OL Shaping Up as Spring Football Winds Down

The battles have been intense; the play, reportedly, has been solid. But there's been enough separation among candidates to fill the void on Texas offensive line that coordinator Greg Davis named the starters for this Saturday's Orange-White scrimmage.

Expect sophomore RT Adam Ulatoski, sophomore RG Chris Hall, senior C Dallas Griffin, sophomore LG Charlie Tanner and senior left tackle Tony Hills to man the offensive front when the Ones take the field shortly after noon at DKR, Davis said

"And that's the way we'll trot out again in August," Davis added.

However, RG Cedric Dockery is expected to pick-up where he left off before his season-ending knee injury against Oklahoma. The junior has been held out of contact this spring but is expected to be cleared prior to two-a-days.

"I'm comfortable that, when Cedric heals and comes back in-shape, he'll take one of the spots," Davis said. "The guards are battling daily to see who's going to be ready when the other one comes back."

The youngsters, of course, have considerable cleats to fill. Consensus All-American RT Justin Blalock started a school-record and an NCAA-leading 51 straight games. LG Kasey Studdard was a three-year fixture with 38 straight starts while Lyle Sendlein logged 26 straight starts at center.

"With Cedric Dockery not here right now, it's allowed us to get Chris Hall and Charlie Tanner a bunch of snaps with the first group," Davis said. "The battle right now is with Chris and Charlie. The battle is to see which one of them is at the highest level, assuming Cedric comes back."

Meanwhile, Davis continues to rave about RS-freshman Buck Burnette. The 6-3, 310-pounder is completing is second spring at Texas after enrolling early in 2006. The backup center is versatile enough that coaches may also use him as a backup guard, Davis said.

"He has done a really good job. He'll go into August as our backup center, but I can see him pressing (Griffin) in August. He's bigger, stronger and has got a great, low center of gravity. He has had an excellent spring. By saying that, I don't mean that Dallas hasn't. You're looking at a young lineman, but Buck Burnette has had an excellent spring."

Hills, a 2006 Honorable Mention All-Big 12 recipient, was recruited as a TE and considered the offensive jewel of the 2003 recruiting class. He has logged 13 career starts and appeared in 31 games. Ulatoski started the last seven games of 2007, but will likely log snaps at both outside positions in 2007. His primary backup at RT is Five-Star J'Marcus Webb, who played as a true freshman last year.

And what about Five-Star stud Tray Allen? The consensus All-American would have been an early-enrollee but South Grand Prairie high school is on the trimester system.

"Tray Allen is going to get every opportunity to get in the depth chart when he shows up," Davis said. "It will be just like we did with (Justin) Blalock in that he'll be given every opportunity. There's no question that Justin could have been a backup (as a true freshman), but we decided it would be better if we didn't waste a year with him. You can't see them (true freshmen) really pushing (returning lettermen). Years ago, when Cedric Dockery and that group came in, there was no question that they had to be backups. We're at a spot right now where they don't have to be. We're going to give them a chance to see if they can be and, if they can be, we're going to go with them. But we don't want to waste a year."

Freshman G Michael Huey is an early enrollee. But the all-state performer from Kilgore may be a likely redshirt candidate if, as expected Dockery returns, Burnette crosstrains at both guard and center and Allen cracks the two-deep chart.

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