Texas picked up another important offensive line commitment for 2016 in Belton's Zach Shackelford, a center prospect who de-committed from Kansas State and will start classes as an early enrollee at UT this week.


Zach Shackelford joins 2016 Texas offensive line commitments Jean Delance, Denzel Okafor and Tope Imade.

To say Shackelford's decision to flip from Kansas State to Texas came down to the final hours would be an understatement. Shackelford was either going to enroll in classes at Texas or K-State on Tuesday (after MLK Day on Monday).

Shackelford's Texas recruitment was bolstered by new Longhorns' offensive line coach Matt Mattox, who went to Belton and visited Shackelford right after Mattox was hired to replace Joe Wickline and just before the recent dead period.

I talked to Shackelford after his commitment on Sunday. He said he's 6-4 and 300 pounds and will probably wear No. 50 or 51 at Texas. Here are his thoughts after his official visit weekend and decision to flip from K-State to Texas:

* "I had never been to Austin - other than a football game - so it was great to get to see more of the city."

* "The coaching staff on offense was a big change for the better. I like Coach Gilbert and Coach Mattox a lot."

* "Coach Strong is a great leader. When the players carried him off the field after the OU game, that told you everything about how his players feel about Coach Strong."

* "Coach Mattox was recruiting me at Tulsa. I went up there to Tulsa to visit and got to know Coach Gilbert and Coach Mattox. So when they ended up at Texas, it made me step back and take a look at this. If they hadn't come in, I was going to Kansas State."

* "They're going to bring the offense from Tulsa, and I like the tempo of that offense.

* "It gets the defense off guard. Us practicing at tempo will help the defense be ready when they face tempo. It feels good to."

* "The coaches are talking to me about center or guard. But I'll probably start off at center. It's a little change up. It will probably take a little getting used to. But once I get used to the speed of the game, I think everything will be great."

* "I'm enrolling early because I wanted the most time possible to learn the schemes. I'm a highly competitive person, and I just want to play and do everything possible to help me get prepared to get on the field."

* "Best part of the weekend was probably getting to know the players - my teammates." 

* "Coach Strong cares, not only about football, but the person you're going to be after football and that goes far with me. He's going to do whatever it takes to win, and that's what I'm all about."

* "I'd describe my style of play as through the whistle - a finisher."

On what he wants opponents to think after a game:

"Defeated. Whipped. If the line did their job, I hope they feel like they got beat. It should be the goal of all five offensive linemen that if we're moving people off the ball, it will be reflected on the scoreboard." 


A three-star prospect who is 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, Shackelford played for Belton coach Bob Shipley (father of former Texas receivers Jordan and Jaxon Shipley).

Shipley said Shackelford, who will play center or guard for the Longhorns, has the talent, work ethic and tough temperament Charlie Strong is looking for.


“Shack is a quiet guy, easygoing guy off the field. Never in trouble. Good student,” said Shipley, who worked in the Texas football office under Mack Brown and briefly under Strong before taking over in Belton. “He’s not one of those guys who screams and yells out on the field or anything.


“He just really plays hard every single snap. He’s an offensive lineman with a defensive lineman’s mentality. He’s just very aggressive. He loves the contact. He loves to mix it up and try to dominate everyone he goes against.


“From my experience – the two or three months I worked with Charlie – I just think he fits what he (Strong) wants in terms of being physically and mentally tough.


“We coach ‘em hard. We get in their grills, and he responds to it well. Some guys pout and get their feelings hurt, and he doesn’t at all. Of course, you don’t have to get on him much.”


Shipley said Shackelford got the best of 2016 4-star DE Rahssan Thornton of Killeen Shoemaker (committed to LSU) and dominated the ends he faced while playing tackle his senior season.


“He’s really smart and understands the game,” Shipley said. “He’s always had good feet, but I think he’s quicker than he was last year. He runs well for a big guy.


“The O-line coach from Michigan was in here in the spring, and he said, ‘I love this guy. He’s got an NFL ass.’


“I don’t know what an NFL ass looks like, but apparently Shack’s got one. He’s got kind of a high butt. Really strong, muscular. Some of those big guys don’t have a butt. But he’s got a bubble butt – apparently an NFL ass."


Shipley said Shackelford has taken the lead on a movement by the coaches and players at Belton to bring a tougher mindset to the program.


“Shack loves the game and really works on every play to break the will of the guy across from him,” Shipley said.


“He’ll get some 15-yarders every once in a while. But I’d rather say, ‘Whoa,’ than ‘Giddy up.’


“Our whole team, after last season, we realized we weren’t mentally or physically tough enough,” Shipley continued. “And Shack has been great for the rest of the team. He kind of personifies what we want our kids to be like.


“He got a few 15-yarders for driving a guy, picking him up and slamming him on the ground.


“A lot of times they’ll call him for holding, because he’ll block a guy five or 10 yards and then he’ll basically just pick ‘em up and body slam him, jump on top of ‘em and try to break the other guy’s will.


“I don’t like the 15-yarders. Sometimes they don’t come at the best times.  But when you’re preaching toughness to your kids all the time, you don’t want to squelch that.”


Shackelford had offers from K-State, Arizona State, Oklahoma State, Houston and Cincinnati, among others.


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