennedy Estelle, Desmond Harrison, Curtis Riser, Rami Hammad and Darius James. And now Charlie Strong and Joe Wickline rebuild the trenches in their image.

The additions of Patrick Vahe, Connor Williams and Garrett Thomas appear to be hits from the high school ranks in the 2015 class.

JUCO transfer Brandon Hodges was thought to be an OT - and maybe even a walk-in starter at LT. But he came in out of condition and has played almost exclusively at guard.

JUCO transfer OT Tristan Nickelson has gotten a lot of reps at right tackle, and even though a lot of people doubted why Texas took a chance on Nickelson (6-8,300), a 3-star formerly committed to Iowa State, Wickline seems to like him.

Now, it's about finding the offensive linemen with a chip on their shoulder in the 2016 class, including former OU commit OT Jean Delance, a 4-star from North Mesquite. The Longhorns might be getting a peek from 4-star OT Patrick Hudson of Silsbee, currently committed to Baylor, and Manvel's 3-star OG Austin Myers, currently committed to TCU. But even if the Horns have to recruit nationally to get a solid group of 4-5 OL on campus in 2016, so be it.

I've said for years Texas should look in state first for answers on the OL and DL, but if they aren't there, then recruit nationally to find the answers, because those positions are so critical to the success of a program. And, in Texas' case, helping UT re-establish its identity from a finesse program to a physical program.

Gabe Brooks’ Take

I'll probably sound like a broken record because I've addressed this subject a couple of times in previous roundtables, but I'll stick with the offensive line unit as the biggest position of need.

The quarterback position cannot succeed without an offensive line unit that puts whoever takes snaps in a position to succeed. As long as Texas' O-line struggles, the quarterback will probably struggle, too, and in turn the entire offense.

What chances at the moment does Texas have to meet its O-line needs for the 2016 cycle? The jury remains out on that question. Four of the top five-ranked offensive linemen in the state's 2016 class are already committed elsewhere: Greg Little (Texas A&M), Patrick Hudson (Baylor), Chris Owens (Alabama), and J.P. Urquidez (Baylor). That leaves Jean Delance, the No. 3 in-state tackle behind Little and Hudson.

As the saying always goes, it's a long way to signing day. Just because those guys are committed doesn't mean they wind up at those schools, but it's usually safe to assume that flipping a guy will be tougher than simply getting a normal commitment from one.

Texas could still develop the young linemen it has signed and produce the type of unit it needs to succeed as a whole on offense. But it obviously doesn't hurt to land the biggest of the big-name talent, something that may be tough to do for the 2016 cycle.

Nick Castillo’s Take

I know the question is which position needs the most help for 2016 but Texas needs help on the both sides of the line.

The Longhorns need to recruit on the defensive line because the majority of players are upperclassmen. Texas needs overall improvement on the offensive line.

Texas will have to replace fifth-year senior defensive tackle Desmond Jackson and senior defensive end Shiro Davis.

There are plenty of ways to address the defensive line. The class of 2016 is deep with defensive line talent. One of the biggest pickups would be landing five-star defensive tackle Kendell Jones who makes his decision on Friday. Improving and adding depth to the defensive line shouldn’t be difficult with this class.

The offensive line is a different situation. I addressed the offensive line options in Friday’s The Heard. Most of the options for Texas are already committed.

The Longhorns have 11 offers out to offensive lineman, as of Friday. Seven of the 11 are committed to other schools. Five-star tackle Greg Little is committed to Texas A&M, four-star tackles J.P. Urquidez and Patrick Hudson are committed to Baylor and four-star guard Chris Owens is committed to Alabama. Three-star linemen Austin and Riley Anderson recently committed to Texas A&M.

The biggest way Texas can improve its option on the offensive line is to flip a few of the committed recruits and land a few of the recruits it's offered.

William Wilkerson’s Take

It’s the offensive line and I’m not sure it’s close at the moment.

Greg Little – Texas A&M

J.P. Urquidez – Baylor

Patrick Hudson – Baylor

Chris Owens – Alabama

Riley Anderson – A&M

Austin Anderson – A&M

Austin Myers – TCU

Donavaughn CampbellLSU

All of them have Texas offers. All are committed elsewhere.

That fact makes UT’s incredible 2015 offensive line haul even that much more important than it already appears given how many of them might be in line to make the two-deep (or even start) this fall.

It really is a mystery why so many of Texas’ OL offers are choosing to go elsewhere. Joe Wickline is one of the best OL developers in the country. He’s simply just not getting his guys right now.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that will remain the case as he and the rest of the coaching staff search high and low from coast to coast looking for other options.

Texas is in the mix for Kellen Diesch, Jean Delance, Denzel Okafor. But there is plenty of work to do with all three.

The Longhorns might have to revert back to the JUCO ranks if things don’t pick up over the coming months. But I do expect things to turn around as the season grows long and these offensive recruits get a look at UT’s new up-tempo offense.


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