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Spring position preview: Defensive line

2/6/2012

Kheeston Randall, Taylor Bible, Calvin Howell and De’Aires Cotton are all no longer part of the Texas defensive line for one reason or another.

That’s four players, two starters -- Randall and Howell -- and two others who had a ton of potential gone. And still the defensive line has a chance to be the best and even deepest positions on the field for Texas.

As the Longhorns head into spring here are a few things to watch for along the line:

What Texas has …

Defensive line might just be Texas’ deepest position even after losing Calvin Howell to a transfer. Howell was a big loss in that he, along with Ashton Dorsey, were projected to be starters.

Texas still should have four strong contenders for playing time at the defensive tackle position. Dorsey will more than likely be the starter at one spot when spring practice opens. Brandon Moore, a junior college transfer, and Desmond Jackson should contend for the other spot. Chris Whaley could also make some noise.

Don’t forget this line could also get a major shakeup in the fall when Malcom Brown joins the fold. Brown is one of the few freshmen not expected to redshirt in 2013.

What Texas has to develop …

Strength. While Teas has a great number of athletes at this position, line coach Bo Davis is upset with the upper body strength of this group. Jackson is the strongest and is also the youngest. Davis wants strength coach Bennie Wylie to work with the defensive line players on building their upper-body strength. The players who show the most development will get the most playing time.

Texas also needs to figure out how it wants to handle Whaley this spring. He is the best athlete in the group and keeps getting better. Mack Brown has already labeled him an NFL player. But Whaley has not been able to get comfortable in one position during his career. He started as running back, went to defensive end, tried some tight end in the bowl practices and now is at defensive tackle.

Texas must pick a spot for Whaley and let him develop.

Grade

Position strength …

Again, no spot on the field is deeper. And no spot is poised to make as big an impact on the game. The defensive line is good enough that it should allow Texas to put pressure on the quarterback without having to rely on blitz packages. That means there are not going to be too many holes in the secondary or across the middle. And that translates into a lot of three and outs for opponents.