2006 Class: For UT, It All Starts Up Front

The difference between championship football and runner-up status is often a fine line -- literally. That's why the four O-linemen in Texas' 2006 highly touted recruiting class, punctuated by Five-Star commit J'Marcus Webb, form the nucleus of a unit that should pave the way for post-season hardware for the remainder of this decade.

When Mack Brown inks the ninth class of his Texas tenure, he'll have landed about as balanced of a group that's been brought to Austin as well as Scout.com's choice for No. 2 nationally. Yet, if the class is tilted in any one direction, it's toward the big uglies up front. Brown almost invariably redshirts his O-linemen, so the incoming crew will be slated to infiltrate the ranks right after the likes of Kasey Studdard and Lyle Sendlein have taken their final snaps.

Webb may be the cream of the crop at 6-8, 280-pounds. The North Mesquite product wears a size 22 shoe (that's no misprint, folks) and is rated No. 8 nationally (Scout.com) at his position. He gave his verbal last March because "I wanted to get it over with. It was always between Texas and OU. I got a call from Texas and I said, 'Yes! Finally!' I made an unofficial visit (to Texas) and loved it a lot. I made my decision the next week."

Webb took no other officials after announcing for Texas, even though other programs continued to test the firmness of his commitment. He talked on the phone to Longhorn coaches at least three times per week during the past 11 months, primarily with Bobby Kennedy who is assigned to the Dallas area.

The sleeper in this bunch could be Houston Worthing OT Roy Watts, a mere wisp of a lad at 6-6, 295 pounds. The Three-Star commit (Scout.com No. 78) is just under the radar screen but has the stature and the want-to to become the next big thing on the O-line. Watts roomed with Longhorn RB commit Vondrell McGee when both participated in Max Emfinger's All-American game in Shreveport last December. Watts reported that he had "five pancakes and no penalties" in that one.

His school rode its power running game to the second round of the Texas 4A playoffs last season before falling to Houston Jones. His coach Eddie Snow told Inside Texas that 80 percent of those runs were behind Watts, and that Watts typically had a say in the play-selection.

Said Watts: "I would say, 'Coach Snow, run a play behind me. Stick to the running game. Call the 24 Lead, or run a counter, so I can pull around and just pancake the guy, or catch a guy slipping and just crackback on him."

Ironically, Watt's nickname is 'Peanut'.

"My grandma gave me that name because I was a premature baby," he laughed. "They said I could fit inside of a shoe box. That's how small I was. Grandma called me Peanut and it's stuck with me ever since."

DE coach Oscar Giles recruited Watts while his Junior Day hosts were Tony Hills and Cedric Dockery.

"Both of them had me laughing," Watts said. "Tony was a nice guy, telling me what I should do and what he expected of me when I come down there. He told me to keep my head in the books and go to class every day."

Across town is Jersey Village commit Steve Moore, who checks in at 6-4.5, 275. The Three-Star commit had offers from Notre Dame, Arizona and Oklahoma State before giving Brown his verbal on February 28.

"I just felt at home there," Moore said. "Coach Brown seemed like he was real with me, and more real than any other coach I talked to. I felt like he wasn't going to tell me something he didn't mean. And it was close enough to home where my friends and family could come watch, and I could come back home if I needed to."

There is no TE in Jersey Village's spread offense, and Moore played LT, or blindside to the QB, in the scheme. He is projected as an interior lineman at Texas.

"I think my run-blocking improved a lot this year," he said. "The key is reaction. If you just go in the one direction that you're trying to go, you could miss. You have to be able to react to the defense because most of the time they're quicker than you."

Wimberley's Buck Burnette (6-3, 305) was the first to commit to Texas Class of 2006, giving his verbal nearly one year ago on Feb. 17. The Three-Star athlete is already enrolled and will participate in spring drills at the end of next month.

Mack Brown's Signing Day press conference is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., Wednesday.

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