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Friday, December 28, 2012
Roundtable: Impact for early enrollees

By Max Olson and William Wilkerson

Every Friday, HornsNation recruiting writers William Wilkerson and Max Olson will answer a question about the Longhorns.

This week's question: Which Texas early enrollee will have the earliest impact?

Max Olson: Tyrone Swoopes won’t come in and start in 2013. He might not even play as a freshman. But don’t think this spring isn’t a critical one for him.

Redshirt or not, Swoopes has plenty to prove in his first semester at Texas. He walks into what can only be described as an unpredictable situation.

Ten games into this season, Texas had its solution at QB in David Ash. Now, who knows what direction the Longhorns staff will take in the offseason.

Swoopes will join a program this spring with -- depending on how the Alamo Bowl goes -- potentially another wide-open quarterback battle. Consider all the variables in play here:

Tyrone Swoopes
Uncertainty at the quarterback position could make Tyrone Swoopes an important player for the Longhorns early.
• Who is new offensive coordinator Major Applewhite’s preference at quarterback? Who is Mack Brown’s preference?

• Will Applewhite’s offensive scheme demand different traits than Bryan Harsin’s? Will rushing talents play a factor?

• Will Ash make the job his for good? Even if he does, will he have to wait until the fall to be named the starter? Will Case McCoy get an equal opportunity to win the job?

• What can unproven redshirt freshmen Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet do this spring? Will a backup quarterback transfer?

There might not be a better time than now for Swoopes to enter the mix, if only because the heavy competition is just what he needs.

For all that he needs to improve as a passer, Swoopes can do things as a runner that perhaps no other QB on the roster can. A strong spring from Swoopes would at least begin the conversations of whether he’s the program’s future, and that could be valuable for Applewhite in planning the direction of his offense.

I don’t expect Swoopes to play as a freshman, but he needs to make maximum progress from his redshirt season. That starts this spring.

William Wilkerson: I’ll go with Jake Raulerson but for a slightly different reason.

I’m not entirely sold that he’s going to factor into the defensive end rotation immediately following fall camp. I think that could take a little more time with what Texas has in place at the position.

But his energy and passion should enhance the play of everyone who thinks this freshman isn’t going to come in and push them as hard as they’ve ever been pushed by a teammate.

As Raulerson told me a few weeks ago, he isn’t coming to Texas to make friends. He’s coming to work and help the Longhorns win ball games.

That said, Raulerson will have a full semester under his belt by the time fall camp rolls around and his desire to learn the position and be the perfectionist that he is might help him work his way up the depth chart.

You’ve got to remember that Raulerson hasn’t played any defensive end in high school. So you’ve got to factor that into this equation. The only defensive position he played was nose guard. And he felt like he really improved there this season.

The thing that Raulerson does have going for him is his time spent at offensive tackle. He knows what works as a defensive end from going against them for so long. Or what didn’t work that could have.

So, be it his presence in enhancing the play of those defensive ends already in Austin or his emergence up the depth chart, Raulerson will make an impact regardless.